April 27, 2020 14:09:58
Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews says 100,000 people will be tested for COVID-19 over two weeks before a decision is taken on easing stage three restrictions.
- Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said anyone with symptoms, including mild symptoms such as a scratchy throat, should get tested
- He said he was “open” to allowing students to return to classrooms before term three if evidence supported the move
- Premier Daniel Andrews said one new case of COVID-19 was confirmed overnight and the death toll remained at 17
“This is the biggest public health testing program that our state has ever seen and it will give us the data that will underpin the options that we will have in just a couple of weeks’ time,” Mr Andrews said.
“Health workers, aged care workers, people with symptoms, even the mildest symptoms, should come forward and get tested.
“I do want to foreshadow, not all restrictions will be coming off, no matter what the results of these tests [are]. The risk would be far too high.
“Keep following the rules and get tested, that’s the biggest, most powerful contribution you can make to the fight against this virus.”
The state has carried out 104,000 tests since January.
Mr Andrews said “ramped-up testing” would need to continue for “weeks and months to come” but flagged that no restrictions would be eased before May 11 when the state of emergency officially ended.
“I know that won’t be the news people want to hear but the key point here is we need to stay the course,” he said.
“This is working. This is working so well that many other countries around the world would swap with us in a heartbeat.”
The Premier said there were 1,349 cases of coronavirus in the state, which included one new case in Victoria.
One case from Victoria’s total was shifted to the tally in New South Wales.
The death toll in Victoria remains at 17.
“We send our best wishes to each of the families dealing with that tragedy,” Mr Andrews said.
There are 23 people in hospital including 11 in intensive care.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said it was “really critical” that anyone with symptoms, no matter how mild, was tested.
“A scratchy throat, a runny nose, and symptoms that aren’t that common such as a loss of smell,” Professor Sutton said.
“It is an inconvenience to step up and get tested. But this is the kind of sacrifice we make to help us all in this battle.
“There’s a greater level of confidence I can have the more tests that come in. If we can get to 100,000 tests in the next two weeks it means … I can have a very good picture of what’s occurring in the state.
“That means the decisions around the lifting of restrictions can be made. The greater the data means that can be made with more confidence and we won’t be surprised by a resurgence in an area that we haven’t looked at.
Chief Health Officer open to resuming normal school life this term
Professor Sutton said he was not opposed to a return to at-school learning this term if there was evidence to support the move.
“I’m open to restrictions changing in this term. I will follow the numbers and follow the evidence. The more numbers are driven down and the more testing that can be done the better off I am in being confident [in making decisions],” he said.
He also said there could be an opportunity to conduct specific research on how the virus affected children.
“This has been an area with insufficient evidence to properly, fully inform practice and so it is helpful to get a picture of how many kids might carry the virus, how many of them might be asymptomatic and how many of them might have mild illness and the rate of transmission between them,” he said.
Mobile testing will travel to people who cannot go to a clinic
The testing blitz will be carried out at drive-through and walk-up clinics, and using new mobile screening clinics that will visit homes and workplaces.
There are 43 specialist sites across Victoria where testing can be undertaken and more testing clinics will be opened this week in Gippsland and Northern Loddon region.
Common symptoms of coronavirus are fever, breathing difficulties, breathlessness, cough, sore throat, fatigue or tiredness.
Anyone with any of those symptoms, no matter how mild, such as a runny nose or scratchy throat, should get tested.
Industries still operating at full capacity will be targeted for testing, including healthcare and aged care workers, construction workers, supermarket workers and agricultural workers.
Workers without symptoms in hospitals and other facilities with vulnerable residents will be asked to voluntarily participate in sample testing as part of new research in line with the pre-requisites set out by the National Cabinet.
The testing blitz will be used alongside wastewater testing, where the levels of coronavirus in sewage will be tracked to help anticipate or rapidly respond to local outbreaks.
Professor Sutton said after the blitz, he would have a “a very good picture of the transmission that might be occurring in the state”.
“Where it’s occurring, in which populations it’s occurring in and that means the decision around the lifting of restrictions can be made with the best evidence available,” he said.
Meanwhile, Victoria Police continues to fine people for alleged breaches of the physical-distancing rules under stage three restrictions.
Another 59 fines were issued in the 24 hours to 11:00pm on Sunday.
Examples of apparent breaches of health restrictions include a group of 12 people gathering in public, six people at a private residence for a party, and a person hosting drinks for non-residents at his home.
April 27, 2020 10:45:53