Victoria, 26 June. There are 451 COVID-19 cases in hospital in Victoria – with 22 active cases in ICU, including 8 on a ventilator, and an additional 6 cleared cases in ICU.
6,276,725 vaccine doses have been administered by Victoria’s state-commissioned services, with 667 doses administered yesterday at state-run centres.
68.3 percent of Victorians aged 16 and over have had three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. 94.6 percent of Victorians aged 12 and over have had two doses.
5,824 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded yesterday. This includes 4,130 who tested positive on a Rapid Antigen Test and 1,694 who returned a positive result on a PCR test.
Sadly, the Department was notified of 15 deaths yesterday in people aged in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. This brings the total number of deaths in Victoria since the pandemic began to 3,870.
There are 42,667 active cases in Victoria.
9,970 PCR tests were processed yesterday. The total number of PCR tests performed in Victoria since the pandemic began is 21,374,776.
Omicron BA.4/BA.5 likely to become dominant strain in Victoria
The prevalence of Omicron strain BA.4/BA.5 in Victorian metropolitan and regional wastewater catchments has risen significantly in recent weeks, indicating increasing transmission of this sub-lineage in the community.
The BA.4/BA.5 sub-lineage was first identified in catchments in April and has since risen from under five per cent in late May to 17 per cent by 23 June.
BA.4/BA.5 is expected to overtake the BA.2 strain in coming weeks to become the dominant strain in Victoria.
This is in line with similar patterns in NSW and Queensland. In NSW, BA.4/BA.5 represented over one third of COVID-19 variants in isolates from people testing positive by PCR by 11 June. In Queensland, BA.4/BA.5 is expected to become dominant in the next two weeks. Both states have seen a significant rise in the number of people hospitalised with COVID-19 during June.
The Department of Health anticipates the prevalence of BA.4/BA.5 in Victoria is likely to result in an increase in cases – including reinfections – and hospital admissions. This is because the strain has a greater ability than BA.2 to evade immunity provided by vaccination and earlier COVID-19 infection.
There is no evidence at this stage that the BA.4/BA.5 sub-lineage causes more severe disease, but the Department is closely monitoring the situation.
The Department strongly encourages Victorians to remain up to date with their vaccines, and to stay home if unwell and test for COVID-19.
Masks are strongly recommended in shared indoor settings; if you can’t physically distance; or you are with those more vulnerable to COVID-19. Improve ventilation by opening doors and windows, using fans or purifiers, and gathering outside where possible.
Face masks are still required for everyone aged 8 and above in some locations, including on public transport, rideshares and taxis, and in sensitive settings such as hospitals and care facilities. They are also required by household contacts in quarantine who meet the criteria for leaving home.
If you test positive on a rapid antigen test, report your result to ensure you have access to the right level of care if you need it. Report your positive RAT here: https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/report-your-rapid-antigen-test-result
COVID-19 medicines are available for eligible Victorians at increased risk of severe illness if they are infected with COVID-19. If you are eligible for early treatment and you develop symptoms, get tested as soon as you can and consult your GP or GP respiratory clinic so you can get access to medicines, which are available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
These antiviral medications reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms, make the need for hospitalisation less likely, and reduce the risk of loss of life from COVID-19. See more information here: https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/covid-19-medicines.
Update to pandemic orders
As part of Victoria’s ongoing management of the coronavirus pandemic, changes to pandemic orders are now in effect.