COVID-19

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) information for primary health care providers.

Page last updated: 4:00pm, 28 June 2022

Key messages

  • Chief Health Officer Daily Update 28 June 2022

    Victoria’s Chief Health Officer released a COVID-19 Daily Update at 3:35pm on Tuesday, 28 June 2022.

     Read the full update
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    Purpose

    This Chief Health Officer update is intended to provide clinicians and the Victorian public with information about the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Victoria as well as relevant public health response activities in Victoria.

    Chief Health Officer Alerts will continue to be issued when there are changes to the public health advice related to COVID-19.

    What’s new

    7,758 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded yesterday. This includes 6,109 who tested positive on a Rapid Antigen Test and 1,649 who returned a positive result on a PCR test.

    Sadly, the Department was notified of 11 deaths yesterday of people in their 70s, 80s and 90s.

    There are 43,174 active cases in Victoria.

    Updates

    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 5 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 and deaths. 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.

    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 about COVID-19 medicines

    Vaccines

    68.3 per cent of Victorians aged 16 and over have had 3 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. 94.6 per cent of Victorians aged 12 and over have had 2 doses.

    7,758 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded yesterday. This includes 6,109 who tested positive on a Rapid Antigen Test and 1,649 who returned a positive result on a PCR test.

    Testing

    8,921 PCR tests were processed yesterday. The total number of PCR tests performed in Victoria since the pandemic began is 21,391,725.

    Advice for cases and contacts

    Helpful information is available online for cases and household, social, workplace, education and other contacts.

    See the checklists and recommend them to your patients.

    General advice

    COVID-19 symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath and loss or change in sense of smell or taste. If you are experiencing symptoms, wear a fitted face mask when you get tested.

    The Department publishes expected wait times at testing sites as well as updated information about locations and hours of operation at Where to get tested.

    For more information call the 24-hour Coronavirus Hotline at 1800 675 398or visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) Victoria.

    Current advice to clinicians

    Notifications to the department of a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 can be done online. You can submit an online form to our public health team, rather than calling us, saving you time and resolving your case load more efficiently.

    COVID-19 testing criteria

    Practitioners should test any patients who meet the clinical criteria below:

    • Fever OR chills in the absence of an alternative diagnosis that explains the clinical presentation* OR
    • Acute respiratory infection (e.g., cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, or loss or changes in sense of smell or taste)
    • Note: testing is also recommended for people with new onset of other clinical symptoms consistent with COVID-19** AND who are from the following cohorts: close contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19; those who have returned from overseas in the past 14 days; or those who are healthcare or aged care workers. Testing is recommended for those cohorts with onset of other clinical symptoms**.
    • *Clinical discretion applies including consideration of the potential for co-infection (e.g. concurrent infection with SARS-CoV-2 and influenza)
    • **headache, myalgia, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea.

    If a symptomatic patient that presents for testing, confirms exposure to a known COVID-19 case within the past 14 days, and the outbreak definition is met, the test sample is to be treated as an ‘outbreak sample’.

    Read the full update: COVID-19 CHO update for more information.

  • COVID-19 vaccines

    Key messages for primary care providers

     Visit our COVID-19 vaccines page for the latest information for vaccine providers in our region.

    We are updating general practices, pharmacies and primary care providers regularly in our e-bulletins. Subscribe and read our latest e-bulletins.

    Key messages for the community

    Vaccines are safe and very effective at preventing severe illness and death. They protect you and your loved ones, and will help us get back to doing the things we love.

    Everyone 5 years and over can now access a COVID-19 vaccine.

    Use the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder to find an appointment at a GP clinic or pharmacy near you. You can also visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au for more information on vaccinations at Victoria’s state run vaccination hubs.

    Quick links

    COVID-19 vaccine information in your language.

    Is it true? Get the facts on COVID-19 vaccines.

    Find out more about how COVID-19 vaccines are developed, tested and approved.

     More information about how COVID-19 vaccines are being delivered in Australia.

  • Get tested for COVID-19

  • What to do if you test positive

Key information for clinicians

  • Caring for patients with COVID-19

    The COVID-19 Positive Care Pathways program is the Victorian statewide program for assessment and management of COVID-19 patients.

    Public hospitals, primary and community health care providers, Primary Health Networks and GPs offer pathways that are relevant and responsive to each local service system and population.

    Clinicians can refer to our COVID-19 Care Pathways page and HealthPathways Melbourne for the latest localised clinical and referral advice for their patients in these pathways.

    The RACGP’s Home-care guidelines for patients with COVID-19 provides detailed guidance on managing patients at home. However, not all patients will require high levels of care, as outlined in this resource. This resource was written in collaboration with the HealthPathways community.

  • COVID-19 telephone support line for GPs and health professionals

    For advice, health professionals can call the dedicated Victorian Coronavirus Hotline – phone 1800 675 398 (press 0 for an interpreter, if required), 24 hours a day.

    Visit the Victorian Department of Health website for more information.

  • COVID-19 therapies helpline

    The Victorian Department of Health has launched a pharmacy helpline to support PBS prescribers in the prescription of oral antivirals nirmatrelvir and ritonavir (Paxlovid) and molnupiravir (Lagevrio) to COVID-19 patients in the community.

    The helpline is staffed by Alfred Health pharmacists experienced in prescribing COVID-19 early therapies. It is intended for use by Victorian PBS prescribers such as GPs and nurse practitioners.

    The helpline is staffed 7 days a week from 8am to 5pm and can be contacted on (03) 8290 3801.

    More information about COVID-19 early therapies is available on HealthPathways Melbourne, and on the Victorian Department of Health website and fact sheet.

  • HealthPathways Melbourne

    HealthPathways Melbourne is the best place to find up-to-date clinical advice plus local referral information during the coronavirus pandemic.

    The suite of COVID-19 pathways is being regularly updated with the latest risk criteria and local referral information.

    Health professionals should be aware of increased mental distress, alcohol and other drug use and risk of family violence during the pandemic. There are many mental health, alcohol and other drugs, and family violence pathways that are being regularly updated to reflect service options for your patients.

    Need a login? Contact info@healthpathwaysmelbourne.org.au

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