Victoria has recorded a drop in Covid cases as authorities warn hospital admissions are expected to peak in the coming weeks.
The state recorded 18,167 new infections on Friday – a drop of more than 3000 cases from the 21,966 cases reported on Thursday.
There were 20 deaths and 1096 hospitalisations on Friday.
Of those in hospital, 121 were in intensive care, with 34 on a ventilator.
Despite predictions hospital admissions would rise in the coming weeks, the state recorded a promising drop in 1.206 hospitalisations on Friday.
It comes amid concerns the state’s health system has reached breaking point due to a rise in Covid cases.
Amid claims critical cancer and heart surgeries were being postponed within the state’s major hospitals, Premier Daniel Andrews this week acknowledged those affected.
“This is not easy on those patients who are having to wait,” Mr Andrews told reporters.
“We’ve decided to prioritise the sickest patients. It’s a tough decision to make, but it’s there for a reason.
“I’m not minimising the discomfort and challenges involved for patients who can’t get what they need right now, but once we get past this peak, we’ll do everything we can to get everyone the care they need.”
A major vaccination blitz starting on Friday in the state is encouraging tens of thousands of people to line up for a jab.
The blitz, introduced in a bid to lower hospitalisation rates, will run through to Monday in a targeted campaign.
Extra staff will be rostered on at state-run vaccination centres this weekend, with walk-in vaccinations now available at the Royal Exhibition Building, La Trobe University Bundoora, Sandown Racecourse, Dandenong Plaza, Frankston’s Bayside Centre, Sunshine Hospital, Bendigo Vaccination Hub and Ballarat Mercure.
An extra 60,000 appointments had been made available for eligible Victorians.
It comes after the state again slashed the time needed between boosters, with people now able to be vaccinated a mere three months after their last dose.
The Premier this week hinted that a third dose may soon be needed to be considered fully vaccinated, with mandates to potentially be considered across industries.
“I think we’re close to a change in policy that will simply reflect the fact that in order to be fully protected, you need three doses, not two doses plus an optional extra,” Mr Andrews said.