Victoria has recorded Australia’s highest daily figure of 484 new coronavirus cases, as data reveals nine in 10 people did not isolate between feeling sick and being tested.
It comes as two male aged care residents in their 90s died from the virus overnight, bringing the number of deaths in Victoria to 44 and the national toll to 128.
Despite the record number of new cases, Premier Daniel Andrews said there were no plans to introduce further restrictions.
“The key factor here that’s driving the numbers and driving our challenge is people that are sick but not getting tested,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
Andrews said nine in 10 people did not self-isolate between feeling sick and being tested.
“They have gone out shopping. They have gone to work. They have been at the height of their infectivity, and they have just continued on as usual,” he said.
About 53 percent of people also did not isolate between having their test taken and receiving the result.
“A bunch of those will be aged care workers. Let’s not judge them. Let’s try and work out what is driving it,” he said.
The data was collected by the public health team from Victorians who tested positive between July 7 and July 21.
Andrews said a large proportion of those people were employed in insecure work and did not have any leave entitlements.
“They’ll look at their bank balance, they’ll look at the fact that if they don’t work the shift, they won’t get paid for the shift, they don’t have sick leave,” he said.
He encouraged Victorians who tested positive—or had come into contact with someone who had—to apply for a $1500 hardship payment if they did not have access to sick leave.
About 1200 people have applied already but the payment is not available to those who have symptoms, been tested and are waiting for results.
“We’re doing some further work about whether we may need to enhance that payment,” the premier said.
Meanwhile, about one third of people contacted by health authorities for contact tracing are not answering their phones.
“If you’re getting that unidentified number, that may well be the Department of Health and Human Services. If you’ve got a result and you know you’re positive, we are trying to contact you. So, please answer,” Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.
Of the state’s new cases on Wednesday, 97 are connected to known and contained outbreaks while 387 remain under investigation.
There are 3408 active cases, with 205 people in hospital and 40 of those in intensive care.
There are now 45 outbreaks in aged care facilities across the state, with 383 staff and residents testing positive.
An outbreak at St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner has grown from 51 cases on Tuesday to 69 staff and residents, while 54 people at Estia Health have contracted the disease.
A new cluster has also emerged at Kirkbrae Presbyterian Homes in Kilsyth, with two staff and one resident testing positive.
Professor Sutton said the majority of Victorians were contracting the virus at work or in health or aged care settings.
“We do know that there’s a significant reduction in household-to-household transmission. That’s absolutely a result of the restrictions that have been in place,” he said.
Victoria is coming to the end of the second week of a six-week lockdown and masks will be mandatory from midnight on Wednesday.
Sutton said a move to a New Zealand-style “hard lockdown” won’t necessarily address the issues the state faces.
“I wouldn’t make assumptions that harder, more constrained lockdown is necessarily the way to go. We have to be targeted in terms of seeing where the issues are and addressing them directly,” he said.
The state’s previous record was 428 cases on Friday, although daily case numbers have been in triple digits since July 6.
Benita Kolovos in Melbourne