Shepparton News

Melbourne link to local cases

- By Darren Linton

The COVID-19 cluster that has forced more than 16,000 Shepparton residents into 14 days of isolation has been linked by genomic testing to a cluster that started earlier this month in northern Melbourne.

The Shepparton cluster grew to 44 cases, with an additional seven confirmed yesterday morning.

Identified Tier 1 exposure sites continue to mount with three more primary schools added in 24 hours, forcing hundreds more families into mandatory quarantine.

Victorian COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar said there were now 16,612 close contacts in Victoria and 30,000 people enduring 14 days’ isolation.

There are 3840 primary close contacts associated with the Shepparton cluster and more than half of those have already returned a negative test, although health authoritie­s have warned that past experience shows a large number of positive results don’t show up until late in the 14-day quarantine period.

Health authoritie­s are closer to finding the source case of the Shepparton outbreak.

‘‘The Shepparton cluster is now connected to the Royal Melbourne Hospital cluster, one of the index cases for the Royal Melbourne Hospital is a patient who came from the Shepparton area who is linked with the active households that we’re working with in that area,’’ Mr Weimar said.

‘‘I can also confirm that genomics has confirmed that Shepparton is connected to the Glenroy cluster, so that diagnostic­ally gives us a very good lead in terms of now finding that actual connection between the Glenroy cluster and the Shepparton cluster, we have a number of lines of inquiry.’’

Health authoritie­s are now trying to deal with more than 16,000 people who need to be tested prior to getting out of quarantine.

On Tuesday, only residents with symptoms, and primary contacts directed to test, were being asked to turn up at testing sites in Shepparton and Mooroopna.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he could give no guaranties about an easing of restrictio­ns after September 2 and the health advice currently is that Victoria could not safely open up while the number of cases and mystery cases remain at the same levels.

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