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Shepparton coronavirus cases traced to person linked to Chadstone outbreak who initially hid trip

Three new coronavirus cases in Shepparton, in Victoria's north, are linked to a person who did not initially tell contact tracers they had made a stop in the regional city.

Three new coronavirus cases in Shepparton, in Victoria's north, have been linked to a Melbourne resident who did not initially tell contact tracers they had visited the regional city.

Key points:
  • With contact tracing underway, health officials expect to find more cases
  • Anyone who has symptoms, even if they have not visited the high-risk locations, is urged to get tested
  • Shepparton MP Suzanna Sheed said the news was gutting after an outbreak in July was suppressed

The person had been linked to the outbreak at the Chadstone Shopping Centre, then travelled to Kilmore, north of Melbourne, on September 30, Jeroen Weimar from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said.

That Melbourne resident then travelled on to Shepparton, but Mr Weimar said they only disclosed this stop to contact tracers in a follow-up conversation last night.

"It is obviously hugely concerning that the information about the Shepparton stop wasn't divulged at the time that we were dealing with Kilmore 10 to 12 days ago," Mr Weimar told ABC Radio Melbourne this morning.

"Had we had that information at the time we could have jumped on the Shepparton situation much more quickly.

"We're now having to go back, work with those businesses and locations and work with the people of Shepparton to get this back under control.

"Our contact tracing system, everybody's contact tracing system, is only as good as the information we get from people who turn positive."

LIVE UPDATES: Read our blog for the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public health officials discovered the virus had spread to Shepparton yesterday, when a woman who got tested on the weekend returned a positive result,.

The team then immediately tested twelve other people at her workplace, a tyre shop in Shepparton, and two of those workers tested positive.

The source of the infection was then traced back to the Melbourne resident who travelled to Shepparton with a work permit on September 30.

"That was the original cause of the cluster as we know understand it, within the Shepparton area," Mr Weimar said.

People lining up for coronavirus testing in Shepparton.People lining up for coronavirus testing in Shepparton.
People were queuing for testing for hundreds of metres at GV Health in Shepparton.(ABC Goulburn Murray: Will Kendrew)

Premier Daniel Andrews said the case has been referred to DHHS's compliance unit, which was providing information to Victoria Police.

"You don't get in trouble if you tell the full story, I want to make that clear to people," he said.

"You potentially do get into trouble if you don't."

Mr Weimar said the three positive cases were isolating at home in Shepparton, and being monitored by health officials.

A large line for coronavirus testing outside GV Health at the Shepparton Hospital.A large line for coronavirus testing outside GV Health at the Shepparton Hospital.
Some Shepparton residents are being told they might need to wait up to six hours to get tested.(ABC News: Jackson Peck)

Shepparton residents have been asked to get tested for coronavirus if they feel unwell.

People who have visited one of the high-risk locations listed by DHHS are also being asked to get tested even if they have no symptoms.

The department has released a list of high-risk locations, which includes eateries, a golf club, a hairdressing salon and a Bunnings store.

But Mr Weimar said locals who felt unwell should get tested even if they had not visited any of them.

High-risk locations in Shepparton:
  • Central Tyre Service, Welsford Street, Shepparton, from Wednesday September 30 to Tuesday October 13
  • Mooroopna Golf Club Members Bar, Sunday October 4 and Sunday October 11
  • Shepparton Market Place Medical Centre, Midland Highway, Shepparton, Thursday October 8 9:15am - 10:15am
  • Thai Orchid Restaurant, Nixon Street, Shepparton, on Wednesday October 7 from 7:00pm
  • Bombshell Hairdressing, Fryers Street, Shepparton, on Wednesday October 7 after 9:30am
Casual contact locations in Shepparton:
  • Bunnings Warehouse, Midland Highway, Shepparton, Wednesday September 30
  • McDonalds Shepparton North, 169-175 Numurkah Road Shepparton, Saturday October 3
  • Lemon Tree Cafe, Fryers Street Shepparton, October 7 to 12
  • Mooroopna Golf Club Pro Shop, Sunday October 11

Updated 2:55pm October 14, 2020

Mr Weimar said extensive contact tracing was underway and it was expected that further cases would be discovered.

"To everyone locally … if you feel unwell at all, please get tested as soon as possible and stay at home until you get your results," Mr Weimar said.

"We're asking everyone in the local community — and any Victorian who has loved ones in Shepparton — to share this message."


'We had a moment of hope'

Local Shepparton MP Suzanna Sheed said she was "gutted" by news of the outbreak in her electorate.

"To find out that just tonight there are … active cases, possibly with many contacts for our community, is extremely upsetting," she told Parliament on Tuesday night.

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Duration: 1 minute 22 seconds1m 22s
Independent MP Suzanna Sheed says the Shepparton community will be devastated to learn of the new cases.

Ms Sheed said there had been a big run of cases in Shepparton in July but "we got on top of it, suppressed it and we've been clear for weeks".

Regional Victoria is on step three of Victoria's restrictions roadmap, and has significantly fewer limits on movement and business than metropolitan Melbourne does.

Ms Sheed said she could see the impact of the restrictions while driving into Melbourne to attend Parliament.

"The life has been sucked out of this place and it is a truly tragic thing to see," she said.

"We had a moment of hope in regional Victoria that we might have been able to have a much better result, to be able to be more isolated and to be able to free up even more.

"News like that can just really be so devastating in our communities when we feel like we were really getting on top of it."

A neon COVID-19 SCREENING sign with arrows pointing down a gumtree-lined footpath in Shepparton.A neon COVID-19 SCREENING sign with arrows pointing down a gumtree-lined footpath in Shepparton.
Coronavirus testing clinics have been set up in Shepparton.(ABC News: Jackson Peck)

Federal MP Damian Drum, whose electorate of Nicholls includes Shepparton, has called on the Victorian Government to strengthen border controls around Melbourne to prevent further outbreaks.

"We have been screaming at the Premier to put a genuine border around Melbourne, and I mean a genuine, permit-system border that means only essential workers can go into and out of Melbourne," he said.

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

Before the outbreak, there had been only six active cases of the virus in all of regional Victoria.

Five of them are in the Kilmore area, north of Melbourne, and are also linked to the Chadstone cluster.

People can be tested for coronavirus in Shepparton at:

  • Goulburn Valley Health's Acute Respiratory Clinic, between 9:00am and 5:30pm
  • The McIntosh Centre at the Shepparton Showgrounds, which will open from 12:30pm
  • The Shepparton Respiratory Clinic, open for appointments only until 5:30pm today and extended hours of 9:00am-9:00pm from tomorrow
The outside of Bairnsdale Secondary College.The outside of Bairnsdale Secondary College.
The Bairnsdale Secondary College will remain open, as the case had not been on school grounds while infectious.(ABC News: Kellie Lazzaro)
New coronavirus case linked to Bairnsdale school acquired in Melbourne

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the case linked to Bairnsdale Secondary College was acquired in Melbourne.

"The individual had their entire acquisition period, the two weeks before they became symptomatic, in Melbourne," Professor Sutton said.

Earlier, the school's principal, Trudie Nagle, said the person had not been on the school grounds since July.

The school remains open, and students in years seven to 12 returned to the campus on Monday after months of remote learning.

"There is absolutely no concern, no threat, no safety danger whatsoever, because the individual has not been on site since July," Ms Nagle said.

Students in years seven to 12 returned to the campus on Monday after months of remote learning.

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