Dr Hodgson worries communication breakdowns and language barriers will make it difficult to contain the virus across the migrant community in Melbourne’s north.
“It’s very low socio-economic status, it’s in the bottom 15 per cent in the country, there’s a lot of migrant people,” he said. “I think they’re afraid of being labelled as a COVID case, or a household with a COVID case in it.”
A Somali community group based in Heidelberg West is working with local health authorities to door-knock residents of Broadmeadows, Preston, Dallas, Roxburgh Park and West Heidelberg to urge anyone with coronavirus symptoms to get tested.
But Somali community leader Farah Warsame – who worked with residents of nine inner-city public housing towers put into lockdown in July – said his community, like many multicultural groups, communicated via social media and applications such as WhatsApp, rather than traditional media.
In late August, Mr Warsame recorded a YouTube video with the health department in Somali on wearing a face mask that has been viewed just 94 times since it was uploaded.
A study of 200 multicultural people in Melbourne in June found almost 22 per cent did not understand COVID-19 information.
Victoria’s coronavirus contact tracing system will switch to a new “whole household” approach rather than having members of the same family with individual case managers.