Victorian health authorities flag ‘common-sense’ restrictions as new COVID-19 infections jump to all-time high

There are 516 people in hospital in Victoria with COVID-19, and 108 people in the intensive care unit. Of those, 56 are still actively infected, and 24 are on a ventilator.

More ‘common-sense’ restrictions on the table for Victoria

Health authorities are investigating if “common-sense measures” need to be put in place to stem the Omicron spread.

During a COVID-19 update on Tuesday, Acting Premier Jacinta Allan did not rule out extra restrictions.

“We’ll continue to look at if there are any other common-sense measures that can be taken,” Ms Allan said.

“Those are obviously matters, I should stress, for the Health Minister to make … that’s a matter for him to consider as we monitor very closely what’s going on in the Victorian community at the moment.”

Earlier, Mr Weimar warned the number of people being admitted to hospital with the virus was expected to increase “quite rapidly” in the coming days.

Health Minister Martin Foley said modelling discussed at the national cabinet in December, which predicted 200,000 cases a day in Australia by late January or early February without low or medium restrictions, could even be “conservative”.

From Tuesday, Victorians who had their second COVID-19 vaccine dose as recently as four months ago can receive their booster shots at state-run vaccination clinics.

The change to the five-month interval has made more than 1 million people in the state eligible to receive their booster dose. Even more will become eligible when the interval is cut to three months on January 31.

Victoria’s state-run system is expected to be able to administer up to 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations a week, with 28 booster dose pop-up clinics slated to open from Wednesday.

Authorities said existing state-run clinics would expand to operating 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and several vaccination centres scheduled to close would reopen. Victorians could also receive their booster shots at their local pharmacy or general practitioner.

As of Tuesday, 11 per cent of Victoria’s population aged over 12 had received a booster dose, while 93 per cent had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Victorian authorities said on Monday that parents and caregivers would be able to book their first COVID-19 vaccine shot at a state-run clinic from 8am on Tuesday.

The queue on Tuesday for COVID-19 testing extended into an alleyway at a St Kilda east site, which was at capacity and forced to close half an hour before it was meant to open. Credit:Wayne Taylor

However, late on Monday, service provider Microsoft informed the state government of a technical issue. It was expected to be resolved within a day and not delay the start date of the paediatric vaccine rollout on Monday, January 10.

Another 60,515 COVID-19 test results were processed in Victoria on Monday. Waiting times at PCR testing sites continued to increase on Tuesday morning.

Just after 7.30am, at least 24 facilities were at full capacity and forced to temporarily close, minutes after they opened.

The closed sites included the Aughtie Walk drive-through at Albert Park, Hume City Council, La Trobe University at Bundoora, Deakin University at Burwood, Central Bayside Community Health Services at Cheltenham, Monash University at Clayton, Coolaroo testing hub, and Cranbourne testing hub.

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The shortest waiting time listed for other operational sites was 180 minutes about 7.40am.

By about 9.40am, the number of testing sites at full capacity and out of action had grown to 44.

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