Covid cases have almost doubled across Australia on a single day with NSW recording 11,201 new infections while Victoria’s numbers climbed by 3,767.

The huge spike in cases around NSW is nearly twice as many as the 6,062 infections recorded on Tuesday, and a big jump from 2,738 in Victoria.

However, hospital and ICU admissions only rose slightly and there were just three deaths in NSW and five in Victoria. 

There are 625 Covid patients in NSW hospitals, up from the 557 on Tuesday, but just one extra person is in ICU with a total of 61 people. 

Hospitalisations in Victoria are at 397, a slight increase from the 361 patients receiving care on Tuesday.

The huge rise in cases is partly due to a surge in testing with queues overrun with thousands desperate to get a swab following Christmas gatherings. 

NSW did 157,758 tests on Tuesday, up from just 93,581 on Monday, and Victoria climbed to 75,132 from 66,683.

Infectious disease experts warned the massive lines of people waiting to get tested have become a breeding ground for virus spread. 

New South Wales has suffered a record 11,201 new Covid-19 cases as testing queues around the state are overrun with thousands desperate to get a swab

New South Wales has suffered a record 11,201 new Covid-19 cases as testing queues around the state are overrun with thousands desperate to get a swab

New South Wales has suffered a record 11,201 new Covid-19 cases as testing queues around the state are overrun with thousands desperate to get a swab

Professor Robert Booy, from the University of Sydney, warned the testing queues were putting more people at risk of catching the virus, as symptomatic Australians line up with people who simply need a negative test.

‘Symptomatic people are turning up for PCR tests and standing for hours in queues adding to the risk of spread to those who are negative,’ he told the Courier Mail.  

‘And if people have to wait days for results they are likely to go to the shops for groceries again adding to spread.’ 

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said those who needed negative tests to travel were clogging up queues for people who are actually sick. 

Thousands of people across NSW – including travellers who up until Wednesday morning were required to have a negative PCR test before arriving in Queensland – are queuing for hours to be swabbed.

Wait times for results are even longer, with the usual 24 hour turnaround blowing out to five days in some cases.

Thousands have been turning out to get tested following Christmas gatherings (pictured is a queue for a testing clinic in North Ryde, Sydney)

Thousands have been turning out to get tested following Christmas gatherings (pictured is a queue for a testing clinic in North Ryde, Sydney)

Thousands have been turning out to get tested following Christmas gatherings (pictured is a queue for a testing clinic in North Ryde, Sydney)

‘There are people getting tests who don’t have any symptoms, are not feeling unwell… and are taking the place of people who are unwell or who are required to get a test by NSW Health,’ he said. 

On Wednesday morning Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk backflipped on her demand for PCR tests and will now allow travellers from interstate hotspots to produce a negative rapid antigen test to cross the border. 

However, the test kits are in short supply, with residents reporting they are impossible to buy.

The tests can be bought at most chemists and major supermarkets across Australia, however most retailers have complained of inadequate stock. 

Mr Perrottet also pleaded for only those who are unwell or contacted by NSW Health to present for testing, to help alleviate pressure on clinics, many of which have reduced operating hours over the festive period.

‘We are still seeing many people in those queues who do not need to be there,’ he said.

Meanwhile NSW could be rolling out new changes to isolation requirements and close contacts in the New Year, and Victoria is also considering it.

Healthcare workers have been overrun with Aussies lining up to get a test

Healthcare workers have been overrun with Aussies lining up to get a test

Healthcare workers have been overrun with Aussies lining up to get a test

An overhaul to how Covid-infected people are dealt with is just one of the pandemic puzzle pieces being mulled over by government officials.

A proposal put forward to slash the isolation period from 10 to five days for those who are asymptomatic.

Mr Perrottet is understood to be in favour of the change, which has already been put in place in the US, to help drag the state out of its outbreak slump.

Close contact rules have already been quietly overhauled by NSW Health, with those who have had contact with a Covid case told to get a PCR test and go about their business if it comes back negative, rather than isolate regardless for seven days. 

Testing requirements may also be changed for pregnant women so they don’t have to stand in lines for hours waiting for a swab.  

While cases in NSW continue to soar, the rates of hospital and ICU admissions have remained relatively steady (pictured residents line up for a test in Sydney)

While cases in NSW continue to soar, the rates of hospital and ICU admissions have remained relatively steady (pictured residents line up for a test in Sydney)

While cases in NSW continue to soar, the rates of hospital and ICU admissions have remained relatively steady (pictured residents line up for a test in Sydney)

Mr Perrottet was grilled by reporters in the Riverina town of Wagga Wagga, about the requirement for expecting mothers to get a PCR test every three days before they go into labour.

The provision is to make sure they are not Covid-positive when they go into hospital to give birth. 

But with Covid testing clinics overwhelmed as case numbers spiral out of control, pregnant women are being forced to stand in queues for hours alongside others who may be carrying the virus.

‘Well, that shouldn’t happen. No one who is pregnant should be sitting in long queues. I spoke to the Health Minister (Brad Hazzard) this morning and asked him to fix it,’ Mr Perrottet said on Tuesday.

‘My understanding is that he’s getting it fixed today.’ 

Proposed isolation changes for asymptomatic Covid patients

Currently, confirmed Covid cases must isolate for ten days after they received their first test. 

This isolation period is required whether or not the person is vaccinated.  

However, in proposed changes to the ruling, asymptomatic cases may only have to isolate for five days. 

On day five, they should get another test and if negative can leave isolation. 

After five days asymptomatic cases could then be allowed to re-enter the community, but should wear a mask for an additional five days if they haven’t received a booster.

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