Victoria Hits New Covid Record Amid Concerns Over Testing Changes
‘The horse has bolted’
Victoria reported a rise in cases with 21,997 new infections on Thursday and six more Covid-related deaths.
It marks a new state record as Victoria's infections exceed 20,000 for the first time since the pandemic started.
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There are currently 61,120 active coronavirus cases, with 631 people in hospital, while 51 of those are in ICU and 22 are on ventilator.
Another 49 people are in intensive care with Covid, but the health Department have confirmed their infections are no longer considered active.
The rapid surge in presentations and hospitalisations is an increase up from 591 Covid patients in hospital the previous day.
The new cases were detected from 64,861 swabs collected on Wednesday, while 20,078 vaccine doses were administered at state-run hubs.
Currently, more than 93 per cent of Victorians aged over 12 are now fully vaccinated, while 12 per cent have received their third dose.
It comes as health experts warn case numbers will less likely reflect the true number of Covid community cases after Wednesday's national cabinet meeting, where the federal government slashed testing requirements in a bid to ease pressure on testing sites and procedures.
The new rules, now stipulate that people who deliver a positive rapid antigen test (RAT) will no longer need to confirm their diagnosis with a PCR test.
The critical change from PC to rapid testing does however present a major concern for many medical experts, who say cases numbers may increasingly become less representative of state and territory’s infection rates.
University of Melbourne epidemiologist Professor Tony Blakely said surveillance will no longer be accurate.
"The horse has bolted, this is the biggest policy failure so far in Australia," he told the Seven Network on Thursday.
"We also haven't thought about how you can load up that data to the surveillance system, so we won't get that in place in the next couple of weeks."
Prof Blakely hopes rapid tests sold in Australia would be equipped with a QR code for patients to upload their results.
Experts are calling for the government to roll out an online booking system for home tests sold in Australia to be equipped with a QR code for patients to upload their results, to more accurately reflect infection figures.
In the meantime, Prime Minster Scott Morrison has urged anybody who tests positive with an at-home kit to contact their GP so their result can be included in official daily tallies.
“That is always your first point of contact when it comes to managing your illness, if you are not in hospital. And your GP would be able to assist you through telehealth if you need to go and get further treatment in hospital,” he said.
There is currently no way to register a positive rapid antigen test with health authorities, meaning those infections will not be included in daily case numbers.
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