New hotline for positive RAT results in Victoria as state records 21,728 COVID cases

Victoria has recorded 21,728 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths, as the state opens a hotline for those who test positive on a rapid antigen test.

Victoria has recorded 21,728 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths, as the state opens a hotline for those who test positive on a rapid antigen test. Photo: Getty

Victoria has capacity to handle 50,000 reports of positive COVID-19 rapid antigen tests a day but there is already confirmation of room to grow.

A hotline and online reporting have opened for Victorians who test positive to a RAT to report their “probable” case.

It became mandatory to report positive RAT results from Friday, a day when the state recorded 21,728 new cases from 68,202 tests through the PCR lab test system.

Another six people have died and hospitalisations have again increased to 644 people. There are 58 active cases in intensive care and 24 on ventilation.

“We will see fewer Victorians waiting on the results of that PCR test before they can go and either receive the care and information they need or return to life as normal,” acting premier Jacinta Allan said.

Anyone who receives a positive RAT will be classified as a “probable” case and must isolate for seven days and notify their contacts. They will receive the same clinical and financial support as PCR confirmed cases.

Testing commander Jeroen Weimar said the hotline and form will check symptoms, whether people are a contact, the support they need, their vaccination status and pre-existing conditions.

He said it would allow for care to be more quickly provided.

The system has capacity to deal with 50,000 reports a day but he confirmed that can be stepped up if necessary.

The RATs have at times proved difficult to find, but it’s hoped their use will reduce pressure on the overloaded PCR testing system.

By 9am on Friday 18 state-run PCR testing sites had reached capacity and closed, compared to 35 sites at the same time on Thursday, as new rapid antigen testing rules came into force overnight.

Victoria is rolling out rapid tests at state-run testing sites. Four sites handed out RATs in a pilot program on Wednesday, and on Thursday that figure rose to 24 mainly metropolitan sites where asymptomatic people were offered the rapid test to use at home.

The 44 million tests ordered by the state are in transit.

Restrictions have also been reintroduced, including density limits of one person per two square metres for indoor hospitality and entertainment venues.

Bookings are also open for children five to 11 to be vaccinated, with 25,000 appointments taken up in the 24 hours after bookings opened.

Meanwhile, world No.1 tennis player Novak Djokovic has spent his first night in immigration detention in Melbourne as he fights the cancellation of his visa ahead of the Australian Open.

The 20-time grand slam champion has launched legal action in a federal court to challenge the decision, and is waiting on a hearing scheduled for Monday.

Ms Allan said the Victorian medical panel which provided Djokovic with the exemption to play in the Australian Open was an entirely separate process to the visa exemption.

“How players and support staff enter the country to participate in the Australian Open … is a matter for the Commonwealth government and Tennis Australia,” Ms Allan said.

“The role of the (Victorian) panel was to assess the medical documentation, not to assess their eligibility for a visa.”


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