Daniel Andrews has warned that stage four restrictions would not be relaxed if levels of coronavirus testing continue to decrease, even though numbers of cases fall.
Mr Andrews announced a “concerning” decline in the number of people being checked on Tuesday, as health officials called for screening for those with mild symptoms.
Authorities suggest those with cold or flu-like symptoms are likely to have COVID-19 because the state has “virtually eliminated” the common cold and the seasonal flu.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said Tuesday’s 222 new cases were part of an overall “good” trend but he warned people not to become too complacent.
Pathology laboratories conducted 154,432 samples in the seven days leading up to Monday – a decrease of nearly 30,000, or 17 per cent compared to the previous seven-day period.
The decline was much greater at large test sites such as shopping centres, where there has been a 15-40% decrease in recent weeks amid rising test capacity.
Mr Andrews said while it was “logical” for testing rates to come down when people were in strict stage four lockdown, it should “not [be] this much less”.
“What I’m trying to avoid here … is the case numbers come down to a point where we start to think about opening up and what that will look like, 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,” he said.
“Provided people are acting on their symptoms quickly, then the amount of … symptomatic people will drive the total test numbers
“So ultimately, you get to a point where the test numbers would be quite low, and that would be a good thing because that itself will be reflective of how much virus is out there, but I don’t think we’re at that stage yet. There are still symptomatic people out there who are not getting tested.”