Department of Health

Chief Health Officer Update - 12 May 2023


COVID-19 Weekly Data

There were 7,594 COVID-19 cases reported in Victoria this week, an increase of 18 per cent on the previous week. The average daily number of new cases this week was 1,085, up from 922 last week.

The seven-day rolling average of patients with COVID in Victorian hospitals is 309, unchanged from last week. There are currently 308 COVID patients in Victorian hospitals. There are currently 17 COVID patients in intensive care. There are 2 cleared cases in ICU. There are 5 COVID patients on a ventilator. The seven-day rolling average of patients in intensive care in Victorian hospitals is 17. In the past three months, 2,337 COVID patients were hospitalised in Victoria.

Of Victorians aged 18 and over, 17 per cent have recorded a vaccination or COVID diagnosis in the past six months. This means 4.3 million Victorians are eligible for a 2023 booster dose.

Of Victorians aged 65 and over, 36 per cent have recorded a vaccination or COVID diagnosis in the past six months. Of Victorians aged 50 to 64, 19 per cent have recorded a vaccination or COVID diagnosis in the past six months.

A total of 56 COVID-related deaths were reported to the department in the past week. An average of 8 deaths were reported each day in the past week. This represents a 19 per cent increase when compared to the same period the previous month.

The total number of reported COVID-related deaths in Victoria since the pandemic began is 7,683.

Epidemiological summary

Victoria’s COVID trends have plateaued, with hospitalisations and other key indicators of COVID transmission having stabilised since the end of April.

The higher level of community transmission is expected to be sustained due to continued growth of emerging subvariants. The department continues to monitor trends through Victoria’s comprehensive surveillance system.

Multiple Omicron XBB sublineages comprise 85 per cent of circulating variants from wastewater surveillance, up from 76 per cent last week. This includes XBB.1.5 (32 per cent), XBB.1.16 (21 per cent), XBB.1.9.1 (5 per cent), and other mixed XBB sublineages (27 per cent). Other variants include CH.1.1 (5 per cent), Delta/Omicron recombinant XBC (3 per cent), and other strains at low levels (<5 per cent each). There has been growth of XBB.1.5 and XBB.1.16 in the last week.

Victorian hospital data shows 80 per cent of patients that presented to hospital in April (who had received at least one prior COVID vaccination), had not had a vaccination in the past six months. This indicates most people who presented to hospital are under-immunised.

Of those aged over 70 who presented to Victorian emergency departments with COVID in the past month, only 10 to 20 per cent had received COVID antiviral medicine prior to presentation.

Changes to pathology reporting

Regulatory changes have been made to ensure pathology labs continue to report COVID-19 cases to the Department of Health.

This aligns with other notifiable diseases in Victoria and will establish an enduring legislative basis for notification. The change will come into effect on June 1, 2023.

Steps to protect yourself and others

Protecting yourself from getting infected is the best way to protect yourself and the community. If you don’t get COVID, you can’t spread COVID.

These six steps can help you stay ahead of COVID:

  1. Wear a mask: a high-quality and well-fitted mask can protect you and others from the virus.
  2. Get your 2023 booster: new bivalent vaccines targeting Omicron variants are available at your GP or local pharmacy. To find out if you’re eligible for your next booster, visit Better Health ChannelExternal Link . Flu vaccines are also now available.
  3. Let fresh air in: open windows and doors when you can – it reduces the spread of the virus.
  4. Get tested: if you have symptoms, take a rapid antigen test.
  5. Stay at home: if you have COVID, you should stay at home for at least five days and until you have no symptoms.
  6. Talk to your doctor: if you are at risk of falling very sick, you may be eligible for COVID and influenza medicines – and early testing and diagnosis are important. With expanded criteria, more people are now eligible for COVID medicines.

2023 boosters

Eligible Victorians who have not had a COVID vaccination or confirmed infection in the past six months can now receive their 2023 booster. This is irrespective of how many prior doses a person has received. Vaccination continues to provide the best protection against becoming severely unwell or dying from COVID.

For those not infected or vaccinated in the past six months, a 2023 booster is recommended for:

  • All adults aged 65 years and over
  • Adults 18-64 years who have medical comorbidities or disability with significant or complex health needs.

For those not infected or vaccinated in the past six months, a 2023 booster should be considered for:

  • Adults 18-64 with no risk factors for severe COVID
  • Children and adolescents aged 5-17 who have medical comorbidities or disability with significant or complex health needs.

Victorians are encouraged to book a free booster appointment through their local GP or pharmacy. You can find your nearest vaccination provider through the Health Direct Service FinderExternal Link .

RATs available through local councils

All Victorians are eligible to pick up two free packets of rapid antigen tests (RATs) through their local council.

The council RAT distribution program is currently operating across more than 400 local sites, such as libraries and council customer service centres. The program is open to all Victorians, with all eligibility requirements now removed.

Individuals can collect up to two packets for themselves plus up to two packets for each household member per visit, while people with a disability or their carer can collect up to four packets of tests.

Testing, especially with any compatible COVID symptoms, is critical to help with early detection and to protect others. It also allows for appropriate care and timely treatment.

Contact details for participating councils can be found on Better Health ChannelExternal Link .

Antivirals and other medicines

Oral antiviral medications remain highly effective against all currently circulating COVID subvariants to reduce severe disease and prevent death.

From 1 April, people aged 60-69 with one additional risk factor for developing severe disease are eligible for antiviral treatments.

Early testing for COVID and diagnosis are essential to access COVID medicines. For most COVID medicines to work best, you must take it within five days of getting sick – the earlier the better.

Information on eligibility can be found on Better Health ChannelExternal Link .

To access the most up-to-date information on Covid in Victoria, visit Better Health ChannelExternal Link .

Reviewed 01 December 2023


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