By Luke Voogt
Geelong and the Surf Coast have recorded six new COVID-19 cases ahead of the region’s planned exit from lockdown on Sunday.
Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton confirmed five Geelong cases in a press conference earlier today.
According to Barwon South West Public Health Unit director Eugene Athan, Lara recorded three new cases, with another each in Bell Post Hill and Ocean Grove.
“Three of the new cases are primary close contacts of a case identified yesterday and have been in the community while infectious, but are now isolating after returning a positive result,” Professor Athan said.
A Torquay resident today tested positive, and the case will be reported in tomorrow’s state-wide numbers.
“This case is a known primary close contact of a local case, and was in isolation for their infectious period,” Professor Athan said.
“These positive cases are believed to be the reason behind the recent positive wastewater detections.
“A number of new exposure sites have been identified in our region. These are connected to a combination of local cases and cases outside our region.
“There are seven patients in University Hospital Geelong with COVID-19. Four of these people are in intensive care with one in a serious but stable condition, and three in a stable condition.
“All patients are from Metropolitan Melbourne.
“Demand for testing has been steady with more than 5700 tests performed across Barwon Health testing sites since this Monday.
“We thank people for getting tested with any symptoms or attendance at the exposure sites.”
The new cases throw the planned exit from lockdown into doubt, with Health Minister Martin Foley declining to state if restrictions will still ease on time in Geelong and the Surf Coast.
“It’s a matter for the public health team as to how that works,” Mr Foley said.
“We’ve seen a really really strong effort from the Barwon community around vaccines and testing.
“It’s always the story behind the numbers, the locations, the exposure sites, were they isolating, what their contacts are.
“We’ll have more to say about that once the public health team provide us that advice.
“The sooner we can give the people of Geelong and the Surf Coast the certainty they’re looking for, we certainly will.”
Two of the new cases were recorded yesterday in the 3212 postcode, which includes Lara, along with one each in the postcodes of 3215, 3220 and 3226.
The new cases come as vandals targeted Geelong COVID-19 testing sites with foul and offensive graffiti and misinformation last night.
Police are investigating the graffiti at testing sites at Australian Clinical Labs and Kardinia Health in Belmont.
“There were some graffiti attacks at some Barwon Health sites,” Mr Foley said.
“[It is] just silly, ill-advised and, frankly, just dumb.”
Mr Foley also slammed Melbourne protesters, including neo Nazis and conspiracy theorists, for abusing healthcare workers and desecrating the Shrine of Remembrance this week.
“These people are not heroes, they need to pull their head in,” he said.
“These people are losing oxygen every day because the Victorian community does not support their behaviour.”
Dr Sutton described the protests as “a total insult” to the majority of Victorians doing the right thing.
“They are literally in a fantasy world,” he said.
“Let’s not pretend these are rational individuals, they’re whacky.
Moorabool Shire, to Geelong’s north, also recorded two new cases.