About 7000 Victorians who queued up to take PCR tests over Christmas and New Year’s will not receive their results as the samples are too old to be processed.
The state posted 44,155 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths on Sunday, as health authorities scramble to improve virus figure accuracy.
COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar said Melbourne Pathology had decided not to process the samples from 7000 tests that were more than seven days old.
He said the health department agreed with the decision and apologised to those affected, who were notified by text.
“I think broadly we agree that there’s a very low utility in results that are that old,” Mr Weimar told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.
“I would encourage anybody who is still symptomatic in that cohort – please come forward and get another PCR test.
“It is all part of that significant challenge we had over the Christmas and New Year’s period, with the 300,000 or so traveller tests we had to process and all the other challenges over that period.”
He urged those who were affected to take a rapid antigen test and monitor their symptoms.
Delays boost tally total
Sunday’s new infections included 22,051 from RATs and 22,104 from PCRs, the health department confirmed.
Mr Weimar said about 40 per cent of rapid tests results were recorded on Saturday, while 4000 were “a couple of days” prior and 2000 were taken up to four days before.
He confirmed PCR result delays are beginning to ease, with about half now coming back within 48 hours.
“That also means that half our results taking longer than 48 hours, but we’re working through our labs to get those times down and we’re starting to see signs of improvement,” he said.
“We are catching up, we haven’t caught up yet.”
About 30,000 RAT kits were handed out at PCR sites on Saturday, reducing wait times to under an hour, he said.
The state is now managing 146,863 active cases, with 752 patients in hospital, 108 more than the previous day, including 104 in ICU and 23 requiring ventilators.
Australia Day parade dropped
Meanwhile, Acting Premier Jacinta Allan confirmed Victoria’s 2022 Australia Day Parade has been cancelled.
She said feedback from community leaders and stakeholders was that they wanted to mark the day differently, through smaller events and activities.
“This has got everything to do with how, as a community, we choose to mark the day differently,” Ms Allan said.
“There’ll be more details provided about the range of events and activities, concerts and kids activities, to mark Australia Day 2022 around Melbourne.”
The state opposition is calling for changes to isolation rules given record case numbers, including removing the requirement for fully vaccinated Victorians to isolate if living with a positive case.
Additionally, with issues around access to COVID-19 testing, the Liberal Nationals want the daily rapid antigen testing requirement to be scrapped for anyone living with a positive case.
“These arrangements mirror those currently in place in the United Kingdom and will allow thousands of critical staff to return to work keeping shelves stocked and delivering the essential healthcare Victorians deserve,” they said in a statement.
A vaccination program for 5-11 year olds will be launched on Monday.