Testing Blitz COVID-19

While the rest of Australia is enjoying relaxing of restriction imposed earlier this year due COVID-19, Victoria has obviously moved into reverse gear. With now ten suburbs identified as hotspots of second wave of COVID-19 and testing blitz on, fear is setting back in the minds of Melbournians. Toilet paper is once again disappearing fast from the supermarket shelves.

“I know many Victorians are feeling anxious and unsure” said Premier Daniel Andrews this morning in a statement.

“After all, so many of us have given up so much in order to keep our state safe. And yet – disappointingly, devastatingly – we again find ourselves on a knife’s edge. What we do now will determine what comes next”, he added.

Containing the spikes within the identified hotspots is critical and the Army has been called to supplement the efforts the Victorian government is making to fight the spread.

“We don’t want to have to move to local lockdowns. We know the impact that would have on businesses and on families. But we do need to get a comprehensive sense of how this virus might be spreading – and we need Victorians’ help to get us there. “, the Premier further added.

Today Victoria has begun a Suburban Testing Blitz, a plan the Victorian government has come up with to ensure it has all the information and insights needed. This targeted blitz across ten priority suburbs represents one of the biggest testing efforts ever. The ten suburbs are:

Keilor Downs, Broadmeadows, Maidstone, Albanvale, Sunshine West, Hallam, Brunswick West, Fawkner, Reservoir and Pakenham.

Over the next 10 days, residents of these suburbs will receive free testing – with or without symptoms.

In this heightened state of emergency due to this second wave, the Premier said, “Our aim is to do 10,000 tests a day across these areas and in the top two priority suburbs – Keilor Downs and Broadmeadows – we want to reach half the population in the next three days.”

A team made up of 800 testers will zero-in on community transmission with a fleet of mobile testing vans – allowing people to not only get tested in their own community, but in their own street.

And, in an Australian first and thanks to the efforts of the Doherty Institute, from next week Victoria will be doing additional testing from the collection of saliva samples – providing a faster, easier and more comfortable test.

“We’re asking locals in these areas – particularly if you have symptoms – please come forward and get tested. See it as your civic duty. See it as your contribution to keeping your local area and our whole community safe”, the Premier pleads.

A squad of more than 1 000 doorknockers will also continue their outreach, going door to door to

ensure locals have the latest health advice.

To make sure processing of these test results in time, a massive expansion of our lab processed capacity is being undertaken.

Right now, pathologists in Victoria can process up to 18,000 tests a day. With the help of labs in New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and private providers that number will grow to at least 25,000 tests every single day.

These efforts will be supported by Australian Defence Force personnel who’ll provide planning and logistics support – including the transportation of pathology samples interstate if required.

“Through fire and flood – and even just this summer – we have always been proud to send our people to support other states in their time of need. We are grateful now to receive that same support from around the country as we continue to confront coronavirus together”, the Premier appreciating the interstate support said.

The state-wide testing efforts will also continue, with more than 130 testing locations across Victoria – and more sites coming soon.

Victorians are still needed to play their part. Staying safe in the community – and staying safe inside your home.

If you’re sick, get tested and stay home. If someone in your household is sick, make sure they get tested and stay home.

If you’ve been tested, stay home while you wait for your result.

Keep your distance. Keep washing your hands. Keep listening to the advice. And as you do, remember:

You’re doing this for your family – and for every Victorian family.

“I want to be upfront, in the coming weeks, and in line with our expanded testing program, we’ll likely see our daily cases increase”, the Premier forewarned Victorians.

“Some may see this as a mark of failure. Instead, if those cases can be traced back to other known positives, it’ll be a mark of our success. Every Victorian who gets tested – every case that is identified – brings us one step closer to containing and slowing the spread of this virus.

“This isn’t easy. But it’s up to all of us to make this work.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from being under control. We may be in for a long time of not being able to live pre-COVID-19 – normal lives.

And if that’s what it takes to fight it, that’s what we have to give. Do it for Australia folks!

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