No hospital visitation for Victorian travellers

Local hospital will be off-limits to anyone who’s travelled to or from Victoria within the past fortnight.

Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) will not be granting visitor access to anyone who has travelled to Melbourne in the last 14 days.

Dr Len Bruce, Executive Director of Medical Services with the MLHD, said the evolving situation in Victoria has required the health district to take additional steps to keep the community safe.

“If you’ve been to Melbourne in the last 14 days, you will not be able to visit family members etc in one of our hospitals, residential aged facilities, or any other facilities where there are vulnerable population groups present,” Dr Bruce confirmed on Friday morning last week.

Additional screening requirements for visitors will now be put in place across all MLHD facilities to assist with protecting vulnerable patients.

The screening also applies to staff, who will be required to be symptom-free for 14 days before returning to work, if they have travelled to Melbourne.

Dr Bruce said that return travellers from Victoria should be vigilant if any respiratory symptoms develop, especially those who have been to the following suburbs: Keilor Downs, Broadmeadows, Maidstone, Albanvale, Sunshine West, Hallam, Brunswick West, Reservoir, Pakenham or Fawkner.

“You have to be really really vigilant, if you develop any symptoms you need to call the Covid hotline (1800 831 099) and arrange to be tested immediately,” Dr Bruce urged.

“If you become symptomatic you need to make sure that you self isolate until you can have a test and until the test result comes back.”

On Friday, the number of positive Covid cases in Victoria rose by double digits for the tenth day in a row, with 30 new cases identified overnight.

Seven cases were linked to known outbreaks, and the other five identified in hotel quarantine.

Dr Bruce described the situation in Victoria as “rapidly changing”.

“I would suggest that people keep an eye on the media and the Victorian and New South Wales Department of Health websites because information will change over time,” he said.

Associate Professor Tara Mackenzie, who spoke to the media alongside Dr Bruce on Friday, said that a key issue of the outbreak in Victoria is that people can have very minimal symptoms or even be asymptomatic and still spread the virus.

“As we’ve seen in Melbourne, there’s been people who have been able to transmit the virus unwittingly and unknowingly because they’ve been asymptomatic, and so that’s why we need to be so careful with our local health district,” A/Prof Mackenzie said.

She said that the MLHD has done “a great job collectively” in the community and in hospitals keeping Covid-19 rates low, but because there are towns close to the border “it is a real risk to us.”

“So that’s why we have had this policy of having 14 days if you’ve been to Melbourne, not actually coming to the hospitals,” she said, encouraging those with any symptoms to call the Covid hotline on 1800 831 099 to be tested.