Department of Health

Health alert

Alert number:
Date issued:
09 May 2024
Issued by:
Dr Clare Looker, Chief Health Officer
Issued to:
Health services, health professionals and the Victorian community

Key messages

  • Victoria is currently experiencing increased COVID-19 activity in the community, resulting in an increase in people being hospitalised with COVID-19.
  • At the same time, we are seeing increasing cases of influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) as we head into winter.
  • During this time, it is especially important those at greatest risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses are protected – this includes people aged 65 and above, people with a disability or chronic medical condition and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Younger children aged 6 months to 5 years and pregnant women are also at greater risk of influenza and RSV.

These six steps can help you stay ahead of COVID-19:

  1. Wear a mask: a high-quality and well-fitted mask can protect you and others from the virus.
  2. Get vaccinated: stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccine. There are new monovalent vaccines available that are highly effective at preventing severe disease. You should get a booster if you are over 75 and haven't had one for 6 months. Other groupsExternal Link are also recommended to get a booster. Vaccines are available at your GP or local pharmacy.
  3. Let fresh air in: open windows and doors when you can – it reduces the spread of the virus. Meet outside when possible.
  4. Get tested: if you have symptoms, take a rapid antigen test. If you test positive and are eligible for antivirals, take them as soon as possible.
  5. Stay at home if you are unwell: if you have COVID-19, you should stay at home for at least five days and until you have no symptoms. Speak to your GP if symptoms worsen.
  6. Take antivirals if eligible: if you are at risk of falling very sick, you may be eligible for COVID-19 antiviral medicines. You must take these within 5 days of developing symptoms - the sooner the better. See your GP for more information.

Yearly flu vaccination is recommended for everyone aged 6 months and over and free for eligible priority groups.

Sensitive settings

If you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, you should not visit people at risk of severe illness or sensitive settings such as hospitals and aged care facilities.

Sectors providing housing, care, or other services to people at increased risk of severe disease (senior Victorians, those with medical comorbidities or disability) should consider how they can help reduce transmission during this time. This is particularly relevant to health services (including primary care), aged care, disability care and ACCHOs.

For health services, these may include the use of N-95 masks and use of recommended surveillance testing for patients, staff and/or visitors.

For more information, visit COVID-19 infection, prevention and control guidelines.

What is the issue?

  • Key indicators of COVID-19 infections show increasing levels of COVID-19 activity in Victoria. These include:
    • 7-day average hospitalisation figures (208) have increased, with an increase of approximately 30% in the last week
    • Quantitative wastewater measures are indicative of high levels of COVID-19 transmission in Victoria.
  • Notifications of influenza and RSV have increased around 30% over the past fortnight.

Symptoms and transmission

COVID-19 symptoms vary from mild to severe and may appear between 1-14 days after exposure to the virus. They include:

  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • fever, chills and/or sweats.

Some people may also experience headache, muscle soreness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, loss of smell and taste, loss of appetite.

If you have any of the symptoms listed, however mild, you should seek advice and take a rapid antigen test immediately.

If you test positive for COVID-19, see Checklist for COVID-19 casesExternal Link for a step-by-step guide to support you through to recovery.

You should speak to your GP if you have any concerns. Dial Triple Zero (000) if you are having trouble breathing or have chest pain.


For the general public

Protect yourself and at-risk Victorians by:

  • wearing a face mask if you have symptoms or in high-risk settings
  • staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccination
  • taking a test if you have symptoms
  • staying at home if sick
  • meeting outdoors or letting fresh air in when indoors
  • talking to your GP about COVID-19 medicines, especially if you are at-risk.

Yearly flu vaccination is recommended for everyone aged 6 months and over and free for eligible priority groups.

See Stay well this winter - Better Health ChannelExternal Link

For health services and health professionals

Health services and other settings where the risk of COVID-19 transmission and impact is particularly significant are recommended to take actions based on local risk assessment and as outlined in updated COVID-19 guidance.

DH will continue to monitor surveillance indicators and keep the public informed of when COVID-19 transmission returns to a low level of activity.

Reviewed 10 May 2024


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