Department of Health

Chief Health Officer Update - 23 December 2022

23/12/22

COVID 19 Weekly Data

There were 24,238 COVID-19 cases reported in Victoria this week, a decrease of 1.5 per cent on the previous week. The average daily number of new cases this week was 3,463, down from 3,522 last week.

The seven-day rolling average of patients with COVID in Victorian hospitals is 671. There are currently 707 COVID patients in Victorian hospitals, with 35 COVID patients in intensive care, including 6 cleared cases. There are 7 COVID patients on a ventilator. The seven-day rolling average of patients in intensive care in Victorian hospitals is 28.

In the past three months, 4,453 COVID patients were hospitalised in Victoria. 41.3 per cent of those patients had not received their third vaccine dose. 1,342 (30.1 per cent) were unvaccinated, 41 had received one dose, 456 had two doses, 956 had received three doses and 1,658 had received four doses. 

Of Victorians aged 50 to 64 years, 80 per cent have had their third dose and 31.6 per cent have had their recommended fourth dose. Of those aged over 65, 90.8 per cent have had their third dose and 68.1 per cent have had their fourth dose. 70.4 per cent of people aged 16 and over in Victoria have had three doses of COVID vaccine.

A total of 100 COVID-related deaths were reported to the Department in the past week. An average of 14 deaths were reported each day in the past week. There has been a 62.5 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 637 COVID-related deaths in Victoria. Of those deaths, 49.6 per cent were unvaccinated and 43.6 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 6,334. The number of COVID-related deaths recorded in Victoria so far this year is 4,726.

COVID-19 epidemiological summary

While reported COVID-19 cases are stable, hospitalisations have increased this week. COVID-related deaths continue to increase and this is sadly expected to continue following periods of high COVID-19 transmission in the community. 

The current COVID-19 wave is being driven by multiple Omicron variants. The recombinant strain XBF makes up the highest proportion of wastewater 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 makes up 21 per cent of detections.

The genomic outlook is rapidly changing and is difficult to predict with evidence of newer subvariants, in particular XBF, outcompeting other subvariants over several weeks. This has contributed to a rise in hospitalisations, putting continued demand on the health system. 

Social gatherings and events over the holiday period will add to the transmission risk. However, by taking the simple preventative steps outlined below, that risk can be reduced. 

Safe gatherings over the holiday period 

The risk of COVID-19 infection can increase through large family gatherings and it is important to consider older family members who may be more vulnerable to severe COVID-19 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 yourself 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 the Coronavirus website.

Access to antivirals over the summer break

If you require a prescription for a COVID-19 medicine and can’t get an appointment with a GP or a GP Respiratory Clinic over the Christmas-New Year period, contact the Victorian Virtual Emergency Department.

Early testing for COVID-19 and diagnosis are essential to access COVID medicines and for most COVID-19 medicine to work best, you must take it within five days of getting sick.

Information on eligibility can be found at the Coronavirus website

Free Rapid Antigen Tests 

All Victorians are eligible to pick up two free packets of RATs at any state testing site until 31 December, with no eligibility requirement.

With access to RATs expanding significantly this year, demand for state-funded PCR testing has steadily declined and from 31 December 2022 all of Victoria’s remaining state-run PCR testing sites will close.

Following the closure of state-run PCR testing sites, local councils currently providing free RATs to eligible members of the community will be supported to provide free RATs to all Victorians until June 2023.

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

More information on changes to testing and vaccination services can be found here. To find your nearest testing site, visit the Coronavirus website.

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 23 December 2022

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