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Victoria Covid restrictions: New measures considered as cases surge

Victoria has reported a huge surge in Covid case numbers and more restrictions have not been ruled out as officials struggle to cope with the crisis.

Health authorities in Victoria have not ruled out introducing more restrictions as the state grapples with rapidly escalating Covid numbers.

Acting Premier Jacinta Allan on Tuesday noted there were several Covid protocols in place, like mask wearing indoors, but said officials were monitoring the situation closely.

“Those measures and other very sensible commonsense measures that we’ve got in place will continue to play an important role,” she told reporters.

“We’ll continue to look at if there are any other commonsense measures that can be taken.

“That’s a matter for the Health Minister to consider.”

Covid cases in Victoria have ballooned with 14,020 new infections diagnosed overnight but Ms Allan said officials were focused on a different figure.

“Yesterday’s case numbers were high (but) those hospitalisation numbers are remaining stable and that’s a key metric that we’re keeping a very close eye on,” she said.

“Modelling provided did show that it was about (now) during this January period that there was an expectation that there would be a higher number than we’ve experienced of Covid cases in our community.

“That‘s exactly what we’re seeing happen here in Victoria.”

Two people also died with the virus overnight.

There are now 56 active cases in intensive care, with 24 of those on a ventilator – the same number as Monday.

Fifty-four Covid testing sites across Victoria will also shut to deal with a backlog of testing amid overwhelming demand.

Private laboratories 4Cyte Pathology, ACL, Melbourne Pathology and Dorevitch Pathology will temporarily close testing centres.

“I’m afraid that today four of our private sector laboratory partners have confirmed they closing, temporarily suspending a number of their testing centres,” Victorian Covid commander Jeroen Weimar told reporters on Tuesday.

The new numbers comes a day after Health Minister Martin Foley took a swing at the federal government for the lack of rapid antigen tests.

Mr Foley slammed Scott Morrison on Monday for shifting the burden to state leaders.

“What we’re seeing consistently from the Prime Minister is his ability to transfer responsibility to the states, ”he said.

“That’s just the way this Prime Minister operates.

“The states clearly have a view that freely available rapid antigen testing, as part of an ongoing response to Omicron, forms part of what should be a national response.

“In lieu of that national response, the states have to fill the void.”

Mr Foley said he expected the first few hundred thousand rapid antigen tests, which are part of a 34 million order by the Andrews government, would start arriving this week.

Mr Morrison had earlier confirmed he would not make rapid antigen tests free.

The Prime Minister claimed Australia was now at a stage of the pandemic where not everything could be made free.“ We already make them free to everyone who is required to have one,” Mr Morrison told Sunrise on Monday.

NSW recorded 23,131 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday.

Originally published as ‘Commonsense measures’: Victoria warns of new Covid restrictions

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