Routine testing at the Castlemaine waste water treatment facility has detected fragments of coranavirus (COVID-19).
Wastewater monitoring can show the possible presence of COVID-19 in a local community. However this does not mean there is an active case in the area.
The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed low levels of viral fragments were detected in a waste water sample on December 15.
The result is unexpected given there are no recently confirmed cases or diagnosis of COVID-19 in the area, and there are no known cases of community transmission in Victoria at this time.
Residents and visitors to Castlemaine, Campbells Creek, Chewton, Harcourt, Newstead and Maldon are urged to get tested if they have any symptoms of coronavirus to reduce viral transmission if there are any cases in the community.
A drive though testing clinic is open 10am to 12noon Saturday December 19 and Sunday December at CHIRP Community Health at 13 Mostyn Street in Castlemaine. For more information or to make an appointment call 5479 1000 or visit www.chirp.org.au. Local GP clinics within Mount Alexander Shire are also testing registered patients. Anyone who has visited the Northern Beaches in NSW is also urged to get tested.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the viral fragments are likely to be due to people who have recovered from COVID-19 who continue to shed the virus.
People who have had coronavirus may shed the virus or virus fragments for several weeks, well beyond the infectious period. Similar patterns have occurred in other locations across the state and it is not a cause for concern.
More testing is underway and the community will be updated as results become available.
Mount Alexander Shire Council’s Emergency Management Coordinator Luke Ryan urged community members to remain calm but vigilant.
“While the risks associated with the detection of viral fragments in waste water is low, this is a good reminder that COVID-19 is part of our lives and we must all remain vigilant.”
“This is a good time to review the COVIDSafe plan for your home or business to keep yourself, friends, family, colleagues and customers safe.
“Practice good hygiene, maintain physical distancing, and continue to wear a mask in places like supermarkets, on public transport and in situations where you can’t stay at least 1.5 metres away from others.
“Please get tested if you show any symptoms of COVID-19 no matter how mild, and stay at home until you get your results,” he said.
Symptoms to watch out for are a loss or change in sense of smell or taste, fever, chills or sweats, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and a runny nose.
Samples of untreated wastewater are analysed for fragments of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes coronavirus (COVID-19) – at more than 60 locations across Victoria including Castlemaine and Bendigo.
Where to get tested
Mount Alexander COVID-19 Screening Clinic
The drive through pop-up testing clinic located at CHIRP Community Health during the weekend at 13 Mostyn Street, Castlemaine.
10 am – 12noon, Saturday December 19 and Sunday December 20.
For more information or to make an appointment call 5479 1000 or visit www.chirp.org.au. Local GP clinics within Mount Alexander Shire are also testing registered patients.
If you aren’t registered with a local GP clinic visit your nearest COVID-19 GP Respiratory Clinic on weekdays or go to Bendigo Health, seven days a week. Testing clinics are also available at Kyneton and Maryborough.
Bendigo Respiratory Clinic
126 Spring Gully Road, Spring Gully
9:30am – 4:00pm, Monday – Friday.
Testing by appointment only.
Visit www.bendigorespclinic.com.au to make an appointment.
Bendigo Health COVID-19 Screening Clinics (Walk in and drive through) Old Emergency Department
Stewart Street, Bendigo
10.00am -5.30pm, Monday to Sunday.
Call 03 5454 6000 or visit www.bendigohealth.org.au.
Useful information and resources
For more information visit the DHHS website at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus or call the COVID-19 hotline on 1300 651 160.
To view the locations of testing stations visit www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/where-get-tested-covid-19.
Read the Coronavirus Home Safety Plan at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-covid-19-home safety-plan.
Find out how to create a COVIDSafe Plan at www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/covidsafe-plan.
For local information, support or a referral to a local community organisation or service, call Council on 1800 512 446, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our Virtual Emergency Relief Centre at www.connectmountalexander.com.au.