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The Informer: Spare a thought for the COVID-19 contact tracers ...

Spare a thought for the contact tracers ...

Oh, the contract tracers in Victoria ... what a gargantuan job confronts you all.

Of the 723 new cases revealed today, 660 are under investigation. That's an awful lot of anything. In a pandemic when you're trying to keep track of something as downright dangerous as a killer virus, that's a frightening number.

On the number front, it's significant to note that 109 of the new cases are linked to aged care facilities. And equally importantly, that's 614 *not* linked to aged care (for those convinced they are young and COVID-proof).

And with the revelation of 61 new cases in 12 local government areas across regional Victoria and another 13 deaths from COVID-19 overnight, Victoria's highest single-day total since the start of the pandemic, the state's decision to impose the mandatory wearing of masks is an unsurprising one.

In NSW, four Sydney schools closed today after being connected to coronavirus cases as the state reported 18 new cases. Six of those cases are under investigation.

The various clusters cropped up again in dispatches while two returned travellers in quarantine bumped up those stats, too.

But it is a trio of travellers from Queensland who have garnered most attention today.

Queensland police have laid a number of charges against three women for allegedly giving false information on border declarations after their return from Victoria.

There are health alerts for multiple locations across Brisbane as testing, and no doubt, contact tracing ramps up.

All three are now in quarantine and have been charged with one count each of providing false or misleading documents under the public health act and fraud under the criminal code. The maximum penalties for each are $13,345 and five years' imprisonment, respectively. They'll appear before Brisbane Magistrates Court late in September.

Now in contrast, and given the state Australia finds itself in right now, consider this ...

Mid-July Sweden's health agency changed its COVID-19 contact-tracing guidelines - so that, to a large degree, the infected individual is responsible.

A health agency spokeswoman said it was "much better that individuals themselves contact people they may have infected, rather than official tracking units which currently have this responsibility".

The existing system worked well when the number of infections was lower but had become less effective as the number grew, she said.

Now let's compare those stats - confirmed cases (Australia 15, 582; Sweden 79,782), fatalities (Australia 176; Sweden 5730). Sadly, the number of recoveries in Sweden is not available. In Australia it stands at 9619 this evening.

Let's hope that last figure is the one that keeps heading north.

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This story Spare a thought for the contact tracers ... first appeared on The Canberra Times.