Nov 03, 2022

Experts confident the latest COVID-19 wave is weeks away

Experts confident the latest COVID-19 wave is weeks away

Health experts are urging the public to prepare for a COVID-19 wave that could strike within weeks as two new Omicron subvariants begin to take hold across the country.

Omicron subvariants BQ.1 and XBB have triggered significant increases in cases and hospitalisations overseas, and both are expected to overtake BA.5 as dominant variants in Australia by early 2023.

These variants have proven to be more transmissible as vaccination immunity and natural immunity from a past infection doesn’t seem to slow or reduce the likelihood of contracting the mutated subvariants.

New South Wales Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant reaffirmed the need for vigilance and protection today.

“We are starting to see an increase in COVID-19 cases and the subvariants circulating in NSW which tells us we’re entering the next COVID-19 wave,” Ms Chant said.

“By looking at all the local information we have and what’s happening overseas, we believe COVID-19 cases will rise in the coming weeks.” 

Ms Chant said that the elderly and people with underlying health conditions remain at a higher risk of infection, particularly as COVID-19 restrictions such as mandatory isolation and mask wearing have ended for the general public

Peak bodies expressed their dismay in mid-October when the Government started to roll back the isolation requirements for COVID-19 positive cases.

Tom Symondson, Chief Executive Officer of Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA), had said that the sector was very concerned about COVID-19 rollbacks as it is still considered an ongoing threat for aged care, older Australians, and staff.

Ms Chant said that the public needs to work together to protect the vulnerable, such as staying at home when you have cold or flu symptoms and keeping up to date with vaccinations as the best line of protection and defence.  

A second booster – which may also be a fourth or fifth dose for some people – is recommended for people who are:

  • 50 years or older
  • A resident of an aged care or disability care facility
  • 16 years or older and severely immunocompromised
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and aged 50 years and older
  • 16 years or older with a medical condition or disability that increases the risk of severe COVID-19 illness

Meanwhile, anyone aged between 30-49 can receive a second booster if they choose.

In Victoria, where weekly case numbers have increased by 25%, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton last week said it was clear that the recorded increase in hospitalisations, positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and antiviral prescriptions indicate another COVID-19 wave is underway.

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews responded by stating that the public can tackle any COVID-19 wave while still moving forward with their lives.

“As the Chief Medical Officer Professor [Paul] Kelly has made it very clear, this era of COVID exceptionalism has to end, and it has,” Premier Andrews said.

“Victorians know what to do with this – they’ve done it and they’ve done it so well over these last three years.

“There will be fluctuations in case numbers… every Government in the country has factored in that COVID will be with us in one form or another for quite a long time.

“But we are treating it in a different way now because you’ve got to move beyond this.”

Despite the increased transmissibility of BQ.1 and XBB, there is no firm data to suggest either variant leads to a more severe version of COVID-19.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Calls for national aged care screening process to be fast-tracked

The friends and family of an alleged murder victim want the implementation of the national aged care screening process to be fast-tracked to ensure workers are adequately vetted before entering the aged care sector. Read More

Meet your Senior Australian of the Year finalists

Eight finalists for the Senior Australian of the Year Award have been announced with a diverse group of individuals recognised for a wide variety of services to the community. Read More

Health worker burnout and ‘compassion fatigue’ put patients at risk

The toll of COVID on our healthcare workers has been brutal, with many saying they want to quit their jobs. Read More
Advertisement