The Colac Otway region has by far the greatest number of infections in regional Victoria, surpassing 50 cases.
Department of Health and Human Services figures indicate at least 47 cases are linked to the Australian Lamb Company, which is among the biggest employers in Colac. The Australian Lamb Company in Colac. The abattoir has become regional Victoria's biggest coronavirus cluster.
Barwon Health infectious diseases director Eugene Athan said local testing had detected the first signs of community transmission over the weekend.
He said Barwon Health, responsible for testing and contact tracing in the region, had found Colac Otway had 58 cases, with 52 linked to the abattoir. A testing blitz underway in Colac.
“The government must take this seriously and change the rules to save our community, including mandatory face masks, which we ask the government to provide to those who cannot afford to buy them,” he said.
Local Liberal MP Richard Riordan said test processing was taking took long, claiming some people were waiting up to nine days for their results.
The Australian Lamb Company has not returned any phone calls from The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. A Melbourne GP has claimed the elderly are being treated as ‘expendable’ as Victoria’s aged care crisis worsens. bu Several major outbreaks have also been linked to meatworks, including Somerville Retail Services in Tottenham, JBS in Brooklyn and Bertocchi Smallgoods in Thomastown.
The government has no plans for a widespread shutdown of meatworks, but Premier Daniel Andrews said if outbreaks continued at meatworks and employees kept going to work when they should be isolating “every option becomes on the table”.
“Next steps may well have to include closing a number of these industries if we continue to see people attending work,” he said.
The Australian Meat Industry Council took aim at “negative reporting by media agencies”, particularly in Victoria.
The council’s chief executive, Patrick Hutchinson, rejected any suggestion of an industry-wide shutdown. “The impacts of any potential closures of processing plants has a flow through effect to our wholesalers and retail network chains, which ultimately impacts our farmers and producers,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“We are an essential service, feeding Victorians and Australians through independent retail and supermarket chains and the global community daily. We take this very seriously.”
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