The North-East has been placed on high alert about a potential outbreak of COVID-19 with traces of the virus detected in a Wangaratta sewerage test.
The wastewater test revelation came from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews in announcing a sixth lockdown of the state would start at 8pm last night and last for seven days.
Once again regional areas would not be excluded from the lockdown which came in a week when the Victorian government tightened border bubble travel arrangements.
"The Wangaratta sewerage test has pinged, if you like, firstly positive, then it went negative and now it has gone positive again," Mr Andrews said.
"We have some reason to believe there is COVID either in that community or has been in that community."
COVID-19 fragments in wastewater were previously detected in the North-East in Benalla in November last year, but didn't lead to any confirmed cases.
North East Water is responsible for testing wastewater locally before samples are then forwarded to the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.
Wangaratta mayor Dean Rees urged people with any symptoms to get tested immediately, but was confident residents would step up to the threat.
"Let's clear it up and get Wangaratta off the hot list," he said.
"We've got a big site on Tone Road, the former Holden dealership, has been set up as COVID clinic to get the jab and a swabbing station is also there."
The drive-through screening clinic is open from 9am-3pm seven days per week and no appointment is necessary.
"If Northeast Health gets inundated they are ready to open back up the swabbing clinic adjacent to the hospital on the corner of Docker and Green streets," Cr Rees said.
"They are ready to go if need be.
"It's concerning, but we just to make sure we get a clean bill of health.
"Also stay in lockdown until your tests come back because they are only taking about 24 hours to come back which is really quick."
Cr Rees said council had been made aware of the initial wastewater positive then negative testing results on Thursday before further tests were carried out.
Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy also urged Wangaratta and district residents to come forward if they had any symptoms.
But he said there had to be alternatives to repeated lockdowns and Mr Andrews had to be more flexible in his approach.
"We keep doing the same thing time and time again," he said.
"I've got businesses who are white hot with anger the regions are continually being shutdown.
"This is not the answer."
Mr Andrews defended the statewide response.
"It is quite challenging and traumatic to have this visit your community for the first time," he said.
"We don't want any more communities in regional Victoria to experience that.
"We tried limited lockdowns last year. It didn't work.
"I'm following the advice of our experts and it's all in for seven days."
All the latest COVID-19 cases are in Melbourne
Victorians have only five reasons to leave their homes once again.
They are getting food and supplies, exercising for up to two hours; care or caregiving, authorised work or education if you can't do it from home and to get vaccinated.
Face masks must be worn indoors and outdoors.
Schools will close with primary and secondary school students returning to remote learning.
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Member for Benambra Bill Tilley said the community was at breaking point.
"People are gutted, some are financially ruined," he said.
"My heart goes out to hospitality businesses who have stock in the fridge, casuals who were rostered on to work shifts in the next seven days, the ski resorts, accommodation businesses, students, teachers, real estate agents, the list is endless.
"All I can say is look after your family, look after your friends and hopefully we see some common sense that allows regional Victoria to come out of this well before the seven days."
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