Minister’s Statement

I rise to update the house on the investment our government is making to find, isolate and slow the spread of coronavirus across our state. The government has already invested $37 million to increase surveillance, allowing for more targeted case identification, contact tracing, isolation advice and confirmation of individuals who are no longer infectious. This $37 million boost has given the contact tracing team, which is now more than 1000 strong—the disease detectives—the ability to undertake contact tracing and to slow the spread of this virus.

The Premier and I recently announced a further $20 million investment in our COVID-19 public health response to do a number of things, including establish an outbreak management team and rapid response squads to ensure appropriate testing, contact tracing and deep cleaning is carried out as soon as an outbreak is identified. These squads have already been making visits across our state in response to outbreaks and are also undertaking proactive visits to high-risk facilities, businesses and industries, and they will work with local services on infection control and prevention.

In addition, mobile testing units will continue to operate and are being deployed to communities that show a spike in cases to ensure we can stop the virus from spreading further. We are undertaking ongoing testing also of sewage to track the virus in the community and provide early signposts of localised outbreaks. These investments have been working alongside the testing blitz that we undertook in the month of May that enabled more than 398 000 tests to be analysed. I want to commend the 526 000 Victorians who have already undertaken a COVID-19 test to date. That is the highest per capita testing rate in the country and one of the highest testing rates in the world.

As we begin to settle into a new normal, our message to the Victorian community remains: stay safe; take this virus seriously. The virus is still with us in our state, in our nation, and it is important that we all take collective efforts to keep each other safe.