Daylesford rallies to stop COVID spread as Ballarat frets on wastewater detections

Cliffy's Emporium in Daylesford has been listed as tier 1 exposure site between 3:20pm and 8:45pm on September 7. (ABC Ballarat: Rhiannon Stevens)

Last Friday the central Victorian community of Daylesford was on edge after learning a resident had unwittingly contracted COVID-19 during a permitted visit to Melbourne.

Today the community is breathing tentative a sigh of relief amid hope that authorities and residents have "got their arms around" the potential outbreak.

Grampians Public Health Unit medical director Rosemary Aldrich said the resident wore a mask, used QR codes, adhered to restrictions, isolated and got tested as soon as they got symptoms and had been very helpful to contact tracers.

"What I want to confirm and applaud is that this particular person, through no fault of their own, was exposed to COVID, but even so did everything right," she said.

"We think we've contained that matter — it's looking promising."

She said those involved with the three exposure sites listed "were also doing the right thing, so it was easy for us to track down who might have been in contact with the person".

There are about 40 primary close contacts who will need to isolate for two weeks and about 50 people who are secondary close contacts.

They will need to isolate until they receive negative test results.

'Little bit of panic'

Donna Kelly, the editor of Daylesford news outlet The Local, said there was a "little bit of panic" when the news broke on Friday.

A pop-up testing site was swamped by residents on Saturday.

Ms Kelly said some businesses went the extra mile and shut their doors over the weekend despite not being listed as exposure sites.

"We just got out of lockdown on Friday, so we're open to the regions — 'Come on in everyone and spend some money, we need you,'" she said.

"But then quite a few stores closed on Saturday and Sunday.

"There was a feeling of, 'Let's knock this on the head, let's get this out of the way and then let's open up when we feel really free to do so.'

"Even though there's so many little competing businesses, when it comes down to it we really are in this together.

"We're a really tight-knit community and we all know each other, and we know that if one of us goes down, we all go down."

Ballarat residents are being urged to get tested after repeated wastewater detections of COVID-19 fragments. (ABC News: Kelsey Rettino)

Wastewater fears

Meanwhile in nearby Ballarat, residents are being urged to get tested after repeated wastewater tests over the past two weeks uncovered COVID-19 fragments.

Dr Aldrich said a Melburnian worked in Ballarat last week ahead of testing positive to the coronavirus on Saturday.

It is understood the person is a worker at a Ballarat disability residential care home and their visit has created 10 primary close contacts.

No public exposure sites have been listed in connection with that visit to date.

"Last night I was informed that a person positive with COVID had visited Ballarat on Thursday and Friday for permitted reason without knowing that they were infected," Dr Aldrich said.

"Since that time we've identified their contacts, and their contacts are getting tested this morning.

"Fortunately, because we stood up the pop-up testing yesterday (in Ballarat), we're able to use that facility to get those tests this morning and we're hoping we'll have results of those tests later today so we can have an idea of where we stand with this particular exposure."

Dr Aldrich said the visit may explain some, but not all, of the wastewater detections.


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