Urgent alert for thousands of Australians as Covid is found in wastewater from an area with NO active cases
- Virus fragments have been detected in wastewater in southeast Melbourne
- Discovery coincides with three cases being discovered in the state on Friday
- Health officials said those in affected suburbs should be on alert for symptoms
Victoria is on high alert after coronavirus fragments have been detected in sewage in areas where there have been no active cases – sparking concerns the virus might have spread undetected.
The virus fragments have been found in wastewater in suburbs in south-east Melbourne, health authorities warned on Friday.
Testing of samples from Wantirna South and Boronia on February 15 and Carrum Downs, Langwarrin, St Kilda, Caulfield and Caulfield North on February 16.
Health workers assist quarantining guests as they leave the Holiday Inn on February 16 (pictured) after a cluster there reached 19 people – putting the state into lockdown
Currently the only active cases are in Melbourne’s western suburbs along with one case in Greater Dandenong – sparking concerns the virus may have spread undetected to other areas.
The Department of Health said the wastewater samples contained ‘weak detections’ of the virus.
The discovery coincides with three new virus cases being found in Victoria on Friday after 21,292 tests were processed on Thursday.
The state’s number of active cases has grown to 27.
Victoria recorded no locally-acquired infections on Wednesday as residents were freed from a brutal Stage Four lockdown.
People exercising at South Melbourne Beach (pictured above) on the last day of lockdown
People who live in the following suburbs or who have visited on these days and have any symptoms should immediately get tested:
Wantirna South or Boronia from February 13 to 15, including parts of Bayswater, Ferntree Gully, Knoxfield and Tremont;
Carrum Downs or Langwarrin from February 13 to 16, including parts of Skye;
St Kilda East or Caulfield North from February 13 to 16, including parts of Balaclava, Caulfield and Elsternwick.
The stay-at-home order, only allowing people to leave home for essential work, shopping, care and exercise, was repealed along with the 5km travel rule.
Face masks are still mandatory indoor and outdoors if social distancing cannot be followed, and Victorians will only be allowed to have five guests in their houses.
Shops, bars, pubs and restaurants can also reopen on Thursday and 20 people can gather outside.
Premier Daniel Andrews said on Wednesday he was able to lift the ‘short, sharp circuit breaker’ lockdown thanks to the low infection numbers – but some rules must stay.
The health department has expanded their wastewater testing program recently to include 37 new sites in the past week.
‘Fragments of the virus detected in wastewater may be due to a person with COVID-19 being in the early active infectious phase or it could be because someone is continuing to shed the virus after the early infectious period,’ the health department said.
People were spotted not wearing masks in Melbourne’s CBD (pictured above) on Wednesday