Health authorities have pointed the finger at Grand Final long weekend gatherings for the huge surge in cases across Victoria.
The state recorded 1438 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, surpassing the previous record of 950 on Wednesday and 867 cases on Tuesday.
There were 46 cases in regional Victoria including new cases in Shepparton, four in Warrnambool and 12 in the Mitchell shire. There were also six new cases in Moorabool shire but these were concentrated in the Melton end of the shire.
There was also one new case in Ballarat bringing the total to 16 active cases in the city.
Virus response commander Jeroen Weimar said the fatigue had caused people to drop their guard and it had directly translated into a massive jump in cases.
"What is different about numbers today, the activity five or six days ago was quite different, Mr Weimer said
"The contact tracers tell us that there have been significant numbers of social gatherings on Friday and Saturday, over a long weekend. Grand final parties. Other social gatherings, barbecues, backyard visits. This has generated significant case load.
"A third of our cases are due directly to those different types of social gatherings, as people have dropped their guard, and decided now it's the grand final weekend, it's the long weekend, we deserve a bit of a pay back, we deserve a nicer time. And that has now translated into additional 500 cases from what we expected to see today."
Premier Daniel Andrews made a plea for people to stay the course to get through to late October when restrictions are scheduled to ease.
"These numbers are higher than we like, they are higher than they needed to be," Mr Andrews said
"I ask people with an absolute sense of respect and an acknowledgment it's hard and it's been a very long journey. But we can see through to the end now.
"Let's all of us make the best decisions and not contribute to more virus. Not infect people that we love. Not make the work of our nurses harder. Let's just see this through. It's only a matter of weeks now. And then the lockdown will be off."
Mr Andrews said he did not believe protests had contributed to the case numbers but the sheer volume of breaches translated to a surge and put at risk the goal the State was aiming for.
He said he hoped to see a a change of behaviour.
"Hopefully this weekend people are making different choices. I get it, I understand it, no-one is enjoying this. No-one wants this to go on for an hour longer than it needs to. We just have to get to the other side and the good news is we can see it, we can live 26 October, we can see 70% double dose and we might even be able to bring that forward a few days. It is not any of us do anything that puts at risk."
The figures come from 65497 test results according to the DHHS.
Health officials say 34323 vaccine doses were administered in the 24 hours to Wednesday evening.
Ballarat had a new case announced yesterday and several new exposure sites were added including Myer, an APCO and several other stores.
The new case numbers is another daily record for the state, brings the total number of active cases in the state to 11,018 and the death toll of the current outbreak to 41.
With lockdown continuing until vaccination milestones are reached, the state and federal governments are extending a jointly funded business grants package for six more weeks.
Up to $2.27 billion for small to medium-sized businesses was announced on Thursday for those most affected by restrictions as Victoria reaches the 70 per cent, then 80 per cent fully vaccinated thresholds, forecast for about October 26 and November 5 respectively.
More than 160,000 businesses will be eligible for the support, ranging from retailers and gyms to hairdressers and hotels - mostly through automatic deposits into their bank accounts.
Also from Thursday, Victorian residents in extreme risk zones such as Greater Sydney can apply for a permit if they are fully vaccinated, test negative within 72 hours of departure and isolate at home for 14 days.
Those who have been to an exposure site, are close contacts of a COVID-19 case or with symptoms will be knocked back, while non-Victorians are not eligible.
Victorians who test positive for COVID-19 in areas with high case numbers will receive a text message, as contract tracers move away from phone calls to deal with rising infections.
COVID Response Deputy Secretary Kate Matson says contact tracers are changing the way they work to deal with the high volume of cases and close contacts.
"We need to focus on the actions of highest value to ensure that people who are positive know that quickly, and connect them to the support they need," she told reporters.
"In areas with higher case numbers, we have started providing a text message with the confirmation of your confirmed positive result, so we can provide triage."
The text message will ask a number of questions to help contact tracers prioritise higher-risk cases, including whether the person is looking after people at home, if they need support and if they are vaccinated.
A short phone interview may occur depending on the results from the text.
Contract tracers will interview household contacts but may not interview "every single primary close contact", Ms Matson says.
"Should case numbers increase further, although it is in our collective will and efforts to contain them, we will adapt the approach again and again and refine it based on risk," she said.
It comes as the Latrobe Valley region has been plunged into a seven-day lockdown to curb a growing COVID-19 outbreak believed to be linked to a household gathering.
Residents in the City of Latrobe, which encompasses the Gippsland towns of Moe, Morwell and Traralgon, entered lockdown at 11.59pm on Tuesday. They were notified via a press release about 6.30pm.
They are now living under the same restrictions as those in Melbourne, with the exception of curfew.
Health Minister Martin Foley said the situation in that area had "deteriorated quite rapidly" on Tuesday and apologised for giving residents short notice.
There are at least 18 active COVID-19 cases in the region.
Where can I get tested: Click here to see where you can get a COVID test.
Almost 79 per cent of Victorians have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while more than 48 per cent are fully vaccinated.
A modest easing of rules has come into effect on Wednesday including extending metropolitan Melbourne's travel limit to 15 kilometres and the resumption of contactless sports.
Meanwhile, the Victoria Racing Club has submitted plans with the state government to host a crowd of up to 11,500 for some or all of the four days of this year's Melbourne Cup carnival.
"We look forward to sharing the details of these plans as soon as we secure feedback from the relevant authorities in October," VRC chief executive Steve Rosich said.
When Victoria's COVID-19 roadmap was released on September 20, the state was forecast to hit its 80 per cent double dose target on November 5 - three days after the Melbourne Cup.
Outdoor non-seated entertainment will be allowed to operate at 50 per cent for fully vaccinated patrons when the goal is reached.
For exposure sites visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/exposure-sites
- with AAP
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