Lockdown avoided

Australian Defence Force nurses working with registered nurses at Pakenham's IYU Reserve testing facility. Pictures: STEWART CHAMBERS 210497_10

Pakenham has avoided a strict four-week lockdown – but authorities are warning against complacency – as the State Government desperately tries to control the spread of Covid-19.

Ten Melbourne postcodes will be sent into lockdown from 11.59pm on Wednesday 1 July, amid 233 new cases of coronavirus since a suburban testing blitz began last Thursday 25 June.

Pakenham – which was first identified as one of 10 priority suburbs by the Premier after federal medical authorities flagged the entire Cardinia Shire as a hotspot – will not be subjected to the strict lockdowns.

As of Tuesday 30 June, there was only one active known case of Covid-19 in the Cardinia Shire, with the total ever number of cases sitting at 23.

“We’re always guided by the advice of the chief health officer when it comes to the health directions and the restrictions keeping Victorians safe,” a government spokesperson told the Gazette, when asked if Pakenham would still be classed as a hot spot.

Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel have been deployed to a drive through testing facility on Henry Road in Pakenham, as roving testing squads descend on doorsteps and pop-up testing sites are set up across the suburb.

Authorities are attempting to test thousands in a bid to find any traces of the virus within the community.

Bass MP Jordan Crugnale said around 600 tests were being conducted daily at IYU Reserve.

“We have teams on the doors and street testing has also started. It is a massive logistical operation with a coordinated response,” she said.

The MP said although Cardinia’s case numbers were promising, it wasn’t a time for locals to become complacent.

“The latest case numbers show really good progress in Pakenham but the broader reported numbers show that now more than ever we need to keep our focus, not slack off, tell everyone we know to keep up the good hygiene, maintain distance and get tested,” Ms Crugnale said.

“And remember, we are in this for the long haul and these numbers will continue to change over time. It’s up to all of us to do our bit to bring them down and keep them down.”

The City of Casey has 20 active cases, bringing its total ever number to 106, while the Yarra Ranges has no active cases.

Liberal Gembrook MP Brad Battin said hot spot labelling had sent fear throughout the community.

“As long as the government continues to call an area with one active case a hotspot, no one will have faith in the decisions they make,” he said.

“Cardinia and Casey are great places to live and raise your family. I am proud to be part of this community and see the way we have handled the Covid-19 restrictions.”

At present, there are no legal directions applicable to Pakenham, however people living and working in the area are being asked to take action to stay safe, and to get tested, even if they don’t have symptoms.

Residents are being urged to use the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website to obtain accurate, up-to-date information, which is also translated in over 30 different languages.