Victorians will get 34 million free rapid antigen tests by the end of January.
On the same day the state posted its highest COVID-19 daily infection tally, with 3,767 new cases, the state government announced it will ramp up access to at-home tests.
“Rapid antigen testing is the way that Victorians can have confidence as they go about living with COVID and making sure that they do their bit to keep the pressure off our hard working hospitals,” Health Minister Martin Foley said on Wednesday.
“We would much prefer to have a national approach to what is a national, indeed an international, supply issue. but failing that, as per usual, the states have had to step up over the course of this pandemic and fill the gap left.”
How the tests will be distributed is still being worked out.
The state is already handing out free rapid tests in some circumstances, including to students and staff exposed at schools.
On Wednesday Victoria saw a jump in COVID-19 infections with 3,767 new cases and five deaths.
The state had 2,738 new cases and four deaths reported on Tuesday.
Wednesday’s infection figure is the highest daily number the state has seen since the start of the pandemic.
Foley acknowledged it is a confronting number to see, but it was predicted in modelling and he encouraged people to continue to wear masks, socially distance and take as many precautions as they can.
The number of active cases in Victoria has also risen again to 19,994 up from 17,821.
Hospitalisations have increased from Tuesday too, from 361 to 397, bringing the seven-day average to 379.
However, there are fewer people on ventilators, 28 on Wednesday down from 33 on Tuesday.
There are 62 people actively infectious with the virus in intensive care.
There were 75,132 tests processed on Tuesday, with sites continuing to come under intense pressure.
By 9.20am on Wednesday more than 20 sites across the Melbourne metropolitan area had been closed after reaching capacity.
By Kaitlyn Offer