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Barwon Heads COVID-19 outbreak

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Statement attributable to Barwon South West Public Health Unit director Professor Eugene Athan:

Three members of a Barwon Heads family have been confirmed as positive COVID-19 cases, after the father interacted with a positive case related to the Ariele apartments outbreak.

The child from this family is a pupil at Barwon Heads Primary School, which is following Department of Health advice and requesting that all pupils, staff and family members who have attended the school get tested for COVID-19.

Their entire households will need to isolate for 14 days, regardless of exposure to the school. A pop-up testing site has been established this morning on Sheepwash Road to meet the needs of the school students, staff and their families. It is important that this testing site is reserved for the school community.

This is the first time the Delta strain has been identified in the Geelong region, which is particularly concerning because it appears to be about twice as infectious as previous strains and can spread more easily. People typically develop symptoms within 48 hours of exposure. There are hundreds of people isolating, including the entire school community in Barwon Heads.

Contact tracing teams are working to identify close contacts who attended the known exposure sites. Barwon Heads Primary School was an exposure site between 12 and 13 July, and our contact tracing team is working with the school to notify staff, students, and their families.

There are other exposure sites in the region, with the published list that is kept up-to-date here: https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/exposure-sites.

Primary close contacts from the Tier 1 site and the school community are the first priority for testing, as well as people with COVID-19 symptoms. We ask those who attended these sites outside of the listed times not to get tested unless they have symptoms.

All Tier 1 contacts are required to get tested immediately and quarantine for 14 days from their exposure, while Tier 2 contacts should isolate until they receive a result. This is important advice to follow to avoid overwhelming testing sites in our region.

The Barwon Heads Primary School and local sporting clubs are working closely with Barwon Health and the Victorian Department of Health to test, trace and isolate the primary close contacts of the positive cases.

These positive cases are a reminder of how important it is to get vaccinated when people have an opportunity to do so. We encourage anyone who is eligible for vaccination to do so, as soon as they can make an appointment at our community vaccination hub in Norlane, or via their GP.

Hours for testing have been expanded to meet demand, including two additional pop-up sites operated by 4Cyte Pathology and ACL. The full list of testing sites in our region can be found here, along with operating hours: https://www.barwonhealth.org.au/coronavirus/where-to-get-tested