COVID-19 UPDATE: more testing available

THE number of COVID-19 cases in Victoria has increased by seven since yesterday, totaling 1361.

No new deaths have been reported and the total number of fatalities due to coronavirus remains at 18 in Victoria.

There are 140 cases in  the state which may have been acquired through community transmission, with 18 people currently in hospital, nine of which are in intensive care.

Of the total number of cases, 1105 have been in metropolitan Melbourne and 217 in regional Victoria – 1291 people have recovered.

More than 115,100 tests have been completed.

Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said up to 100,000 Victorians would be tested for the virus in the next two weeks.

“Victorians have done a remarkable job sticking to the coronavirus restrictions, and by staying home have saved lives,” he said.

“We are now asking Victorians to again play their part and get tested if they have symptoms, because the more tests we do, the more data we have about the prevalence of coronavirus in the community.

“People with even the mildest of symptoms including fever, chills, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose or loss of sense of smell are encouraged to get tested.

“Our daily case numbers are still low which is encouraging. They prove that our physical distancing measures are working but this is not a time to relax our strong approach – this disease can get away from you very quickly as we have seen overseas.”

Virus testing at shopping centres

As part of the state’s initiative to test 100,000 people in two weeks, six mobile testing sites have been opened across Melbourne.

The total number of testing sites is 10, with the addition of sites at Pacific Epping, Pacific Werribee, Bunnings West Footscray, Watergardens Town Centre, Westfield Fountain Gate and Bayside Shopping Centre; to pre-existing testing sites at Chadstone, Doncaster, Highpoint and Northland shopping centres.

People with symptoms such as fever, chills, shortness of breath, cough, sore throat, loss of sense of smell, or a runny nose are encouraged by Health Minister Jenny Mikakos to be tested.

The testing sites will be manned by doctors, nurses and pathology collection staff.

Additional testing sites in regional and suburban areas will come online in coming days.

People wanting to get tested must ensure they bring their Medicare card or some form of identification with them.

“This massive testing blitz will give us the best information about how this virus is spreading in the community – and I encourage anyone with even the mildest of symptoms to help us out and go get themselves tested,” Ms Mikakos said.

“These new mobile testing sites are located at shopping centres around Melbourne to make it as easy as possible for people to get tested – and there will be more coming online across the state.”

For more information, visit dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorian-public-coronavirus-diseasecovid-19#where-can-i-get-tested-for-coronavirus-covid-19.

Dental restrictions ease

Amended restrictions have been welcomed by the Australian Dental Association as more people will be able to access dental services this week.

Dental service restrictions will ease from stage three to stage two allowing more patients to get dental treatments done – the new restrictions take place this week.

Australian Dental Association president Dr Carmelo Bonanno said it was great news because dentists would be able to open their doors again for more patients.

“Dentists have the highest level of infection control standards which is what makes it viable for them to work under the Level Two restrictions,” he said.

“People concerned about any oral health issue can call their dentist and they will make an assessment of possible treatment under the eased restrictions.”

Patients will no longer be faced with long delays and the significant impact on dental practice’s economy will lessen.

“This is a huge step in the right direction and we thank the National Cabinet and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee for recommending this decisive step which will help patients, dental practices and the economy,” Dr Bonanno said.

“We look forward to the complete return of all dental services further down the track.”