PUBLIC health authorities in Ballarat are confident COVID is contained and the city has avoided "widespread dissemination" of the deadly Delta coronavirus strain.
But they warn we still need to be careful coming out of lockdown.
While there were no new active COVID cases recorded in Ballarat on Wednesday, there are still more than 20 active infections in the region, including one case in Daylesford and one in the East Wimmera.
Grampians Public Health Unit also remains concerned for an unexplained COVID indicator in wastewater from Delacombe, spiking on late Monday, that remains unconnected to known Ballarat cases.
Ballarat Health Services acting chief executive Melanie Robertson said while lockdown was ending, the community must remain vigilant and get tested for the slightest symptoms to prevent COVID getting loose once more.
We still do have close contacts..so there is a chance we might have further news of positive cases locally.Melanie Robertson, Ballarat Health Services acting chief executive officer
"We're confident in situation but we still do have close contacts and people who have been to tier one exposure sites currently quarantining, so there is a chance we might have further news of positive cases locally," Ms Robertson said.
"But what we do know is those cases are quarantined and the chance of community transmission is extremely minimal, hence the confidence that the chief health officer has been able to come forward and release us from lockdown because we know those cases are contained.
"That's what lockdown was about, not having community transmission."
Exposure sites are still emerging across the city.
Newington Primary School has been linked to two active COVID-19 cases with staff and families called on to limit their movement while the health department investigates further.
Importantly, these are not newly confirmed cases.
In a letter from the school to parents, which The Courier has confirmed with the Victorian Education Department, anyone who visited the school on Thursday, September 16 must stay home until advised otherwise.
This was the first day of Ballarat's return to lockdown with only children of essential workers permitted to on-site learning.
More than 200 Ballarat residents remain in isolation as identified primary close contacts, plus a further 130 contacts from GovHub. These numbers do not include household family members in quarantine.
Grampians Public Health Unit medical director Rosemary Aldrich told media GovHub's public access points, including VicRoads' community hub, had been downgraded to tier two exposure while the rest of GovHub remained a tier one site for all last week.
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Associate Professor Aldrich said Ballarat had done a tremendous job the past week in lockdown and turning up in force for testing and vaccinations. She said this, along with tracing and isolating, had helped limit Ballarat's COVID outbreak.
But GovHub was a "nerve-wracking" reminder of how quickly things could change.
"What it does is highlights COVID could come into our city at anytime - unknowingly, unexpectedly - and that's why we need to remain cautious and careful at every turn," Associated Professor Aldrich said.
"...While we'll be out of lockdown that doesn't take away from the fact COIVD is still among us, COVID could still be among us and we still need to remain careful and cautious."
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