THERE will be expanded COVID-19 testing in Bendigo in an effort to curb the growing case numbers in the region.
Premier Daniel Andrews said there would be a coronavirus testing push in Bendigo, Ballarat, and Geelong from Friday.
Data released from the Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday showed 52 active cases in Greater Bendigo.
While Thursday was the first day since August 4 Greater Bendigo has not recorded an increase, the total number of cases in the municipality jumped from 13 to 73 within a month.
A Victorian government spokesperson confirmed there would be additional appointments at the Bendigo Respiratory Clinic in Spring Gully from Thursday.
There will also be expanded testing at the La Trobe University Rural Health School, Bendigo Health, and the drive-through clinic in Strathfieldsaye over the coming days.
A Bendigo Health spokesperson welcomed the testing blitz announcement.
"Bendigo Health currently runs two very efficient screening clinics, swabbing roughly 500 people a day across both sites," the spokesperson said.
"Bendigo Health has further capacity at both clinics and will review opening hours based on demand."
Mr Andrews said the government would increase operation hours and staff numbers at existing testing sites.
"We encourage anybody in Bendigo, Ballarat, or Geelong, and anyone across regional Victoria, if you've got even the mildest of symptoms, please come forward and get tested," he said.
"That's an important part of our fight against this virus."
Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said the case numbers were steadying in Greater Bendigo.
"In Bendigo, there are slightly more cases - 51 cases in the last two weeks," he said. "But a high proportion of these are attributed to known outbreaks, which are coming under control.
"So my sense is that these will probably play out a bit more like Colac."
The announcement came as the premier confirmed there were 278 new coronavirus cases in Victoria on Thursday.
Another eight people have died from the virus, with four of those people connected to an aged care setting.
Mr Andrews also announced changes to the government's support payment for people who were isolating while waiting for their COVID-19 test result.
The payment will increase from $300 to $450 from Thursday.
"I think the sheer fact that some 17,000 of those payments have been made, which is a significant number of people, just speaks to the fact that insecure work is a real part of our challenge," Mr Andrews said.
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