Victoria records 2,095 new COVID-19 cases and eight deaths as indoor mask mandate comes into effect

Victoria has recorded 2,095 new COVID-19 cases and eight deaths.

There are 15,471 active cases of the virus in Victoria, and 663 people have died during the current outbreak.

There are 397 patients in Victorian hospitals with COVID-19, including 75 active cases in intensive care and 40 patients on a ventilator.

The health department said a further 40 people were in intensive care, but their infections had cleared.

Victoria yesterday tightened its mask requirements in response to the spread of the Omicron variant.

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  • As of 11:59pm on Thursday, people aged over eight must wear masks in all indoor settings, except private homes.

    Masks are also required at major events while people are moving around, but not while they are seated outdoors.

    On Thursday, Acting Premier James Merlino said Victoria was in one of the “strongest” positions in the world to combat the new variant due to its high vaccination rate.

    However, he said there was a “need to be smart” to make sure the health system was not overwhelmed.

    Review mask mandates in new year, businesses say

    Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Paul Guerra says the mask mandate will affect office workers. (Supplied: Unsplash)

    Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra said the mandate would not affect retail or hospitality too much, as people were already used to it after two years of the pandemic.

    “I think the biggest impact will be if we have to wear them when we come back into the office,” Mr Guerra told ABC Radio Melbourne.

    Many CBD businesses had called for earlier mask mandates to be lifted in a bid to get office workers back into the city.

    Long queues continue at testing sites

    There has been no let-up in the numbers coming forward to get a COVID test.(ABC News: Billy Draper)

    Testing sites continue to be inundated, with long queues forming hours before many facilities opened.

    Several testing centres, including those at Albert Park, South Melbourne, Alfred Health, St Vincent’s Hospital, Burwood, Keysborough and Dandenong reached capacity shortly after opening this morning.

    On Wednesday, Victoria’s COVID-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said health authorities were seeing a “significant demand” from interstate travellers, with more than a quarter of the tests being processed for travel purposes.

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