Health Department issues alert after listing wrong Woolies as exposure site

Victoria’s Health Department is telling people who were at an Epping Woolworths during a one-hour period on May 8 to get tested for COVID-19 and isolate until they receive a negative result after admitting it had identified the wrong supermarket as an exposure site.

The department acknowledged its error on Friday evening and updated the details of the exposure site in Melbourne’s northern suburbs after the detection of traces of COVID-19 in wastewater in the area prompted a review of previously identified close contacts.

Workers prepare to deep clean a Woolworths in Epping Plaza that was incorrectly listed as a tier 1 COVID-19 exposure site earlier this month.Credit:Penny Stephens

Contact tracers originally identified Woolworths Epping, not Woolworths Epping North, as an exposure site attended by a Wollert man in his 30s who tested positive for coronavirus on May 10 after quarantining at a South Australian hotel in late April.

The original exposure site is adjacent the Woolworths Epping North store.

Health authorities said anyone who attended the Woolworths Epping North on Saturday, May 8 between 5.40pm and 6.38pm to get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Health officials have been in contact with Woolworths to identify and test staff who were working at the time the Wollert man attended the store.

A testing site is being set up at Epping Stadium, on Harvest Home Road, which will be open from 9.30am until 5pm on Saturday.

The error was identified after fragments of the virus which causes COVID-19 were detected in wastewater around Epping, 20 kilometres north of Melbourne’s CBD. Fragments of the virus were also identified in wastewater in Wollert.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said while traces of virus in wastewater are being detected regularly due to more people leaving quarantine and shedding the virus, they had changed the exposure site due to “an abundance of caution”.

“While the detections may be due to someone who has had COVID-19 that is no longer infectious continuing to ‘shed’ the virus, it is also possible that it is due to an active but undiagnosed infectious case,” Professor Sutton said in a press release on Friday night.

“This detection is of note because there are public exposure sites in the area relating to the Wollert case, who has been isolating in a health hotel outside the catchment.

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