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Vic has 1500 COVID cases, Premier breaks into leave

Daniel Andrews leave covid
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has interrupted his leave to attend Wednesday's national cabinet meeting. Photo: AAP
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Victoria has reported 1503 COVID-19 cases and six deaths, as testing sites are again overrun and the Premier briefly returns from leave.

The health department confirmed on Wednesday the state was managing 13,888 active infections.

A total of 394 patients are in hospital, including 70 who are actively infected with the virus and in intensive care, with 41 on ventilators.

The seven-day hospitalisation average has risen by one to 391.

Testers processed 92,262 results in the 24 hours to Tuesday morning – a daily record for Victoria. There were 17,443 people vaccinated in state-run hubs.

Victoria’s testing system continues to buckle under the weight of people seeking testing ahead of Christmas.

At least 13 testing sites across Melbourne were temporarily closed at 8.15am on Wednesday after reaching capacity.

They span from the east at the Springers Leisure Centre in Keysborough, the north at Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and the west at Victoria University’s Werribee campus.

In the city, the Bourke Street walk-in and Montague Street drive-through are both closed again.

Albert Park’s drive-through was also inundated, immediately suspending testing after opening, for a third straight day.

Acting Premier James Merlino has attributed the surging demand to holiday-makers needing a test to travel interstate for Christmas and urged patience.

“I know this has been a very difficult time and it’s quite an inconvenience,” he said on Tuesday.

“But for the most part, across all of our 260 sites, we’re getting through [tests] in 40 minutes on average.”

Mr Merlino had been slated to stand in for Premier Daniel Andrews at Wednesday’s national cabinet meeting, where leaders will discuss indoor mask requirements and vaccine boosters amid the spread of the Omicron variant.

But Mr Andrews will instead briefly return from leave for the briefing before Mr Merlino resumes his role as acting premier.

Victoria will join other states to call for the COVID vaccine booster interval to be further reduced from five months during the virtual meeting.