Community role in vital Vic COVID testing

Andrew Drummond
·2-min read

A squad of public housing residents will play a frontline role checking for COVID-19 symptoms among fellow tenants in Melbourne.

Victoria on Sunday reported a 16th consecutive day without a new coronavirus case and for the first time in months, a fortnight period without any cases with an unknown source of infection.

Health authorities confirmed there are three active cases across the state, and Premier Daniel Andrews welcomed the "positive news", but warned against complacency.

"The biggest and most important take away for every single Victorian is, if you have symptoms, even the mildest symptoms, please go and get tested and get tested quickly," he said on Sunday.

A community health group is urging coronavirus testing and helping identify possible undiagnosed cases among Melbourne's public housing towers, some of which previously went into lockdown amid a COVID-19 outbreak.

More than 80 public housing residents, covering 10 language groups, have been employed to be stationed at the base of numerous high-rise towers spread across Melbourne, not-for-profit group cohealth said on Sunday.

Their role is to monitor the health of residents, take temperatures, provide information and updates to restrictions in their own language, and link people with symptoms to local testing sites, plus provide masks.

"These are trusted neighbours and friends of our target audience. They share language and culture and are recognised as reliable sources of information," cohealth chief executive Nicole Bartholomeusz said.

The scheme was established in conjunction with Victoria's health department and is funded until January.

More than 8300 people across Victoria were tested for coronavirus on Saturday.

"Getting tested is the critical thing," Mr Andrews said.

"That allows us to have a complete picture, or at least the most complete picture of where this virus is, and to put a public health response around your family and then protect every family across the state."

A testing push has begun in Hume and Wyndham - local government areas hardest hit during the state's second wave of COVID-19.

Victoria's final step of easing social restrictions is due next Sunday, but recommendations including face masks are expected to remain.

Ten people will be allowed to visit a home and public gatherings will grow to 50 people outdoors, while the cap on weddings and funerals will be increased to 100 and organised contact sports will resume for all ages.

South Australia will re-open its border with Victoria on December 1, while NSW will open its border with the state earlier on November 23.

There will be no requirement for travellers to quarantine in hotels or at home.

Victoria's death toll from the virus stands at 819, with the national figure at 907.