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An infectious student who did not properly self-isolate has sparked outbreak fears in Melbourne with two schools closed and more than one hundred social housing residents told to isolate.
Residents across the city’s northern suburbs have been told to monitor for symptoms as the Department of Health and Human Services tries to curb the potential for an outbreak of Covid-19 in vulnerable communities.
Jeroen Weimar from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said he expects more positive cases to crop up after an infectious student attended classes at East Preston Islamic College before he was diagnosed.
“We have a number of people who are self-isolating either at home or as part of the Covid-19 Accommodation program and are being monitored by Austin Health and Banyule Community Health,” he said.
“Extensive contact tracing is underway and we expect that as part of this work, additional cases will be detected … The college has taken positive steps to manage this situation and is working closely with us. It has been closed for deep cleaning.”
East Preston Islamic College principal Ekrem Ozyurek has told media that the student was meant to be isolating after one of their siblings tested positive for Covid-19 several weeks earlier, but there had been a misunderstanding and he had attended class on Monday and Tuesday of this week.
“He had other siblings that were cleared of the virus on the 17th [of October],” Ozyurek told The Age.
“We’re not trying to find a fault in this one,” he said. “The best thing is to see what we can do from now on.”
Ozyurek said he was informed the child should have been in isolation when the health department has contacted him on Tuesday inquiring about the boy’s attendance.
The principal then made the decision to close the school and the boy tested positive the following day. The department official ordered the campus to be closed and deep cleaned.
Weimar said that classmates and teachers considered to be close contacts had been identified and asked to quarantine for 14 days.
Contacts stretched across multiple suburbs including Dallas, Roxburgh Park, Broadmeadows, Preston and West Heidelberg, and a text message was sent on Wednesday alerting people who lived in or were visiting these areas to get tested if they were experiencing symptoms.
A spokesperson for the department confirmed in a statement that “additional cases linked to this outbreak have also been identified in a social housing block in Broadmeadows”.
The department has now sent 120 residents notices asking them to self-isolate for 48 hours and get tested for Covid-19.
“This timeframe allows for the department to ensure the community is aware of the situation and for residents to get tested and get their results back before determining what the next steps are,” Weimar said.
“We’re asking all these residents to come forward for asymptomatic testing at the dedicated testing station onsite.”
Infection control in social housing in Melbourne is a sensitive subject after the government was heavily criticised for their handling of the hard lockdown of nine social housing towers in July.
Dallas Brooks Primary School has also been closed for deep cleaning and contact tracing as a precaution after a close contact was identified there.
A spokesperson for the department said an “extensive community health door knocking program will start [Thursday] morning to alert residents in identified areas about potential exposure to coronavirus … and how to access supports such as financial assistance.”
“A range of materials will be available in English and other languages and the teams visiting residents will include staff from a range of cultural backgrounds.”
Additional pop-up testing sites are also being coordinated in the area, with those who are unable to attend able to access at home rapid response testing.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Melbourne’s northern suburbs brace for Covid outbreak after an infectious student failed to self-isolate | Melbourne