Victoria has recorded the highest number of daily Covid deaths since its deadly second wave in 2020.
Another 29 coronavirus fatalities were reported today, along with 14,836 new cases.
However, Health Minister Martin Foley said the 29 deaths included people who had died with the virus in the preceding days.
“We tragically saw 29 people with COVID-19 pass away, 12 of whom have died within the previous two days,” Mr Foley said.
“If I can take this opportunity to pass on my condolences, best wishes, and thoughts to 29 families who have lost a loved one, 29 families who will be mourning and grieving. It is a sad loss at this time.
The grim death toll is understood to be the highest daily total since September 4, 2020 – when 59 fatalities were reported – although, this figure included people who died in aged care within the two months prior.
New South Wales also recorded 29 COVID-19 deaths and 18,512 new cases.
Hospitalisations have risen to 1057 patients – up from 998 people yesterday – as the peak is expected to hit the healthcare system next month.
A small number of rural Victorian hospitals and health services have also enacted their Code Brown emergency response.
It follows a Code Brown being implemented at all Melbourne public hospitals and six major regional services.
The Victorian Government said since the Code Brown had been called, calls to Triple Zero and emergency department presentations had reduced.
Mr Foley has unveiled a new campaign encouraging people with mild COVID-19 symptoms to recover at home.
First delivers of free RATs arrive at schools
The first deliveries of millions of free rapid tests have landed at schools across the state, with principals foregoing holidays in order to accept them.
The voluntary surveillance program is expected to start next week, with teachers racing to get RATs out to families.
More than 14 million RATS will be delivered to primary and secondary schools, as well as early childhood centres, with 6.6 million of them to be distributed before the first week of Term One.