Urgent virus alert for 18 Victorian suburbs

Health authorities in Victoria have issued an alert for multiple suburbs after fragments of COVID-19 were found in wastewater.

COVID-19 has been detected in the wastewater of more than a dozen Melbourne suburbs with residents urged to get tested if they have any symptoms of the illness.

It comes as Queensland and NSW battle to control a coronavirus outbreak, affecting Greater Brisbane and Byron Bay.

Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton on Wednesday said the wastewater samples could be due to a positive case being in the early active infectious phase or because someone is continuing to shed the virus after the early infectious period.

“Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, is urged to get tested, especially if you live in or have visited these areas during (those) dates,” Mr Sutton said.

The samples were taken between March 22 to 29 at Hoppers Crossing, Tarneit, Truganina and Werribee, and between March 21 to 25 at Beaconsfield, Berwick, Clyde North, Cranbourne East, Cranbourne North, Guys Hill, Hallam, Hampton Park, Harkaway, Narre Warren, Narre Warren North, Narre Warren South, Officer and Upper Beaconsfield.

Meanwhile the state has recorded no new cases of the virus, reaching its 33rd day without a locally acquired case.

A total of 20 Victorians have been forced into hotel quarantine for two weeks, after they were deemed close contacts linked to the Queensland outbreak.

The Victorian Department of Health confirmed 16 had returned an initial negative coronavirus test result with the remainder of results pending.

A number of travellers who entered Victoria from Brisbane on March 29 will no longer be required to stay in hotel quarantine.

There had been reports returning travellers were forced into hotel quarantine, despite being assured by authorities they would not be.

Mr Sutton said the decision was made based on the timings of their flight.

“In a pandemic, we have to act fast and err on the side of caution,” he said.

“Protecting the whole community is the number one priority. We thank these individuals for their patience and understanding.”

It comes as authorities attempt to get on top of a coronavirus clusters in Queensland that jumped border into northern NSW, after an infected nurse attended a hen’s party in Byron Bay.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday announced Greater Brisbane would go into a three-day snap lockdown in an attempt to bring the growing COVID outbreak under control.

The state recorded eight locally acquired cases on Tuesday and two new cases on Wednesday.

One new case was reported in Byron Bay on Wednesday, with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announcing a raft of restrictions for the shires of Byron Bay, Ballina, Tweed Heads and Lismore.

Authorities confirmed a man in his 20s tested positive for coronavirus after he attended the Byron Beach Hotel with friends and sat near the hen’s party.

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