BALLARAT COVID UPDATE | Thursday, December 23
NEW CASES: 4 (no change since yesterday)
ACTIVE CASES: 82 (down from 85 yesterday)
Ballarat has recorded four new cases of COVID-19, as Victoria re-introduces the mandatory wearing of masks in all indoor settings from midnight tonight.
The new cases are listed in the 3350 and 3356 postcodes.
The 3350 area has 54 active cases, the most of any suburbs in Ballarat.
The city has 82 active cases, a drop on Wednesday figures, and a further drop on Tuesday's numbers.
The Moorabool Shire has seen a further 19 new cases added to it's tally, the majority in the 3340 and 3341 postcodes.
There are two new cases each in 3342 and 3345.
The Golden Plains Shire has recorded one new case, while the Hepburn and Pyrenees Shires have continued their run of day without any new infections.
VICTORIAN COVID UPDATE | Thursday, December 23
NEW CASES: 2005 (up from 1503 yesterday)
DEATHS: 10 ( up from 6 yesterday)
ACTIVE CASES: 14,801 (up from 13,888 yesterday)
IN HOSPITAL: 398 (up from 394 yesterday)
IN ICU: 72 (down from 71 yesterday)
ON VENTILATOR: 39 (down from 41 yesterday)
New COVID cases have exploded across the country with NSW posting a single day caseload almost equal to the entire country in a single day and Victoria pushing back over 2000 cases
Victoria has reported 2005 new COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths, as residents wait to learn if indoor mask mandates will be strengthened across the state.
Thursday's daily case figure is the highest in Victoria since October 22 when the state recorded 2160 cases, and has pushed up active infections to 14,801.
In NSW the numbers exploded to 5715 - almost as many recorded across the entire country the day before.
The cases represent an increase of 1952 from Tuesday and is just shy of the 5725 cases reported across Australia on Wednesday.
A total of 398 patients are in hospital, including 72 who are actively infected with the virus and in intensive care, with 39 on ventilators.
The seven-day hospitalisation average is steady at 391.
Testers processed 85,112 results on Wednesday, while 16,758 people were vaccinated in state-run hubs.
Australia's Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly "highly recommended" wearing masks indoors and other places where social distancing is difficult at Wednesday's national cabinet meeting, but did not call for blanket mandates.
Before the meeting, Acting Premier James Merlino said officials would consider his advice and described mask wearing as a "small inconvenience for a significant public health benefit".
The Victorian government had flagged it would relax mask requirements last week but instead kept mandates in retail settings, for hospitality workers and on public transport, citing the spread of the Omicron variant.
Senior government officials met on Wednesday night to review the state's restrictions including the current mask settings, The Age reports.
Meanwhile, Victoria's testing system continues to strain under the weight of holidaymakers seeking a swab for interstate travel, with at least 20 sites across Melbourne temporarily closed as of 9am after reaching capacity.
Mr Weimar said more than a quarter of total tests in recent days had come from people needing a negative result to journey to Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
He blamed the long queues and waiting times on the "bureaucratic" requirement, and hopes other jurisdictions will move to a "more sensible arrangement".
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee will report back to states and territories on whether PCR tests should be required for interstate travel, or can be replaced by rapid antigen tests.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.