Covid-19 testing ramps up

Staff at the drive-through testing station at Carroll Lane, Dandenong. 209879_09 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A drive-through Covid-19 testing station has opened in Dandenong as parts of the South East have been declared no-go zones.

With the threat of a ‘second wave’ of the pandemic, the testing station in a Carroll Lane car park is hoped to lift sub-par testing rates in Greater Dandenong.

Since opening on 15 June, the station was reporting 300 visitors a day, Greater Dandenong mayor Jim Memeti said.

Many of the initial batch were linked to a Pakenham coronavirus outbreak, he said.

Victorian health authorities are urging anyone with even mild symptoms such as a fever and dry cough to get tested.

“We’ve had 22 (Covid-19) cases in the City of Greater Dandenong – it’s a fantastic result for the largest multicultural area in Australia,” Cr Memeti said.

“We hope we can have more testing done and our numbers don’t increase.”

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told State Parliament that three-week waves of testing would target specific communities such as Dandenong to “get the full picture”.

“(It will) focus on local government areas with lower testing rates, communities with high case numbers, high-risk workforces and vulnerable groups.”

More than 600,000 Covid-19 tests had been undergone in Victoria.

Meanwhile, Victoria’s state-of-emergency has been extended until 19 July due to a spike of 121 active reported cases as of 21 June.

The anticipated easing of restrictions has been replaced with a tightening of rules. Visitors to homes are limited to five, outdoor public gatherings to 10.

People are being advised to limit travel to and from Melbourne hot spots such as Casey and Cardinia local government areas, with nine and six active cases respectively.

Greater Dandenong has three active cases.

Seven recent infections have been linked to a Monash Health hospital patient.

The cluster has been described by the Department of Health and Human Services as “primarily family based”.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said more than 100 new cases in the past week was mainly caused by transmission within families.

“People have not followed our advice around physical distancing, hygiene and limiting the number of people you invite into your home.”

Premier Daniel Andrews reiterated social distancing rules for people to avoid handshakes, hugs, sharing food or drinks and crowds.

“The substantial increase in the number of household contacts spreading the virus amongst extended family groups shows the battle against coronavirus is far from over.

“As we’ve seen across the world, this virus can turn a few cases into hundreds in a matter of days.

“If you’re unwell – stay home.”

Victoria Police’s 500-officer squad would conduct spot checks to ensure people “do the right thing”, Mr Andrews said.

It would continue issuing spot fines of up to $1662 for non-compliant individuals and up to $9913 for businesses.

A maximum of 20 people have been set for restaurants, pubs, auction halls, community halls, libraries, museums, places of worship, gyms, cinemas and TABs.

Community sport for children and non-contact sport for adults is allowed.

Greater Dandenong Council was planning a “soft” opening of Dandenong Oasis pool and gym, and Noble Park Aquatic Centre with reduced hours.

Visitors require a booking.

 

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