Coronavirus Covid 19 Australia: Shepparton runs out of food and medical supplies as third isolate
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed there were 1,029 new cases of Covid-19 and three deaths. She also announced changes to the restrictions. Video / Sky News Australia
As the Delta strain crosses Australia, a regional city faces yet another crisis as critical supplies dwindle, leaving residents on edge.
Residents of Shepparton in Victoria – about 181 km from Melbourne – have been hit particularly hard by the latest Covid outbreak, with more than 100 cases among the tight-knit community.
More than 20,000 of the city’s roughly 70,000 residents are currently isolated – about a third of the city – as exhibition sites explode, causing a critical shortage of essential supplies.
The city is now running out of food, with many supermarkets closing or reducing their opening hours after being listed as exhibition sites or due to large numbers of the quarantined workforce.
It has also limited the availability of click and collect or home delivery, a situation which is becoming more and more dramatic.
So far there have been a series of exhibition sites in the Shepparton area, with positive cases frequenting popular stores including Big W, KFC, several Woolworths stores, BWS, Best and Less, Miter 10, an IGA, Westpac, Coles, Kmart, Aldi, Chemist Warehouse as well as a range of local schools.
In addition to groceries, other essentials are scarce, including medicines and baby supplies such as formula and diapers.
And in another blow, more than 450 Goulburn Valley Health workers have also been put on leave, adding to the sense of anxiety plaguing the community.
Shepparton’s supply crisis is now so widespread that it prompted Shepparton Independent MP Suzanna Sheed to contact Prime Minister Daniel Andrews himself to ask for help, revealing the extent of the town’s struggle .
“I have sent Daniel Andrews a list of critical needs for Shepparton. We need a down-to-earth ground here in Shepparton so that we can provide essential supplies to members of our isolated community,” Sheed said on Facebook yesterday.
“Our community, as usual, has risen to this challenge and are helping each other with all their might, but this time we need the support of the Victorian government.
“Our needs must be met immediately.”
Desperate first page
The ongoing crisis has also led the local newspaper, The Shepparton News, to take the extraordinary step of turning its entire front page into a desperate call to action, with the words “WE NEED HELP” on the cover.
The accompanying words also reflect the growing unrest in the region.
“Our community is growing, but with so many thousands of people isolated, The News is now calling for help from the government,” the cover read.
“Shepparton is a resilient and empowered community, but with so many people needing support only for the basics we need to know someone is supporting us. “
An accompanying Facebook post sharing the coverage announced that it was “a cry for help from governments, with thousands upon thousands of Shepparton and Mooroopna residents isolated and the exhibition sites continuing to multiply ”.
“As Matt Sharp, CEO of GV Health said… no city could prepare for such a large part of the population at home.”
The newspaper also revealed that a local chemist had five workers in quarantine “as the demand for urgent drugs to be delivered skyrocketed”.
The army appealed
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley pledged swift action earlier this week, saying additional Australian Defense Force personnel could be called in if needed – in addition to the 40 already on the ground – to help with things such as testing and compliance as well as providing support to those isolate.
“So we’re working on all of these issues with hospitals, senior care centers, people in the food distribution chain, all of the support to make sure the people of Shepparton and the Goulburn Valley more broadly, get all the support they need. need, “he said.
“It’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge that I know the people of Shepparton and the state of Victoria are up to.”
Today Prime Minister Daniel Andrews revealed the military is called in, telling reporters in his Covid update that “every part of life in Shepparton and across the Goulburn Valley has been affected by the fact that many people are not at work “.
“The emergency management architecture will be in place but it will be basically very, very simple things. Bringing food to people’s doors. Fill in the scripts,” he said.
“I want to thank the people of Shepparton for the amazing way they came together, supported each other to fight this virus. It’s special though, it’s different from last year with so many people unable to perform key functions and that is why we are here to help.
“There are a lot of additional people on the ground today and it will grow richer over time with the officials, people from all over Victoria.”
“Fast growing cluster”
As Victoria registered 80 new cases today, the state response commander to Covid-19, Jeroen Weimar, said 18 were associated with the Shepparton cluster and two with the Royal Melbourne Hospital cluster, indicating that the disaster would get worse before it got better.
“So a quarter of today’s cases are associated with the rapidly growing cluster,” he said.
“None of these cases were fully quarantined, but a number of them have been identified as primary close contacts.”
“Will continue to climb”
This sentiment was echoed by Mayor Kim O’Keeffe, who told ABC New Breakfast this morning that the city needed “immediate support”.
“We know it’s going to continue to increase, but we’re trying to make sure that everyone is supported and that people are doing the right thing, doing their tests, isolating themselves,” she said.
“More than 20,000 isolated people, a third of our community. We are fighting with support on the ground. We asked the state government to support us more.
“We have so many hot spots in our closing hot spots. We have supermarkets that don’t have enough staff… The main thing is to provide medical supplies and food to those in our community, to try and get them. get to 20,000 people, some are doing their own thing and they have people who are not isolated to support them, but we had amazing support from the community, so many people stepped up and went out of their way as community to help those who need it most at this critical time. ”
And yet another sign of the gravity of the situation in the region, residents have come together to provide aid to those who need it most.
GV Cares, an initiative of the Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Project, was created to help those in the area who “need help” during the lockdown and quarantine, including those who are “short of food” who are in need of help. find it difficult to access items such as medicines, diapers and infant formula or those who “need advice on accessing support”.
The group called for donations and volunteers to distribute merchandise.