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'Beggars belief': How one man spread coronavirus to three communities

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A Victorian man who spread the Chadstone coronavirus outbreak to three separate communities in a single day has been referred to police over behaviour that “beggars belief”.

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Victoria’s Shepparton coronavirus outbreak has sparked alarm, with Deputy Premier James Merlino slamming the behaviour of the man involved.

Three Shepparton cases were confirmed late on Tuesday night and a testing blitz is under way in the town, with all residents urged to have samples taken.

The outbreak is directly linked to outbreaks in the Melbourne suburb of Chadstone and the town of Kilmore. It has emerged that the same man who was infected at Chadstone and then went to Kilmore on September 30, travelled to Shepparton that day as well.

But authorities say he did not tell authorities they had been to Shepparton, as well as Kilmore and then Benalla.

“It would be an understatement to say we’re disappointed that we didn’t get all that information,” Merlino said on Wednesday.

“For someone to say they’ve been to Benalla but not mention that they’ve also been to Shepparton, it beggars belief.”

A testing blitz was under way in Shepparton, north of Melbourne, on Wednesday after three positive cases were confirmed on Tuesday night.

State independent member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed said the northern Victorian town is behind the eight ball, given the virus has now been in the community for up to 12 days.

Three Shepparton cases were confirmed late on Tuesday night with all residents urged to get tested and stay home until they get their results.

“This matter has been referred to the Victoria Police,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

“It has gone to the compliance unit and they will provide further information to Victoria Police from DHHS and they will make further judgments.

“You don’t get in trouble if you tell the full story, I want to make that clear to people. You potentially do get into trouble if you don’t.

“By trouble, I am not just talking about a fine but there are infections in Shepparton today that we know of and there is almost certainly going to be more that were all completely preventable if this individual had told the full story.”

The man did not tell authorities he had been to Shepparton, as well as Kilmore and then Benalla.

Sheed said the regional community had been virus-free for several weeks and the outbreak will cause great anxiety.

“This is just the sort of thing we dreaded,” she said.

Contact tracing is under way and further positive tests are expected, while authorities have listed eight high-risk sites in the town from September 30 to October 8.

The latest outbreak was discovered when a Shepparton woman developed symptoms and went for testing.

Her work colleagues at a tyre shop were then tested, with two others also positive and nine negatives, according to Victorian testing boss Jeroen Weimar.

Weimar added the cases are not linked to an October 5 Shepparton test which was a false positive.

From Wednesday, testing sites will open at GV Health’s Acute Respiratory Clinic in Shepparton and at the showgrounds, with more being set up.

Victoria had five deaths on Wednesday, taking the state toll to 816 and the national to 904.

New case numbers dropped to seven after six consecutive days of double figures.

Only four of those cases are in Melbourne, with a rolling average of five or fewer cases the sought after target for lifting restrictions in the city.

Bairnsdale Secondary College in the state’s east also had a positive test.

The school posted on its Facebook page, saying it had been advised of a reported case, but it does not have to close because the person did not enter the grounds while contagious.

An Opposition no-confidence motion against Premier Daniel Andrews’ handling of the pandemic failed in parliament on Tuesday night.

The coronavirus omnibus bill passed the upper house early on Wednesday morning.

-AAP

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