UNKNOWING people could reignite COVID in our community, Ballarat health authorities warn in a call for people to be mindful of their actions this AFL Grand Final long weekend.
The city is set to enjoy its first weekend of relaxed restrictions out of lockdown but Ballarat was in this same position - minus the AFL grand final - a fortnight ago when the deadly virus got loose.
Ballarat Health Services acting chief Melanie Robertson said everyone needed to be on alert that COVID was still in the community, could easily return and could become uncontrollable fast.
There were 21 known active cases of COVID-19 in Ballarat on Thursday, including one new case of a person who had already been in isolation. The case in Daylesford has been cleared but one case in East Wimmera remains.
Grampians Public Health Unit has also flagged increasing detections of unexplained COVID fragments in wastewater for central Ballarat and northern areas.
Now is maybe not the time to socialise but the time to get vaccinated if you haven't already done so.Melanie Robertson, Ballarat Health Services acting chief executive officer
"I understand the whole community is no doubt looking forward to a long weekend...but COVID doesn't choose who it affects and certainly doesn't choose on what day it affects people. So yes, while it is a long weekend and yes, while we're out of lockdown, we need a level of vigilance and cautiousness," Ms Robertson said.
"Now is maybe not the time to socialise but the time to get vaccinated if you haven't already done so."
Ms Robertson said there would undoubtedly be an increased flow of people to Ballarat for the long weekend and being school holidays which heightened the need for people to be mindful of being in public places and to consider whether they really needed to be out.
She said while Ballarat could not be immune to COVID, we had to do everything we could to protect and prevent the virus: QR codes, physical distancing, masks, hand sanitising, vaccinations and getting tested for even the slightest symptoms.
Grampians Public Health Unit remains concerned about unexplained COVID in wastewater detection for the following suburbs and towns:
- Lake Gardens
- Ballarat Central
- Bald Hills
- Ballarat North
- Cabbage Tree
- Invermay Park
- Lake Gardens
- Lake Wendouree
- Miners Rest
- Mitchell Park
- Mount Rowan
Unit medical director Rosemary Aldrich made clear Creswick was not an area of interest.
Anyone indentified as a close contact, who has been to an exposure site or who has been to or from a red zone for a permitted region is urged to be particularly careful and get tested.
"Given that we've had cases and given we're in the middle of not necessarily knowing if we've completely eliminated COVID from our city, these are significant detections," Associate Professor Aldrich said.
She also reiterated vaccination was Ballarat's strongest COVID defence.
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