Department of Health

Chief Health Officer Update - 13 January 2023


COVID 19 Weekly Data

There were 7,908 COVID-19 cases reported in Victoria this week, a decrease of 35.5 per cent on the previous week. The average daily number of new cases this week was 1,130, down from 1,764 last week.

The seven-day rolling average of patients with COVID in Victorian hospitals is 473. There are currently 383 COVID patients in Victorian hospitals, with 28 COVID patients in intensive care, including 9 cleared cases. There are 4 COVID patients on a ventilator. The seven-day rolling average of patients in intensive care in Victorian hospitals is 21.

In the past three months, 5,802 COVID patients were hospitalised in Victoria. Of those hospitalised, 40.7 per cent had not received their third vaccine dose and 30.3 per cent were unvaccinated.

Of Victorians aged 50 to 64 years, 80 per cent have had their third dose and 32 per cent have had their recommended fourth dose. Of those aged over 65, 90.9 per cent have had their third dose and 68.3 per cent have had their fourth dose. 70.5 per cent of people aged 16 and over have had three doses.

A total of 149 COVID-related deaths were reported to the Department in the past week. An average of 21 deaths were reported each day in the past week. There has been a 15.5 per cent increase in the number of daily COVID-related deaths in the past month when compared to the previous month. In the past three months, there have been 847 COVID-related deaths in Victoria. Of those deaths, 45.7 per cent were unvaccinated and 51.5 per cent had not received their third COVID vaccine dose.

The total number of reported COVID-related deaths in Victoria since the pandemic began is 6,638.

COVID-19 epidemiological summary

There are positive signs the sustained peak of the November-December wave has passed, with COVID cases and hospitalisations continuing to decline this week. Sadly, COVID-related deaths have increased again. As flagged in previous updates, an increase in reported deaths was expected following recent periods of high transmission in the community.

Transmission is being driven by multiple Omicron variants. The most recent wastewater analysis shows the recombinant strain XBF makes up the highest proportion of detections (29 per cent), followed by BQ.1/BQ.1.1 (18 per cent) and BA.2.75 and its sub-lineages (22 per cent). A group of variants that cannot be classified due to new mutations made up 21 per cent of wastewater detections. Separately, the BR.2.1 variant has shown rapid growth in sequenced case samples.

A single case of the subvariant XBB.1.5 has been detected in Victoria through genomic surveillance testing. Four sequences reported last week have now, following further analysis, been determined to represent a single individual case.

With Australia’s most comprehensive wastewater surveillance, Victoria is well-placed to monitor the emergence of this variant locally. All the protections outlined below work to protect you and others from the impacts of COVID, regardless of variants.

Safe gatherings over the holiday period

The risk of COVID infection can increase through large family and social gatherings. It is important to consider older family and friends and those who may be more vulnerable to severe COVID illness.

Plan ahead this summer and consider the following tips to ensure you can enjoy the festivities safely.

  • Plan your party or family gathering outside when possible
  • Get tested if you have symptoms or you’re going to a party or family gathering
  • Keep homes well ventilated, with windows and doors open
  • Wear a high-quality mask, especially where you can’t physically distance from others
  • Isolate for at least five days and until you have no symptoms
  • Check if you are eligible for COVID medicines
  • Get your next vaccine dose
  • Protecting yourself is the best way to protect you and the community – If you don’t get COVID, you can’t spread COVID

For more information on ways to protect yourself and others, visit Better Health ChannelExternal Link .

COVID testing

Many local councils are offering free RATs to all Victorians. Preparations are underway to expand this service to even more councils until June 2023.

Contact your local council to see if they are participating and for more information visit Better Health ChannelExternal Link .

Individuals at high risk of severe illness or those symptomatic and eligible for antivirals who test negative on a RAT should consider RAT testing over consecutive days and see their primary care provider or a GP Respiratory Clinic to access PCR testing to ensure early detection and effective treatment.

Access to antivirals over the summer break

If you require a prescription for a COVID medicine and can’t get an appointment with a GP or a GP Respiratory ClinicExternal Link over the holiday period, contact the Victorian Virtual Emergency DepartmentExternal Link .

Early testing for COVID and diagnosis are essential to access COVID medicines. For most COVID medicine 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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