Victoria has 14,020 cases, test closures

·3-min read

COVID-19 testing pressures in Victoria have prompted four private pathology labs to close 54 sites while they catch up on a backlog of results.

Nearly one-in-four of the 60,000 tests reported on Tuesday were positive, with case numbers hitting five figures for the first time.

There were 14,020 new infections, taking total active cases to 48,297.

Testing commander Jeroen Weimer said the four companies - 4Cyte, Australian Clinical Labs, Melbourne Pathology and Dorevitch - would suspend the sites. Fourty-one of those are run by 4Cyte.

"They're disappointed to have to do this but they're doing a pragmatic thing to safeguard their own systems and to make sure the labs can get back on top of their workload," Mr Weimar said.

They will continue to work around the clock to clear the backlog of results, including some which go back to Christmas when testing was a requirement for travel to some states.

Mr Weimer urged patience as wait times continue to blow out for results, with only three-in-10 results being returned within a day.

Testing continued to be a struggle for Victorians on Tuesday with 40 sites shut by 10am because they had reached capacity. Others had wait times of three hours.

The first batch of 34 million rapid antigen tests ordered by the state government is expected to roll out later this week.

Mr Weimar said once there was confidence of supply throughout the state system an announcement would be made about formalising RAT results.

He said it would include the launch of an online system allowing people to report positive RAT results and using that data to include people in the COVID Pathways program to be triaged for medical support.

Opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier hit out at the government for not ordering them in November when they were first approved for home use.

"They've failed to act," she said.

The latest figures, and changes to third-dose vaccination time frames from Tuesday, have prompted a fresh push for Victorians to get the jab.

New pop-up sites in partnership with community and sporting organisations will open 12 hours a day, seven days a week to deliver third doses.

Currently 11 per cent of Victorians aged over 12 have received their third dose.

New sites include Caroline Springs Leisure Centre, PANCH Health Centre in Preston and regional locations in Swan Hill and Kyneton.

"As of today another million Victorians are eligible for their third dose and that number will increase when the three month change comes into effect from the end of January," Acting Premier Jacinta Allan said.

Asked about the prospect of additional restrictions, Ms Allan said the hospitalisations remained the key metric and those figures were stable.

Premier Daniel Andrews will interrupt his leave to attend national cabinet on Wednesday.

VICTORIA'S LATEST COVID-19 FIGURES:

* Active cases: 48,297

* Hospital cases: 516, up 25

* Hospital cases seven-day average: 464

* Active cases in ICU: 56

* Cleared cases in ICU: 52

* Cases on a ventilator: 24

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