Victoria’s COVID-19 recovery “on a knife’s edge” – Premier

PREMIER Daniel Andrews has warned local lockdowns may be a possibility if COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise, as a testing “blitz” rolls out across the state.

Residents of 10 priority suburbs – Pakenham, Keilor Downs, Broadmeadows, Maidstone, Albanvale, Sunshine West, Hallam, Brunswick West, Fawkner and Reservoir – will undergo free COVID-19 testing, whether they display symptoms or not.

Eight hundred testers will zero-in on community transmission with a fleet of mobile testing vans, allowing people to get tested in their own streets.

The government is aiming to roll out 10,000 tests a day for 10 days across these areas, with concentrated testing in Keilor Downs and Broadmeadows – the top two priority suburbs.

“I know many Victorians are feeling anxious and unsure,” Mr Andrews said.

“After all, so many of us have given up so much in order to keep our state safe.

“And yet – disappointingly, devastatingly – we again find ourselves on a knife’s edge.

“What we do now will determine what comes next.”

The Premier said he understood the effect local lockdowns would have on businesses and on families, but the state government needed to get a comprehensive sense of how the virus might be spreading.

From this week, additional testing from the collection of saliva samples will take place, which makes for a faster, easier and more comfortable test.

Lab processing will be expanded to include pathologists in New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and private providers, meaning Victoria’s testing capacity will be increased from 18,000 to 25,000 tests a day.

Australian Defence Force personnel will provide planning and logistics support – including the transportation of pathology samples interstate if needed.

The Premier reiterated basic safety rules were still crucial, and everyone needed to play their part.

“If you’re sick, get tested and stay home,” he said. “If someone in your household is sick, make sure they get tested and stay home.

“If you’ve been tested, stay home while you wait for your result.

“Keep your distance. Keep washing your hands.

Keep listening to the advice. And as you do, remember, you’re doing this for your family – and for every Victorian family.”

The Premier said in the coming weeks, and in line with an expanded testing program, the daily case numbers would likely increase.

“Some may see this as a mark of failure,” he said.

“Instead, if those cases can be traced back to other known positives, it’ll be a mark of our success.

“Every Victorian who gets tested – every case that is identified – brings us one step closer to containing and slowing the spread of this virus.”