COVID-19 UPDATE – 13 October 2022CHANGES TO MANDATORY ISOLATION – POST-PANDEMIC DECLARATION
From 11.59 pm on Wednesday, 12 October, most Victorians will no longer be required to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19, however it is strongly recommended.
It is also strongly recommended that people wear a mask indoors in confined or crowded spaces or when visiting a sensitive setting, such as a hospital or aged care centre.
There are extra recommendations for people visiting, or working in, sensitive settings.
These are places where there are many people vulnerable to the severe effects of COVID-19, including:
Anyone who has COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19 or is a close contact of someone with COVID-19, should avoid visiting or working in sensitive settings for at least 7 days.
Vaccination – Workers in sensitive settings are particularly recommended to keep up to date with their vaccination status. Many workers in sensitive settings will be required to be fully vaccinated.
Testing – Everyone should undertake a COVID-19 test before visiting sensitive settings.
Masks – Masks should continue to be worn by staff and visitors in sensitive settings.
Ventilation – Sensitive settings are strongly recommended to optimise ventilation in indoor settings to protect the most vulnerable.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you should:
The common symptoms of COVID-19 are runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever, chills, sweats and/or shortness of breath.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may be infectious for up to 10 days, but you are most infectious in the two days just before your symptoms start, and while you have acute symptoms (runny nose, sore throat, cough and fever).
Most people get symptoms and do a test a couple of days after they first became infected and infectious.
A negative RAT result is a helpful tool to determine when you are likely no longer infectious.
You should not go to work if you are unwell or test positive to COVID-19 – especially if you work with people at higher risk of serious illness due to of COVID-19 or work in an essential service such as healthcare.
If you share a house or have had close contact with someone who gets COVID-19, you will be at risk of developing COVID-19 yourself in the days that follow your last close contact with that person.
You should test regularly in the period following your last contact with the person who has COVID-19 and if you develop any symptoms, you should stay home and take a test. If you test positive for COVID-19 you should follow the recommendations above.
It is important to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations to ensure you have the most protection from COVID-19 that you can get.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has made recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in Australia. These recommendations are updated regularly and differ depending on your age and medical history.
With COVID-19 case numbers currently relatively low in Victoria, workers may safely return to the office, but workplaces should continue to have ‘COVIDSafe Plans’ (or similar policies) to manage risks associated with COVID-19.
Employers and staff may still consider remote working arrangements that are most appropriate for their workplace and employees based on individual requirements.
There are some steps you can take to protect yourself and your colleagues from COVID-19:
Workplaces can be susceptible to outbreaks of COVID-19 where there are many people working closely together.
COVID-19 is a highly infectious virus and has become more infectious with newer variants. Many workplaces provide important services, so if a COVID-19 outbreak creates the absence of many staff members at the same time, this can create major disruptions.
It is recommended that all workplaces maintain a ‘COVIDSafe Plan’ (or similar policies) for managing the risks associated with COVID-19. Policies are recommended to cover how the workplace will help prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, when staff are expected to test themselves, whether staff need to report if they are a positive case, and how the workplace will respond if there is a positive case in the workplace.
Some workplaces will continue to need specific requirements for their workforces.
To improve ventilation in your home and business you can:
If you can’t improve ventilation, you should consider going outside or limiting the number of people in a space and consider wearing a mask.
COVID-19 usually spreads from person to person via tiny droplets of viruses released when people breathe, speak, cough or sneeze.
These tiny droplets float in the air and can linger in a room for a long time. Another person can breathe in these droplets and become infected.
The risk of transmission is highest where there is an overlap of the “three C’s”:
Examples of these include public transport, major events, many workplaces and family gatherings at home. This is why masks, and self-exclusion when positive or symptomatic, are highly recommended in these situations.
COVID-19 is now a leading cause of death in Victoria.
There is growing evidence that people who get COVID-19, including younger people, are at risk of significant long-term consequences, including ‘long COVID’ symptoms such as fatigue and difficulty concentrating, and an increased risk of heart attacks or strokes.
COVID-19 continues to have a disproportionate health, social and economic impact on particular groups of people: older people, residents of aged care facilities, people with certain comorbidities and disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people and people experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage.
These groups face a far higher burden of morbidity, mortality, social and economic disruption from COVID-19.
It is expected that Victoria will continue to experience regular waves of COVID-19 transmission, hospitalisations and deaths every three to six months over the next few years.
With ongoing significant levels of global transmission, the virus has continued to mutate rapidly, and new variants of concerns continue to emerge.
Future waves are likely to be driven by a combination of more infectious or immune-evasive variants of the virus, and the waning of the protection provided by vaccines and recent infection.
Recent expert modelling indicates that future more infectious, immune-evasive or severe variants could cause further waves, with hospitalisations and deaths comparable to or worse than the wave in July 2022. Previous modelling was accurate in predicting the likely outcomes of the July 2022 wave so this modelling warrants close consideration.
Even without a new variant of concern, waning population immunity is expected to cause another wave in late 2022 or early 2023.
Expert modelling based on current variants suggests the wave could lead to 400-500 hospitalisations per day at the peak of the wave.
Waves of increased COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths are likely every three to six months in Victoria for the next few years. New variants of concern will emerge that may have greater transmissibility, and immune evasion and could result in more severe disease. Population immunity will wane, resulting in diminished protection against severe disease.
The Department of Health continues to actively monitor the COVID-19 pandemic.
To stay up to date with the latest epidemiology and current situation in Victoria, please see the Chief Health Officer Update published weekly.
Long COVID is a condition where people continue to experience symptoms that last beyond three months from when they were initially infected with COVID-19. There are a wide range of symptoms, such as fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, memory loss and loss of sense of taste.
Symptoms vary from person to person, ranging from mild to severe. People with severe long COVID find they have a limited ability to undertake their ordinary day-to-day activities, such as work.
3.3 per cent of Victorians are estimated to be currently experiencing or have experienced a form of long COVID at some point during 2022. Around 0.6 per cent of Victorians are estimated to have experienced a severe and debilitating form of long COVID.
Long COVID is much more common in adults but can also affect children. Some people are more likely to experience long COVID: people with existing health conditions, people who were unvaccinated when they got COVID-19 and people who were hospitalised due to COVID-19.
Currently available vaccines and treatments are safe and effective.
Bivalent vaccines specifically targeted at the Omicron variant (along with the original strain of the COVID-19 virus), are likely to become available in Victoria by late October.
Science and technology continue to advance but it will be challenging for vaccine development to stay ahead of new variants.
Many innovations are being developed to address COVID-19 including next-generation vaccines, better tests, preventative measures, treatments and ventilation technologies.
PAGE UPDATED 13 October 2022
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
This novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
People with COVID-19 are most likely to have a fever, and may have respiratory symptoms like a sore throat, runny nose, cough or shortness of breath.
Not all people with the disease will have a fever. Symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common such as a cold or flu.
Health authorities around the world believe the virus is spread through close contact with people carrying the virus.
There is evidence that people are infectious before they begin to show symptoms of the virus, however they are likely to be most infectious for the first few days of illness.