COVID winter ‘crisis’ looms as sub-variants stoke experts’ fears

“The thing that’s different about us compared with countries in the northern hemisphere, is that we’re going to be heading into two things at once: winter and the BA.4 and the BA.5 epidemics,” Trauer stated.

“If we do have a major crisis period, which seems like it’s on the cards, then I think we will need to look at reinforcing the least restrictive and most effective interventions, which include things like increasing use of face masks,” he stated.

Victoria recorded 491 hospitalisations and 18 deaths on Friday. Across the nation, 53 per cent of individuals have obtained their booster shot and 84 per cent are totally vaccinated.

It will not be identified whether or not the unfold of Omicron sub-variants would comply with the identical trajectory as international locations abroad, however there is evidence that after being contaminated with the Omicron sub-variant BA.1, reinfection remains to be potential with sub-lineages.

Experts additionally level to waning immunity from booster or second doses, weakening compliance with remaining well being measures and elevated crowding in poorly ventilated indoor areas throughout winter as causes for one more potential spike.

While vaccines present good safety in opposition to extreme sickness, they’re much less protecting in opposition to an infection.

Stuart Turville, a virologist on the Kirby Institute, stated it was inevitable that coming into the winter months would “drive up numbers” and the arrival of Omicron sub-variants may result in one other spike.

But he was principally involved in regards to the return of one other “wild card” variant, similar to Omicron, that he expects will re-emerge each 12 months, with unpredictable mutations.

Victoria’s worsening hospital disaster got here to a head this week when Professor John Wilson, a revered physician at The Alfred hospital, quit after 30 years of service, citing untenable and deteriorating conditions in Victoria’s healthcare system.

Extraordinary measures, together with shifting sufferers out of overcrowded emergency departments into hospital corridors and stretched wards, are being proposed as medical doctors warn of rising dangers to well being.

Turville stated authorities should proceed to be vigilant in maintaining with efforts to watch new sub-variants with genomic sequencing.

“Although we’re highly vaccinated, and we’re doing the right thing, we’re still accumulating quite a few deaths on a daily basis,” Turville stated.


Doherty Institute director Sharon Lewin stated Australia should enhance its knowledge assortment and look to approaches in Britain, the place authorities systematically swab about 150,000 folks in several demographics each two weeks.

Professor Allen Cheng, outgoing co-chair of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, stated whereas the time for mandates was over, there was nothing stopping folks from taking precautions.

The nation’s booster shot protection was not supreme, he stated, and little one vaccinations is also increased.

“Ideally, it would good to have more people getting their third and then now fourth doses, as recommended,” Cheng stated.

However, he famous it was optimistic that a minimum of third dose protection was increased amongst older folks than the younger, whereas it was the alternative in Hong Kong.

A Victorian Health Department spokesman stated it was monitoring the current rise in circumstances, noting a rise in circumstances in faculties following faculty holidays and common rapid-antigen testing.

“We continue to monitor and respond to the COVID-19 situation in Victoria and it’s important that Victorians continue to observe good COVID safe practices, which can protect you from getting this virus,” he stated.

“The best thing Victorians can to do protect themselves and their community from COVID-19 is get up to date with their vaccinations.”

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