Localised data coming

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.

By Mitchell Clarke

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is currently working on ways to provide more localised data relating to positive coronavirus cases.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said he was “supportive” of providing suburb specific data, and said the information could be provided through a Power BI platform.

Currently, daily coronavirus figures from DHHS only provide data on local government areas (LGAs).

“I’m supportive of that … as long as it doesn’t identify individuals or potentially identify individuals with a notifiable disease,” Prof Sutton said.

“That protection of privacy and the knowledge that people can come forward with testing, get a positive result and not be afraid that their information will not become publicly available is really important.”

Cardinia Shire residents have long been calling for more transparency on the location of cases, as the local government area spans 1283 square kilometres.

The Gazette is unaware of any positive Covid cases in the Shire’s rural townships like Tynong, Tonimbuk, Garfield or Bunyip.

But Professor Sutton said there was some ambivalence about providing the data, adding it could lead to increased complacency in some areas.

“There’s some ambivalence about people saying ‘I need to know it’s in that postcode and not my postcode’,” he said.

“It (Covid-19) is across Victoria, and I don’t want people to have a false sense of confidence about not following all of the directions in place because they’re in a big Shire … I don’t want that to happen.”

The question was first put to Premier Daniel Andrews during a regional press conference, who vowed to look into the request.

He said providing details on suburbs or towns brought up the challenge of maintaining privacy, especially in regional areas, where there are such small case numbers.

“It’s always a difficult balance to strike … What we never want to have is a situation where people might be reticent to come forward and get tested if they thought they were going to be, in effect, named, because that could have a whole range of different consequences,” Premier Andrews said.

He said daily coronavirus numbers weren’t reported for the purpose of trying to worry people, but rather to try to provide transparency throughout the pandemic.

“There might be some ways we can maintain privacy but still give a better sense of where it (the virus) is, and therefore where it isn’t.”

Statewide, 627 new Covid-19 cases were recorded across Victoria on Friday 31 July.

As of Thursday 30 July, there were 35 active cases of coronavirus in Cardinia Shire.

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