Vic has 40,127 COVID-19 cases, 21 deaths

Emily Woods |

Victoria has recorded 40,127 new COVID-19 infections and 21 people have died with the virus, as the state’s health system continues to struggle.

The new infections include 18,434 from rapid antigen tests and 21,693 from PCR tests, the Health Department said on Wednesday.

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 jumped to 946, 85 more than the previous day, with 112 in ICU and 31 requiring ventilators.

The state is now managing 209,715 active cases.

The latest figures come as The Age reports 70 per cent of calls to triple zero are not being answered on time.

AAP understands COVID-19 is impacting staffing at the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority, which operates triple zero, and the service is receiving an unprecedented number of calls every day.

Ambulance triple zero calls are currently averaging more than 3000 a day, compared to 2400 in August 2021.

The surge reflects increasing pressure on the health system, including the cumulative impact of people delaying medical assistance since the start of the pandemic and people using triple zero for non-emergency situations.

An increase in mental health-related emergencies and rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations are also blamed for the increasing demand. 

An ESTA spokesman said more than one in five calls to triple zero did not need an emergency ambulance response.

“Our triple zero operators care deeply about the service they provide and the community they serve; any delays are unacceptable and we understand callers facing delays could be incredibly distressed,” he said.

“We ask the community to please save triple zero for emergencies and to use Nurse on Call.”

Almost 4000 hospital workers and 442 Ambulance Victoria staff were unable to work on Monday due to contracting COVID-19 or being close contacts of positive cases.

On Tuesday Ambulance Victoria issued its second code red alert in a week due to the “extremely high demand for ambulances” in Melbourne.

AV warned there would be delays in ambulances reaching people and urged Victorians to only use triple zero for emergencies.