Hundreds told to get tested after ‘strong and unexpected’ COVID-19 wastewater detections

The Health Department has contacted hundreds of Victorians and urged them to undergo a coronavirus test after “strong and unexpected” COVID-19 fragments were detected in the state’s wastewater.

Authorities say 246 people who were in Melbourne’s western and north-western suburbs were contacted on Thursday and told to get tested as a precaution.

A COVID-19 testing facility in Moorabin on Centre Dandenong Road.Credit:Simon Schluter

“This additional action is being taken due to the strength of the wastewater detection and because a known positive COVID-19 case, from flight QF778, has been in Victoria in the past 14 days,” the department said.

The 246 people who were contacted include four primary close contacts of the QF778 case and 242 recently returned red and orange zone travel permit holders.

“All of these primary close contacts have recently been tested and have returned negative results. All of the 246 people are being asked to test again out of an abundance of caution,” the department said.

The Health Department said it was most likely that these new detections were due to people continuing to shed the virus after the infection period. However, the department warned, it could also be due to a person living in or travelling through the area in the early active infectious phase.

The areas of Victoria affected

New detections

North-western suburbs 20–27 April 2021

Glenroy, Hadfield, Oak Park, Pascoe Vale

Benalla 10– 15 April and 20-26 April 2021 (repeat detections)

Benalla

Western suburbs 20 – 27 April 2021

Altona, Altona North, Brooklyn, Newport, South Kingsville, Williamstown, Williamstown North

Northern suburbs 20 – 27 April 2021

Briar Hill, Bundoora, Diamond Creek, Greensborough, Lower Plenty, Macleod, Mill Park, Montmorency, Plenty, South Morang, St Helena, Viewbank, Watsonia, Watsonia North, Yallambie, Yarrambat

Outer eastern suburbs 20 – 26 April 2021

Chirnside Park, Coldstream, Kalorama, Lilydale, Montrose, Mooroolbark, Mount Dandenong, Mount Evelyn, Olinda, Yarra Glen, Yering

Active detections reported recently:Western suburbs catchment 18-26 April 2021

Persons visiting or residing in Albanvale, Burnside, Burnside Heights, Cairnlea, Caroline Springs, Deer Park, Delahey, Hillside (Melton), Keilor Downs, Kings Park, Plumpton, Ravenhall, Sydenham, Taylors Hill or Taylors Lakes.

North-western suburbs catchment 18-26 April 2021

Persons visiting or residing in Avondale Heights, Calder Park, Hillside (Melton), Kealba, Keilor, Keilor Downs, Keilor East, Keilor Lodge, Keilor North, Keilor Park, Sydenham or Taylors Lakes.

Eastern suburbs catchment 20–24 April 2021

Persons visiting or residing in Balwyn, Balwyn North, Blackburn, Blackburn North, Box Hill, Box Hill North, Bulleen, Doncaster, Doncaster East, Donvale, Mitcham, Mont Albert, Mont Albert North, Nunawading or Templestowe Lower.

Outer northern suburbs catchment 17–22 April 2021

Persons visiting or residing in Epping, South Morang or Wollert.

“COVID-19 fragments have now been detected in four additional catchments in Melbourne’s western, northern, north-western, and outer eastern suburbs, and there have been repeat detections in Benalla,” the department said.

“These are in addition to viral fragment detections reported over recent days in other catchments the eastern, western, north-western and outer northern suburbs.”

The wastewater testing program is designed as an early warning system to support the ongoing efforts in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The department said a cautious approach is always taken when detections are found in tests undertaken throughout the city.

The Health Department said people who live in or have visited the below areas and who have developed COVID-19 symptoms were strongly encouraged to get tested.

More to come

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