Department of Health

Chief Health Officer Update - 18 November 2022

18/11/22

COVID-19 Weekly Data

There were 20,398 COVID-19 cases reported in Victoria this week, an increase of 22.8 per cent on the previous week. The average daily number of new cases this week was 2,914, up from 2,377 last week.

The number of active cases in Victoria on Friday was 18,150, up from 15,653 the same time last week.

The seven-day rolling average of patients with COVID in Victorian hospitals is 352, a 28.5 per cent increase when compared to the same time last week. There are currently 359 COVID patients in Victorian hospitals, including 16 COVID patients in intensive care and 3 cleared cases in intensive care. There are 3 COVID patients on a ventilator. The seven-day rolling average of patients in intensive care in Victorian hospitals is 8.

In the past three months, 3,200 COVID patients were hospitalised in Victoria. 41.9 per cent of those patients had not received their third vaccine dose. 961 (30 per cent) were unvaccinated, 27 had received one dose, 352 had two doses, 769 had received three doses and 1,091 had received four doses.

Of Victorians aged 50 to 64 years, 79.8 per cent have had their third dose and 29.2 per cent have had their recommended fourth dose. Of those aged over 65, 90.7 per cent have had their third dose and 67 per cent have had their fourth dose. 70.2 per cent of people aged 16 and over in Victoria are up to date and have had three doses of COVID vaccine.

A total of 46 COVID related deaths were reported to the Department in the past week. An average of 7 deaths were reported each day in the past week. There has been a 33.3 per cent decrease in the number of COVID related deaths in the past month when compared to the previous month.

In the past three months, there have been 671 COVID-related deaths in Victoria. Of those deaths, 47.4 per cent had not received their third COVID vaccine dose. 318 (39.2 per cent) were unvaccinated, 3 had received one dose, 52 had two doses, 120 had received three doses and 233 had received four doses.

The total number of COVID-related deaths in Victoria since the pandemic began is 5,938. The number of COVID-related deaths recorded in Victoria so far this year is 4,330.

COVID-19 epidemiological summary

COVID-19 hospitalisation and case numbers have increased for a fifth consecutive week in Victoria.

It is expected these rates will continue to increase for several weeks and likely peak around early December.

Indications from Singapore and western Europe suggest this wave may pass relatively quickly, although differing local conditions may have an impact.

There are simple things people can do now to reduce transmission and protect the community.

Wear a well-fitting mask, get your booster dose, let fresh air in, get tested and report your RAT result, stay at home if you have COVID and talk to your doctor to see if you’re eligible for COVID medication.

The growth in cases and hospitalisations in Victoria is being driven by multiple emerging Omicron subvariants, including BQ.1.1.

A new BA.2.75/BA.5 recombinant, XBF, has been identified in Victoria through wastewater and clinical genomic surveillance.

The recombinant has shown significant growth in Victoria in the last 4 weeks to more than 10 per cent of sequenced cases.

There is currently no evidence to suggest these subvariants, including XBF, cause more severe disease. However, hospitalisation rates are likely increasing due to significantly waned immunity from past vaccination and the ability of new subvariants to escape immunity from past infection.

There is now strong evidence antiviral treatment and up-to-date vaccinations can keep people out of hospital and ultimately reduce the pressures on the health system.

For Victorians aged over 70 who were diagnosed with COVID during the last COVID wave, those who received antiviral treatment were 26 per cent less likely to be hospitalised and 55 per cent less likely to die, when compared to those who did not receive antiviral treatment.

Steps to protect yourself and others

Protecting yourself 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 this spring:

  1. Wear a mask: a high-quality and well-fitted mask can protect you from the virus
  2. Get your booster dose: new bivalent vaccines targeting Omicron variants 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
  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 5 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 medicines.

Greater access to free rapid antigen tests

Eligible Victorians can now collect free rapid antigen tests (RATs) from libraries and customer service desks at participating local councils.

People aged 70 years and over, those who are immunocompromised and specific concession card holders are eligible to collect a pack of five tests.

People living with a disability, including NDIS participants, disability support pensioners and people with a disability who receive a Transport Accident Commission benefit, are eligible for a pack of 20 tests. Carers can collect rapid antigen tests on behalf of an eligible person.

People should not go to a council site if they have COVID symptoms. State-run COVID-19 testing sites continue to offer free RATs to people who have symptoms.

More information about the local government RAT program can be found on the rapid antigen tests page on the coronavirus website.

People should check with their local council to see if they are participating and for the location of their local collection site.

Advice on boosters

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) this week advised they would be making no changes to the number of recommended COVID-19 vaccine booster doses.

ATAGI's statement can be found in full here.

Victorians are recommended to remain up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations. Get your booster dose if you are due. New bivalent vaccines targeting Omicron variants are available at your GP or local pharmacy.

To access the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Victoria, visit the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Victoria website or call the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can also call the Victorian Aboriginal COVID Information Line on 1800 312 911. Callers will speak with Aboriginal staff who can answer questions about COVID-19 and direct them to relevant support services. The information line is open from 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week.

Reviewed 18 November 2022

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