Families who broke lockdown are at the centre of a major coronavirus outbreak in Melbourne’s south-east, with 34 cases across five households detected.
Residents in Melbourne's outer south-east who allegedly breached lockdown restrictions by visiting family and travelling outside of their 5km radius have sparked a major coronavirus outbreak.
There have now been 34 cases detected across five households.
The residents mingled with households across Hallam, Clyde, Narre Warren South and Cranbourne North, driving an outbreak in the city's south-east which has seen cases infect Dandenong Police Station and other industrial work sites.
"The five houses in this particular cluster have had, unfortunately, some members of those households visiting other households," Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 testing commander Jeroen Weimar said.
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"It is that limited amount of contact, relatively infrequent contact between these five households that has now meant that we have 34 people in five houses experiencing or living with a very real threat of the coronavirus."
The first cases linked to the family cluster were identified on September 4, with a "significant and painstaking" contract-tracing exercise underway.
An incident management team has been set up, with Monash Health and councils City of Dandenong and City of Casey assisting authorities working on the ground to build a "clear picture" on the spread of the virus.
"We have had a series of deep and ongoing conversations with community members and leaders across that wider Casey and Dandenong area," Mr Weimar said.
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"We have been talking to youth groups around the Casey and Dandenong area and talking to the entire community to ensure we get the clear message across to people.
"Number one, you cannot and should not mix across different households.
"It is not about what gender you are. It fundamentally highlights the fact that this virus knows no boundaries. This virus respects no differences between people. It ultimately thrives on close, human contact. And even indirect human contact. And that is exactly what we've seen playing out here."
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An additional four pop-up testing sites have been set up in the Casey and Dandenong area, with anyone with the mildest of symptoms urged to get tested.
Three of the new testing sites were established on Tuesday, with the fourth centre launched today at the Dandenong market.https://twitter.com/VicGovDHHS/status/1306805458234155014
A total of 4228 people were tested last week in the area, following the premier's plea to contain the spread of the virus in the city's outer south-east.
"If you feel remote symptoms, in the Casey and Dandenong area, we really want you to come forward and get tested," Mr Weimar said.
"It is the most important thing you can do for yourself. It's the most important thing you can do for your family. It's the most important thing you can do for your community.
Testing has been offered to all drivers of rideshare vehicles who live or work in Casey and Dandenong.
There are currently 90 active coronavirus cases across the two council areas.
Premier Daniel Andrews today described the breach in COVID-19 restrictions among the family cluster as "disappointing".
The five households breached Melbourne's gathering and visiting restrictions, as well as the 5km radius health direction. Some of those infected are essential workers.
"Five kilometres is one thing and visiting others is the real issue here, frankly. The rules are in place for a reason and anyone who undermines this, undermines the entire strategy and it means the rules will be on for longer," Mr Andrews said.
"If you break the rules, particularly if you are breaking the rules in your home or somebody else's home, where there is no infection control, there is no formality, it is by its very nature, close contact for potentially prolonged periods.
"All you will do is spread this virus. That is why it is disappointing."
The premier said he hoped the outbreak warned Victorians to follow the rules.
"Hopefully, this is a really, really strong reminder … everybody has to follow the rules.
"This thing is wickedly infectious. It spreads quickly and silently. And the one thing that's almost certain, if you've got this and you go and spend time in other people's homes, you will give it to them."
Families at centre of cluster won't be fined
The families who allegedly breached coronavirus restrictions will not be fined, Mr Andrews said.
The premier said he did not want the possibility of a fine to deter people from being honest with contact tracers.
"I know many Victorians, when you see examples of people not following the rules, that's disappointing, it makes you angry," he said.
"You need to look at the bigger picture here. We don't want a situation where people don't have a sense of confidence and indeed, you know, the sense they're obliged to tell us the full story as quickly as possible. That's what we need."
Mr Andrews stressed public health was more important than the enforcement of a fine.
"No amount of money would ever be anywhere near how valuable the information that person gives to us, because that means we can get the health problem fixed and then we can get the economic rebuild and repair.
"That's not in the thousands of dollars, it's billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs."
You can get up-to-date information from the Federal Government's Coronavirus Australia app, available on the App Store, Google Play and the Government's WhatsApp channel.
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Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/victoria-coronavirus-family-at-centre-of-major-outbreak-in-melbournes-south-east/fe386847-f4cc-4f73-9d53-a9f41074a136