An elderly Melbourne couple have hit out at the Victorian government’s attempts to contain the state’s coronavirus second wave after their COVID-19 tests were left uncollected for nearly a week.
Health officials have targeted 10 Melbourne suburbs as part of a door-to-door testing blitz to suppress a resurgence in cases in Australia’s second most populous city in recent weeks.
Among those to be asked to take a test were Rod and Kath Baybon from Pakenham in Melbourne’s south-east, who were told they could do swabs at home before leaving them in the letterbox for a health worker to pick up.
The couple, who are both in their 70s, said they carried out a swab test last Wednesday but their samples still sit uncollected almost seven days later.
Mr Baybon said he and his wife had followed up with health workers to speed up the collection, but despite repeated apologies from the government no-one has come to take away their swabs.
‘If they can’t collect these things, how many other peoples’ haven’t been collected and how many of us may be positive, who knows?’ he said.
Mr Baybon added the samples were effectively useless anyway because a health worker said they needed to be collected in 24 hours.
‘We’re sitting here not knowing whether we’re positive or not,’ Mr Baybon said.
‘If they can’t handle picking up the tests, how can they handle anything else?’
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services for comment.
Rod and Kath Baybon from Pakenham in Melbourne’s south-east were told they could do swab tests at home and leave them in the letter box – but almost a week after they completed them they still sit uncollected
The couple, who are both in their 70s, said they carried out a swab test last Wednesday but their samples still sit uncollected almost seven days later
Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Tuesday metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, north of the city, will return to stage three lockdown from 11.59pm on Wednesday.
People will only be allowed to leave their homes to shop for food and supplies, to receive or provide care, to exercise, and to study or work if they can’t do so from home.
‘We know we’re on the cusp of something very, very bad if we don’t take these steps today,’ Mr Andrews told reporters on Tuesday.
Members of the public wait in lines to be tested for COVID-19 at a ‘pop-up’ clinic on Wednesday in Albury on the Victoria-New South Wales border
He said it was ‘simply impossible’ to continue contact tracing at a sufficient level to suppress the virus.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he wanted the state to avoid ‘absolutely catastrophic outcomes’ including thousands of new cases and many more deaths.
‘I know we will already see deaths from the cases we have occurring every day. What I do not want to see is any more deaths that are already predicted,’ he said.
Victoria recorded its highest number of new cases since the start of the pandemic on Tuesday with 191 infections, following an increase of 127 cases on Monday, which was also a record.
The whole of Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire north of the city will be placed back into lock down for six weeks from 11.59pm on Wednesday after Victoria recorded 191 new cases of coronavirus – its worst figure yet. Pictured: A map showing the suburbs in lockdown
There are 772 active cases, up from 60 a month ago, with more than half potentially from community transmission.
The Victorian premier also said on Tuesday the hard lockdown for residents in Melbourne’s nine public housing towers will be eased as soon as testing is completed.
They will then revert to the provisions of the new six-week lockdown for the rest of the city.
‘There are teams going out floor by floor and door by door to do the important testing,’ Premier Daniel Andrews said.
New lockdown: Victoria has recorded 191 new cases of coronavirus – its worst figure yet. Pictured: Police and nurses wearing protective equipment outside tower blocks in north Melbourne
‘As soon as we can get the testing down, we’ll be in a position to assess the data and make new rules for the towers.’
The towers’ lockdown order is for 14 days, but Mr Andrews wants it to end in five.
It comes as authorities apologised for the delay in delivering donated food and supplies to the thousands of residents in the towers.
Donations were turned away from some of the towers in Flemington and North Melbourne on Monday night.
Residents are into day three of the hard lockdown, which was ordered after a spike in cases there, with 69 confirmed by Tuesday.