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Victoria has 14,020 cases, test closures

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Almost one-in-four Victorians getting tested for COVID-19 are returning positive results as the Omicron variant sweeps the state.

Numbers hit five figures for the first time on Tuesday, with 14,020 cases reported from 60,000 tests.

Two more people have died and 516 people are in hospital, including 24 on ventilation.

The figures take the total number of active cases in Victoria to 48,297.

Testing commander Jeroen Weimar has urged patience as wait times for results continue to blow out, amid news more than 50 private testing sites will close in the coming days.

Three-in-10 results are coming back the day after a person is tested.

“If you’re waiting for your results on day two, three, four or five, I’m afraid I’m going to ask you to continue to be patient,” he said.

“Our labs are working literally around the clock, having to work with a very high number of positive cases in the samples they’re processing.”

Four private testing companies — 4Cyte, Australian Clinical Labs, Melbourne Pathology and Dorevitch – will be suspending testing sites later this week.

The companies account for three quarters of processing in the state.

“”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.

Of the 54 sites to be suspended, 41 are 4Cyte, he said.

They will continue to work around the clock to clear the backlog of results.

Testing continues to be a struggle for Victorians on Tuesday with 40 sites shut by 10 am because they had reached capacity. Others were listing 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.

Currently, the RATs are rare to find, with shortages prompting the creation of a crowd-sourced website where shoppers advertise where they are in stock.

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

New pop-up sites will open to deal with demand for third vaccinations, including boosters and third doses for immunocompromised people.

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

The additional sites, in partnership with community and sporting organisations, will be open 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

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.

– AAP

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