'WE NEED HELP': Aussie town buckles under Covid supermarket closures

·2-min read

A regional Victorian town is crying out for more help after a Covid-19 cluster forced local supermarket staff into isolation, limiting access to essential supplies.

The outbreak in Shepparton, about 180km north of Melbourne, has grown to 50 cases and forced an estimated 17,000 residents to isolate.

Many supermarkets have closed for cleaning after being listed as exposure sites, including a large IGA in the town's north.

Coles stores in Shepparton, Mooroopna and Shepparton South are also operating on reduced hours due to staff availability, while some home delivery and click-and-collect orders have been cancelled in recent days.

A lone person walks along the usually busy Maude Street Mall in Shepparton on Tuesday. Source: AAP
A lone person walks along the usually busy Maude Street Mall in Shepparton on Tuesday. Source: AAP

More exposure sites were added in the region on Wednesday afternoon, including a Shepparton East Woolworths and a KFC store in the centre of town.

Shepparton independent MP Suzanna Sheed wants Premier Daniel Andrews to send 100 Defence personnel by Thursday for logistics such as truck driving, packing and delivering supplies.

"We need help," read a front-page splash in the city's local newspaper on Wednesday.

About 50 ADF personnel have arrived to support Goulburn Valley Health with testing and door-to-door checks, and Health Minister Martin Foley said further support would be provided if needed.

It comes as health authorities warn Victorians are still taking too long to get tested, with mystery cases continuing to pile up.

"Some of the recent cases that I've mentioned haven't been tested for seven or eight days," health department deputy secretary Kate Matson said.

Of the 45 new locally acquired Covid-19 cases reported on Wednesday, 28 people were out in the community while infectious. The source of infection remains under investigation for nine of these new cases.

Health Minister Martin Foley said bringing down those two figures would be key to determining whether the statewide lockdown ends on September 2.

Meanwhile, more than 95,000 Victorians booked vaccine appointments at state-run hubs to 4pm on Wednesday, despite the online system being overwhelmed as Pfizer eligibility expanded to those aged 16 to 39.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting