Covid Victoria: 7,442 new cases, 9 deaths; changes to PCR tests


Another record breaking number of Covid cases has been announced, among other changes to testing that will remove the need to queue for a swab.

Victoria broke another daily record of cases, reporting 7,442 new Covid infections and nine deaths overnight.

Currently, 451 Covid patients are hospitalized, an increase from the state’s seven-day average of 706.

Fifty-one are in intensive care, including 21 on a ventilator.

More than 63,000 Victorians lined up for a test on a sweltering New Years Eve.

It comes as NSW has recorded 22,577 new infections and five deaths.

More than 900 NSW Covid patients are hospitalized, including 79 in intensive care.

Meanwhile, Victorians with Covid-19 may soon be able to upload their positive rapid antigen test result to an online database, eliminating the need for a PCR test.

Covid-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar reported the change on Friday as several test clinics were forced to close due to the scorching heat.

Victoria reported a record 5,919 new cases on New Years Eve, with an increase in Omicron infections blamed on the rise.

Health Minister Martin Foley said the majority of cases were expected to be Omicron “very soon”, with that number “increasing from very little last week”.

“I would describe next month as a significant challenge as Omicron becomes the dominant variant of concern,” he said.

Despite the increase in the number of cases, the state government has confirmed that it will implement new isolation and testing requirements announced to the national cabinet.

Under the new orders, household contacts who do not have symptoms must use a rapid test on the first and sixth day of their isolation period, and those with symptoms must undergo a PCR test on the first day, before being taken. undergo a rapid test on the sixth day after quarantine.

This means that the standard PCR test is only accessible to people who return a positive rapid test or to anyone with symptoms.

The move is expected to ease pressure on the state’s beleaguered testing system, with 60% of current PCR tests sought by asymptomatic people.

It’s unclear exactly how the state government plans to deliver the 34 million rapid tests it ordered this week, but Mr Foley said they will be distributed as needed.

Victorian Council of Social Service chief executive Emma King said it was crucial to make testing free and accessible to everyone.

“Your zip code and your income should not be an obstacle to protecting your health or that of your loved ones,” she said.

Meanwhile, school holidays are unlikely to be extended in a bid to vaccinate more children before the start of the learning year on January 31, despite predictions, only one-third of eligible children will be bitten. time.

Roderick McCrae, of the Australian Medical Association, said he was proposing a deadline to tackle the “chamberlain” pandemic response.

COVID REBATE CUT

The federal government will cut the amount of money it pays pathology clinics for Covid testing from Saturday, following claims that private providers rake in large profits.

The move angered some state officials, who were frustrated that the funding deal did not continue at the same level as in 2021.

As of January 1, the reimbursement of Medicare benefits for Covid testing by private pathologists will increase from $ 85 to $ 72.25.

For public clinics, the figure will drop from $ 42.50 to $ 36.15.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Department of Health said the arrangement would still mean that the state and the Commonwealth would share the costs of testing in public laboratories in a 50/50 split.

“The fee was set after consultation with the industry and reflects the start of the transition to more sustainable, longer-term arrangements for Covid-19 testing,” she said.

“As part of the partnership, all governments have committed to providing free Covid-19 pathology tests to Australians. “

As of December 22, the Commonwealth has funded more than 24.8 million Covid tests through the program at a cost of just over $ 2 billion.

The original funding deal drew criticism amid accusations that private pathologists were reaping significant benefits from the $ 85 rebate.

In some cases, pre-pandemic PCR testing drew a discount of just over $ 20.

After negotiations across the health sector, the federal government has decided to keep funding for testing at a lower rate while extending support for Covid detection until June 2022.

Industry has widely accepted the new deal and Australians are not expected to start paying for the tests out of their own pockets to cover the reduced federal funding.

But health officials in several states were reportedly disappointed with the decision to also cut funding to public providers, as work is underway to assess the impacts on local budgets.

“The department is aware of the recently announced changes to Medicare with respect to the pathology elements of Covid-19,” a spokesperson for the Victoria Department of Health said.

“We are working closely with the federal government and disease providers to understand the implications this may have on testing and funding and to ensure that the testing system is maintained.”


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