Mildura and regional Victoria ‘scared’ as virus spreads from Melbourne and lockdown extends

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Victoria’s latest COVID outbreak has spread from the MCG in the heart of Melbourne, right across the state – even as far as Mildura, more than 500km away.

A Mildura man in his 30s tested positive on the weekend after going to the MCG to watch an AFL game, becoming the NSW border town’s first recorded case of COVID since March 2020.

A close contact of his has also tested positive.

“There are now 250 exposure sites that are connected to this outbreak, stretching from Phillip Island to the Mallee, this is from one end of the state to the other, literally,” Premier Daniel Andrews told the media on Monday.

Daniel Andrews says regional Victoria won’t have lockdown rules lifted any earlier than Melbourne. Credit: AAP

Andrews said he was not being advised to release regional Victoria from the strict lockdown rules any earlier than Melbourne.

“I don’t have that advice, because it wouldn’t be safe to do that,” he said.

Andrews said Mildura residents had “no need to be alarmed”, and extra testing sites were being set up in the town.

The owner of Stefano’s cafe in Mildura, Ryan Casey, said it was a “shocking” situation.

“People are very worried locally, they are quite scared because they haven’t had to experience it before, we have lived without the virus for 15 months,” he told AAP.

His cafe is one of few still operating in the town, after three other coffee shops were listed as tier one exposure sites.

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‘People are very worried locally, they are quite scared.’

Casey said he would usually have up to 12 people on staff, but on Monday morning he was down to two staff serving takeaway coffees.

“We’re tired of whinging and complaining, there’s nothing anyone can do, you can’t throw money at it anymore,” he said.

Mildura residents are being told they should get tested if they have symptoms, while authorities will also contact anyone who has been to the town’s exposures sites.

“We are not moving to community wide testing just yet,” Andrews said.

Dozens of exposure sites have been listed in other parts of regional Victoria, particularly Phillip Island, after two positive cases linked to the MCG exposure site visited the island with a group of friends.

Extra testing sites have been set up in Ballan, Barwon Heads, Bass, Cowes, San Remo, Sebastopol and Shepparton.

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