Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has suggested the state won’t be able to exit Stage 4 restrictions if testing rates continue to drop.
While the state recorded its lowest daily number of infections in a month on Tuesday, showing signs Stage 4 restrictions were making an impact, the number of tests this week has dropped 17 per cent in comparison to the previous week.
There were 17,695 tests processed in the previous 24-hour period, while the state surpassed 40,000 daily tests at the peak of the second wave.
And despite Mr Andrews and Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton acknowledging tests will have lowered due to restricted movement across Melbourne and the rest of Victoria, they urged for more tests and asked anyone with the slightest of symptoms to come forward.
“Getting tested is just as important as following the rules,” Mr Andrews said.
Melbourne has nearly four weeks to go of its six-week Stage 4 restrictions which began on August 2.
However Mr Andrews said on Tuesday the state needs to be in a position where they are confident of knowing the levels of community transmission before they can enter a “new phase”.
“The test numbers are too low for us to have clarity about just how much virus is out there,” he said.
“It seems logical that there would be less testing but not this much less.”
Mr Andrews said it was vital as daily cases dropped, the number of people getting tested didn’t to ensure restrictions could be eased down the road.
“[Lower testing rates] will mean we don't have confidence that we have an accurate picture of how much virus is in the community.
“We don't want that to be an inhibitor in any way of moving to a new phase and a new set of rules.
“What we're all trying to avoid here is that case numbers come down to a point where we start to think about opening up, only to be unable to do that because the test numbers are too low for us to have clarity about just how much virus is out there.”
Mr Andrews and Professor Sutton both refrained from identifying a set number of tests needed to exit Stage 4 restrictions, insisting there is no “magic threshold”.
“I think it is all about the fact that we just need anyone who has got symptoms coming forward,” Prof Sutton said.
On Tuesday Mr Andrews was asked whether someone without symptoms yet concerned over infection could get tested.
He responded: “What I would say is this - the criteria is very, very broad at the moment.
"It is a very broad case criteria. It has driven nearly 2 million tests over the course of this year.”
On Tuesday, there were a further 17 deaths announced, taking the state’s death to 351.
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