Hunt for hidden Covid-19 cases

Staff at the drive-through Covid-19 testing station in Carroll Lane, Dandenong. 209879_09 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Greater Dandenong’s Covid-19 active case numbers have risen to four amid fears that infection numbers are under-reported in the council area.

Its numbers rank just behind declared Covid-19 hot-spots Casey (eight) and Cardinia (five) – which have become no-go travel zones.

Total recorded cases in Greater Dandenong are now 24, up by one in the past day.

Meanwhile, Victoria’s threatening second wave continues, with 17 new cases reported on 22 June.

The seventh consecutive day of double-digit new cases defies the national trend.

Currently there are 131 active cases in Victoria.

The spike has been attributed to symptomatic and positive-tested people failing to self-isolate and spreading the virus to workmates, family and friends.

“We have made some great progress in slowing the spread of coronavirus, but we are still seeing new cases in the community,” Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said.

“This is the seventh consecutive day of double-digit case growth in Victoria, with a continuing and concerning number of new cases associated with transmission in households and families.

“Don’t take this disease lightly. if you feel unwell with any symptoms of coronavirus, however mild, you should stay home and get tested.”

Meanwhile, the pop-up testing station in Carroll Lane Dandenong – opened in response to the council area’s low testing rates – was swamped by demand on Monday 22 June.

A massive 17,000 tests were administered in Victoria on the same day – two days after the State Government re-tightened social restrictions.

“There are well over 100 testing sites operational across Victoria, however we are aware that some sites – particularly drive-throughs – are experiencing extremely high demand,” a department spokesperson said.

“It’s a good thing Victorians are going out and getting tested and we ask everyone to please be patient and understanding as our dedicated health care workers on site do their best to get through everyone as quickly as possible.”

The Department of Health and Human Services rejected claims that testing stations were closed on 22 June due to the large crowds.

Neither had there been a shortfall of testing kits, according to the department.

There had been however a need to manage the queues of cars spilling onto major thoroughfares.

At a council meeting, Greater Dandenong chief executive John Bennie noted “with concern” the “potential under-reporting” of Covid-19 cases in the council area.

He said the Government was now seeking to ensure the “message is well and truly heard that people must be testing” in diverse communities.

Meanwhile, Greater Dandenong will maintain its “conservative approach” – keeping libraries and aquatic centres open by appointment.

Community health and safety was the main consideration, despite a desire to re-open facilities as “quickly as possibly”, Mr Bennie said.


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