COVID contact tracing, the Ministry of Health “messes up” for these Victorians in the middle of the reopening

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David Murray attended what he believed to be a COVID-safe country music event at Hamilton Golf Club in western Victoria on November 14, an event that has since spawned a cluster of 31 cases on Thursday.

The day after the event, Mr. Murray visited his wife at a retirement home near Ararat.

More than a week later, he found out through a friend that the event he had attended had turned into a coronavirus outbreak.

He learned of the epidemic from the media.

“I was horrified,” said Murray.

“I thought it was all safe. But when I found out [about the exposure] and we hadn’t said after more than nine days that the virus was there… it was overwhelming. “

Despite a continued rise in the number of cases linked to the Hamilton Country Music event, Mr Murray has yet to be contacted by authorities regarding the outbreak.

“I’m just horrified that I wasn’t warned.”

Hamilton Country Music Club event held only for fully vaccinated customers, but turned into a COVID cluster(Provided)

Mr Murray tried to contact authorities for health advice but, after several calls, he gave up.

He described it as “fundamentally impossible” to get the right information from the right authority.

“If I had been warned right away, I would have done something … but I wasn’t,” he said.

The Victorian government was asked about the contact tracing process after Mr Murray’s experience.

A spokesperson did not respond directly to questions, instead pointing to a previous statement from Prime Minister Daniel Andrews:

“The exhibition sites will no longer be published. [Health] The department will use the Service Victoria app’s new alert feature to notify customers of high-risk locations where positive cases have been present, such as restaurants, gyms and nightclubs, and advise them to get tested. », Indicates the press release.

“People who test positive are strongly recommended to inform social contacts they have spent time with and encourage them to get tested. The service will not find or manage these contacts.”

Murray has since tested negative for the virus.

Tradie misplaced on the exhibition site

This is one of the many concerns that are raised about the failures of the contact tracing system.

In September, Jonathan Slocombe received a call from the Victoria Department of Health telling him he had visited an exhibition site.

The only problem was he wasn’t there.

“I was so confused,” Mr Slocombe said.

A man in a cap wearing high visibility work clothes smiling at the camera while working
Tradie Jonathan Slocombe says he received conflicting health advice. (Provided)

Mr Slocombe had taken a COVID-19 test five days before receiving the message, as a precaution.

His boss told everyone that the business would close for a few days because one of the construction sites would become an exhibition site.

Mr Slocombe described the call from a member of the Department of Health staff as confusing and unnecessary.

“When I questioned her she said I had to talk to her manager,” he said.

“So his manager would call me back to get me out of isolation.

After being told that he had to self-isolate for 14 days, due to his presence at an exhibition site, he contacted his boss who informed him that he had not been on the site. in question and that he did not need to isolate himself.

Contact tracers had told his boss it was clear to return to work because of his negative result.

But he received text messages from the Ministry of Health every day, asking him to isolate himself.

“It confused me even more… every message I received said something different,” he said.

“I wasn’t sure who to listen to.

A man in a navy blue work cap and polo shirt holds a phone in his ear and looks at a notepad.
Mr Slocombe says he spent three days calling authorities to clarify whether or not he should self-isolate. (Provided)

Seeking clarification, the 25-year-old tradie spent hours on the phone trying to reach the coronavirus service or hotline, but failed to get someone on the phone to clarify the isolation advice.

“I spent three hours a day on the phone,” he said.

“It looked a bit like a circus.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said contact tracing in Victoria consistently exceeded national performance benchmarks.

“More than 97% of close contacts are contacted within 48 hours,” the spokesperson said.

“We remind every Victorian that getting tested – and getting tested as quickly as possible when symptoms appear – is essential for a rapid public health response. “

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