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  • New year, new COVID records for Victoria

    Author: AAP

Victoria's record-breaking COVID-19 case numbers are expected to continue into the new year as the Omicron variant spreads.

There were 5919 new infections announced on New Year's Eve, another daily record, and seven deaths.

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The state government on Friday confirmed it would be moving its isolation and close contact rules in line with new definitions agreed at national cabinet the day before.

Positive cases in Victoria must inform their household and social contacts of their illness and can now isolate for seven days, rather than 10, regardless of vaccination status, Heath Minister Martin Foley announced.

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

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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.

Case numbers are expected to continue growing as the more-infectious Omicron variant spreads, but Victoria is not anticipating another lockdown..

"These measures strike a balance between containing the risks of COVID-19 to help support a testing system that is efficient and effective in an environment of high case numbers," Mr Foley said.

"I'm confident that with the support of the community ... we can stay safe and we can stay safe open."

More than 66,700 tests were processed on Thursday, with sites buckling under the demand and having to close early in the day after reaching capacity.

Mr Foley said only people who have shown symptomatic signs of COVID-19 or tested positive in a rapid antigen test should get PCR tested.

With temperatures soaring across the New Year weekend, people are warned the weather will close testing sites too, where temperatures inside the tents can be 10C higher than outside.

Eighteen sites closed on Friday afternoon because of the heat.

While testing and isolation requirements are changing, Mr Foley said QR codes would continue to play a role in Victoria's fight against COVID-19 as they are a "key tool for early detection".

There are currently 28,044 Victorians with the virus, of which 428 are in hospital including 97 in intensive care.

However, there are fewer people on ventilators - 21 on Friday, down from 23 on Thursday and 28 on Wednesday.

Ninety-three per cent of the Victorian population aged 12 years or above has now been fully vaccinated.

More than 10 per cent of Victorians aged 18 or above have received their third dose.

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