Australia

Hundreds of federal workers are heading to Victoria to help fight 'public health bushfire'

COVID-19 testing staff are seen at a pop-up testing site on 24 June, 2020. Source: Getty

Eight hundred federal workers will head to Victoria to help in its fight against coronavirus after the state recorded its highest case numbers in months.

Hundreds of federal workers are headed to Victoria to help the state's coronavirus fight after it recorded its highest case numbers in months.

Victoria recorded 75 new virus cases on Monday, the fourth-highest number since the pandemic began and the highest since March.

On Tuesday, the state requested help from the Australian government in the form of 800 workers.

One hundred team leaders will support co-ordination of the community door knocking happening in hotspot suburbs, 500 staff will form part of those community engagement/door-knocking teams and 200 clinical staff are being sent to fixed testing sites.

'A public health bushfire'

The commonwealth clinical staff will allow for state clinical staff to join mobile testing in hotspots and surrounding suburbs.

"This is a public health bushfire - just as we help out other states in summer, help is coming from across the nation now - and we are grateful for that," a Victorian government spokeswoman said in a statement.

The coronavirus outbreak "will get worse before it gets better", Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton warned after the 75 new cases were revealed on Monday.

He expects to see "at least" just as many positive cases in the coming days as test results pour in.

A testing blitz is underway in Albanvale, Broadmeadows, Brunswick West, Hallam, Fawkner, Keilor Downs, Maidstone, Pakenham, Reservoir and Sunshine West, which have seen high levels of community transmission in recent weeks.

More than 50,000 COVID-19 tests have been taken in the suburbs and Professor Sutton wants to see the results before deciding on any further measures to contain the virus.

Putting the suburbs into a second lockdown remains an option.

The last time more than 70 new cases were recorded in Victoria was on March 31, when the state was in its strictest lockdown stage.

Covid-19 testing is conducted in Broadmeadows, Melbourne, Sunday, June 28, 2020. Victoria has set up virus testing stations in neighbourhoods as it battles community transmission. (AAP Image/David Crosling) NO ARCHIVING
Covid testing at Broadmeadows, Melbourne. Sunday, 28 June, 2020.
AAP

Professor Hamish McCallum from Griffith University said the state is experiencing a second wave of the virus.

"The question is whether it is a ripple, or the start of a tsunami," he said.

"In addition to the increased testing, I think there is a case to lockdown the hotspot suburbs."

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

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