COVID-19 Victorian Situation

Latest update May 4, 2022 

Victorian figures 

There were 10,779 new infections reported today in Victoria - 

  • 57,154 active cases  (last week 51,835). 
  • 11 deaths reported - a number which is of concern
  • 2,998 COVID-related deaths so far
  • 473 are in hospital, 25 are in ICU, and 6 of these are on ventilators. These numbers have remained fairly stable, if anything slowly decreasing. 
  • 1,597,294 total number of infections since the pandemic began

For up to date stats, go to the COVID Live website. 

If you have any symptoms at all:

  • get tested immediately - do not wait! If you think you've been at an exposure site, do not wait for symptoms, just get tested. It appears that too many are not getting tested quickly enough, meaning they are spending time in the community, spreading the infection.
  • do not go to work.

Vaccination levels

As of May 2, 83.2 per cent of all Victorians had received their second dose, 85.96 per cent had received their first dose, and 53.71 per cent had their third dose.

Those over 65 (over 55 for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island Australians) can now get their fourth shot. It is extremely important that everyone maintains high levels of care to minimise the risks of ending up in hospital.

Australia wide, by April 19, the figures are 83.45 per cent, 86.61 per cent respectively, with 51.58 per cent having received the third shot.  Check the ABC Vaccine tracker and The Age for daily updates. 

It is extremely important that everyone maintains high levels of care to minimise the risks of ending up in hospital. 

Restrictions eased but lots of infection is around!

The Victorian government announced last week that many restrictions were eased as of midnight Friday April 22. Although these were outlined in last week's SafetyNet journal, details were not yet available on the government websites at that time. 

In brief, the changes announced included:

  • Removal of vaccine mandates and check-ins to enter retail and hospitality venues
  • Masks are no longer required in primary schools, early childhood, hospitality and retail settings, or at events of any size
  • Close contacts no longer required to isolate: but required to wear a mask indoors and avoid sensitive settings; and also have at least five negative rapid antigen tests (RATs) over the seven days that would previously have been the self-quarantine period 
  • All visitor restrictions in hospitals, except for mask requirements, removed. Health services are able to tailor their own settings based on their own circumstances
  • changes to requirements for arriving international travellers.

In relation to workplaces

Workplace contacts: 

  • Individuals are required to notify their workplace contacts, in addition to informing their social contacts.
  • Workplaces do not have to individually identify and notify each potentially exposed worker.
  • It is recommended to work from home if you're a close contact exempt from quarantine.

In addition: 

  • Visitor restrictions in care facilities remain in place to protect the vulnerable
  • Face coverings are still be required on public transport and at airports – excluding airport workers who aren’t public facing – and in sensitive health, aged care and justice settings
  • All workplaces will still require a COVIDSafe Plan

What does this mean for workers and HSRs?

As all workplaces are still required to have a COVIDSafe Plan in place, HSRs need to request a review of their employer's plan, and ensure that they are consulted.

These are some of the questions/issues to raise:

  1. What is the employer going to do about close contacts? 
  2. How will they check who is a close contact? 
  3. How will they ensure that if a close contact comes into work they have done and ‘passed’ the at least five RATs in the period they would have had to isolate? 
  4. Will they be distributing masks and ensuring that all close contacts are wearing masks? 
  5. How will they ensure that the close contacts notify their workplace contacts? If the employee notifies the employer, then it would be more efficient if the employer notifies all the contacts. 
    Other employees at the workplace have a right to know whether they are potentially being exposed. 
  6. And, if at all possible, and it should be for office based workplaces – the employer should continue the current arrangements, to be in line with the recommendation from the government: to continue current arrangements where close contacts of positive cases work from home. 
  7. What measures is the employer implementing/continuing to minimise the risk of employees not contracting the virus from other workers/the general public?

For more information on specific work requirements, such as vaccination requirements, see: How we work

The CHO still recommends that we maintain physical distancing as much as possible. For more general information, go to: How we live.

For more details on the current COVIDSafe Settings, go to this page.  

Businesses 

All businesses which are operating in any way must have a COVIDSafe Plan in place. The plan focuses on safety, prevention and response in the event that coronavirus is linked to the workplace. Details on creating a COVID Safe workplace are available here.

The COVID Safe Plan must set out:  

  • The employer's actions to help prevent the introduction of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace 
  • The level of face-covering or personal protective equipment (PPE) required in your workplace 
  • How the employer will prepare for, and respond to, a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace 
  • How the employer will meet all of the requirements set out by the Victorian Government. Some higher-risk industries or workplaces have additional requirements of employers and employees.   

More information can be found on this section of the Business Victoria website. There is a template available which can be utilised.

More information here.

Victoria's vaccine program - go to this page.

Recent developments:

  • all authorised workers will need to be vaccinated - for those eligible to receive their third shot, they must have had this by February 12 (teachers by February 25). 
  • The Victorian government is recommending getting the third vaccine three months after receiving the second shot. Currently both Pfizer and Moderna have been approved as 'booster' vaccines.  Anyone who is immunocompromised needs to consult their treating doctor, as they may be eligible for the booster shot from two months after their second dose. 
  • The third shot has been approved for 17 and 18-year-olds
  • Parents can now book appointments for children between the ages of 5 and 16. 

Advice to HSRs - Consultation 

As noted above, all businesses which are operating in metropolitan Melbourne must have a COVIDSafe or a High Risk COVIDSafe Plan in place.  Remember, your employer has a duty to consult with HSRs under s35 of the Act, including when developing and implementing the COVIDSafe plan. HSRs should also be consulted by the employer on the nomination of workers to be invited to register for a vaccine. Contact your union or the OHS Team at Trades Hall if you have any questions. WorkSafe has recently released a new video on Consultation - specifically in relation to making workplaces COVID-safe. 

More information

WorkSafe Victoria has a page of information specifically for employees which is regularly updated and has links to relevant DHHS information.