COVID-19 risks ease as cases keep falling

Australian COVID-19 cases are on a downward trend, with average daily infections dropping for a third consecutive week.

The federal health department on Friday reported a 34.2 per cent decline in national cases, after similar drops in the first two weeks of January.

COVID-19 hospitalisations and intensive care admissions were also down in the week to January 17, with the latest data showing respective drops of 18.8 per cent and 20.6 per cent.

The downward trend is being experienced in every state and territory, with South Australia having the largest drop-off at 43.4 per cent.

Victoria's average daily cases have decreased 38.3 per cent, with the state's health department reporting 4912 new cases and 156 deaths on Friday.

"There continue to be positive signs the sustained peak of the November-December wave has passed," Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton said on Friday.

"Sadly, COVID-related deaths have increased again. An increase in reported deaths was expected following recent periods of high transmission in the community."

Tasmania's health department on Friday downgraded its COVID-19 risk level from moderate to low as a result of declining cases.

"A low risk level does not mean there is no risk at all," the state's public health director Mark Veitch said.

"COVID-19 is still present throughout Tasmania, but at much lower levels than November and December.

"At all risk levels, it remains very important to stay home and get tested if you have cold or flu symptoms."

There were 3,690 new cases in Western Australia, down more than 34 per cent from last week, and 21 deaths.

In NSW and Victoria, health departments are reporting a mixed group of COVID-19 sub-variants are still circulating within the community.

NSW Health says the BR.2 variant is still the most common variant in the state, while the XBF strain accounts for 35 per cent of new Victorian infections.

The variant running rampant in the United States - dubbed XBB.1.5 - is almost non-existent in Victoria, despite earlier suggestions there were several cases.

Two cases of the XBB.1.5 strain have been detected in Victoria through genomic surveillance testing.


* Victoria: 4912 cases, 156 deaths

* NSW: 9062 cases, 131 deaths

* Northern Territory: 319 cases, no deaths

* South Australia: 2053 cases, 21 deaths

* ACT: 806 cases, no deaths

* Tasmania: 765 cases, three deaths

* Queensland: 5940 cases, 48 deaths

* Western Australia: 3690 cases 21 deaths