The Victorian government has admitted to Wangaratta Council that information about COVID-19 traces in the city's wastewater system broadcast by Premier Daniel Andrews to justify a statewide lockdown was wrong.
Mayor Dean Rees disputed the chain of events early yesterday on advice he had received from Northeast Health Wangaratta the previous night.
Later in the day, Victorias Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar contacted council chief executive Brendan McGrath to confirm there had been successive negative detections following the initial positive detection on July 30, which wasn't publicly released.
The second successive negative detection was confirmed on the Department of Health and Human Services website late on Friday.
Cr Rees hoped Wangaratta wasn't being used solely as the reason to force regional Victoria into lockdown again.
"What we've been saying is correct in that we had one positive a week ago and we've had two negatives since then," he said.
"It's disappointing from the point of view that locking down the entire state could have been because of tracing in the Wangaratta sewerage scheme.
"At that government level there shouldn't be that misinformation being broadcast.
"That is the problem I see.
"Regional areas have been out of lockdown once before when Melbourne has been in lockdown so we're in with that opportunity again.
"But that hasn't happened here unfortunately."
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Mr Andrews didn't front at the daily COVID-19 media briefing yesterday with the state's health minister Martin Foley left to clarify the matter.
"I don't think it was the justification for locking down regional Victoria," he said.
"What it was is part of the rich tapestry of the public health information that is delivered."
In a statement released late on Friday the DHHS confirmed: "There were positive readings for COVID-19 wastewater fragments in the Wangaratta area in the July 28-30 period, reports otherwise are incorrect."
Regional Victoria is staying in lockdown.
"Whether it is in Wangaratta, Mildura or anywhere around regional Victoria the rules apply to us all because we are all facing the similar risk," Mr Foley said.
"We've seen right across the state still many, many hundreds of people from extreme risk red zones, Victorians, who continue to isolate across Victoria.
"It's no wonder on that basis we've seen wastewater detects in lots of places including Wangaratta."
Mr Foley couldn't say how many close contacts of the current outbreak were self-isolating in regional areas.
Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy called on Mr Andrews to apologise for his comments.
"He has certainly gone off half-cocked and says there are issues in Wangaratta," Mr McCurdy said.
"He didn't actually say that is the reason why are locking down regional Victoria.
"But it was implied all of regional Victoria gets locked down and Wangaratta gets the blame.
"I am pretty angry about that as are the people I've been speaking to today.":
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