Victoria records 1,240 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths as expert urges more caution in Omicron response

Victoria has recorded 1,240 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths.

The death toll for the current outbreak is 635, and there are 13,093 active cases of coronavirus in the state.

There are 392 people in hospital with COVID-19, of whom 81 are in intensive care and 41 are on a ventilator.

A further 37 cases remain in intensive care but have been cleared of COVID.

There have been 19 cases of the Omicron variant confirmed so far in Victoria, with 13 of those infections acquired overseas and six picked up locally.

Yesterday 76,033 COVID tests were done across the state.

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Authorities are investigating a COVID-19 outbreak linked to a school camp site in South Gippsland.

The Victorian Health Department says there are now 47 COVID cases linked to Camp Rumbug at Foster North.

The ABC understands students from two schools have become infected after attending the camp.

One of those schools is Brunswick North West Primary School, which currently has 27 active cases.

In a newsletter to parents, the school said an investigation into how the exposure occurred last week was continuing.

The Victorian Health Department said no students had symptoms when they set off for the camp, and said the two schools that were at the camp did not share cabins or bathrooms, and did not take part in structured activities together.

Epidemiologist says Australia not cautious enough about Omicron

Melbourne University epidemiologist Nancy Baxter has raised concerns about the way health authorities are responding to the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in Australia.

Professor Baxter said because the variant had only been around for a few weeks, the data was yet to confirm it was milder than previous variants, such as Delta.

Nancy Baxter is concerned there is a lack of caution in the response to the Omicron variant.(Supplied)

She said authorities were following a roadmap made months ago, even though conditions have changed dramatically.

“We’re really relying on Omicron being quite mild, because if it’s not very mild, we’re going to be in a great deal of trouble with the number of people getting sick and needing to be hospitalised overwhelming our system,” Professor Baxter said.

She said she was worried that the loosening of restrictions combined with more socialising over the Christmas period could drive up hospitalisation rates, and possibly deaths.

“The honest truth is we don’t know, and although I’m all for hoping for the best, I don’t think we should plan for the best when we’re talking about this outbreak,” she said.

“If we plan for the best and it doesn’t turn out that way, that’s a sure-fire way to end up in lockdown.”

Professor Baxter encouraged people to keep wearing masks even in situations where they are not mandated, consider limiting their social activity in the lead-up to Christmas, and to opt for outdoor social gatherings where possible.

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