Covid warning for more than 300k Australians after worrying find

·News Reporter
·4-min read

Dozens more Melbourne suburbs have been told to keep an eye out for Covid-19 symptoms after viral fragments were once again detected in wastewater in the city's north and south.

Last week more than 800,000 residents were put on high alert with a similar warning as the Department of Health looks to stifle any potential virus circulating in the community.

Many of those suburbs have been included in the latest warning issued on Tuesday evening.

Victoria has gone nearly two months without a locally acquired case yet a streak of wastewater detections has concerned health authorities. 

The last known cases in the community came as part of the Holiday Inn cluster on February 26.

The latest areas where virus fragments have been detected in Melbourne. Source: Department of Health
The latest areas where virus fragments have been detected in Melbourne. Source: Department of Health

In the Department of Health's latest alert, more than 30 suburbs have been identified with residents and visitors to the suburbs urged to monitor for Covid-19 symptoms and to get tested if they emerge.

Detections were recorded between April 13 and 16 in the Moonee Ponds catchment which incorporates the suburbs of Ascot Vale, Brunswick, Brunswick West, Coburg, Essendon, Essendon Fields, Flemington, Kensington, Moonee Ponds, North Melbourne, Parkville, Pascoe Vale, Pascoe Vale South, Strathmore, Travancore.

Detections were recorded between April 6 and 16 in the Ringwood South catchment which includes the suburbs of Bayswater, Bayswater North, Boronia, Croydon, Croydon North, Croydon South, Heathmont, Kilsyth, Kilsyth South, Montrose, Ringwood, Ringwood East, Sassafras, The Basin, Tremont, Wantirna.

The suburbs have a combined population of about 340,000. 

"Anyone who has been in these suburbs and has any symptoms of Covid-19 from April 6 to 9 is urged to get tested," the department said.

"The unexpected detections may be due to a person or persons with Covid-19 being in the early active infectious phase or it could be because they are continuing to shed the virus after the infectious period."

Melbourne opens vaccine hubs

Three Victorian mass vaccination hubs will open to people over 70 as Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton prepares to get his Covid-19 jab.

From Wednesday, the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and Geelong's former Ford factory will provide shots for anyone over 70 with or without bookings as part of phase 1a and 1b of the rollout.

"This is one way that we can expedite the vaccine rollout, as quickly as possible, particularly to our most vulnerable cohort," Acting Premier James Merlino told reporters on Tuesday.

They will only be offered the AstraZeneca jab, with Pfizer doses still prioritised for healthcare workers under 50 at hospital vaccination clinics.

Despite concerns about the potential side effects, Mr Merlino said there had been an uptick in calls to the health department from older Victorians wanting to have the AstraZeneca jab.

"I see that as a positive sign," he said.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 16: Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton speaks to the media on February 16, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. Victoria is in stage 4 lockdown from as of Saturday for five days following the confirmation of new COVID-19 cases of the UK virus strain in the community linked to the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel. Victorians are only able to leave their homes for essential shopping, caregiving, essential work, permitted education, or exercise for two hours per day with household members only. People must stay within a 5km radius of home. The stage 4 restrictions are due to end at 11:59pm on Wednesday 17 February. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
Brett Sutton will receive his AstraZeneca vaccine on Wednesday. Source: Getty

"We did take a hit to public confidence in our vaccination program. But we are seeing, particularly in older Victorians, them coming forward, and being very keen."

Victoria is also resuming its rollout of the AstraZeneca shot to eligible people under 50 after it was paused on April 9, as Australian health officials confirmed a link between the vaccine and rare but potentially deadly blood clots.

Those under the age of 50 will be required to sign a consent form, which outlines the risks of taking the vaccine.

Professor Sutton will receive his first vaccination on Wednesday at the Royal Exhibition Building, and he praised the hard work of authorities to deliver the AstraZeneca vaccine to the highest safety standards.

"The risk of really serious adverse events is rare, which is why I'm getting my vaccination. The best vaccine to get is the one available right now," he tweeted.

The state is currently receiving about 14,000 Pfizer doses per week. It is hoped a further 10,000 doses will soon be made available by the federal government each week.

Victoria had administered 168,250 doses of the coronavirus vaccine to Monday, including 4205 in the past 24 hours.

With AAP

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