Upper house

The New Zealand border will reopen; HMS Endeavor found in the United States; NSW COVID cases are rising, Victoria COVID cases are rising, NSW booster usage is low among young people, Ben Roberts-Smith case is picking up, Qld COVID cases are rising, SA COVID cases are rising, ACT COVID cases increase

Victorian COVID-19 Response Commander Jeroen Weimar said coronavirus-related hospitalizations could increase in the coming weeks, but pressure on the state’s health system has eased since the declaration of a ‘code brown’ last month.

Speaking to reporters in Bendigo, in the Victoria region, Mr Weimar said infection and hospitalization rates were not expected to drop at the current rate due to the return of children to school and the presence more Victorians in the community. However, he remained optimistic that the state’s Omicron peak had passed.

Victoria’s COVID-19 Response Commander Jeroen Weimar. Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

“If you look at the numbers now, we peaked at about 1,500 hospitalizations about two weeks ago. We are now at around 750,” he said.

“We believe we are past the peak at this point and it will be interesting to see how the next few weeks unfold.”

Mr Weimar said pressure on the healthcare system was starting to ease after peaking over the holiday period, when tens of thousands of Victorians were infected every day.

He said health authorities are preparing for the emergence of new variants of the virus, as well as an increase in flu and COVID-19 cases during the winter months.

Most of the measures being considered revolve around social distancing, mask-wearing, vaccinations and hand hygiene, Weimar said.

“These will be the hallmarks of how we go through the months to come.”

Mr Weimar said he expected the definition of fully vaccinated to change to soon include a third dose. Australia’s Immunization Technical Advisory Group has said it may update its advice ahead of the next national cabinet meeting in the next fortnight.