COVID-19 Benalla 0

By Simon Ruppert

Victoria is in the grips of a second spike of COVID-19, but luckily for the regions, most cases are being identified in metropolitan Melbourne - which is now back in lockdown.

Benalla has no active cases as of Tuesday, July 7, however, just down the road in Shepparton, and Wodonga, they have one active case each.

The State and Federal Governments had been encouraging regional tourism to pump much-needed money into smaller towns.

As a result of this the virus might have been spread into the regions and as such it is important for people from Benalla to be careful when visiting towns with, or without, active cases.

We now have the most active cases across the state since the pandemic began, with 772 people in Victoria who currently have the virus.

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The actual figure is projected to be even higher, and as testing continues more active cases are expected.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Victoria as of Tuesday afternoon was 2824 with 191 new cases reported in 24 hours..

The overall total has increased by 164, with three cases reclassified.

Within Victoria, 37 new cases are linked to outbreaks and 154 cases are under investigation.

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No case has been detected in a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

There have been two new deaths reported since Monday.

A man in his 90s passed away in hospital on Monday and the department has just confirmed another man in his 60s passed away in hospital yesterday.

To date, 22 people have died from coronavirus in Victoria.

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There have been 416 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Victoria that have been acquired through unknown transmission.

Currently, 35 people with coronavirus infection are in hospital, including nine patients in intensive care, and 2028 people have recovered from the virus.

Of the total 2824 cases, there have been 2469 in metropolitan Melbourne and 261 in regional Victoria.

This represents more than 90 per cent of cases being identified in Melbourne, and led some to call for a different set of restrictions between the city and country.

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On Tuesday afternoon Premier Dan Andrews confirmed that metropolitan Melbourne would go back to a Stage-3 Stay at Home restrictions, essentially shutting the city down for another six weeks.

With cases in Victoria continuing to rise the decision was also made to close the Victoria-NSW border.

Politicians across Victoria who had been calling for a Melbourne shut-down welcomed the decision to have a different set of regulations for the city.

Leader of the Victorian Nationals Peter Walsh said that the decision not to include most of regional Victoria in (Tuesday's) six week COVID-19 lock-down will provide some long overdue relief for country businesses and communities.

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"Victorians have worked hard to do our bit to stop the spread of the virus and save lives, but the worsening figures in Melbourne cannot be ignored," Mr Walsh said.

State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan welcomed the metropolitan restrictions but questioned why there is not more of an accurate breakdown of positive cases in Mitchell Shire, which has been included in the lock-down..

"It's clear that Mitchell Shire has a much higher rate of cases than elsewhere in the country," Ms Ryan said.

"Commonsense would tell you that this is likely to be a result of the proximity of the shire's south boundary to Melbourne and some of the hotspot areas like Kalkaloo, Craigeburn, Mickleham and Donnybrook.

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"There is no indication from the government as to whether the cases recorded in Mitchell are in the southern or northern end of the shire.

"I have tried on a number of occasions now to obtain a more detailed breakdown of where the cases are located, however the Andrews Government seems reluctant to provide it.

"Mitchell Shire residents should be told which postcodes these cases are in."

Liberal Democrats Member for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty has expressed relief that the government has listened to the voice of regional Victoria after it was announced that only metropolitan Melbourne is to go back into lock-down.

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“At last the city-focused Labor Party is recognising that regional Victoria needs to be treated as a distinct entity,” Mr Quilty said.

“All through this coronavirus crisis, regional Victorians have been paying the price for Melbourne’s problems. I’m delighted that this attitude has changed.

“I have been calling for different treatment of the regions for months, and I am so glad they have finally listened to us.

“I’m very sorry to hear that Mitchell Shire has being thrown in with Melbourne, however. I wish that all of Northern Victoria could be outside the lock-down.”

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State Member for Northern Victoria Tania Maxwell agreed.

“We’ve been lobbying the Premier and Government very strongly to separate restrictions between metropolitan Melbourne and regional areas where there are low (or no) cases of coronavirus and I’m pleased the Premier has listened to this call," Ms Maxwell said.

“I will be in contact with affected Shires from my electorate and will offer them every support during what will be a difficult six weeks for these communities.”

People are being asked to get tested if they display any symptoms.

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If you wish to be tested for COVID-19 at the Benalla Health Fever Clinic you are reminded to phone first to make an appointment.

While some internet searches may provide alternate information, chief executive officer Janine Holland said it was imperative that bookings were made to minimise waiting times by phoning (03) 5761 4284.

“We understand that many people may be concerned following the recent spike in the number of cases around the State,” Ms Holland said.

“We would encourage anyone who has any symptoms, such as fever, cough or runny nose, to phone us and make a booking to receive the test.”

The clinic is open from 1.30 pm to 3.30 pm Monday to Friday and is located outside the Urgent Care Centre.

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