Department of Health

Coronavirus update for Victoria - 21 July 2022

21/07/22

COVID-19 Data

There are 875 COVID-19 cases in hospital in Victoria – with 28 active cases in ICU, including 7 on a ventilator, and an additional 18 cleared cases in ICU.

6,304,568 vaccine doses have been administered by Victoria’s state-commissioned services.

68.9 per cent of Victorians aged 16 and over have had 3 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. 94.7 per cent of Victorians aged 12 and over have had 2 doses.

14,312 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded yesterday. This includes 10,953 who tested positive on a Rapid Antigen Test and 3,359 who returned a positive result on a PCR test.

Sadly, the Department was notified of 37 deaths yesterday of people aged in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. All of today’s reported deaths occurred in the past fortnight and 26 deaths occurred in the past week. The total number of deaths in Victoria since the pandemic began is 4,280. The number of COVID-19 deaths recorded in Victoria so far this year is 2,669.

There are 69,426 active cases in Victoria. 

16,387 PCR tests were processed yesterday. The total number of PCR tests performed in Victoria since the pandemic began is 21,689,991.

Updates

Third Omicron wave with BA.4/BA.5 now dominant in Victoria

The Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, which are now dominant across Australia, are expected to continue to cause increases in new cases, reinfections and hospital admissions.

The rate of BA.4/BA.5 in clinical genomic surveillance and metropolitan and regional wastewater catchments continues to rise significantly. BA.4/BA.5 have become the dominant strains in clinical genomic samples, rising to 82 per cent in the two weeks prior to 17 July.

The BA.4/BA.5 sub-lineages were first identified in Victorian wastewater catchments in April and have since risen from under 5 per cent in late May to an average of 75 per cent across all catchments by 11 July.

This 3rd wave of the Omicron variant is expected to peak in August. The impact of this can be reduced through immediate preventative measures such as wearing a mask in indoor and crowded settings. Wearing masks when indoors outside your home helps protect yourself, your family, and your community. It will also protect our health system and support our front-line healthcare workers by reducing COVID-19 cases in the community and reducing pressure on GP practices and our hospitals. Every Victorian who wears a mask when out and about is helping our healthcare workers.

Additionally, when meeting others or in shared indoor areas, take steps to improve ventilation by opening doors and windows, using portable air purifiers where available or preferably meeting outside.

Access to rapid antigen tests

Rapid antigen tests (RATs) are a quick and accurate way to test for the virus that causes COVID-19. RATs continue to detect the current variants circulating in Victoria.

Rapid antigen testing kits continue to be offered for free at state-run testing sites.

Anyone with symptoms or considered a close contact of someone with COVID-19 can collect a free pack of five RATs.

People living with a disability also have access to 20 rapid antigen tests through state-run testing sites and Disability Liaison Officers.

Eligible people include NDIS participants, disability support pensioners and people with a disability who receive a Transport Accident Commission (TAC) benefit. Evidence of eligibility, such as an NDIS or TAC statement, is required.

Eligible Commonwealth concession card holders can obtain up to five test kits each month from selected pharmacies, free of charge until 31 July, under the Rapid Antigen Test Concessional Access program.

Free RATs are being distributed to staff and students through schools and early childhood centres throughout Term 3 and 4.

When to use rapid antigen tests

You are more likely to test positive on a rapid antigen test when you are infectious.

Early on in a COVID-19 infection when virus levels are still low, the virus may not be detectable by rapid antigen test and you may initially test negative before testing positive once virus levels are higher.

Nevertheless, you may still be infectious especially if you have symptoms or are a close or social contact.

Thus, if you are symptomatic or a close or social contact, it is important to repeat rapid antigen tests over several days to increase the chance of detecting COVID-19 infection.

If you have developed symptoms of an acute respiratory infection, it is important to remain home while unwell, even if you test negative for COVID-19.

If you are a close contact and test negative for COVID-19, it is still essential to wear a mask indoors when outside your home, to not visit hospitals or care facilities, to continue RAT surveillance testing throughout your close contact period and to notify your employer or education facility that you are a close contact.

Symptomatic individuals at high risk of severe disease and a negative rapid antigen test should undergo a PCR test to ensure they are able to access effective treatment early.

More information on rapid antigen tests is available here: About rapid antigen tests.

Treatments and Vaccination

The eligibility criteria for COVID medicines have been recently broadened. More information can be found at COVID-19 treatments and at COVID-19 Medicines.

Eligibility for winter booster doses has also been broadened, and this remains the most important protection against becoming seriously unwell with COVID-19. To find a vaccination provider near you, use the Australian Government’s Vaccine Clinic Finder.

To access the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Victoria, visit the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Victoria website or call the 24-hour Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 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 21 July 2022

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