Victoria records 14 more COVID-19 deaths, with 1,002 in hospital and 13,091 new cases

Victoria has recorded the deaths of 14 more people with COVID-19, as the number of people in hospital after contracting the virus sits at 1,002.

The number of those in hospital is slightly down from 1,029 reported on Saturday.

Of the people in hospital, there are 120 in intensive care units, including 44 people receiving ventilation.

There are now at least 191,058 active cases of COVID-19 across the state.

There were 13,091 new infections officially reported on Saturday, continuing a significant downward trend in cases.

However, the real number of new infections in the community could be much higher due to pressure on the testing system and what authorities say could be a number of asymptomatic or undetected cases.

LIVE UPDATES: Read our blog for the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic

The latest figures came from 6,625  PCR test results and 6,466 rapid antigen tests.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the peak in cases was “likely behind us”.

“ICU cases and deaths haven’t peaked, but will hopefully stabilise soon,” Professor Sutton said on social media.

The number of people in intensive care units has remained about the same for the past three months.

Deakin University epidemiologist Catherine Bennett said she expected to see “more of a plateau than a rapid decline” when it came to the number of new infections.

“You have to wait for a couple of weeks to start to clear the existing cases and hopefully by then we’ll have less new cases,” Professor Bennett said.

“That’s when you start to see the numbers come down. That’s when we see less impact on our hospitals. So we’ve still got a week or two of this plateau, when it does have its greatest impact on workforces everywhere.

There were 26,581 vaccine doses administered at state-run sites, and more through the GP and pharmacy network.

About 31 per cent of Victorian adults have received three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Back-to-school plan to be released

The daily figures have been released ahead of the state government’s expected announcement of a plan for the return to school next Monday.

Authorities have remained adamant that all students will return to the classroom on day one of term 1, which is January 28 in most state schools.

The Australian Education Union wants rapid antigen testing to be part of any government plan, on top of earlier measures put in place last year.

“That includes wearing masks, both staff and students, ventilation, social distancing, hand hygiene, all of those things schools have got very used to over the past couple of years and, on top of that, of course, the rapid antigen testing programs,” president Meredith Peace said.

Towards the end of 2021, schools and childcare centres were linked to a significant portion of the state’s COVID-19 clusters and outbreaks.

The government yesterday outlined a plan to get retired teachers and educators working in a “job pool” to cover illness and isolation.

Asymptomatic teachers are now on the list of professions exempt from close contact isolation rules.

There are still about 350,000 five-to-11-year-olds eligible for vaccination who are yet to receive a first dose, a week out from schools going back.

“The return to school is not going to be without disruption,” Ms Peace said.

“This is not going to be normal and we saw that in term four last year where we had outbreaks in school communities, a lot of people isolating, and in some instances, schools had to close for short periods of time, and I would expect that would happen again.”

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.