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Three in four Vic Xmas COVID cases Omicron

More than three quarters of all positive COVID-19 tests collected in Victoria over Christmas are the Omicron variant, as testing pressure continues in the state.

Victoria reported 7172 new COVID-19 infections on Sunday and another three virus-related deaths.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton’s daily update says community sampling had revealed 76 per cent of all samples collected over the Christmas period were the Omicron variant.

Further testing to confirm this is being undertaken over the next week, Sunday’s update says.

It comes after extreme heat caused the closure of eight of the state’s testing sites on Saturday, blowing out queues and test result wait times.

One man told AAP he had been waiting four days for his result and was yet to receive it as of 2pm on Sunday, after taking a PCR test at Melbourne Town Hall on December 29.

He tested positive to two rapid antigen tests and has tried calling the Coronavirus Test Results Hotline a number of times but was told they were too busy to take his call.

Early Childhood Minister Ingrid Stitt admitted there had been “unprecedented demand” on the testing system in recent days, but said results were “overwhelmingly” coming through within 24 to 48 hours.

“I think yesterday’s heat, which affected some of our centres, may have something to do with some of the longer waits,” she told reporters at parliament on Sunday.

“We are committed to making sure that we continue to deliver results as quickly as possible and I know that our hard-working pathology services are working really closely with us on that.”

She said the state’s health minister would make an announcement on access to rapid antigen tests within days.

“We will have more to say in the next few days about how we will distribute rapid antigen tests for those who are eligible to use that as a way of ensuring they remain COVID-safe,” she said.

Victoria has moved to new isolation and close contact rules in line with definitions agreed at national cabinet.

Positive cases must inform their household and social contacts of their illness and can now isolate for seven days, rather than 10, regardless of vaccination status.

Household contacts of positive cases must also isolate for seven days and can use a rapid antigen test for the all-clear if they are not symptomatic, but must get a PCR test if they show symptoms.

Workplace and school contacts are no longer required to get a test and isolate until they receive a result.

International travellers now have the option of completing a rapid antigen test on arrival – as well as on day five to seven – but are no longer required to isolate.

There are 472 COVID-19 patients in hospital, up 19 on Saturday’s figure. Of them, 52 are classified as active ICU cases and 22 are in need of ventilation.

Virus testers processed 48,252 results on Saturday, while 13,000 active close contacts are in isolating in the state.

About 93 per cent of Victorians aged over 12 have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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