By Mitchell Clarke
Roving testing squads and government “doorknockers” will travel across the Cardinia Shire, as residents are urged to limit their movements after the area was deemed a Covid-19 “hot spot”.
In a statement from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) on Sunday 21 June, medical officials “strongly discourages” any travel to and from six local government areas (LGAs), including Cardinia, until control of community transmission had been confirmed.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos welcomed the statement but said strict lockdowns were yet to be issued to the Cardinia Shire.
“We haven’t ruled anything out but we haven’t put any stay at home directions in place for those areas,” she said.
“We are very concerned about the level of transmission in those particular locations.”
As a result, the State Government has vowed to “step up” its community engagement across the entire shire.
“We acknowledge the challenges with some communities, for whom English may not be their first language, in understanding the public health message,” Ms Mikakos said.
“We want to make sure that people are receiving this message regardless of their English language proficiency.”
In its bid to establish more testing sites across the shire, Ms Mikakos flagged public places such as libraries and carparks as potential temporary locations.
She added that government employees would also travel out to the area to consult with various community members.
“They will be people clearly identifiable as public health officials who will be able to provide the community in those hotspot locations with more information and advice about symptoms,” Ms Mikakos said.
“This is about being nimble and responding to where we have hotspot locations. We have been concerned that some people may be taking some risks with their health and the health of others by still going out in the community.”
As of Monday 22 June, five active cases of Coronavirus have been confirmed in the Cardinia Shire, while the Yarra Ranges currently has zero active cases.
The total number of cases recorded in Cardinia and Yarra Ranges are 23 and 25, respectively.
Authorities will “drill down data” and look at particular problem suburbs but it’s not yet known where Cardinia’s specific testing sites will be located.
Cardinia Shire Council mayor Jeff Springfield said it was important that everyone followed current government direction to avoid a second wave of Covid-19 in Victoria.
“We have and will continue to support the efforts and follow government advice to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Cr Springfield said.
“We have a great community – a resilient community – and what we need to do now is ‘keep it up’, ‘keep following the guidelines’ and all continue to do what we can to ‘slow the spread’.
“The health and safety of the community is council’s number one priority and we’ll continue to work together as a community to do our bit to follow the guidelines and slow the spread.”
Gembrook MP Brad Battin said it was “disgusting” that the Premier didn’t arrange to inform Cardinia Shire Council prior to suggesting it could face increased restrictions.
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard this, it’s a bad image for us,” Mr Battin said.
“We’ve had fifteen cases between 450,000 + people across Casey and Cardinia, we need to put into perspective what this means.
“People need to use common sense, but the government needs to try and ensure people use common sense, rather than using scare tactics.”