IMAGE: Just under a quarter of Victorian adults have received three doses of a COVID vaccine.(ABC News: Jarrod Fankhauser)
Victoria’s COVID-19 hospitalisations have risen to 1,173, up from 1,152 reported on Tuesday, as the state’s hospital system readies for an emergency Code Brown to be called.
A further 18 deaths were recorded in the state.
Of the patients in hospital, there are 125 in intensive care, 42 of whom are receiving ventilation.
A statewide Code Brown alert, coming into effect at midday, will allow hospitals to redistribute staff and resources in order to respond to an influx of patients.
It was previously used in 2016 after thunderstorms caused widespread asthma attacks, and also during the 2017 Bourke St attack, but today will mark the first time it is used for multiple Victorian hospitals at once.
There are now at least 253,827 active cases in the state.
The state has officially recorded 20,769 new COVID-19 infections, but the true number of new cases in the community could be much higher.
The new cases were reported from 10,726 PCR results and 10,043 at-home rapid antigen tests (RATs).
About 26 per cent of Victorian adults have received three doses of a vaccine so far.
More workers now exempt from isolation requirements
From today, a range of critical workers have joined workers in the food production sector as being eligible for exemption from quarantine as close contacts of people diagnosed with COVID-19.
Those in emergency services, education, critical utilities, custodial facilities, transport and freight may not have to quarantine for seven days, if they are asymptomatic, wear a mask and undertake daily testing.
The chief executive of Ritchie’s IGA, Fred Harrison, said many businesses would not be able to facilitate the return of workers due to the cost of rapid antigen tests.
“It’s going to be an astronomical cost; you’re almost better off to say, ‘have your seven days off, and then come back after your 7th day,'” he said.
“It’s just a big expensive that the government is anticipating the retailers will pick up.”
Mr Harrison said the government would need to provide tests if the new rules were to improve supply chain issues and staff shortages.
Victoria Police confirmed it would not allow close contacts to return to work, due to a shortage of rapid antigen tests.
A spokeswoman said Victoria Police did not currently have enough tests to allow isolating employees to return to work.
It is hoped those supply issues will be resolved in coming weeks, she said.