Coronavirus Melbourne: Federal staff deployed to battle ‘health bushfire’
A primary student from Melbourne’s west has tested positive to COVID-19, just days after school holidays began.
Parkwood Green Primary School principal David Allibon said the Hillside school’s grounds would be closed for three days.
“This closure will allow time for the school and DHHS to undertake a full risk assessment,” he said in a letter to parents on Monday night.
“Close contacts of the student will be notified by DHHS and supported to ensure they understand what actions to take.
“We wish the student a speedy recovery and look forward to welcoming them back to school next term once they have recovered.”
Gowrie Clare Court childcare and kindergarten shut its doors on Monday night after a child tested positive for COVID-19.
The popular centre in Yarraville will be closed until at least Wednesday to undergo the standard cleaning procedures.
The child was last at the kindergarten on Friday, and anyone who may have come into contact with them will be notified.
Executive manager Glyn Williams told the Herald Sun: “Things are changing all the time so we don’t have a set date to return, but once the enviro clean is done we will have a better understanding of where things are at.”
It comes amid fears of a possible return to remote learning after six schools were yesterday close for deep cleaning.
Footscray High, Al-Taqwa College in Truganina, Maribyrnong College, Queen of Peace Parish Primary School in Altona Meadows, Aitken Hill Primary in Craigieburn and Port Phillip Specialist School in Port Melbourne were all closed.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack this morning urged Melburnians in coronavirus hotspots to stay at home as the city’s outbreak continues to grow.
He cautioned against using the outbreak to fuel interstate rivalries with debate on travel and border restrictions ramping up.
“We are going to be there for Victoria,” Mr McCormack told ABC radio on Tuesday.
“It’s not just state versus state, it’s not Melbourne versus Sydney or anyone else.” He said people in hotspot suburbs needed to follow health advice in order to curb the spread of the disease.
“If they need to stay at home, well jolly well stay at home. It’s not difficult,” the Nationals leader said.
“Think of others, do the right thing and we’ll get through this.”
TRACING TEAM PUSHED TO BREAKING POINT
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will provide Victoria with 800 support staff after 75 new coronavirus cases were identified on Monday — the worst day since March.
The Herald Sun can reveal Premier Daniel Andrews has asked for Commonwealth assistance to combat the state’s worrying jump in cases.
Canberra has agreed to provide:
100 managers to support on-the-ground co-ordination of community engagement and doorknocking,
500 staff to form part of the public engagement and door knocking teams, and
200 clinical staff to undertake testing at fixed sites, to release clinical staff to participate in mobile testing in hotspots and surrounding suburbs.
The agreement was struck late on Monday following a day of talks between Mr Andrews and Mr Morrison.
“This is a public health bushfire — just as we help out other states in summer, help is coming from across the nation now — and we are grateful for that,” a government spokesperson said.
Mr Morrison has pledged to give Mr Andrews anything he needs to combat the dangerous outbreak, which threatens to put a handbrake on the easing of border restrictions and slow the nation’s economic recovery.
The Herald Sun believes federal health officials may be used to bolster the struggling state’s response and provide extra expertise to Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton’s team.
Victoria’s monitoring system is almost at breaking point, with more than 2500 close contacts of COVID-19 patients being tracked, and Prof Sutton warns case numbers will keep getting worse.
Mr Morrison and Mr Andrews held talks on Monday after the fourth-largest single day tally of cases was identified since the pandemic began.
Federal Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan, who spent more than 30 years in Victoria’s health system, said: “If there’s anything they need, we will of course come to their aid.
“The Commonwealth stands with Victoria in its response and we are offering every assistance we can to them, should they require it.”
The Herald Sun can also reveal the state’s prison officers have been approached to help provide security at quarantine hotels after lax procedures among private contractors sparked outbreaks.
A senior Corrections Victoria official emailed employees inviting them to apply for positions.
Prof Sutton warned on Monday that the outbreak would get worse before it improved.
He said managing more than 2500 close contacts was almost unmanageable, even after the team dedicated to the task was increased from 1000 to 1350.
Other states are providing resources and the Defence Force is helping with a testing blitz.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said his plan to open the state’s border to Victoria on July 20 was now “under a cloud”, while Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will detail her border plans on Tuesday.
Mr Morrison said the outbreak was “of grave concern”.
“We can leave no stone unturned and no resource left unapplied to this task,” he said.
SUBURBAN LOCKDOWNS NOT RULED OUT
Asked about the possibility of localised lockdowns, Mr Morrison said: “I certainly will be considering all options and supporting the Premier in any such strong options that are necessary.”
Prof Sutton said it was clear Victorians were ignoring messages about social distancing and testing if they were even mildly symptomatic.
He warned further restrictions could be enforced if the spread of the virus was not slowed.
“What we’re seeing is transmission across settings because people are still going out with symptoms,” he said.
“The solution is there already, which is people not having unnecessary contacts across multiple households, across multiple settings.”
While he hinted that Victoria was now in the middle of a second wave, Prof Sutton refused to use the term.
“Whatever you call it, it’s as big as the first one and it’s looking that way,” he said.
“Second peak, second wave, it’s got the same challenges. We’ve got significant numbers to follow up, and we’ve got significant risk of transmission.”
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the government was “obviously concerned” after double-digit case increases for 13 consecutive days.
It comes as the Premier’s popularity has taken a hit over the government’s response to recent outbreaks.
In a Newspoll conducted across six states and published in The Australian on Tuesday, overall voter satisfaction for Mr Andrews fell from 58 per cent in April to 40 per cent in June.
About 72 per cent of Victorians said they believed the Labor leader was handling the coronavirus well, but this result was a 13 point drop and the lowest among all premiers.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and South Australian Premier Steven Marshall both recorded increased support.
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Originally published as School, childcare shut as children test positive