Covid-19: Testing rates low in hotspots

Covid-19 testing at Fountain Gate - a declared Covid hot-spot. 208162_01 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

South East residents are urged to get tested for Covid-19 in response to new outbreaks in Hallam and other Casey suburbs.

New pop-up sites will operate daily at Memorial Drive, Noble Park and Hallam Secondary College from 15 September, 9am-4pm.

A Clyde Recreation Reserve Footy Pavilion site will open daily from 16 Sept, 9am-4pm.

In the meantime, Casey suburbs such as Hallam, Clyde and Narre Warren have been identified as hotspots by the Department of Human Services.

As of 14 September, the Hallam postcode had recorded 16 in the past week, and Clyde/Clyde North/Cardinia with 18 – including nine on 14 September.

Dandenong/Dandenong North/Dandenong South recorded eight cases over the same period, and Noble Park three.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said the outbreaks occurred within Casey’s Afghan community. It was a cohort vulnerable to transmission in “high-risk workplaces”.

“It’s a community that’s a priority for engagement and a priority for testing for us.

“They do the right thing but they have some vulnerabilities in terms of where they work and how they need to work.”

Professor Sutton said he’d offered to speak directly to the community.

Having previously travelled to Afghanistan, he said people had a “universal motivation” to protect their families.

“I know their motivation is to get on top of this as much as anyone.”

Fountain Gate shopping centre in Narre Warren was listed as a high-risk location. Visitors between 18 August and 6 September were advised to be vigilant for Covid-19 symptoms.

Dandenong police station remains closed, with links to seven active cases. The high-risk visiting period is between 25 August and 3 September.

The cluster at Dandenong South truck manufacturer Vawdrey Australia has nine active cases.

The new pop-up testing sites are in response to testing rates in Greater Dandenong and Casey being less than the metro Melbourne average.

Professor Sutton said he expected comparatively higher testing rates in Covid-19 hotspots.

Testing was the “pathway” out of lockdown; without testing, more outbreaks would occur, Professor Sutton said.

“It’s a call out to everyone in that LGA and those suburbs in particular to come forward for testing.

“Testing is the opportunity to snuff this out.”


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