COMMUNITY FIGHTS BACK
Greater Shepparton faces an extended battle against the Delta variant of COVID-19, with health authorities expecting the outbreak will continue to grow. With thousands forced into 14-day quarantine and the list of potential exposure sites increasing daily, the community has rallied, with long lines at COVID testing stations.
The Shepparton COVID19 outbreak rose to 23 cases yesterday, but has also spread with a confirmed case at Mansfield and more linked to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
The Mansfield case was identified after the patient presented at the Mansfield District Hospital emergency department overnight Saturday, it will be added to today’s case numbers.
A Shepparton patient who was admitted to the Royal Melbourne Hospital for surgery prior to the emergence of cases in his home town is also believed to be the source of infection for another patient who then passed it on to a family member who visited.
The details emerged at the daily Victorian Government media conference.
Department of Health deputy secretary Kate Matson said authorities believed a surgery patient from Shepparton brought COVID-19 to the hospital.
“The index case was a woman who visited family member at Royal Melbourne Hospital and caught it from the family member — the family member was on same ward as person from Shepparton,” she said.
Ms Matson said the source of the Shepparton outbreak was still unknown and given the rapid rise in cases, it was expected infectious people were in the community.
“We don’t have a source case for the Shepparton outbreak yet, we don’t know how it started,” she said.
“We expect the Shepparton outbreak to grow.”
Twenty-one of the cases confirmed were included in yesterday’s official figures, two cases will be reported in today’s figures.
The positive cases are across three households plus one close family group and then students with a school association.
Contact tracing is continuing to determine the source of the outbreak.
About 150 GV Health staff have been furloughed because of their connection to exposure sites and GV Health chief executive officer Matt Sharp said he expected this number to rise.
Support has arrived from Barwon Health to keep one testing site operational.
GV Health is working to redirect resources to the emergency department and other areas of the hospital.
A dedicated COVID-19 area has been established in the emergency department and a designated respirator ward, which was set up at the beginning of the pandemic, is continuing to operate.
Mr Sharp urged anyone with questions to visit the Department of Health’s website at: coronvirus.vic.gov.au or phone 1800 675 398 for the latest information.
“Our switchboards are overwhelmed at the moment,’’ he said.
Ms Matson urged younger people to heed health orders, revealing that the Delta strain was infecting younger people at higher rates than other strains.
In Victoria there are 259 active cases in people under 30 and 109 are aged under nine.