Warning as vaccine, mask rules ease

Victoria has scrapped select COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates. -AAP Image

Doctors are urging Australians who have COVID-19 symptoms to stay home and get tested as vaccine and mask requirements ease across the country.

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Maria Boultan said there were a lot of viruses, including the flu, going around the community.

"We've seen too many people who have symptoms who are going around in the community who perhaps have had a negative RAT test saying, 'Oh, it's not COVID, it's not the flu. I'm okay to be around people'," Dr Boultan told Nine's Today.

Some states have begun to ease restrictions including allowing unvaccinated school staff back to work, lifting bans on unvaccinated visitors at nursing homes or relaxing mask requirements at airports.

In Victoria, third dose requirements for staff in education, food distribution, meat and seafood processing and quarantine settings have ended.

However they remain for health workers and those in emergency services.

Victorian school staff previously placed on leave without pay for not being fully vaccinated are now free to return to work. Under the new rules, parents will not be informed of a staff member's vaccination status.

This follows the NSW government announcing similar changes for term three.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley says the changes are minor and progressive, and have been implemented sensibly.

Employers will set their own requirements around vaccines.

Rules requiring people to work from home if they're not double dosed have also been lifted and aged care and disability care visitor caps have been removed.

Positive cases still need to isolate for seven days from the day they took their test but may now leave home to drive a household member directly to or from education or work.

With case numbers continuing to rise during winter, Australia's chief medical officer Paul Kelly is urging people to get their boosters, along with the flu vaccine.

"The flu vaccine (is) very important now, and right across Australia, that's been made free for most people, but particularly those who are vulnerable of severe flu," he said.

"That includes young kids, actually. That's a difference to the COVID message. We need to increase that flu shot as well."

Seventy per cent of the eligible population have received their booster.


NSW: 8266 cases, 21 deaths, 1453 in hospital with 45 in ICUs

Victoria: 6634 cases, 24 deaths, 420 in hospital, 26 in ICUs

Queensland: 4345 cases, five deaths, 556 in hospital, 11 in ICUs

Northern Territory: 209 cases, no deaths, 12 in hospital, none in ICUs

South Australia: 2565 cases, one death, 209 in hospital, eight in ICUs

ACT: 1116 cases, no deaths, 105 in hospital, one in ICU

WA: 4394 cases, five deaths, 242 in hospital, eight in ICUs