Victoria AGAIN scolds the military, while call center agents are asked to help detect coronavirus contacts
The Victorian government has turned down military assistance for a second time, as private company call center agents have been called in to help locate contacts.
Daniel Andrews declined several offers from Defense Force to use troops to increase numbers for Victoria’s contact tracing program.
There are claims that some of the more than 5,000 close contacts of the state’s 1,172 active coronavirus cases have not been contacted daily as required.
In other cases, it took days for people to hear that they may have been infected Herald Sun. reported.
ADF personnel work at a COVID-19 test center in Melbourne (shown on July 2)
The department contacted private companies on Friday afternoon to help locate contacts rather than the ADF (pictured, ADF staff issue coronavirus tests in Melbourne)
But instead of getting ADF staff to assist, the Victorian government turned to the private sector and enlisted the help of call center agents.
Officials called Medibank, Telstra and the major banks on Friday afternoon to help call center staff instead.
The latter stunt comes after Mr. Andrews turned down an offer of 800 defense members to help run the state’s troubled hotel quarantine system, but instead hired Qantas personnel.
But on Saturday, Mr. Andrews denied that the ADF had offered to assist call centers, claiming they would not have the proper skills.
“The private sector has been and will remain part of our response,” he said.
“It is not correct to say that requests have been made to the ADF or offers have been made regarding these specific skills.
‘I want to be crystal clear: the ADF is on the ground in unprecedented numbers and is doing a fantastic job. For every request I made from the Prime Minister, the answer was “yes”.
“It made no sense that they would necessarily have the right skills. This is a call center job.
“I don’t want to get into some sort of guilt or something. That is not relevant here. If I need anything, I call the prime minister, the answer is yes. ‘
The latter stunt comes after Victoria declined an offer of 800 defenders to help lead the state’s troubled hotel quarantine (pictured, guests in masks at Melbourne’s Stamford Hotel on June 25)
A member of the Australian Defense Force carries a batch of smear samples at a drive-through COVID-19 coronavirus test station in Melbourne (photo July 2)
An estimated 120 National Australia Bank staff have already been recruited to help make close contacts this weekend.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 9,059
New South Wales: 3474
Western Australia: 630
South Australia: 443
Australian Capital Territory: 113
Northern Territory: 30
TOTAL CASES: 9,549
CURRENT ACTIVE CASES: 1285
The Commonwealth Bank and Medibank have not confirmed that they will accept the offer because they may be limited in the number of staff they can supply.
The two banks are considering other ways they can help.
Telstra told the department they were unable to provide call center agents to assist with the state’s contact tracking initiative.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt reminded the Victoria government that the defense force is ready to deploy and combat the spread of the coronavirus.
“The ADF is capable and I think it is a potentially important addition to help locate contacts where the norm should be every day,” said Mr. Hunt.
A state government spokesman said, “We continue to explore new ways to further expand our massive public health team as we all work together to slow down its spread.”
“The national guidelines for public health units that manage contact detection are very clear about the daily monitoring of infected and their families.
“Where feasible to do so, PHU should actively conduct daily close contact monitoring for symptoms 14 days after the last possible contact with a confirmed or likely COVID-19 case,” the guidelines state.
“Symptom testing should be performed daily for the negative (quarantined) cohort.”
The Prime Minister and Cabinet have been contacted for allegations that these guidelines are not being followed by call center employees.
A cleaner wipes a rail outside of Melbourne’s usually bustling Flinders Street station (pictured on July 10)
Police and medical workers stand outside an entrance to a public residential area that is being forcibly shut down in Melbourne (see photo 10 July)
Corrections Victoria took over management of the hotel quarantine for returned travelers after private security guards violated protocols, contributing to the state’s latest coronavirus outbreak.
Support workers will be needed to ensure that social distance measures and good hygiene practices are adhered to at all times.
Mr Andrews said he thanked other governments for their support, but said ‘if we need more, I will certainly ask for more’.
The Victorian government came under fire when the program was hit by breaches of the infection protocol while receiving returning travelers.
Rather than prevent the spread of the virus, the program proved to be central to the emergence of the state’s COVID-19 case numbers.