Health professionals are urging the community to be extra vigilant of the increased risk of COVID-19 Delta variant transmissions following an outbreak in Shepparton last week.

Regional Victoria was plunged into lockdown at 1pm Saturday with two hours’ notice, following the discovery of 17 cases of COVID in Shepparton on Friday.

As of today, the Shepparton cluster has grown to 44, with cases reported in Mansfield and Wangaratta.

There is again only five reasons permitted to leave home: to shop for food and supplies needed, to exercise for up to two hours no more than five kilometres from home, for care or caregiving, authorised work or education if not possible from home, or to be vaccinated at the nearest possible location.

Face masks remain mandatory outdoors and indoors, and primary school aged children are now being advised to wear a mask, when not at home.

Stricter workforce permits came into effect last night, and a high rate of transmission in young people has forced all childcare centres across Victoria to be closed except to children whose parents are authorised workers vulnerable children.

Playgrounds, basketball hoops, skate parks and outdoor exercise equipment are now closed.

The age demographic of the current outbreak is very different to previous cases, with about 80 per cent of active cases aged below 40 and about 25 per cent under the age of nine. The cases currently in hospital include people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.

Kilmore District Health chief executive David Naughton urged people to wear fitted face masks at all times if they had to go out, use QR codes to check-in at all public places, maintain social distancing and wash their hands.

Mr Naughton advised people to regularly check the COVID-19 list of exposure sites that now included multiple regional locations, some backdated to August 9.

He urged people to get vaccinated.

“We know these simple actions work to protect you, your family and the community,” he said.

Kilmore District Health’s drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic is open seven days a week – by appointment only. The clinic is situated just outside the hospital’s urgent care centre entrance. To book a COVID-19 test, call 5734 2024.

Testing and vaccination clinics are also operating at Seymour Health and Nexus Primary Health, while some doctor’s clinics and pharmacies are also providing vaccinations.

The Federal Government has mandated that all residential aged care staff, volunteers, and students be vaccinated from September 17.

“To help prioritise vaccinations for residential aged care and disability support workers, Kilmore District Health will be facilitating priority bookings for people who fit within this cohort,” Mr Naughton said.

People are asked to notify staff when booking that they are an aged care or disability support worker – they will require their worker permit on arrival to their appointment.

Kilmore District Health is also offering Pfizer clinics for young people aged 12 to 15 years with a higher risk of severe illness and young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The clinic is also one of the state-run clinics providing the AstraZeneca vaccine to adults aged 18 to 39 years, with informed consent.

The vaccination clinic is appointment-only and is running seven days a week with some morning, afternoon and evening availability.

To book a vaccination, contact 5734 2127 between 8.30am and 4.40pm, Monday to Saturday, or the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398.

New requirements introduced over the weekend for COVID-19 screening prior to any elective surgery meant Kilmore District Health had to rearrange the planned elective surgery list scheduled for yesterday to later in the week. All other booked elective surgery continues as planned.

For exposure sites list, visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/exposure-sites#tier-2-exposure-sites or call the Coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.

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