One in ten people living in coronavirus hotspot zones are still refusing to be tested for the deadly virus, despite a surge in cases.
One in ten people living in coronavirus hotspot zones are still refusing to be tested for the deadly virus, despite a surge in cases.

One in 10 still refusing virus tests

One in ten Melburnians in COVID-19 hotspot suburbs are still refusing to be tested as the state prepares for a new lockdown from midnight tonight.

Acting chief medical officer Paul Kelly confirmed the surprisingly large number of residents declining to take the free tests again today.

And he's revealed one of the groups that are refusing testing are parents who don't want their kids tested despite less invasive saliva tests being offered in Victoria.

"The main one was around kids. But then some misunderstanding about what the test was about and why it was being taken,'' he said.

"Explaining about the COVID-19 element and why it's important is a really key component. This is a very multicultural area of Melbourne. Many different ethnic groups and language groups and so not only the translation but also the cultural sensitivity is a really important component and Victorians realise that.

 

"I was thinking about it myself last night, if someone turned up and knocked on my door and I hadn't heard that they were coming, offering a test, how would I respond?" he said.

But insisted he wasn't convinced mandatory testing was the answer.

"I think we have to be proportionate in everything we do. I like to put a positive on the spin here,'' he said.

"So, Premier Andrews again yesterday mentioned there had been around 900 people who refused the offer of testing when they've been going door to door in these suburbs. 11,100 have said yes, so that's a very important and crucial point. Most people, once it's been explained, agree."

There are powers to require mandatory testing but Prof Kelly said a heavy-handed approach was not the answer.

"There are ways of enforcing. All the chief health officers have those powers if they need to use them. But it needs to be proportionate,'' he said.

"Door to door testing, when people have no symptoms, you know, you have to think about whether it's really important to test everyone. We certainly need to test widely. If people had symptoms and they were a suspect, that would be a completely different way of addressing this. And so that's where it could be that enforcement component."

"And I know there is a lot of effort going into - appropriate effort - going into people, explaining and having - in the right languages and in the right way what these tests are about,'' he said.

From midnight tonight the hotspot areas of Melbourne will be in lockdown again with police patrols checking why residents are out and about.

However, anyone who wants to leave the suburbs and stay with friends can do so from midnight tonight.

"I will trust the Australians to make that sensible choice,'' Prof Kelly said.

"After midnight, of course, it has been announced, the stay at home orders will be enforced. I believe the Premier said something like a booze bus we all know about, will be mobile around and in those suburbs and people will be stopped and looking for cause for why they have left home if they do. That's a component. But let's trust people to

make the right decision as the first element."

Originally published as One in ten still refusing virus tests



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