Additional sectors including emergency services will join a growing list of industries exempted from COVID isolation requirements as thousands of nurses, doctors and paramedics remain unable to report for duty. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews today revealed workers in emergency services, education, critical utilities, custodial facilities and all transport and freight would join the food sector in being exempted from COVID quarantine. Provided the workers are playing a critical role, they will not have to self-isolate at home if they are deemed a close contact but will need to take a rapid antigen test and return a negative result for five days before being allowed back on-site. If they become symptomatic in that time period they have to start the standard seven-day quarantine period as per normal and notify their employer. The new changes come into play from 11.59pm January 18. Further conditions for attending work under the exemptions include: IN OTHER NEWS: Mr Andrews said at least 5000 nurses, doctors and paramedics were currently unable to report for duty. "These announcements, those made on Monday and the fact that we added to the list today will support many different businesses in many different sectors to try and balance or deal with the challenges that we all face at the moment," he said. "There is no quick fix to this and I say that not just as someone who is announcing changes to rules, I say that on behalf of the government which is the biggest employer in our state. We are feeling these challenges as well. "There are at least 5000 - potentially more than that - nurses, doctors and ambos who cannot report for duty despite the fact that we have more and more cases that need care, high demand but we have at least 5000 that may be considerably more members of our health team that simply cannot come to work because of this virus so we know and understand and are experiencing some of these challenges just as industry and individual business." The changes come as 37,169 new COVID cases were recorded overnight, including 20,326 from PCR tests and 16,843 from rapid antigen tests. There are now 221,726 active COVID cases in Victoria, 953 people in hospital, 111 in ICU and 29 on a ventilator. Sadly, 25 people with COVID-19 have passed away and of those, 17 passed away in the last two days. The Ararat Advertiser has removed the paywall from our stories relating to health warnings and safety of the community. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.