Virus shuts down region

Coronavirus symptoms. (World Health Organisation) 206852_01

By Laura Michell

Council-run events, programs at libraries and community houses, and theatre shows have been suspended in Whittlesea and Hume as the community grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whittlesea and Hume councils decided last week to suspend their events and program.

Affected events include the South Morang Farmers’ Market, Broadmeadows Street Festival, and Anzac Day services.

Senior Centres at Broadmeadows, Gladstone Park and Sunbury have also been closed, while supported playgroups have been suspended until after Easter.

Programs have also been suspended at Mernda Community House and Thomastown Neighbourhood House, while the Plenty Ranges Arts and Convention Centre has been temporarily closed.

In a statement, Hume council said the health and wellbeing of the community was its top priority.

“We are closely monitoring the situation regarding coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and following advice from the Victorian government,” the statement said.

“Council has made the decision to close or reduce some services.”

Some local schools have cancelled open days in response to the pandemic, while La Trobe University suspended on-campus classes.

It comes as a student at La Trobe’s Bundoora campus tested positive for COVID-19 on March 12.

The university initially opted to remain open, but on March 16 announced it would suspend all teaching activities for a week, before moving to an online teaching system from March 24.

A fever clinic to screen for potential coronavirus cases has been set up at Northern Hospital.

The clinic, which is open seven days a week from 9am to 8pm, has limited testing resources.

In a statement, Northern Health said it would only provide COVID-19 testing for people who have returned from overseas in the past 14 days and have symptoms such as a fever, cough or sore throat, or have been in contact with a person confirmed to have coronavirus, or are a health care or residential aged care worker who has a fever, cough or sore throat.

The hospital is also limiting patient visitors to one person at time, with children under the age of 16 only allowed to visit in exceptional circumstances.

Visiting hours have been reduced to 4-8pm.