THE Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath, has urged Premier Daniel Andrews to make “critical changes” to COVID-19 case reporting to “help allay community angst and confusion” in regional Victoria.
Ms Bath said as the second wave continues to play out, it has become evident that the current reporting format is not serving country Victorians.
“The current system of reporting a confirmed coronavirus case by local government area (LGA) alone, based on a person’s primary residential address, rather than their current location is misleading.
“This reporting may be suitable for metropolitan Melbourne where the geographical area of an LGA is small, population density is high and suburbs are located close together, but it does not apply well regional Victoria.
“Across Gippsland we are fortunate to be experiencing very low incidents of coronavirus, but residents want and need accurate and sensible reporting that reflects their physical location.
“Gippsland spans a huge geographic area with only six LGAs. It takes many hours to travel from one end of the region to the other and our population density is low.
“Unlike metropolitan Melbourne, our LGAs are comprised of urban centres and small rural towns separated by large tracts of farmland.
“Many community members are concerned the reporting methodology does not accurately reflect if individuals testing positive reside inside or outside the area at the time of testing.”
Ms Bath has written to the Premier seeking urgent changes to data reporting in Gippsland to better support rural and regional community structures.
“The current case data is far from comprehensive and does not paint a true and accurate picture of COVID-19 hotspots regionally or the risk of exposure,” said Ms Bath.
“Reporting blanket numbers across a regional local government area feeds a sense of uncertainty that the unknown active case could be a person at the local supermarket or pharmacy.
“It would be far more beneficial for the government to report positive cases by postcode of the address the person resided at for the two weeks prior to testing positive, rather than the council area of their listed primary residential address.
“Postcode reporting is readily available in other states.
“The NSW heatmap of coronavirus cases details an accurate and informative snapshot of positive, recovered and active cases and the number of tests conducted by postcode.
“Gippslanders are comparing COVID-19 information by the NSW Government to Victoria’s daily report and are seeking a similar level of detail.”