COVID-19

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

Page last updated: 9pm, 4 December 2022

Key messages

  • Chief Health Officer Weekly Update 2 December 2022

    Date issued: 2 December 2022

    Issued by: Office of the Chief Health Officer

    Issued to: Clinicians and the Victorian public

    COVID-19 Weekly Data

    There were 26,971 COVID-19 cases reported in Victoria this week, an increase of 21.4 per cent on the previous week. The average daily number of new cases this week was 3,853, up from 3,183 last week.

    The seven-day rolling average of patients with COVID in Victorian hospitals is 550, a 27.9 per cent increase when compared to the same time last week. There are currently 625 COVID patients in Victorian hospitals, with 28 COVID patients in intensive care including 4 cleared cases. There are 8 COVID patients on a ventilator. The seven-day rolling average of patients in intensive care in Victorian hospitals is 21.

    In the past three months, 3,468 COVID patients were hospitalised in Victoria. 40.8 per cent of those patients had not received their third vaccine dose. 1,018 (29.4 per cent) were unvaccinated, 30 had received one dose, 367 had two doses, 786 had received three doses and 1,267 had received four doses.

    Of Victorians aged 50 to 64 years, 79.9 per cent have had their third dose and 30.5 per cent have had their recommended fourth dose. Of those aged over 65, 90.8 per cent have had their third dose and 67.5 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 54 COVID-related deaths were reported to the Department in the past week. An average of 8 deaths were reported each day in the past week. There has been a 32.1 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 596 COVID-related deaths in Victoria. Of those deaths, 39.3 per cent were unvaccinated and 45.8 per cent had not received their third COVID vaccine dose.

    The total number of COVID-related deaths in Victoria since the pandemic began is 6,052. The number of COVID related deaths recorded in Victoria so far this year is 4,444.

    COVID-19 epidemiological summary

    COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations continued to increase this week. Cases have been rising steadily since late October and the total number of COVID-19 patients in hospital has increased three-fold since 19 October.

    While the number of people in hospital (625) is the highest it has been since 14 August during the last wave, it is still well short of the 20 July peak of 906.

    The number of COVID-related deaths has begun increasing, which was expected following the increasing rate of cases and hospitalisations over recent weeks.

    The increase in cases is being driven by a mixture of new Omicron subvariants, which are more immune evasive and are responding to waning immunity from past infection and past vaccination.

    Health System Response Framework Update

    Given the increasing demand on the Victorian public health system, the Health System Response Framework (HSR) will be escalated to Stage 3, effective Saturday 3 December 2022.

    This is a reflection of both high numbers of people with COVID in hospital, particularly across our metropolitan health services, as well as ongoing furlough challenges at all sites leading into the holiday period.

    This will enable the enhanced application of levers to best utilise resources, facilitate load balancing and generate capacity in order to relieve system pressures.

    The Health System Response was developed to provide the Victorian acute health system a strategy to maintain high-quality COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 care, including elective activity.

    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.

    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 675 398 or visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) Victoria.

    Current advice to clinicians

    Clinicians are no longer required to report positive COVID-19 test results. Laboratories continue to be required to report positive COVID-19 PCR results. People who have tested positive using a rapid antigen test (RAT) should report their result to the Department of Health online or by calling 1800 675 398.

    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.

    Online resources

    Mental health resources

    • Many Victorians are feeling fatigued, isolated or lonely. If you need support for your mental health there are mental health resources you can access on our website.

    Consumer information

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    Keep informed of emergencies affecting the health sector and critical public health issues impacting your work by subscribing to the Chief Health Officer’s alerts and advisories, or see our media releases and follow the Victorian Chief Health Officer on Twitter.

  • 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.

  • COVID-19 treatments

    Visit the Australian Department of Health website to learn more about the treatments available for COVID-19. If you’re at risk, book an appointment with your GP to develop a treatment plan should you need it.

  • 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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