COVID-19

Major contact tracing problem still not fixed

It comes as the health department continues to chase the source of a group of recent mystery cases, with a decision on crowds at AFL games likely to be made later in the week.The Herald Sun revealed last month contact tracing efforts had been hampered by jammed phone lines sparking fears vital information was being missed. Now, weeks later, a health department whistleblower says the problem has not yet been fixed.It means some people returning missed calls from contact tracers are either failing to have their call answered or facing waits of several hours.“If operators are making a few thousand calls a day, a big chunk aren’t being answered,” a senior source said.“And when they do ring back, they’re faced with an engaged signal or a multiple hour wait. It means people could be slipping through the cracks and giving up.”It is believed all missed calls are logged.Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said on Sunday Victoria was well positioned.“We’re on track for more easing in regional Victoria and the same for metropolitan Melbourne,” he said.“Exactly what that will look like is to be determined.”“The closer you are to that declaration, if you like, the greater the confidence you can have that that’s an appropriate and fulsome step.He said daily testing numbers, which dropped in recent days, would not be the only issue deciding restrictions but urged Victorians to keep coming forward with symptoms.Deoples COVID-19 Victorian Exposure Sites TableThe state recorded one new positive case on Sunday, a close contact linked to the Arcare Maidstone outbreak but who is not an aged care resident.There are 68 active cases in Victoria overall.A Health Department spokeswoman said people who visited exposure sites were directed to a dedicated phone line and sent SMS messages to ease call volumes.“There is significant demand on this phone line during peak periods, but public health teams work hard to manage this demand and provide important advice to Victorians,’’ the spokeswoman said.“Where there are phone line delays, calls can be logged and returned.”

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