South West Healthcare is urging residents to get a fourth COVID-19 vaccination as the third wave of the disease rocks Victoria.
The number of hospitalisation has almost doubled in the past 10 days statewide and on Monday Victoria recorded 10,251 cases in the previous 24 hours as the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron strains become the most dominant.
A SWH spokeswoman said it was incredibly important to ensure that people were up-to-date with their vaccines.
"Fourth COVID boosters are now available to anyone over the age of 30 and recommended for anyone over the age of 50," she said.
"It's also recommended that everyone over six months of age get a flu shot to protect the immune system against both flu and COVID.
"Isolation is also important and remains a full seven days. If you have COVID you must isolate at home, and your close contacts must test each day before leaving the house."
The spokeswoman said people could be re-infected with COVID 28 days after an infection.
"Once you've had COVID and have isolated for seven days, you don't need to test yourself again for another 28 days," she said.
"Once that 28 days have passed though, and if you are once again symptomatic you must test again."
The spokeswoman said mask wearing was again recommended indoors and in populated areas.
"Masks are an incredibly effective and inexpensive way of limiting the spread of COVID," she said.
"Masks ensure that you do not spread the virus when you are at the beginning of the infection and may not have symptoms, or may not have tested positive, but are most contagious."
The SWH spokeswoman said antiviral medication was something that people may not be aware of, but it was important to begin discussing.
"Antiviral medication is available to anyone over the age of 50, anyone who is immunocompromised and to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who are over the age of 30," she said.
"Antivirals limit the severity of the virus, which will hopefully help keep people out of hospitals.
"Antivirals work best when they are taken within the first five days of infection."
To obtain antiviral medication people will need to obtain a script.
"So you will need to make a telehealth appointment with your GP or with a Victorian Respiratory Clinic, and then arrange to get your antivirals from a pharmacy that delivers or have someone pick them up for you," the spokeswoman said.
"And specifically in relation to our services, we'd like the community to know that mask-wearing inside any SWH building is mandatory.
"You must keep your mask on at all times when visiting and when attending an appointment.
"We'd also like to stress that we can not allow visitors to bring food and drink in to share with patients, as this makes way for people to remove their masks and carries the risk of transmission."
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