State gov’t plan for new quarantine facility

Acting premier James Merlino today confirmed the government had selected a site at Donnybrook Rd, Mickleham, he hoped would be built by the end of the year.But he said that would be contingent on funding from the federal government.Mr Merlino said it was appropriate the Commonwealth funded the construction of the site as quarantine was a federal responsibility.He said the state government would immediately start works to have the site construction ready, and would cover the $15 million cost to do that.A business case has been provided to the federal government for the project that will accomodate 500 beds with capacity to increase to 3000.Mr Merlino said the site’s proximity to the airport, city and public health services were key factors in choosing the site.He said the fact it was next door to an existing animal quarantine hub was also a factor.Government sources remained tight-lipped about the preferred site earlier this week, but it was understood Lindsay Fox’s Avalon Airport was no longer in contention.The Mickleham site had previously emerged as the frontrunner.The current $379 million, 144ha Post Entry Quarantine facility, was opened in 2015 to streamline biosecurity processing and protect Victoria from imported pests and diseases.Cats, dogs, horses, plants and bees are all quarantined at the facility until given the green light to be released into the community.The government refused to answer questions over speculation ahead of the announcement.Earlier this week acting premier James Merlino said an announcement on the facility was imminent.“In terms of what the business case says, in terms of location, in terms of the model, I’ll have more to say about that later in the week,” he said.“We’ve got the business case, we’re just working through some final issues … Thursday or Friday we’ll be in a position to talk in full detail about what the business case says.”Mr Merlino said about 10 sites were identified as potential locations for the facility, and one of the tasks of the business case was to narrow that down to a single preferred site.Daniel Andrews had flagged Avalon Airport as a potential site to replace the state’s current hotel quarantine program.He has long held the view Victoria should move away from inner-city hotel quarantine.The proposal aligns with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s plan to use mining camps as quarantine centres instead of hotels.WASTEWATER ALERT FOR 20 SUBURBSA teenage girl is revealed to be among the two new cases of COVID-19 recorded in Victoria’s hotel quarantine system on Wednesday, which is now housing 23 active cases. A man in his 30s also tested positive to the virus on Tuesday.Victoria recorded its 61st day of zero community transmission on Wednesday but a COVID-19 wastewater alert has been issued for more than twenty suburbs, after viral fragments were found in the sewage. Suburbs from Melbourne’s west, northwest, east and outer north have all been caught up in the current warnings, but a spokesperson said the warning doesn’t necessarily mean an infectious person is in the community. “Given the current prolonged period of no community transmission in Victoria, it is most likely that this is due to a person or persons continuing to shed the virus after the infection period however, it could also be due to a person living in or travelling through the area in the early active infectious phase,” a spokesperson said. “The wastewater testing program is designed as an early warning system to support our ongoing efforts in continuing to protect the COVIDSafe environment we have achieved and therefore a cautious approach is always taken when these detections are found.“People who live in or have visited these areas who have or develop COVID symptoms are strongly encouraged to get tested and help keep Victoria communities COVID free.” The suburbs impacted, including those listed in an earlier warning, are below with anyone who lived or in visited the area during the specific dates urged to monitor their symptoms. WESTERN SUBURBS CATCHMENT APRIL 18 – 26Albanvale, Burnside, Burnside Heights, Cairnlea, Caroline Springs, Deer Park, Delahey, Hillside (Melton), Keilor Downs, Kings Park, Plumpton, Ravenhall, Sydenham, Taylors Hill or Taylors Lakes.NORTH-WESTERN SUBURBS CATCHMENT APRIL 18-26Avondale Heights, Calder Park, Hillside (Melton), Kealba, Keilor, Keilor Downs, Keilor East, Keilor Lodge, Keilor North, Keilor Park, Sydenham or Taylors Lakes.EASTERN SUBURBS CATCHMENT APRIL 20 – 24Balwyn, Balwyn North, Blackburn, Blackburn North, Box Hill, Box Hill North, Bulleen, Doncaster, Doncaster East, Donvale, Mitcham, Mont Albert, Mont Albert North, Nunawading or Templestowe Lower. OUTER NORTHERN SUBURBS CATCHMENT APRIL 17 – 22Epping, South Morang or Wollert from April 17 to [email protected]

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