Victorians forced to self-isolate after close contact with a coronavirus case have mistakenly received text messages saying they free to leave quarantine.
The Department of Health and Human Services has blamed the blunder on an data entry error, but was unable to reveal how many of those holed up in quarantine received the misfired messages on Sunday morning.
Victorians ordered to self-isolate were shocked to receive texts advising they were ‘no longer in quarantine’ before the 14-day period ended.
A Melbourne woman whose partner tested positive on Wednesday was among those to receive the wrong advice from authorities.
Health authorities accidentally sent the wrong advice to Victorians holed up in quarantine on Sunday. Pictured is a couple wearing face masks while shopping in Melbourne on Sunday
She received the text just 20 minutes after she was sent an email reminding her of the strict orders to remain in quarantine.
‘Straight away I thought, this is a mistake, something has gone wrong here,’ the unnamed woman told the Herald Sun.
She called the DHHS hotline for further clarification and was told to ignore the latest advice sent out by mistake.
The DHHS has since apologised for the ‘totally inadvertent’ data entry error.
The department is yet to identify the affected group, which it says will be a massive task.
‘We’re sending out multiple messages every day to different groups who are in different stages of quarantine,’ a spokesperson said.
‘We’re talking about thousands of messages a day.’
Police patrolled St Kilda foreshore on Sunday for anyone breaching lockdown rules as Melbourne entered its fourth day of stage three restrictions
Public housing tenants at 33 Alfred Street, North Melbourne remained in strict lockdown on Sunday. They’ve been unable to leave their home for any reason for the last eight days
It comes after another horror day for Victoria with another 273 new cases on Sunday as the state struggles to control a second wave of new infections.
A man in his 70s died from the virus overnight on Saturday to take the nation’s death toll to 108.
It was the second Victorian death within 24 hours after great-grandfather Alf Jordan, 90, died in hospital on Friday night.
Victoria has 1484 active cases, including 57 patients currently in hospital and 16 in intensive care.
Sunday was a horror day for Victoria as it struggles to control a second outbreak of new coronavirus infections Pictured is a deserted Bourke Street in Melbourne’s CBD on Sunday
Premier Daniel Andrews pleaded with Victorians to leave home unless they need to.
Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire will remain under stage three lockdown restrictions for at least six weeks.
‘We need every Victorian to acknowledge that you are on the frontline,’ Mr Andrews said on Sunday.
‘We all need to make smart choices for ourselves and each other. That is the only way we will stabilise these numbers and drive them down.’
How Victoria’s health officials helped spark horror coronavirus outbreak by IGNORING national guidelines in a stunning blunder that threatens the entire nation’s recovery and plunged millions back into lockdown
Victorian authorities ignored national COVID-19 guidelines in a stunning failure that sparked a second wave outbreak and forced millions back into lockdown.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee found the state’s health officials did not follow up on close contacts of infected patients and check them daily for flu-like symptoms, as is set out in the national framework.
The committee said the error contributed to Victoria’s horror spike in COVID-19 infections that threatens the entire nation’s already shaky economic recovery.
The committee identified ‘several areas of improvement’ for Victorian health officials and noted the close contact oversight.
‘Every case, every day, must be followed,’ a senior health official told The Australian. ‘It is the national standard.’
An Australian Health Protection Principal Committee assessment found Victorian health officers did not follow up with tested patients for any flu-like symptoms. Pictured: a patient is tested for coronavirus in Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre in Adelaide on Thursday
Residents in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire re-entered lockdown for six weeks from 11.59pm on Wednesday.
People can only leave their homes for food and supplies, receive or provide care, exercise, and study or work.
Police can issue on-the-spot fines of up to $1,652 to individuals and $9,913 to businesses if they flout the rules.
Some 96,000 checks were done by police but only nine people received fines.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the restrictions were necessary because of the ‘sharp increase’ in new cases.
Police consult drivers on the outskirts of Melbourne on Thursday on the first day of the city’s secondary lockdown