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Victoria has recorded three new local COVID-19 cases and one hotel quarantine infection as the list of exposure sites continues to grow across the state.

More stores in one of Melbourne’s busiest shopping malls have been added to the exhibition list, with one confirmed case now visiting Cotton On, Kmart, Mecca, Myer and a variety of other stores in Westfield Southland on December 22.

A positive case also visited Kmart on December 28.

Kmart Burwood, Ikea Springvale, Puffing Billy, and Federation Square are also some of the latest locations added to the alert list.

There are 36 active cases in the state, with 24 connected to the cluster in the city’s Bay suburb.

There are 311 self-isolated primary close contacts being interviewed by the health team.

At 9 a.m. this morning, there was already a three-hour wait at the Albert Park test site.

Acting Prime Minister Jacinta Allan said today that the sheer amount of test results received yesterday was “very strong.”

“We are really proud and satisfied with these results today,” he said.

“We still have a way to go because we want to reach those zero days.”

Cars line up to get tested for coronavirus in Melbourne. (Nine)

Testing commander Jeroen Weimar said the state was increasing its testing capacity, with extended hours and additional locations installed due to high demand after the outbreak.

“I am going to ask people to continue persevering with us,” he said yesterday.

An additional 10 new pop-up and shortcut sites have opened in the following locations:

  • Monash Health – Kingston Heath Football Club, Cheltenham
  • Eastern Health – East Ringwood Reserve (formerly Maroondah Club), East Ringwood
  • Aquadome: entrance to the lakes, entrance to the lakes
  • Monash Health – Don Tatnell Leisure Center (Parkdale), Parkdale
  • Gippsland Central Health Service, Sale
  • Latrobe Regional Hospital – Drive Through, Traralgon
  • Wantirna Trash and Treasure Market (Wantirna), Wantirna
  • Knox Private Hospital, Wantirna
  • State Basketball Center, Wantirna South
  • West Gippsland Healthcare Group, Warragul
People who have visited high risk exposure sites during the dates and times listed on the DHHS website you should be tested immediately.

The ambitious goal also expects restrictions to be eased in mid-January, including limiting visitors to homes and wearing masks indoors.

Hotline Failures, DHHS Delay Concerns

The state’s COVID-19 hotline has crashed and several Victorians stranded at the border in New South Wales were hanged due to a flood of calls.

An automated message said that no one was available to respond before the line was cut.

Around 2,200 border waiver requests have been received, of which only 175 were processed.

Concerns have also been raised about a delay in the Department of Health and Human Services in informing business owners of a positive case.

The owner of the grape and grain liquor warehouses, John Tei, told Today it took DHHS several hours to alert him that an employee had tested positive for COVID-19.

John Tei, owner of the Grape & Grain bar in Moorabbin, took matters into his own hands after a member of staff tested positive for him.
John Tei, owner of the Grape and Grain bar in Moorabbin, took matters into his own hands after a member of staff tested positive instead. (Today)

The department informed him last night, despite the fact that the owner of the company found out yesterday morning of the positive case.

Mr. Tei said he was “frustrated” and “confused” by the delay in reporting.

All other staff were negative.

“I would love to know the direction I should go,” he said.

“Of course, I closed the bar and took care of a lot of things.

“But as I understand it, we are all close contacts and we are all isolated at the moment.”

Ms. Allan said that health teams were working hard to notify people of virus infections as soon as possible.

“The DHHS team, whether they are working on the testing program, the tracing program … they are working very, very hard around the clock so that we can provide the best possible information to the Victorian community,” he said .

“That information is gleaned from the extensive interviews that have been conducted 24 hours a day with the main close contacts, and that is gathering us a great deal of information that is put on the website as soon as possible.

Prime Minister Daniel Andrews admitted today that this was not the start of 2021 that Victorians expected.

“This is not the beginning of the New Year that nobody wanted,” he wrote on Twitter.

“After 60 days without cases and a Christmas together, the Victorians could be forgiven for thinking, hoping, that it was all over. But this virus was never going to go away.

“As difficult as it is, we all have to get back on track and get to work. If you have returned from NSW, please follow the individual instructions you received from the department.

“If you have symptoms, no matter how mild, get tested and stay home until you get the results.”

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