Victoria to COVID-19 trace by text message

Kate Matson says contact tracers are changing how they work to deal with the high number of cases.
Kate Matson says contact tracers are changing how they work to deal with the high number of cases.

Victorians who test positive for COVID-19 in areas with high case numbers will receive a text message, as contract tracers move away from phone calls to deal with rising infections.

The state recorded 950 new locally acquired infections, the highest daily tally since the pandemic began, and seven deaths on Tuesday.

The deaths include five people from Hume, two women and a man in their 80s, a woman in her 70s and a woman in her 50s; and two women from Whittlesea in their 80s and 90s.

The new infections bring the number of active cases in the state to 9890 and the death toll from the current outbreak to 36.

There are 371 people in hospital with COVID-19, with 81 of those in intensive care and 55 on a ventilator.

COVID Response Deputy Secretary Kate Matson says contact tracers are changing the way they work to deal with the high volume of cases and close contacts.

"We need to focus on the actions of highest value to ensure that people who are positive know that quickly, and connect them to the support they need," she told reporters.

"In areas with higher case numbers, we have started providing a text message with the confirmation of your confirmed positive result, so we can provide triage."

The text message will ask a number of questions to help contact tracers prioritise higher-risk cases, including whether the person is looking after people at home, if they need support and if they are vaccinated.

A short phone interview may occur depending on the results from the text.

Contract tracers will interview household contacts but may not interview "every single primary close contact", Ms Matson says.

"Should case numbers increase further, although it is in our collective will and efforts to contain them, we will adapt the approach again and again and refine it based on risk," she said.

It comes as the Latrobe Valley region has been plunged into a seven-day lockdown to curb a growing COVID-19 outbreak believed to be linked to a household gathering.

Residents in the City of Latrobe, which encompasses the Gippsland towns of Moe, Morwell and Traralgon, entered lockdown at 11.59pm on Tuesday. They were notified via a press release about 6.30pm.

They are now living under the same restrictions as those in Melbourne, with the exception of curfew.

Health Minister Martin Foley said the situation in that area had "deteriorated quite rapidly" on Tuesday and apologised for giving residents short notice.

There are at least 18 active COVID-19 cases in the region.

Almost 79 per cent of Victorians have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while more than 48 per cent are fully vaccinated.

A modest easing of rules has come into effect on Wednesday including extending metropolitan Melbourne's travel limit to 15 kilometres and the resumption of contactless sports.

Meanwhile, the Victoria Racing Club has submitted plans with the state government to host a crowd of up to 11,500 for some or all of the four days of this year's Melbourne Cup carnival.

"We look forward to sharing the details of these plans as soon as we secure feedback from the relevant authorities in October," VRC chief executive Steve Rosich said.

When Victoria's COVID-19 roadmap was released on September 20, the state was forecast to hit its 80 per cent double dose target on November 5 - three days after the Melbourne Cup.

Outdoor non-seated entertainment will be allowed to operate at 50 per cent for fully vaccinated patrons when the goal is reached.

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Australian Associated Press