Australia

Five new coronavirus cases in Victoria as five Melbourne suburbs are put on high alert

Residents of five suburbs in Melbourne's north have been urged to get tested. Source: AAP

Residents of a tower block in Melbourne's north have been told to isolate for 48 hours after being linked to a nearby school where a student tested positive.

Victoria has recorded five new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, as about 500 residents across five suburbs in Melbourne's north isolate after a school student tested positive.

The pupil attended East Preston Islamic College, which has been closed until further notice for deep cleaning, with 73 close contacts of the student in isolation. 

All of the new cases on Thursday were close contacts of previously identified cases in north Melbourne. 

The city's 14-day rolling daily case average has dropped slightly to 6.1 per cent, health authorities said on Thursday, while regional Victoria stayed at 0.4. No new fatalities were reported, with the state's death toll remaining at 817.

There have been 10 cases with an unknown source in the fortnight to 19 October.

The five suburbs subject to the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services alert to monitor for symptoms include Dallas, Roxburgh Park, Broadmeadows, Preston and West Heidelberg.

Meanwhile, 120 residents in a community housing block in Broadmeadows are isolating for 48 hours after a fellow resident tested positive.

"I would stress this is an abundance-of-caution approach," the state's Commander of Testing Jeroen Weimar said on Thursday. "This timeframe allows for the department to ensure the community is aware of the situation and for residents to get tested and get their results back before determining what the next steps are."

Asymptomatic testing will be offered at a testing station set up on-site.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews hit back at concerns some commentators would blame the Islamic community for the spread of the virus, stating: "this is not a function of faith, far from it".

"There are some in different communities across the state that may feel a sense of shame or stigma that they have got a positive test. Nobody should feel that ever," he said.  

A close contact linked to the East Preston school has also been identified at Dallas Brooks Primary School, which has also been closed for deep cleaning as a precautionary measure.

A community door-knocking program will start on Thursday to alert residents in the suburbs about the potential exposure to coronavirus and provide information about testing sites.

It comes after a text message was sent out on Wednesday afternoon alerting people who lived in or were visiting the suburbs to get tested.

Elsewhere, a schoolies celebration at Rye on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula has officially been called off by the local council.

The decision follows the cancellation of schoolies festivities on the Gold Coast and Byron Bay.

Although Rye is accessible under the 25km radius coronavirus restrictions rule, Mornington Peninsula Shire chief executive John Baker urged school graduates to stay away.

"It's just not worth the risk of travelling down here," he said on Wednesday. "Look at options in your local area, stay safe and celebrate at home."

On Wednesday, Victoria reported no deaths and only three new cases.

Victoria is poised to unveil a further easing of coronavirus restrictions on Sunday, after six straight days with new cases below five.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction's restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, VictoriaQueenslandWestern AustraliaSouth AustraliaNorthern TerritoryACTTasmania.

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