Shepparton, a Victorian town that sits along the Goulburn River, has seen a third of its population placed in self-isolation.
An outbreak of the Delta variant led the Victorian government to put the town under ‘stay-at-home’ orders, leaving residents unable to shop for essential items.
There are only 85 cases among the population of 60,000, but that was enough to prompt a severe mandatory shutdown of the area.
According to the Shepparton News, there are 9,000 close contacts within the outbreak of which 83% have already returned a negative test result.
A week into the lockdown and the town is running desperately short on food. Panic began when supplies of bread and milk vanished off the shelves.
The Victorian government admits that it was caught off guard by the unintended logistic consequences of shutting down a town and has spent the last week scrambling resources to cope with the situation.
The Australian Defence Force has been brought in to deliver food and emergency supplies. The staff at Shepparton’s supermarkets have all been ordered into a fourteen-day quarantine, leaving online orders as the only option for those in the region.
According to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, troops have remained in Shepparton going door-to-door to ensure the 20,000 residents in quarantine are complying with the Covid health orders.
Other supermarkets in the surrounding area have been shipping orders to Shepparton, but they are struggling to cope with the 630% increase in demand. Food is now being trucked in from Melbourne to help feed the town.
The town has the largest Indigenous population in Victoria with over 6,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. There are also many within the community using cashless welfare cards who cannot buy food online.
Welfare organisations have chipped in, bringing care packages to supplement the food deliveries.
“Council is working closely to support these agencies who are working around the clock to package and distribute much needed food and care parcels. To date approximately 450 food packs have been delivered across Greater Shepparton in the past 72 hours, with an additional 150 families to receive food pack deliveries today, Friday 27 August,” said the council website.
One of the positive test results was a fully vaccinated aged care worker at Echuca where 92% of residents are vaccinated.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said there were 1,633 home visits conducted by the police and ADF to ‘perform support and check compliance’ with two-thirds of those in Shepparton.
"Emergency Management Victoria is on the ground and supporting those local services and networks that have brought such a degree of support to the Shepparton and wider Goulburn Valley communities who are in isolation and doing their bit to run down this outbreak in that community," said Foley.