Kilmore Memorial Hall will once again be used as a pop-up testing site.

By Jackson Russell

CHANGING advice has confused some members of the Kilmore community as the Department of Health and Human Services tries to keep the Kilmore COVID-19 outbreak from spreading.

Some people who visited Oddfellows Cafe in the high-risk period between September 30 and October 3 and are considered close contacts were told they do not need to isolate once they get a negative test result.

The standard DHHS advice throughout the pandemic is that people don’t need to isolate after testing negative.

However, advice for those considered close contacts in the Kilmore outbreak changed this week, with the DHHS taking a stricter approach to the Kilmore cluster in a bid to contain the spread.

Takeaway customers have not been told by DHHS to isolate following a negative result.

DHHS advice states customers and staff who attended Oddfellows from 30 September to 3 October are encouraged to get tested immediately, as well as anyone with symptoms, no matter how mild.

Kilmore’s two testing sites have seen a steady flow of residents getting tested, with 294 people getting tested on Wednesday alone.

About 230 people were isolating in Kilmore as Mitchell Shire recorded one new case yesterday, bringing its total to three active cases.

A 3AW caller on Thursday said his partner, who had lunch at the cafe on Wednesday, September 30, would not need to isolate on Saturday, only to be told the next day she would need to isolate but “it would probably be better not to get a test” so she would not “clog up the system”.

Meanwhile, the caller was told he was not a close contact and not to isolate but was then later told to isolate.

Shadow Health Minister Georgie Crozier called the State Government’s contact tracing a ‘confusing mess’.

“Cases have finally dropped to lower levels thanks to the hard work of Victorians, but the Daniel Andrews contact tracing mess must be fixed so that we don’t end up with a third wave,” she said.

“It’s the only reason Daniel Andrews won’t allow Victoria to reopen.  He clearly doesn’t trust the system.”

The DHHS is working with Goulburn Valley Health, with five of the department’s six regional contact tracing units following up on leads connected to the cafe outbreak.

The DHHS said as the contact tracing operation continued and new information and potential exposures were uncovered, advice could change.

Different people in the Kilmore community will receive specific advice depending on their exposure and movements, and whether they are a close contact or a subsequent contact.

Close contacts are identified by the DHHS, after determining who a positive case has been in contact with while they were infectious.

All close contacts will be contacted by the Department or Goulburn Valley Health and will need to remain in isolation until cleared, even if they receive a negative test. 

A DHHS spokesperson said the department is taking a ‘stringent approach’ to the Kilmore outbreak.

“The department is very grateful for the Kilmore community’s overwhelming support and cooperation so far and we thank them for their understanding,” the spokesperson said.

“We are working to contain the risk by not only asking close contacts to isolate, but their contacts as well, putting a ring around all of those in the local community who may well be at risk of exposure to the virus.”