A regional town in Victoria is on high alert following three coronavirus infections after an infected truck driver made a pit stop last month.
Residents in Shepparton, located some 180km from Melbourne, are being urged to get tested for Covid-19 after it was revealed a truck driver, linked to two other outbreaks, stopped off there on September 30.
The driver was infected at Chadstone and then went to Kilmore on September 30, and travelled to Shepparton that day as well.
The driver only disclosed to health authorities that he had stopped over in Shepparton on Tuesday.
"What appears to have happened is that an individual who had a permit to travel into regional Victoria, as well as stopping off at Kilmore, also stopped off in Shepparton," Department of Health and Human Services testing boss Jeroen Weimar told 3AW.
"That information unfortunately was not forthcoming until last night."
Mr Weimar told 3AW the outbreak was detected when a woman at a tyre shop in Shepparton, where the truck driver visited, was symptomatic over the weekend and came forward on Tuesday and got tested.
“Someone did the right thing in Shepparton and they were symptomatic over the weekend,” he explained.
“They came forward to get tested and we we got her positive results early yesterday afternoon.”
The woman’s colleagues at the tyre shop have been tested. Two returned positive results, nine were negative.
Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services has listed “high risk” locations and other locations which may result in casual contacts.
“We've listed a number of locations on our website this morning, where where we're asking anybody in Shepparton, who's been to those locations on those particular days to come forward to get tested,” Mr Weimar told 3AW.
High-risk virus locations in Shepparton:
Central Tyre Service, Welsford Street Shepparton from Wednesday 30 September 2020 to Tuesday 13 October 2020.
Mooroopna Golf Club Members Bar, Sunday 4 October and Sunday 11 October
Shepparton Market Place Medical Centre, Midland Highway Shepparton Thursday 8 October 2020 9:15am – 10:15am.
Thai Orchid Restaurant, Nixon Street Shepparton on Wednesday 7 October 2020 from 7:00pm
Bombshell Hairdressing, Fryers Street Shepparton on Wednesday 7 October 2020 after 9:30am
Anyone who has visited the “high risk” locations are considered to be a “close contact” and need to get tested and go into quarantine, along with any household members.
Other at risk locations:
Bunnings Warehouse, Midland Highway Shepparton Wednesday 30 September 2020
McDonalds Shepparton North, 169-175 Numurkah Road Shepparton Saturday 3 October 2020
Lemon Tree Café, Fryers Street Shepparton 7 to 12 October 2020
Mooroopna Golf Club Pro Shop Sunday 11 October 2020
Anyone who visited any of the locations may be a “casual contact”, and the DHHS is urging people to get tested and stay at home while waiting for the results.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he was confident Shepparton would be able to get the outbreak under control, saying there had already been a strong response following authorities asking for people to come forward and get tested.
“I am confident we will get the same result as we had in Kilmore recently, where many people will come forward and get tested,” Mr Andrews said.
Urgent testing needed in Shepparton
Local politician Suzanna Sheed said the three new infections were “awful news” for Shepparton.
“This is awful news for Shepparton,” Ms Sheed wrote on Facebook on Tuesday night.
“With so many high-risk locations identified in Shepparton over recent weeks it is essential that we get tested for coronavirus.”
On Wednesday morning, Ms Sheed praised the community’s “rapid response”, after learning of the “large queues” outside the testing facilities.
From Wednesday, testing sites will open at Goulburn Valley Health's Acute Respiratory Clinic in Shepparton and at the showgrounds, with more expected to be set up as the day progresses.
High risk locations: Shepparton— VicGovDHHS (@VicGovDHHS) October 13, 2020
📍 Central Tyre Service, Welsford Street – 30 September to 13 October
📍 Bunnings Warehouse, Midland Highway – 2 October
📍 McDonalds Shepparton North, 175 Midland Highway – 3 October
(1/3) #COVID19Vic pic.twitter.com/wOThMWfh9D
Infected truck driver may face fines
Mr Andrews said the truck driver who sparked the outbreaks in Shepparton, Chadstone and Kilmore could face fines, though it is up to Victoria Police to decide.
"There are infections in Shepparton today that we know of and there is almost certainly going to be more that were all completely preventable if this individual had told the full story," Mr Andrews said.
"He wouldn't have got into trouble for telling the whole story. It is only when you don't that we all have problems."
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.