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Greater Shepparton outbreak sparked by man linked to Chadstone Cluster

The three new cases, who are currently self-isolating at home, were discovered Tuesday after a symptomatic woman was tested over the weekend.

Twelve of her colleagues were tested overnight, with two returning positive results.

The Victorian Government's testing chief Jeroen Weimar said the index case, who was from Melbourne and linked to the Chadstone coronavirus outbreak, only informed contact tracers about his travel to Shepparton on Tuesday, more than a fortnight following his visit.

The man was a contact of a member of the Chadstone cluster.

He did not know he was infected when he travelled, and visited Kilmore, Benalla and Shepparton on September 30, eating at a Kilmore Cafe and sparking an outbreak of six cases, before moving on to a Shepparton tyre shop.

In an interview with Neil Mitchell on 3AW Radio, Mr Weimar claimed the person had not been acting in a COVID-safe way.

"Something clearly happened on the 30th of September between that individual and the people at the tyre shop which meant the virus was able to spread, very similarly to what happened in Kilmore," he said.

"The individual, who had a work permit to travel into regional Victoria, as well as stopping off at Kilmore also stopped off in Shepparton.

"The information was unfortunately not forthcoming until last night.

"The contact tracing is really swift but we’re only as good as the information we get and if we don't know people have been to Shepparton then it’s very hard to contact trace in Shepparton."

It is the first time in several weeks new cases have been recorded in the region.

Goulburn Valley Health chief executive Matt Sharp said his organisation had first become aware of the new case at 1pm on Tuesday.

“Once the case became apparent the normal process kicked into gear, whereby our contact tracing team start the investigative work to actually understand what’s happened, and where that person has been and where they might have been exposed to COVID-19,” he said.

“So it’s our local contact tracing team that through that process there was a link with one of the high-risk locations being a tyre place in Shepparton, and a previous tyre place identified in Benalla last week.”

Mr Sharp added the man’s initial failure to disclose his trip to Shepparton had greatly impacted contact tracing.

“Contact tracing can be a quite detailed process, there’s lots of different parts to contact tracing, but what makes it most effective is the information people provide,” he said.

“What our contact tracing team relies on and indeed all contact tracing teams is the ability to have fulsome information, the full picture to be able to identify and put a plan in place to identify close contacts and other locations of concern.

“It’s always a challenge no matter the situation when people don’t provide the fullest of information. So it does represent a significant challenge.”

Goulburn Valley Health has launched extensive contact tracing efforts, with further cases expected to be discovered.

Residents who visited any of the high-risk locations below during the dates and times identified have been told to get tested and quarantine for 14 days, even if they don't have any symptoms or only mild symptoms.

  • Central Tyre Service, Welsford Street Shepparton on Wednesday, September 30 to Tuesday, October 13
  • Mooroopna Golf Club Members Bar Sunday, October 4 and Sunday, October 11
  • Bombshell Hairdressing, Fryers Street Shepparton on Wednesday, October 7 from 9.30am
  • Thai Orchid Restaurant, Nixon Street Shepparton on Wednesday, October 7 from 7pm
  • Shepparton Market Place Medical Centre Midland Highway Shepparton Thursday, October 8 from 9.15am to 10.15am

Meanwhile locals who have visited any of the locations of concern below should get tested and stay at home while they await results.

Shepparton health authorities are also strongly advising people who live in a house with a person who has visited one of the exposure sites to quarantine for 14 days.

In addition, people should be vigilant for symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested again at the first sign of any symptoms.

  • Bunnings Warehouse Shepparton, Benalla Road Shepparton, Wednesday, September 30
  • McDonalds Shepparton North, Numurkah Road Shepparton, Saturday, October 3
  • Lemon Tree Café, Fryers Street Shepparton, Wednesday, October 7 to Monday, October 12
  • Mooroopna Golf Club Pro Shop, Sunday, October 11

From Wednesday Shepparton residents can be tested at GV Health's Acute Respiratory Clinic at Graham Street, Shepparton.

It is open seven days per week from 9am to 5.30pm.

Further testing sites will be established, with a pop up site to be established at the Shepparton Showgrounds from 12.30pm.

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