Victoria’s Acting Chief Health Officer Ben Cowie proposed a return to working from home earlier this month amid a fresh wave of COVID cases, documents show.
During a meeting with new Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas, Mr Cowie strongly recommended Victorians work from home “where practical to do so” until the end of August due to concerns over the BA.4/5 variants.
“Transmission of COVID-19 is increasing in Victoria currently because of BA4/5 variants of concern,” he said in documents published by the state government under pandemic legislation requirements.
“I recommend that the three existing pandemic orders (Public Safety, Workplace and Quarantine Isolation Testing Order) be continued.”
Mr Cowie also recommended masks be worn in additional areas including in early childhood and school settings but acknowledged face mask requirements “are not universally supported in the community”.
Last week, Ms Thomas confirmed she rejected the official health advice regarding broader mask mandates.
“The chief health officer has provided his advice and I have accepted his advice, except that I have chosen not to extend mandates for mask wearing in some of the settings that were recommended to me,” she previously said.
Victoria on Wednesday recorded 12,984 new cases and another 28 deaths, with 906 in hospital including 45 in ICU.