Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says cases will continue to go "up and up" if behaviours don't change as the state records a record-breaking 484 new cases of COVID-19 today.
Data analysis has revealed more than one in two people waiting for test results are ignoring isolation orders and going to places like work and the shops.
Additionally, the majority of people displaying symptoms are not self isolating before going out to get a test.
"Nobody should wait for a test at the supermarket, or at their place of work, or anywhere else other than their home," says Andrews.
The Premier has revealed that of the 3,810 cases confirmed since 7 July, nearly 9 in 10, or 3,400 people, did not isolate between when they first felt sick and got tested.
"There's no reason for you to be going to work when you're sick. That's unacceptable," says Andrews,
"If your bank balance is driving you to make bad decisions, we'll make sure that $1,500 is there," he says referring those in financial distress to call 1800 675 398 to receive an emergency Worker Support Payment.
According to the Premier 53 per cent of people waiting on COVID-19 test results are not following isolation orders, which is definitely contributing to the rising numbers.
"It's not about blame, it's not about criticism, it's about confronting the problem, and if you're not prepared to confront that problem then you've got very little chance of fixing it," says Andrews.
"The only thing you can and must do when you feel sick is to go and get tested. Nothing else is acceptable."
Andrews' plea follows the publication of research commissioned by cleaning services company Cleancorp earlier this week, showing that approximately 70 per cent of Australians would still go to work with cold or flu symptoms.
"There is a large proportion of these people who are making those choices because in their judgement, 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," says Andrews.
"This is a commentary on insecure work. It is a commentary on this as a feature of the Victorian economy and our national economy.
"That debate though can wait. We can have that debate, it's a very important debate to have, but we can have that debate another time."
According to Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton the effective reproduction rate has come down from 1.5 to something more like 1.2, but he is still expecting daily case numbers to rise to somewhere between 500 and 600.
"Other models show that it might be even lower. My suspicion is it's still above 1, and we can't necessarily expect numbers to go down. I think that will be an even greater challenge in days ahead. That means that we're going to look at 500, 600 cases per day," says Sutton.
"We're all a bit immune to the numbers. If we had a number close to 500 in March or April, we would have been sitting in our bedrooms and not leaving the house. But some of the challenges in this phase as well relate to the complex environments where cases are occurring that issue of insecure work."
Sutton says getting tested early on and isolating as soon as symptoms arise is key to slowing the spread of the virus.
"You're actually most infectious in the first couple of days of your illness, so the very beginning of that runny nose or sore throat or cough or low-grade fever is when you're most infectious," says Sutton.
"Getting tested early on and isolating right at the beginning is a really key action, and I think they're things that are not being done so well through this wave."
Of the 484 new cases, 97 are connected to known and contained outbreaks, and 387 are under investigation.
There were two more deaths overnight, bringing the total death tally since the pandemic began to 44.
Of the 3,408 total active cases, 3,305 are based in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire and 103 are in regional Victoria including eight new regional confirmed cases today.
It comes as New South Wales records 16 new cases of COVID-19 today, and Queensland confirms one new case of the coronavirus.
Globally there are now more than 15 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, and more than 600,000 deaths.
Updated at 12:53pm AEST on 22 July 2020.
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