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Wastewater testing for COVID19 has begun in Bacchus Marsh and Melton, as Victoria tries to stamp out town-by-town hidden outbreaks.

As of yesterday (Thursday) Melton had seven known active coronavirus cases and Moorabool had none.

Health and Human services said wastewater testing was a complementary early warning tool to show if the virus was in a community.

The department said samples were now being taken from 40 other wastewater treatment plants across the state including Gisborne, Kilmore, Ballarat and 11 sites across Geelong and the Surf Coast.

Last month, testing was stepped up in the Apollo Bay area – and later Anglesea – after virus fragments were detected in wastewater despite no known recently-infected locals.

Today, DHHS warned of the discovery or viral fragments in wastewater at Ararat – which has seen no known COVID19 cases for months.

“Wastewater testing may indicate there are undiagnosed cases of coronavirus in Ararat and we are erring on the side of caution by increasing the availability of testing in the area,” Chief Health Office Brett Sutton said.

“Anyone feeling unwell with even the mildest of symptoms should get tested as soon as possible and isolate as they wait for their result.”

Water Research Australia is helping to run the sewerage detection program across Oceania, bringing together health departments, water utilities, laboratories and researchers to share advances in this rapidly evolving field.

Wastewater samples used for testing are taken at the entry pipe to wastewater treatment plants. 

The department said the viral fragments themselves were not infectious.

“There is no evidence that coronavirus (COVID-19) can be spread via recycled water nor via treated wastewater released to waterways,” Prof Sutton said.

“There is also no impact on local water supplies. Drinking water supplied by water utilities is safe to drink and be used for normal household purposes.”

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## COVID19 symptoms include cough, fever, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose and loss of smell.

If you need to be tested, Djerriwarrh Health Services has a drive-through clinic in Barries Rd Melton, open 9am-4.30pm weekdays and 9am-12pm Sundays and public holidays.

People can also book a test at Darley Medical Centre on 5367 5000.

In Ballarat, you can still get tested at UFS Lucas (bookings 4311 1571), but only if you have symptoms.

You can also use the Call-to-Test Service if you are unable to leave your home. Contact via the COVID19 hotline: 1800 675 398.

People wanting detailed information on the easing of restrictions in different parts of Victoria should go to https://www.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-covid-19-restrictions-roadmaps

Until 28 July 2021, Worksafe must be notified on 13 23 60 when employers or self-employed people become aware of a confirmed diagnosis.

The National Coronavirus Health Information line is 1800 020 080.

You can anonymously report people doing the wrong thing by calling 1800 675 398 (option 4) and police will follow up.

Lifeline can be contacted on 13 11 14 (24 hours), via text on 0477 13 11 14 or via online chat: www.lifeline.org.au

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Main Image: Wastewater treatment plants in Bacchus Marsh and Melton are being monitored for viral fragments.

Gabrielle Hodson
Author: Gabrielle Hodson

Online, radio, TV and print journalist since 1993. BA (Hum) majoring in journalism Deakin University. Follow us on Twitter - https://twitter.com/MooraboolOnline I'd love to hear your news tips 🙂 Email -- news@mooraboolonloine.com.au OR send us a message via Facebook -- https://www.facebook.com/MooraboolOnline