BALLARAT COVID UPDATE | Friday, January 14
NEW CASES: 250 ( down from 279 yesterday)
ACTIVE CASES: 1190 (up from 1071 yesterday)
Ballarat reported another 250 new COVID cases in the 24 hours to midnight, Thursday.
The most recent figures are down the 279 infections reported yesterday.
The number of active cases in the city has increased to 1190, up from 1071 yesterday.
Of the latest cases, 147 are in the 3350 postcode, which now has 746 active infections.
The Moorabool Shire reported 69 new cases, its active tally stands at 489.
The Golden Plains Shire reported 48 new infections, while 40 new cases are listed in the Hepburn Shire.
The Pyrenees Shire reported a further 16 new cases.
VICTORIAN COVID UPDATE | Friday, January 14
NEW CASES: 34,836(down from 37,169 yesterday)
DEATHS: 18 (down from 25 yesterday)
ACTIVE CASES: 239,396(up from 221,726 yesterday)
IN HOSPITAL: 976 (up from 953 yesterday)
IN ICU: 112 (up from 111 yesterday)
ON VENTILATOR: 30 (up from 29 yesterday)
Victoria has recorded 34,836 new COVID-19 cases and 18 deaths, as questions linger about rapid test supply to allow more workers to be freed from isolation.
The new infections include 15,440 from rapid antigen tests and 19,396 from PCR tests, the health department confirmed on Friday.
There are a record 976 patients in hospital, up 23 from Thursday, including 112 in intensive care of which 30 require ventilators.
The state is managing 239,396 active cases.
The number of Victorians 18 and over who have received their booster vaccine shot has risen to 21 per cent.
In Ballarat, the number of COVID infections continue to reach new highs.
On Thursday there was a record 279 daily cases confirmed, with 1071 cases now listed as being active.
However, numbers are certain to be higher as rapid antigen test results are not broken down into locations.
The latest figures will be published later today.
Meanwhile, thousands of workers will be able to return to industries including education and transport after becoming COVID-19 close contacts, as Victoria tries to mitigate the pandemic's impact on vital services.
Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday said the list of workers exempt from isolating as close contacts will be broadened from midnight on Tuesday, to include those in emergency services, education, critical utilities, custodial facilities, transport and freight.
"Exempting them from isolation requirements is a common-sense way in which we can keep those services, those important parts of our society, as close to normal as possible," he said on Thursday.
Health care, food distribution, manufacturing, packaging and retail supermarket workers are currently exempt, while state government project workers will not be included in the list.
Workers must first notify their employer when they become a close contact and both parties must consent to the worker returning to the workplace.
They can then only return to work if "it is necessary for continuity of operations" and will not be allowed to go out and socialise outside work.
Exempt workers must wear a face mask at all times and undertake daily rapid antigen tests for five days, returning a negative result before attending work, with employers expected to provide RATs to employees.
Mr Andrews said Victoria is expecting to receive about two-and-a-half million RATs from the national stockpile and has ordered another 44 million.
The changes were welcomed by the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who said they will allow hard-hit businesses "to maintain viable levels of trade".
However, the state opposition wants the rules to be extended to all Victorian workers.
"We shouldn't be having rules for some and not others," deputy Liberal leader David Southwick said.
"If you're sick you stay home, if you're not sick you work. We've got to get people back to work, we've got to get businesses open, and we've got to get our lives back."
He also called for the premier to clarify where businesses are going to get their RAT supply from.
Liam Ganley, who owns three Melbourne hospitality venues including restaurant Angus & Bon, said he was losing staff every couple of days as they became close contacts or developed symptoms.
He said the businesses were headed into a "perfect storm" with no staff, restrictions in place, and deferred rents and payroll tax about to kick in.
"It doesn't compare at all to last year. It's survival-mode right now. Financially it's a lot worse," Mr Ganley said.
New rules requiring hospitality and entertainment venues to close indoor dancefloors also kicked in on Thursday, except for weddings. Hospitals and aged care facilities are imposing new restrictions on visitors.
Meanwhile, the number of Victorians over 18 who have received a booster vaccine has risen by two per cent, to 20 per cent, with more than 250,000 booster appointments available.
Mandatory booster arrangements now apply, requiring key workers currently eligible for a third dose to get it before February 12.
We have removed our paywall from our stories about the coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we aim to make sure our readers are as informed as possible. If you would like to support our journalists you can subscribe here.