Coronavirus: More than 2000 applicants for 600 COVID-19 contact tracing jobs at Datacom

A mass employment drive for hundreds of COVID-19 contact tracers has been emphatically answered, with applications now shut off after more than 2000 Kiwis applied to fill the roles.

People looking for work during the alert level 4 lockdown were encouraged to apply, with Datacom needing 600 people to help with contact tracing across New Zealand amid the Delta outbreak, which has so far resulted in 107 community cases.

It's understood those who can speak Samoan or Tongan were in particularly high demand.

UPtempo, a programme that partners with the Pasifika community to explore how to progress in work and earn more money, was fielding the applications - but has now closed them off due to overwhelming interest.

"Wow, Aotearoa you're awesome!" an automated email reads when one tries to apply with UPtempo.

"We've had over (sic) incredible response to our callout for help. Thank you! With over 2000 applicants, we have reached capacity and will be closing off applications now. For those who have applied, we'll be in touch!"

Datacom told Newshub all successful applicants for the customer service consultant roles will earn the living wage, with most set to be paid upwards of $28 an hour - the pro rata equivalent of $54,600 annually.

"These contracts are short-term because of the issue they are dealing with," said Alexandra Mercer, Datacom's head of group marketing and communications.

"They do tend to align with demand, however we hope that for many of our applicants this becomes a pathway to other customer service-type roles.

"We're already actively exploring these pathways with partnerships throughout the country. UPtempo, and the great work they do to connect their communities, is a good example.

"Essentially we want nothing more than to support New Zealand and its collective response to COVID-19 and the immediate needs thrown at the community by an alert level 4 lockdown."

The search for hundreds more contact tracers comes with the current workforce run off their feet in the face of the Delta outbreak, which has produced more than 15,000 contacts and over 400 locations of interest.

The sheer scale of the outbreak has prompted the Ministry of Health to drop its "gold standard" of notifying at least 80 percent of potential contacts within 48 hours of detecting a new case of COVID-19.

Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall says the goal is no longer applicable to the current scale of contact tracing, which is now operating at an "industrial" level.