Victoria's 10 virus suburb hotspots undergo mega testing blitz
A monster testing blitz targeting 10 of Victoria's coronavirus hotspot suburbs will take place over the next 10 days in a dramatic bid to contain the state's virus spike as it records 33 new cases.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews revealed the testing blitz would initially focus on testing half of all residents in the suburbs Broadmeadows and Keilor Downs over the next three days, which had the highest number of community transmission cases.
The remaining eight hotspot suburbs would then begin the blitz over a 10-day period.
The following 10 suburbs have been revealed as Victoria's coronavirus hotspots:
1. Keilor Downs
4. Sunshine West
"They are the 10 suburbs that will be all 50 per cent tested," Mr Andrews said.
"And if we can do more, of course we will, over the next 10 days. That is about 100,000 tests. It may finish up being more than that."
READ MORE:Virus outbreaks across Victoria's hotspot regions revealed
Residents would receive free testing with or without symptoms in the 10 suburbs, as an "army" of more than 1000 doorknockers and 800 testers zero in on the affected areas.
The "unprecedented" testing blitz comes as Victoria recorded an alarming coronavirus spike of 33 new cases overnight, taking the state's total to 1917.
Seven of those cases were returned travellers in hotel quarantine, nine were linked to known and contained outbreaks, six were a result of routine testing and 11 were under investigation.
Mr Andrews said ambulances and other vans would "literally be at the end of people's streets" as part of the new hotspot suburb testing regime.
"They will be invited to come and get a test, and they'll only have to travel 50m or 100m in order to complete that test," he said.
"This suburban testing blitz is all about finding all of those people that have this virus, then having them quarantined in their home with appropriate support.
"It's about bringing further stability to these numbers."
In an Australian first, additional testing will also take place from the collection of saliva samples from next Monday, to provide faster, easier and more comfortable testing following Doherty Institute research.
An 10 additional drive-through testing centres, as well as some "mass testing sites", would also launch in the state. An extra 350 people, on top of the 1000 current health team workers, have been recruited for contact tracing.
Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said the testing scheme aimed to stamp out the spread of the virus in the state's hotspot suburbs.
"These suburbs represent the most recent active transmission, the most recent new cases," he said.
"With community transmission, there is an indication that virus is circulating in the community, the focus on these areas is to get on top of that transmission wherever it is occurring."
READ MORE:Where to get tested for coronavirus in Victoria
Mr Andrews warned while the virus was localised to the hotspot geographical areas, which have previously been identified as Hume, Brimbank, Moreland, Casey, Cardinia and Darebin, science had shown how quickly it could spread.
"This is like a public health bushfire," he said.
"I think we have a local problem at the moment and that's why we are doing the biggest suburban testing blitz.
"People are going to be knocking on your door and asking you to get tested. Please say yes, please go and get tested. This is the right response at the right time."
Victoria's latest coronavirus outbreaks revealed
Two further COVID-10 cases have been identified at the Coles distribution centre in Laverton which are linked to the Keilor Downs family outbreaks, Prof. Sutton said.
"There will be a number of people who will require quarantine," he said. "The response to that is underway. We have to take a precautionary approach."
The state's other new cases included two family members of known cases - referred to as the North Melbourne family outbreak – but previously known as the H&M Northland cluster, which takes the outbreak's total to 10.
An additional two new cases have emerged in the Keilor Downs Family outbreak, bringing the total to 19.
Further infections have also been linked to the Wallace outbreak – previously known as the St Monica's College in Epping – which is linked to a social gathering, bringing the total to five.
One new case has also been linked to a quarantine hotel outbreak, bringing the virus total to 16.
Prof. Sutton urged people to refrain from large family gatherings as the state works to contain the "uptick" in infections.
"If you don't have to see people, please don't," he said.
"It is an ongoing danger."