Any Victorian with a fever, shortness of breath, cough or sore throat can now be tested for coronavirus as the rate of new infections slows.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos confirmed 10 people had tested positive for COVID-19 overnight, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1291.
It follows just 13 new cases of the virus on Sunday and three on Saturday.
“The numbers are positive. I guess I’m feeling relatively optimistic in the past week in terms of the slowing down of the growth in new cases,” Mikakos said on Tuesday.
Authorities are now making a concerted effort to tackle transmission in the community by significantly increasing coronavirus testing from Tuesday.
Anyone who has had a fever or breathing symptoms will now be able to get tested for the virus at 40 clinics across the state or by their GP.
Mikakos describes this regime as the “most generous, the widest testing criteria that exists in the nation”.
Testing was previously only for people who had recently returned from travel or who had come into contact with a confirmed case.
“We need to focus now on community transmission and by opening up the testing criteria, we think we’ll be able to gauge the level of infection,” Mikakos said.
“This will also help us to determine how we respond in terms of the restrictions going forward.”
The minister also announced 120 paramedics will be recruited ahead of time so more ambulances can be on the road during the pandemic.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he hoped the broader testing criteria will capture any undetected cases in the community and “drive cases down to zero”.
“There is the potential to walk back the most significant restrictions if we can drive numbers right down,” he said.
Fourteen people with coronavirus have died in Victoria, while more than 1100 have recovered.
About 40 people with the virus are in hospital, with 15 in intensive care.