Victoria has recorded its highest daily figure of 484 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths.
Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the death of the two men in their 90s, bringing the state’s death toll from the virus to 44 and the national toll to 128.
The men were residents of aged care facilities.
Of the state’s new cases on Wednesday, 97 are connected to known and contained outbreaks while 387 remain under investigation.
The premier said new data has found about 3400 Victorians – nearly nine in 10 – did not isolate between feeling sick and being tested from July 7-21.
“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,” Mr Andrews said.
Also, about 53 per cent of people did not isolate between when they had their test taken and when they received the result.
“We certainly cannot have one-in-two people who are waiting for a test result simply going about their business as if they didn’t have symptoms, as if they weren’t waiting for a test result, as if this wasn’t a global pandemic,” he said.
Mr Andrews said a large proportion of those people were employed in insecure work and had to choose between self-isolating or being paid.
“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.
“This is a commentary on insecure work. This is a commentary on this as a feature of the Victorian economy and our national economy.”
He encouraged Victorians who tested positive to the virus, or had come into contact with someone who had, to apply for a $ 1500 hardship payment if they did not have sick leave. About 1200 people have applied already.
The payment is not available to people who have symptoms and been tested.
“We’re doing some further work about whether we may need to enhance that payment,” the premier said.
Despite the widespread movement of sick people, Mr Andrews said there were no plans to introduce further restrictions just yet.
“The key factor here that’s driving the numbers and driving our challenge is people that are sick but not getting tested,” Mr Andrews said.
Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said a New Zealand-style 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.
Professor Sutton said a 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 as of midnight on Wednesday.
The state’s previous record was 428 cases on Friday, although daily case numbers have consistently been in triple-digits for weeks.
Australian Associated Press