COVID-19 Community Update: Kilmore cluster, mandatory day 11 testing and fitted face masks (13 October)

13 October 2020



 
Yesterday new changes to face coverings came into force, day 11 testing began for those isolating following the Kilmore outbreak and regional Victorians continue living under step three restrictions, with hope for further easing this Sunday.

Here is my latest update:
 
KILMORE CLUSTER
On Sunday I was briefed by the Department of Health and Human Services on the Kilmore COVID-19 cluster after community members contacted me with concerns about gaps in the department’s contact tracing.
 
There are currently six confirmed cases in this outbreak, which arose from a permitted worker who was travelling from Melbourne to Benalla dining in at a café with his father. The man later tested positive for COVID-19 and testing found he has passed it to his father as well as two of the staff at Oddfellows Café in Kilmore.
 
This has no doubt been a very difficult and stressful time for Oddfellows and the community should be very proud of their transparent and efficient response to the outbreak.
 
I understand, however, that there has been confusion and inconsistency between the Premier’s press conferences which said people should go and get tested whether they had symptoms or not, and the advice some people received from the hotline which told people they did not need to be tested unless they had symptoms. Some people who dined at the café told me they had not been contacted by DHHS, despite the public being told everyone had been called and was isolating.
 
The Chief Health Office’s contact tracing team has assured me that every close contact, or person that may be at risk after attending the café, has now been contacted. As of 11 October, 250 close contacts were isolating as well as 140 secondary close contacts and 997 people had been tested.
 
I have also been advised that the definition of who was deemed to be a close contact changed several times after the outbreak was first discovered, which resulted in some people being told they did not need to be tested, and then subsequently being told that they should. Secondary close contacts are those people who are exposed to the first 250 people deemed to be close contacts.
 
The outbreak is being managed by a regional team through Goulburn Valley Health in Shepparton. Information specific to this particular outbreak is best obtained by phoning the GV Health Contract Tracing Team on 1800 313 070 between 8am and 8pm, rather than the generalised coronavirus hotline.
 
Where to get tested
A pop-up testing site is running at the Kilmore Soldiers Memorial Hall in addition to the existing testing site at the Kilmore and District Hospital for anyone with symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, fever or difficulty breathing.
 
If you have any of these symptoms, even if mild, please go and get tested. Testing continues to be available at The Kilmore and District Hospital’s drive-through testing site from 9am to 7pm and at the pop-up site at the Kilmore Soldiers Memorial Hall from 10am to 6pm.
 
If anyone is in need of assistance following this outbreak please do not hesitate to contact me via email or on 5762 1600.
 
MANDATORY DAY 11 TESTING
From today, close contacts of people with coronavirus will be asked to get tested on day 11 of quarantine to help reduce the spread of the virus.
 
Those identified as close contacts by the DHHS must get tested on day 11 or thereafter of their quarantine period, or they will have their quarantine extended.
 
Getting tested on day 11 of quarantine helps to accurately identify whether it is safe for the close contact to be released from quarantine without the risk of infecting other people. If the test is negative, the person will receive clearance from the DHHS likely on, or after, day 14. If the test is positive, the Department will contact the person with further advice.
 
I understand from my briefing with the department that day 11 testing has begun for those deemed as close contacts to the Kilmore cluster.
 
You can find a timetable from Goulburn Valley Health for those currently quarantining and approaching day 11 testing here.
 
Day 11 testing for asymptomatic close contacts to be tested at the GV Health pop-up clinic at the Kilmore Soldiers Memorial Hall from 10am-5pm - no appointment is necessary. Please note this testing site is for those people who DO NOT have symptoms of COVID-19.
 
Symptomatic testing for those who DO have COVID-19 symptoms will be done at the Kilmore District Hospital. You must phone 5734 2024 to book an appointment.
 
PHOTO ID REQUIRED AT HOSPITALITY VENUES
Businesses are now required to sight photo ID (such as a driver’s licence or proof of age card) to ensure patrons are not residents of metropolitan Melbourne. 
 
Where you do not have photo ID or your ID does not match your ordinary residence or principal residence, you must sign this form confirming that your ordinary place of residence (or principal place of residence if you have more than one ordinary residence) is not in metropolitan Melbourne.
 
The government has introduced fines of up to $9,913 for businesses if they fail to check if customers are from metropolitan Melbourne, while offenders can face fines of more than $4,900 if they have no valid reason for being in regional Victoria.
 
UPDATE ON FACE MASKS
From yesterday, 12 October, it is mandatory for Victorians to wear a fitted face mask.
 
When the state government first announced mandatory face coverings some weeks ago, scarves, cloths and other items were permitted.
 
Daniel Andrews has now made fitted face masks mandatory. Face shields, bandanas, or scarves on their own will no longer be considered a sufficient face covering. ​​​​​​​Any fitted mask or fitted gaiter, snood or buff is acceptable. 
 
The government’s DHHS website says you should wear a mask that:

  • is three layers;
  • that covers your nose and mouth;
  • that is well fitted – this means it should fit snugly over your nose and mouth.​​​​​​

​​​​ 
I understand that many people across our region are fatigued and frustrated with mask wearing, particularly in instances where you are outside of the home with no contact with others (by yourself or with your household) such as walking, playing golf and fishing.
 
The Nationals have called for some common sense on mask wearing, where those living in regional Victoria that do not come into contact with anyone else when outside of the home should not have to wear a face mask. We pursued this with the government in Question Time today.
 
I understand mask wearing will be with us for some time as the government has flagged it as a “COVID Safe Principle” in its roadmap.
 
Details about the changes to face masks can be found here.
 
UPDATE ON RESTRICTIONS
Daniel Andrews has flagged that he will be making an announcement about changes to restrictions this weekend, Sunday 18 October.
 
We don’t know exactly what this will mean for regional Victoria as the government’s roadmap does not include this date for us; rather a 23 November date and a trigger point of no new cases state-wide for 14 days to be able to move to the fourth step.
 
The Nationals have urged Daniel Andrews to bring regional Victoria’s restrictions in-line with New South Wales’ restrictions. This would include:

  • public outdoor gatherings of up to 20 people;
  • up to 20 visitors in the home;
  • no limitations on travel across NSW border;
  • events of up to 150 people with 4 square metre rule;
  • up to 300 people in restaurants and cafes with 4 square metre rule;
  • full resumption of community sport;
  • funerals up to 100 people and weddings up to 150 people with 4 square metre rule;
  • and the opening of gyms and fitness facilities.

 
I am hopeful that Daniel Andrews will carefully consider these ideas and implement the changes regional Victoria needs.
 
I will provide an update following Sunday’s announcements.
 

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