Victoria has recorded 3,767 new local COVID-19 cases and five deaths, as testing centres continue to be overwhelmed early in the day.
It is the second day in a row the state has reported record daily case increases, after 2,738 cases were reported on Tuesday.
The sharp increase in cases has been expected by health authorities as the Omicron variant moves through the community.
Last week, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said booster vaccinations would be the “backbone” of the state’s response to the surge in cases, along with masks indoors and COVID-safe measures such as ventilation.
There are now 19,994 active cases of the virus in Victoria, and 683 people have died during the current outbreak.
There are 397 people in hospital in Victoria with active COVID-19 infections, of whom 62 are in intensive care and 28 are on a ventilator.
The health department said a further 44 people were in ICU but their infections were no longer considered active.
The new cases were detected from 75,132 test results received yesterday.
Testing sites and rapid testing supply overwhelmed by demand
Several testing centres in Melbourne had already reached capacity shortly after opening on Wednesday morning.
Testing centres at Tarneit, Deer Park, Maidstone, Fitzroy, Albert Park, the Alfred Hospital, Chadstone, Burwood, Wantirna, Clayton, Cheltenham, Keysborough, Dandenong, Berwick, Frankston, and Melbourne’s CBD were turning people away before 9am.
UPDATES: Read our round-up of the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic
As states which had been requiring PCR testing for interstate travellers move towards rapid antigen testing, concerns about supply for rapid tests is growing.
PCR testing, run by laboratories, can detect COVID-19 infection at earlier stages than rapid tests, which cost upwards of $10 and can be done within 20 minutes at home.
Rapid antigen v PCR
We now have access to PCR tests and rapid antigen tests which you can use at home. So which test should you use? And what’s the difference?
Several pharmacists and retailers in the city of Mildura, in Victoria’s north-west, have told the ABC they are selling out of the tests due to demand from travellers heading across the South Australian border.
The Victorian government has been competing with other states to secure its own supplies of rapid testing kits, ahead of a likely shift away from PCR testing for less risky exposure-site contacts.
Last week, Deputy Premier James Merlino said the state was purchasing as many kits as it could.
“Ideally the federal government would take responsibility for the purchasing of rapid antigen kits,” he said.
“It’s not a great thing for states and territories to be competing against each other on a global market, but that’s where we are.”
When asked on Tuesday if the federal government would help provide free rapid antigen tests, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the government was “looking at our options”.