By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Casey and Greater Dandenong residents are urged to get tested to help contain a 34-strong cluster in the South East.
The virus spread between children, adults and elderly people in five households in Hallam, Clyde, Narre Warren South and Cranbourne North. The first case was detected on 4 September.
Infected members had made visits to the other affected households – which is banned under Covid-19 restrictions.
In some cases, they travelled beyond the allowed five kilometres from home.
They also stopped at Fountain Gate shopping centre – leading to a caution to anyone at Fountain Gate shopping centre between 18 August and 6 September.
No transmissions had been linked at Fountain Gate as yet, deputy chief health officer Allen Cheng said.
Some of the outbreak included essential workers, who had not been at work during their infectious period, Professor Cheng said.
There are no known links to the recent mass anti-lockdown protests in Dandenong South, he said.
Premier Daniel Andrews said visiting other households undermined the Covid strategy.
“This thing is wickedly infectious. If you have this and go to other people’s homes, you’ll spread it to them.”
Mr Andrews distanced himself from Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton’s singling out of the Afghan community in the South East cluster.
“That’s a matter for him.
“At no point in many months have I made any reference to any particular community.”
He praised contact-tracing teams for their “very good detective work” in containing the “challenging” and “complex” cluster.
“Keeping it to that number is a very impressive effort. It speaks to how rapidly it spreads.”
Since the cluster, public education forums and conversations with community leaders have been held, DHHS deputy secretary for community engagement and testing Jeroen Weimar said.
An information blitz had also targeted retailers in Noble Park, Dandenong, Narre Warren and Fountain Gate, Mr Weimar said.
More than 4200 people had been tested in Casey and Greater Dandenong in the past week.
Extra testing sites have been installed in Noble Park, Hallam, Clyde and Dandenong Market in the past three days.
He said a multi-agency effort of Monash Health, City of Casey and City of Greater Dandenong had helped to give a “clear picture” on the virus’s spread.
As of 18 September, the two council areas have 101 active cases – with Casey recording 47 in the past seven days. However, no new cases were recorded in Casey on 18 September.
Greater Dandenong has recorded 10 in the past week.
Most of Victoria’s 45 new cases on 18 September were linked to an aged care home in Brimbank
Mr Weimar said many of the cases were in workplaces such as aged care, Dandenong police station and industrial sites.