ROADSIDE COVID-19 test stations on major arterial routes could slow the spread of the disease into unrestricted areas like Bendigo, an expert has said.
The call came with a warning that it would only take about 20 cases to lock down an area with a population the size of Greater Bendigo.
Australian Medical Association Victoria president Associate Professor Julian Rait called for testing facilities on arterial roads into unrestricted areas, so people entering for work could get tested easily.
He warned that rural and regional areas remained vulnerable to outbreaks, with more precarious health infrastructure.
Associate Professor Rait said the load of people still commuting between regional areas such as central Victoria, and Melbourne for work, was behind the calls.
"While they are surely doing really important work, and need to continue, we also need to bear in mind they could carry the infection back to those regions, and spread it," he said.
Residents of restricted zones are allowed to travel into unrestricted zones for work, while those in unrestricted zones may do the reverse. People may also travel between zones for education, care, and to visit an intimate partner.
Associate Professor Rait said testing centres along roads such as the Calder Freeway would mean Victoria picked up on cases at the earliest opportunity.
He said by the chief health officer's epidemiological criteria it would only take about 20 cases to trigger lockdown in a city the size of Bendigo.
"To try and prevent that would obviously be in everybody's interest," Associate Professor Rait said.
It comes as the Victorian government fights a spike of cases in metropolitan Melbourne, forcing it to lock down the area and the neighbouring Mitchell Shire.
Victoria Police has increased its presence on the border between restricted and unrestricted areas.
Associate Professor Rait said health workers could encourage symptomatic people to quarantine, and get tested.
"This raises the surveillance, so potentially positive and infectious people aren't moving freely in the community," he said.
Associate Professor Rait said he was concerned regional Victorian was vulnerable to outbreaks.
He said people might be unknowingly spreading the coronavirus, or have a false sense of security because they were not in the hotzones.
His other concern was regional critical care infrastructure was more precarious than in metropolitan areas.
Capacity of a system might be impaired if an outbreak in a regional city affected health workers, he said.
On Friday Victoria Police chief commissioner Shane Patton announced a new checkpoint near Heathcote, to monitor traffic in and out of the restricted areas.
Victoria Police told the Bendigo Advertiser early last week it would use booze buses and mobile police facilities to monitor the boundaries between restricted areas - such as the Mitchell Shire and metropolitan Melbourne - and unrestricted areas.
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