SCHOOLS have closed, meatworks have shut and everyone in regional Victoria will soon have to wear face masks or face coverings.
So, how close is Bendigo and central Victoria to a second lockdown?
And which parts of the region would be most likely to get new restrictions?
How would a lockdown decision be made?
Earlier this month, premier Daniel Andrews outlined three criteria Victoria's health team based the Melbourne and Mitchell Shire lockdowns on.
- Identifying local government areas with more than two times the state case rate
- Reviewing postcodes within the local government area
- Identifying priority suburbs with more than five cases and a rate of cases greater than 20 per 100,000
A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson did not directly answer questions about how close parts of central Victoria is to a lockdown.
"Case load data and information is being continually assessed and reviewed to determine if further changes to restrictions are necessary," they said.
The department does not publicly list infection rates in postcodes or suburbs, making it hard to independently gauge whether a lockdown like Melbourne's is possible.
The latest on COVID-19 in central Victoria
- Seven new COVID-19 cases in Greater Bendigo
- New coronavirus case linked to Girton Grammar student, school will remain open
- V/Line COVID-19 case confirmed in staff member
- Bendigo, Heathcote schools to close due to coronavirus cases
- Explainer: When will Victorian lockdown lead to decline in coronavirus case numbers?
- Bendigo's Mercy Health Bethlehem Home for the Aged records no further positive coronavirus tests
- Don KR Castlemaine coronavirus cluster increases to 10 people
- The Informer: Clusters, Karens and all sorts of COVID connotations
- Bendigo Basketball suspends matches and training due to COVID-19 cases
The spokesperson pointed to premier Daniel Andrews' Thursday announcement that everyone in regional Victoria would need to wear facemasks in Victoria from Sunday at 11.59pm, when out of the house.
Mr Andrews is still describing COVID-19 cases in regional Victoria as low, even as he acknowledged a jump big enough to prompt the need for new restrictions.
"It is inconvenient and challenging, but it is something we can do in regional Victoria without causing significant economic cost, while getting a significant public health benefit," he said.
Authorities are also banning Geelong residents from hosting visitors at home to limit COVID-19 spread after a spike in cases, but non-essential businesses in that area can remain open.
Still, central Victoria's seeing more cases, right?
Yes, yesterday Greater Bendigo saw the biggest daily rise in case numbers since the pandemic began.
The seven new cases came during a month when the number of central Victorian cases has more than doubled.
The region has now registered 75 cases since the start of the pandemic, compared to 36 on the first day of July.
The Bendigo Advertiser has been tracking data provided by the department since authorities detected the region's first case.
This chart shows how two local government areas in our region have been affected by new outbreaks over the past three weeks.
Greater Bendigo has now had 28 cases, nearly three times the 10 it had recorded on the first day of July.
All 18 of those new cases are still classed as active, meaning they are still recovering from the virus.
The Macedon Ranges had nine cases at the start of the month. They have now had 25, 14 of which are still active.
Mount Alexander shire might be the epicentre of the Don KR Castlemaine outbreak but, so far, only two new case has been diagnosed there in the past month.
People should keep in mind that the department bases its figures on the residential address patients use when the diagnosis takes place. That place may not be where they were infected or where the patient is currently staying.
However, health authorities have confirmed 10 active COVID-19 linked to Don KR since last week.
Authorities have also linked several cases to other places including schools, aged care homes and Malmsbury's youth justice centre.
How does central Victoria compare to other parts of the state?
Numbers are climbing, but not as high as other parts of Victoria.
Greater Bendigo ranks 34th for infections since the start of the pandemic. The Macedon Ranges ranks 35th.
The City of Wyndham in Melbourne's West currently tops the state's list for cases. It has had 996 so far, 601 of which are still active.
Many of the state's recent transmissions are linked to workplaces including food factories and aged care homes.
More than 64 cases have been linked to an Australian Lamb Company outbreak in Colac, 121 to Thomastown's Bertocchi Small Goods operation and 106 to Tottenham's Somervile Retail Services.
Don KR's numbers pale in comparison to those factories.
In Bendigo, two nursing homes have reported one case each among staff members.
Elsewhere in the state, authorities have traced 111 cases to just one of Melbourne's worst affected aged care homes.
Take the threat seriously, even if we are not the worst affected
Health authorities in the region are not mincing their words about the risks COVID-19 poses.
Bendigo Health chair Bob Cameron was unimpressed, yesterday, by people taking a more casual approach to the coronavirus.
"We know from the cases that we're seeing, and in discussions with those people, they have been out and about, they have been all around the place," he said.
"People have to take it very very seriously that everywhere they go they they can possibly get the disease, and they have to do what they can to prevent it."
A DHHS spokesperson also warned that now is not the time for complacency.
"It is critical that we all continue to follow the rules that apply where we live, and maintain physical distancing and good hand hygiene," they said.
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