Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews is on leave but will attend Thursday’s national government meeting on rapid test strategy and isolation requirements. He had a phone call with Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday morning prior to the meeting.
Andrews tweeted a photo of himself receiving his booster jab, writing “it’s good to set a resolution or two that you actually want to tick”.
Victoria reported 3767 cases of coronavirus, a new record, on Wednesday. Sir. Foley said the new height was “predictable, but unfortunate” in line with Doherty Institute projections given to the National Cabinet a few weeks ago.
“And I think it’s fair to say, given the trajectory we’re seeing in NSW, that we could expect to see these numbers continue to rise over the coming days and weeks,” he said. Foley.
NSW recorded a similar increase in COVID cases on Wednesday, hitting a new national daily record of 11,201.
Across the country, more than 18,000 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed around noon.
It did not include the ACT, which recorded 252 cases on Tuesday, or figures from Western Australia or the Northern Territory.
Sir. Foley reiterated that with both the Omicron and Delta variants circulating in the community, authorities strongly recommended that hospitality venues choose seated service – especially at New Year’s celebrations – and dance floors remain outside.
He urged all Victorians to get a booster dose and said there were more than 100,000 vaccination reservations available in state-run clinics over the next month.
The 3,767 Victorian cases are a new high for the state, surpassing the previous mark – set Tuesday – by more than 1,000. Wednesday’s figures bring the total number of active cases in Victoria to 19,994.
Wyndham, Brimbank, Hume, Melbourne, Casey, Moreland, Port Phillip, Whittlesea, Glen Eira and Melton were the local government areas with the highest case numbers.
The number of people in the hospital in Victoria with the virus has risen to 397. There were 106 people in the intensive care unit on Tuesday, of which 62 were active COVID-19 cases and 28 in respirator.
Health officials were also notified of five more deaths involving COVID-positive Victorians on Monday, bringing the state’s total to 1504.
Another 535 Victorians rolled up their sleeves on Tuesday to receive a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while it was another big day of testing with 75,132 treated results.
There are currently more than 24,602 close contacts of confirmed cases, isolating across the state.
As good news for Victorian travelers, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced Wednesday morning that travelers from interstate hotspots from Jan. 1 could use a rapid antigen test rather than a PCR test to meet state border requirements.
Queensland has been under increasing pressure from other jurisdictions, including Victoria, over its requirements for PCR testing for travelers, as testing facilities around Australia are struggling to keep up with the demand for facilities throughout the holiday season.
Sir. Foley said more than 40 percent of PCR tests performed at state-run clinics on Christmas Day were for travel reasons. “It’s a lot,” he said.
The health minister said the authorities welcomed Queensland’s decision to scrap the PCR test as a requirement, adding: “I think it is leaving northern territory and Tasmania.”
In a statement released Tuesday, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton urged Victorians who needed proof of a negative PCR test to travel interstate to be tested after noon, in an effort to address the outage during waiting times at clinics.
The test sites were still overwhelmed Wednesday morning, with at least eight at full capacity and forced to close within minutes of opening around 7:20 p.m.
The closed test sites included Central Bayside Community Health Service in Cheltenham, St Vincent’s Hospital, Springers Leisure Center in Keysborough, IPC Health in Deer Park, Hampstead Road in Maidstone, Bourke Street walk-in facility in CBD, Moonee Valley Racecourse and Wantirna.
Otherwise, the shortest wait time on the state government’s website was 15 minutes in Hume City Council. Several other facilities had a 60 minute wait at. 7.30am, while the wait was 180 minutes at both Akoonah Park, Berwick, the walk-in test site and Golfers Drive, Chadstone.
By 8:30 a.m., the list of full-capacity test sites had grown to 21.
Australia’s health chiefs are also considering reducing the isolation period for people who test positive for COVID-19 following recent measures by health agencies in the US and UK to shorten the isolation requirements.
Sir. Foley said he hoped the issue of isolation time would be discussed at a national cabinet meeting convened by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday.
He said Australia’s health chiefs had decided to go for a nationally consistent approach when it came to isolation.
With Rachel Clun
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