26 September 2023

VPS to keep flexible policy as COVID expands

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The Victorian Public Service is to continue with its existing flexible work policy as the State faces the oncoming wave of COVID-19 infections.

Encouraging people to take proactive steps to protect themselves, Minister for Health, Mary-Anne Thomas said public sector employers would work with employees on any flexible work changes required based on their individual circumstances.

“The Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, which are now dominant along the east coast of Australia, are expected to continue to cause increases in new cases, reinfections and hospital admissions – with a 53 per cent increase in the number of Victorians in hospital with COVID-19 over the last two weeks,” Ms Thomas said.

“We are also seeing an increase in respiratory illnesses like cold and flu which, along with COVID-19, are putting additional pressure on hospitals and healthcare workers across the country.”

She said public health messaging and engagement efforts would be boosted to encourage third and fourth COVID-19 vaccination doses, flu vaccination, and promote the benefits of wearing a mask and maximizing ventilation indoors.

“In line with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advice, the period when someone is considered a recently confirmed case (and therefore exempt from testing and isolation/quarantine requirements) has been revised to four weeks, down from 12 weeks,” Ms Thomas said.

“This reflects the emerging evidence that new variants of COVID-19 can evade prior immunity gained from infection,” she said.

“Positive cases are still required to isolate for seven days from the day they took their test but an additional reason to leave home has been added – to provide transport for a household member to obtain food, if essential.”

The Minster said the infected person would need to remain in the car and wear a face covering at all times.

She said mask wearing in indoor and crowded settings was strongly recommended but there would not be any changes to current face mask requirements.

Information on current COVID-19 public health settings can be accessed at this PS News link.

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