Victoria has reported another 2095 COVID-19 cases and eight deaths after the state government told residents young and old to don masks during the holiday season.
Friday’s daily case figure shows infection numbers are slowly climbing towards the peak on October 22, when the state had 2160 cases.
It came after 2005 infections were confirmed on Thursday.
There are now 15,471 active COVID cases in Victoria.
A total of 397 virus patients are in hospital. They include 75 who are actively infected with the virus and in intensive care, with 40 on ventilators.
The seven-day hospitalisation average is steady at 392.
Testers processed 81,565 results on Thursday, while 13,382 people were vaccinated in state-run hubs.
Meanwhile, a mask mandate for people eight years and older entering hospitality and entertainment venues and offices has come into effect across Victoria.
Masks are also required at all major events with more than 30,000 patrons, including the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, but can be removed while seated outdoors.
They do not need to be worn in households.
Acting Premier James Merlino said the mandate would remain until at least January 12.
“This is a sensible response which will allow businesses to stay open, bars and restaurants to continue to stay open and major events to go ahead,” he said on Thursday.
Masks were already required in retail settings, for hospitality workers and on public transport in Victoria.
Chief health officer Brett Sutton said there was still uncertainty about the impact of the Omicron variant of COVID, but early evidence suggested it was far more infectious than the Delta strain.
“NSW has 15 times the [case] number they had just a couple of weeks ago,” he said on Thursday.
“We need to do everything we can.”
The government is also recommending Victorians work from home over the festive season and hospitality venues are being asked to consider providing a seated-only service.
A lockdown is not being considered because of Victoria’s high vaccination rate.
Meanwhile, Victoria and other jurisdictions are awaiting advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation on reducing the third dose interval.
Currently, people can get their booster shot five months after their second, but the timeframe could be shortened to three or four months.