Out-of-work travel agents drafted into COVID-19 contact tracing effort

Another 900 team members were working in epidemiology, as public health clinicians, in logistics roles, on other telephone duties and in data entry.


Travel sales company Helloworld has won a contract worth $7.6 million to provide contact tracing workers to the state government, while call centre specialist Stellar CM has been hired for $9 million to provide more operators, with both contracts running from July to January.

The Premier said Commonwealth public servants and other private sector workers were also involved in the contact and trace effort, and he singled out Medibank Private staff for the work they were doing on the pandemic.

“Helloworld are stood down because there’s no travel, but they’re doing a great job for us, contacting lots of different people,” Mr Andrews said. “Medibank Private’s Health Direct service, that’s nurses basically … are doing some of that work for us, a lot of that work for us, in fact.”

Mr Andrews said about 16,000 tests had been processed in the 24 hours to Wednesday morning, when authorities were expecting the number to be closer to 20,000.

The Premier said the lower testing rate might be related to the lower numbers of Victorians moving around the community, or fewer people developing symptoms, but he reiterated the message that mass testing was a key weapon in the fight against the virus.

“I just urge people if you’ve got symptoms to come forward and get tested,” Mr Andrews said. “We’ve got to keep those numbers as high as we possibly can so that we’ve got the most complete picture of what’s going on out there.”

He said 19,500 Victorians had claimed the state government’s $450 test isolation payment, with $6.5 million paid out from the scheme set up to help workers with no access to sick leave but who must stay away from their jobs while awaiting test results.

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