Victorian health officials scrambling as people turned away at COVID-19 testing sites


Victorian health officials have been overwhelmed by the demand for coronavirus testing in Shepparton, in northern Victoria, where three cases of COVID-19 have been identified.Key points:Three positive cases in the northern Victorian city have prompted hundreds to try to get testedJeroen Weimar apologised for delays and said more testing resources would be in place as soon as possibleLocal residents are bitterly disappointed at the outbreak saying just one “intruder” has caused havocJeroen Weimar, the commander of COVID-19 testing in the Department of Health and Human Services, apologised to residents who were turned away yesterday. Some of them had been queuing for hours in hot, sunny conditions.He said there would be more capacity for testing today, with another drive-through site being set up at the Shepparton Sports Precinct.”I’d love to thank everybody who came forward in Shepparton to get tested,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.”My huge thanks, and I know it was a long wait in the sun, and for others, they may not be able to get tested today.”I do apologise. We’re working as fast as we can.”Nine Australian Defence Force (ADF) officers and the Ballarat Rapid Response Team are being brought in to assist with the testing and there will be extended hours at the GP Respiratory Clinic as well.Goulburn Valley Health’s chief executive officer Matt Sharp said testing teams that were in Kilmore after an outbreak at a local cafe were returning to Shepparton to boost capacity.”We’ve also called in additional support from our neighbouring health services as far away as Wangaratta to come and help support that testing uplift,” he said.Mr Weimar is urging anyone who went to any of the locations visited by the Melbourne man, who was unknowingly infected, to get tested.High-risk locations in Shepparton:Central Tyre Service, Welsford Street, Shepparton, from Wednesday September 30 to Tuesday October 13Mooroopna Golf Club Members Bar, Sunday October 4 and Sunday October 11Shepparton Market Place Medical Centre, Midland Highway, Shepparton, Thursday October 8 9:15am – 10:15amThai Orchid Restaurant, Nixon Street, Shepparton, on Wednesday October 7 from 7:00pmBombshell Hairdressing, Fryers Street, Shepparton, on Wednesday October 7 after 9:30amCasual contact locations in Shepparton:Bunnings Warehouse, Midland Highway, Shepparton, Wednesday September 30McDonalds Shepparton North, 169-175 Numurkah Road Shepparton, Saturday October 3Lemon Tree Cafe, Fryers Street Shepparton, October 7 to 12 Mooroopna Golf Club Pro Shop, Sunday October 11Updated 2:55pm October 14, 2020That man, who had a work permit to visit regional Victoria, was linked to an outbreak at the Chadstone Shopping Centre but did not initially disclose his visit to Shepparton during the first interview with contact tracers.”If you were at those locations in that time window then we’d ask you to come and get tested regardless of how you feel,” Mr Weimar said.The matter has been referred to the compliance unit of the health department, which is providing information to Victoria Police. After standing in line for hours, some people were turned away and told to come back tomorrow.(ABC News: Jackson Peck)Testing sites hit capacityFarmer Alan Shielde, who went Central Tyre Service during the risk period, was angry he could not get tested on Wednesday.”I lined up at the Goulburn Valley Hospital at 10:00am and got told four-and-a-half hours later the line was cut off, report back tomorrow,” he told ABC Statewide Drive.”It’s the busiest time of the year coming up and I’m trying to do the right thing, but there’s no preference to anyone in the line [based on the fact] you were in contact with them [at the tyre shop].”There were huge queues outside the Shepparton Showgrounds on Wednesday, with many people being turned away hours before the facility closed. Goulburn Valley Health said it was bringing in reinforcements to help boost coronavirus testing capabilities.(ABC News: Jackson Peck)The news of the outbreak has been a bitter blow for residents such as John Anderson, the president of the Shepparton Chamber of Commerce and Industry.”We were so hopeful of a relaxation of the restrictions from the Premier this weekend, and I would still be hopeful that that may happen, but that’s quite a setback,” he said.Premier Daniel Andrews has flagged a relaxation of some, but not all, restrictions on Sunday, with the state failing to hit the target for the next full step of the roadmap to the easing of restrictions. One ‘intruder’ caused havoc in SheppartonMr Anderson heard from a friend testing facilities in nearby towns had also been busy.”I was speaking to a pharmacist in Kyabram, about 30 minutes from Shepparton, and he told me that the testing centres in Kyabram are overwhelmed because people are coming from Shepparton,” he said.”I guess this is a wake-up call to everybody to be sure that they follow the guidelines.”Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak Fred Andronaca is worried the virus may have spread in the local community.(ABC News: Jackson Peck)Resident Fred Andronaca was in the testing queue at the request of his boss after visiting one of the high-risk locations.”We were going quite well in Shepparton for a bit and just one intruder into the town has created a bit of havoc,” he said.”It’s not good but … we’ve just got to try and get through it if we can.”He is worried there might be even more cases in town.Independent MP Suzanna Sheed said on Tuesday the confirmed case had many contacts in the community.”As you can see, one person’s come into town and he’s created a fair amount of mayhem, just one person,” Mr Andronaca said.”It’s a concern if people aren’t getting tested like we are today. It could spread even further in the community.”What you need to know about coronavirus:

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