The head of a Stawell meat processor has questioned the need for Grampians abattoir workers to be regularly screened for coronavirus as part of new surveillance testing for high-risk industries.
On Tuesday, the Victorian government announced 25 per cent of workers in the meat, poultry, seafood processing and supermarket and refrigerated distribution centres will now be tested every week.
Around 28,000 workers across 95 businesses work in these industries in Victoria.
Rapid response testing teams will be deployed to regional and rural workplaces.
Robert Frew, of Frew Foods International, said 400 people at the site were tested in a day when such a team came to Stawell in August.
"I think getting a quarter of people tested would only take one day a week," he said.
"It probably isn't required in our area, so it probably is a waste of resources, but it is what it is: If you have to get tested for government regulations, we'll do it," he said.
"I guess the government wants to make sure no plants have an issue, so they have thrown us all under the one banner."
The Department of Health and Human Services last recorded a new active case of coronavirus in the Northern Grampians Shire on August 7. The shire has been on zero active cases since August 17.
Mr Frew said he hoped state leaders could visit regional abattoirs once restrictions lifted sufficiently, to see first-hand their processes and hygiene standards.
"We sanitise all over the plant, and as you enter the site you go through a screen and camera system that tests your temperature, so if you've got a high temperature you can't get into the plant," he said.
"We haven't had any rejection of staff, but that system will stay in place (after the pandemic ends) because it detects people that have a common cold or that are unwell. That's a real big thing for us, because we don't want people getting the cold or outbreaks."
Discussing the surveillance testing, Jeroen Weimar, head of testing for the DHHS, said the industries are not dangerous but we know if the virus enters there's a higher risk of spread.
"A quarter of staff will be tested for every week for the foreseeable period," he said.
"By the middle of October we expect the first 25 per cent of the force to be tested.
"It's important to ensure we understand where the virus is circulating, it's not an indication that people need to wait for that surveillance testing to come back.
"You can continue to work if you are asymptomatic, you don't need to isolate unless you do become symptomatic."
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