Victoria records 79 local COVID-19 cases as outbreak spreads to Echuca


Victoria has recorded 79 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, as the state’s outbreak spreads further across northern Victoria.

Contact tracers have linked 53 of the new cases to existing outbreaks.

Victoria processed 50,535 test results on Thursday, when 33,611 doses of vaccine were delivered at state-run sites.

Health authorities said further information on how many of the new cases were in isolation will be released later this morning.

An aged care home in northern Victoria is in lockdown after a fully vaccinated staff member tested positive to coronavirus.

Echuca Community for the Aged said in a statement the Wharparilla Lodge worker was well when they last completed a shift on Friday last week.

There are more than 860 exposure sites across the state, with new sites listed in northern Victoria at Echuca, Kyabram and Mooroopna.

Emergency Management Victoria is overseeing the state’s crisis response in Shepparton, where thousands of quarantined residents are struggling to access food and medication due to the volume of workers forced into quarantine.

Australian Defence Force personnel are in Shepparton and are supporting community relief efforts and engagement, and around 50 ADF staff are supporting testing services.

Goulburn Valley Health said it had now been forced to furlough 510 staff as COVID-19 cases and exposure sites continued to increase in Shepparton.

Two rows of cars queue outside a Shepparton drive-through testing site.
More than 20,000 people have been tested in Shepparton since its outbreak was detected.(

AAP: Daniel Pockett

)

‘We have redeployed people or moved people from other areas to maintain those critical essential services such as our emergency department and operating theatres,” the service’s CEO Matt Sharp said.

The service is operating with limited frontline staff, as well as fewer critical support workers such as cleaning, catering and IT.

Mr Sharp said he expected Shepparton’s local COVID-19 cases to reach more than 70 today.

“Obviously with people still testing positive there’s still virus moving around in the community and it’s really important that people who do have symptoms of COVID-19 come forward and get tested straight away,” he said.

Four cases have been confirmed for Merrigum, west of Shepparton.

More than 20,000 people have been tested in Shepparton though Goulburn Valley testing sites since last Friday.

Jockeys stood down over alleged Airbnb gathering

Jamie Kah smiles, in jockey outfit as she rides a horse at Flemington Racecourse.
Jamie Kah was allegedly part of the illegal gathering on the Mornington Peninsula.(

AAP/Racing Photos

)

Four Victorian jockeys have been stood down for alleged breaches of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions after they reportedly gathered at an Airbnb with two other people.

Racing Victoria charged Jamie Kah, Ben Melham, Ethan Brown, and apprentice Celine Gaudray with breaching COVID-19 protocols.

It is alleged the four jockeys were present at an Airbnb in Mornington on Wednesday after 9:00pm.

Under the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, private gatherings are banned, and a 9:00pm curfew is in place in greater Melbourne, which includes Mornington.

All four jockeys have been banned from riding for 14 days.

In a statement, Racing Victoria CEO Giles Thompson labelled the alleged behaviour “a slap in the face to every member of the racing industry”.

“These individuals could have put at risk the very continuance of our sport and also blatantly disregarded the broader community implications through their selfish and thoughtless actions,” he said.

“To see all of that potentially thrown away by the reckless behaviour of a small few is incredibly disappointing and far from what is expected of our industry participants.”

An inquiry into the incident will resume this morning.

Horse and greyhound racing has been allowed to continue without crowds during Victoria’s lockdowns, in part due to animal welfare issues if the industries were to shut down.

The rules for the industry came under the spotlight last year when a decision to allow owners and connections to attend the Cox Plate was later reversed due to public backlash.

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