WASTEWATER in Castlemaine will be tested for traces of COVID-19 from this week.
Department of Health and Human Services testing commander Jeroen Weimar confirmed Castlemaine would join Bendigo as one of 23 sampling sites across regional Victoria.
The initiative, which started earlier this month, can detect the presence of the virus in communities where there are no new cases.
People who have had COVID-19 can shed the virus or virus fragments in their stool, on used tissues, and from their skin when washing.
"Those sites will be an additional way for us to get a sense if there's anybody moving around the community with any trace of coronavirus," Mr Weimar said.
"But it's a belt and braces approach. We cannot rely upon this to find the coronavirus, but it will help to tell us where in particular we need to look and search more closely.
"So I'll say it to regional Victorians - we'll do everything that we possibly can to find coronavirus across regional Victoria, but please come forward.
It came as Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed there were only nine active coronavirus cases in regional Victoria.
The new case numbers were the lowest figures since June 12.
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Mr Andrews confirmed all of the new cases were linked to known outbreaks.
The three deaths - a man in his 60s, a woman in her 80s, and a man in his 90s - were all linked to age care settings.
Mr Andrews said there were 49 people in hospital with COVID-19 - eight of those people were receiving intensive care while four were on ventilators.
"Today's numbers are proof positive, beyond any doubt, that this strategy is working," Mr Andrews said.
"This is the lowest daily case number for a very long time and it's not so long ago that we were reporting not five cases, but 725 cases.
"We've come a long way. Victorians have given a lot. They have sacrificed a lot. And I am proud and deeply grateful for the work that every single Victorian is doing.
"We are so close. We are so close to being able to take a really big step. A big step towards that COVID-normal.
"What's important now is that everyone keeps following the rules. Keeps doing the right thing. Keeps making that profound and critical contribution to these numbers getting low and staying low."
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