COVID-19 hits Barwon Heads

Barwon Health workers testing people at Barwon Heads CFA (Ivan Kemp) 244129_01

By Justin Flynn

Victoria has been plunged into its fifth lockdown as Barwon Heads residents rushed to get tested for COVID-19 in response to positive cases of the Delta strain in the town.

This afternoon state government announced a five-day lockdown from 11.59pm until 11.59pm on Tuesday, July 20.

Barwon Health said three members of a Barwon Heads family were confirmed as positive cases after the father interacted with a positive case related to the Ariele Apartments outbreak in Melbourne.

Health department data shows there have only been two other recorded cases of COVID-19 in the 3227 postcode.

According to the department, one of the latest confirmed cases is a pupil at Barwon Heads Primary School who attended school on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

The school has been identified as a tier one exposure site and closed for cleaning.

Barwon South West Public Health Unit director Eugene Athan said all pupils, staff and family members who have attended the school must get tested.

“Their entire households will need to isolate for 14 days, regardless of exposure to the school,” Professor Athan said.

“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.”

A pop-up testing site was set up next to the CFA station on Sheepwash Road, with a queue of cars stretching for more than a kilometre this afternoon.

“I’ve been waiting for an hour and while it’s frustrating, it is what it is,” one driver said while waiting in line.

“We’ve been pretty lucky down here, but now it’s really starting to hit home.

“I never really thought something like this would happen here, but it goes to show that anywhere is vulnerable. I’m pretty much over the whole thing to be honest.”

Barwon Heads Village Park was also listed as tier one exposure site after one of the cases attended football training on Monday from 4.30pm to 6pm.

Players and coaches must get tested immediately and quarantine for 14 days, while spectators must get tested immediately and isolate until they receive a negative result.

The health department initially issued the warning for Howard Harmer Oval in the caravan park, but the exposure was later confirmed to be at the Village Park complex off Geelong Road East.

The department said the school will not be listed as public exposure sites online as comprehensive record-keeping practices were in place.

Officeworks in Waurn Ponds was listed as a tier two exposure site, with anyone who visited the store on Sunday from 1.30pm to 2.30pm.