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Vic travel vouchers snapped up in minutes

Victoria’s second drop of tourism travel vouchers has gone more smoothly after the initial program launch was overshadowed by a website crash and technical difficulties.

An extra 30,000 Regional Travel Voucher Scheme vouchers, worth $200 apiece, were snapped up within 31 minutes of becoming available from midday on Monday via a new-look state government webpage.

Friday’s initial allocation of 40,000 vouchers took several hours to be exhausted, as Business Victoria’s website crashed within minutes under the weight of heavy traffic.

The department said the website received 800,000 visits by 5pm on Friday and confirmed just after 9.30pm that all 40,000 had been claimed.

Apart from some users reporting brief technical issues, the re-launch on Monday appeared to go off without a hitch in an encouraging sign for future rounds opening to the public on January 20 and March 30.

It comes as Victoria clocked up 45 days without a locally acquired case of COVID-19 on Monday.

The number of active cases in the state has swollen to seven, however, as one more returned traveller tested positive in hotel quarantine.

The woman in her 30s was among seven overseas arrivals taken to the Novotel “hot hotel” in Melbourne’s South Wharf on Sunday. The other six are considered complex care cases.

There were 939 international travellers in Victorian quarantine hotels as of 11pm on Sunday, with 148 expected to arrive after touching down on Monday.

Meanwhile, an inquiry into Victoria’s contact tracing regime has confirmed it was “significantly overwhelmed” during the second wave and some of the state’s 800 deaths could have been avoided.

The committee, chaired by Reason Party MP Fiona Patten, found there was no evidence the Victorian government acted on reports that identified the need for extra contact tracing staffing resources.

Stakeholders, it said, felt a “perceived reluctance” from the government to appropriately prepare for the pandemic, with much of its responses subsequently “crisis built and reactive”.

The committee said the government’s reluctance to concede or acknowledge errors was a contributing factor in substantial delays to improving the system.

“The committee notes that however capable the current contact tracing solution is, it was not available when the Victorian public needed it,” it said.

“This failure cost lives and was unable to be rectified without strict lockdown measures throughout the state.”

Health Minister Martin Foley said the government would respond to the inquiry’s 47 findings and 19 recommendations once it receives it alongside a Public Accounts and Estimates report into its response to the pandemic.

“The Victorian government and the Victorian community has learned a lot over the course of 2020,” he told the ABC.

“What we’ve now got in place is a public health, test and tracing system that has enabled us 45 days continuously of zero community transmissions.”

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