Thousands tested as Vic COVID cases surge

Victorians are heeding the government’s call and waiting hours to be tested for coronavirus in an effort to prevent a second wave of the potentially deadly disease.

Almost 25,000 COVID-19 tests have been carried out in 48 hours as the state marks a week of double-digit growth in cases.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday confirmed there were 17 new cases of coronavirus, more than doubling the state’s active cases in the past week to over 130.

The state has had a total of 1864 cases.

He said an “army” of officials would begin doorknocking homes in Brimbank, Cardinia, Casey, Darebin, Hume and Moreland council areas – earlier declared coronavirus hotspots – to ensure compliance with government guidelines.

Information about the virus will also be provided in languages other than English, following concerns COVID-19 messaging hasn’t been the reaching multicultural communities in those areas.

“There has been very deep engagement with localised communities, multicultural communities, multi-faith communities,” Mr Andrews said.

“We’re really working hard to make sure that every Victorian, regardless of their circumstance, knows and understands the rules.”

He apologised for major delays at drive-through testing sites at shopping centres, which have experienced a rapid surge in demand since the six hotspots were identified on Saturday.

Some people have waited up to four hours to be tested, while others have been turned away.

“I’m very proud to think that Victorians are coming forward and getting tested even though they know it is going to take some time,” Mr Andrews said.

The health department has not closed any drive-through sites but has urged people with symptoms to visit one of the state’s 94 fixed testing sites instead.

Testing sites at Chadstone, Highpoint, Northland, Pacific Epping and Pacific Werribee shopping centres have extended operating hours to meet demand.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Annaliese Van Diemen has warned the increased testing could mean a longer wait for results.

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said nobody should have to wait four hours to be tested and up to three days for results.

“You’ve got Victorians trying to do the right thing, trying to protect their families, themselves and their fellow Victorians and the government’s let them down by not making enough testing available,” he said.

Eleven of the state’s new cases remain under investigation but the premier expects there will be “significant community transmission within those numbers”.

One of the new cases is a returned traveller in hotel quarantine, three are the subject of routine testing and two are linked to a Keilor Downs extended family cluster.

AAP understands a worker at a Coles distribution centre in Laverton is one of the two family transmission cases confirmed on Tuesday.

A Coles spokeswoman said a small number of team members who had close contact with the worker were self-isolating as they awaited test results.

She said the worker would not have handled groceries or products sold at supermarkets directly.

Meanwhile, Brunswick East Primary School and Keilor Views Primary School were closed after a student at each school tested positive.

The schools will remain closed until at least Friday for cleaning, with contact tracing also underway to determine whether any staff or students should self-isolate.

The closure of Keilor Views Primary School comes after the adjacent Keilor Downs College was forced to shut again on Monday after a student attended school for two days while infectious.

VICTORIA’S SPIKE IN CORONAVIRUS CASES:

Today: 17 new cases

22/6: 16

21/6: 19

20/6: 25

19/6: 13

18/6: 18

17/6: 21

Source: Department of Health and Human Services

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