Grim Covid warning ahead of Christmas

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With more than 20,000 active cases in the community and new ‘mutant’ strains taking hold, health experts are again warning Victorians to brace for a spike in Covid deaths and hospitalisations over the festive period.

Data updated on Friday showed the state recorded more than 24,000 cases in the past week, while there were 671 cases requiring hospitalisation across a seven day rolling average.

The Chief Health Officer’s weekly report, also released on Friday, said the rolling average of 14 deaths per day represented a 62.5 per cent increase from the previous month.

Covid transmission is high in Victoria and continues to place a significant strain on the state’s health system. Picture: David CroslingCovid transmission is high in Victoria and continues to place a significant strain on the state’s health system. Picture: David Crosling

“Covid related deaths continue to increase and this is sadly expected to continue following periods of high transmission in the community,” the chief health officer wrote on Friday.

The seven day rolling average of patients in intensive care is 28, the update said, while as of Friday there were 707 Covid patients in hospital.

The report said while the current the wave was being driven by the Omnicron variant, a group of unidentifiable variants have accounted for 21 per cent of cases.

Christmas shopping in Melbourne days before Christmas would suggest that Covid is a distant memory for many this festive period. NCA NewsWire / Luis Enrique AscuiChristmas shopping in Melbourne days before Christmas would suggest that Covid is a distant memory for many this festive period. NCA NewsWire / Luis Enrique Ascui

“The genomic outlook is rapidly changing and it is difficult to predict with evidence of newer subvariants, in particular XBF, outcompeting other subvariants over several weeks.”

“This has contributed to a rise in hospitalisations, putting continued demand on the health system.”

Of the 637 Covid-related deaths recorded Covid-related deaths recorded in Victoria over the past three months, 49.6 per cent were unvaccinated.

Similarly, of the more than 4000 Covid hospitalisations over the past three months, 30.1 per cent were unvaccinated.

Victorians are being reminded that they are eligible to grab two free rapid antigen tests from any state testing site until December 31.

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