Shepparton outbreak grows to 12 cases, weekend community sport called off
A CORONAVIRUS outbreak in the Victorian town of Shepparton has grown again to twelve cases, with a decision on whether regional Victoria will be locked down again expected on Saturday.
Thousands of people in the town and surrounding areas have been forced into isolation and several school campuses have closed after a man in his 30s tested positive on Friday morning.
Late Friday evening the State Government said it had told community sporting leagues in regional Victoria to “immediately cancel their activities for this weekend”.
“The situation in Melbourne and across regional Victoria is extremely concerning,” a state government spokesperson said.
“Advice will be provided to Government tomorrow morning and all options are on the table.”
The Shepparton man has two children at St Mel’s Primary in Shepparton, which has been closed for deep cleaning.
He is isolating at home and his family has also been tested.
In an update on Friday afternoon, Goulburn Valley Health chief executive Matt Sharp said another 11 people have tested positive since the first case in Shepparton was identified.
“All people that have tested positive are family members from two separate households and are now isolating,” he said.
News of the outbreak comes after the premier Daniel Andrews on Friday refused to rule out a hard lockdown for regional Victoria.
Regional Victoria came out of lockdown on 10 August, though some rules including a ban on home visits and compulsory mask-wearing both indoors and outdoors remain.
Mr Sharp told reporters earlier on Friday that contact tracers don’t yet know how the first case caught the virus or how long he was infectious in the community.
“Clearly this is an area of concern for us at the minute, as we move as fast as we can through the contact tracing process,” he said.
Mr Sharp said it was likely the outbreak is the highly infectious Delta variant.
“We really don’t want anyone to be delaying the time from where they have a cough or a sniffle, and when they get tested,” he said.
More than 2000 students from all four campuses of Greater Shepparton Secondary College have been identified as tier one close contacts.
Students and their families have been told to remain at home until they receive further orders from the health department, and not to leave home even to get tested.
The Shepparton Tutoring Centre on Wyndham St has also been listed as a tier one exposure site.
New drive-through testing sites are being set up in the town.
At a media conference on Friday, Mr Andrews urged people to follow health directions.
“I know that the people of the Goulburn Valley will absolutely step up and get tested just like they did last year,” he told reporters on Friday.
COVID-19 has been detected in wastewater samples in the area since August 10.
During the state’s deadly second wave in 2020 a Melbourne truck driver spread the virus to Shepparton, infecting three people.
Also recorded in the state’s 55 new local cases on Friday were three in a household at Little River, west of Melbourne.
The family are close contacts of cases linked to Melbourne outbreaks and have been in quarantine for their entire infectious period.
It appears there are also exposure sites in Bendigo.
Construction equipment supplier Delecca’s told customers via Facebook that its staff are getting tested after the business was identified by authorities as an exposure site.