Ballarat is on alert with repeated detections of COVID-19 in its wastewater as the Daylesford community responds a confirmed case in the township.
Repeated unexpected detections of COVID have been found in Ballarat's wastewater, causing concerns there could be an infectious case out and about in the community.
This comes as Victoria recorded 392 new cases on Saturday, with eight coming in regional Victoria. The new cases bring the regional total to 20 active cases, with one in Hepburn Shire.
According to the Department of Health website, detections occurred at Ballarat South on Wednesday and on August 30, but Ballarat Health Services said more recent detections had also occurred in the past week.
In response to the detections and Daylesford case, BHS has set up pop-up drive through testing at Marty Busch Reserve in Sebastopol and Victoria Park in Daylesford.
Grampians Public Health Unit medical director Associate Professor Rosemary Aldrich said the region had to come together to keep the virus away.
"We in Ballarat, we in Daylesford, we in the Grampians region are really needing to buckle down and make sure that we're doing everything we need to do to be able to keep COVID at bay, or if it should come into our communities, to respond to it swiftly and definitively, which is what I hope we've had happened in Daylesford so far," she said.
Professor Aldrich said the repeated detections were concerning.
"What that means is it's likely, especially repeated detections, or it's more probable than possible that there may well be a person who's COVID positive in our community," she said.
"It is possible that it is somebody who has had past infection who's shedding but repeat detections warrant enough concern to set up and to ask our community to come and get tested if they have even the slightest of symptoms.
"We're really keen to have that capacity there so that we can stop this before it starts if something should come to light... In mounting a public health response, to get ahead, we need to think ahead so we're anticipating what might come in the next few days with respect to further detections if they do happen, and if not, we've provided some additional pop-up testing capacity for our community in any case."
There was massive demand for testing in Daylesford on Saturday afternoon as a pop-up drive-through site was set-up at Victoria Park following one confirmed case and three exposure sites in the town on Friday.
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As of Sunday evening, no additional cases or sites had been identified.
The case was recorded on Friday in a Daylesford resident that travelled to Melbourne for a permitted reason where they were exposed. They became symptomatic two days later and got tested with the result coming back Friday.
Professor Aldrich said the case was exposed on Monday afternoon and could have been infectious later that day, but 90 primary close contacts and tier two contacts had been identified thanks to the detailed information provided and QR code use.
"We know that their movements from Monday evening until they tested positive were effectively infectious in the community. However, we do believe that the person did self-isolate once they had symptoms and were awaiting getting their test and then getting their test result," she said.
"We've since contacted them all and of those 90, about half of them had been able to or will be able to go about their normal business if they return a negative test and about the other half will be quarantining for 14 days from the time they might have been exposed."
Before the testing site opened at 3pm, a queue of cars stretched from the main oval to the gate. Some people were there as early as 1.30pm, waiting patiently to get tested.
BHS said about 129 people were tested in the four and a half hours the testing site was open for on Saturday.
Professor Aldrich said the demand meant the Daylesford community was keen to do the right thing and the pop-up site would be available as long as it was needed.
"We do know that some people, unfortunately, needed to be turned away because we couldn't continue safely given how late it was getting. What the demand tells me is that the people of Daylesford and surrounding communities are absolutely keen to do the right thing when required," she said.
"The pop-up testing is there to supplement those routine testing facilities and we'll be evaluating that on a daily basis as to how long a pop-up testing needs to remain."
Vaccination numbers are set to be boosted in Ballarat after the state government on Sunday announced two Ballarat postcodes would be included in a pop-up vaccination program.
To use already announced supply from Singapore and the United Kingdom, the program will cover 100 postcodes by administering vaccines through community and school-based pop-up sites "in areas that need them most and where barriers to vaccination may exist".
The Ballarat postcodes included in the list are 3355 - Wendouree, Lake Gardens and Mitchell Park - and 3356 - Delacombe and Sebastopol. The state government has not named any Ballarat sites as the first part of this program, and no further information has been released about when or where it can be expected here.
On Sunday, Premier Daniel Andrews said the program would be undertaken in stages, with the first to open in the next few days and include community-based pop-ups in areas where cases were potentially growing.
The initiative has been incorporated into the state government's push for all students aged 12 and up to be vaccinated by the end of the school year. About 70 schools will become pop-up sites, with the first eight to be in Melbourne. Demand at the sites will determine how long they operate.
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