COVID-19 has emerged as one of Australia’s deadliest diseases, surpassed only by heart disease and dementia.
Nearly 10,000 Australians – 9859 people – died from the virus last year and COVID contributed to a further 2782 deaths, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data released on Wednesday.
It’s the first time in more than 50 years that an infectious disease has been in the top five leading causes of death in Australia.
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In 1970, influenza and pneumonia were the fifth leading cause of death, while heart disease has remained the leading cause since 1968.
“This is the first time since 2006 that there has been a change in the top five leading causes,” the ABS said.
“In 2006, dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, entered the top five, overtaking bowel cancer.”
COVID-19 caused nearly 10,000 deaths in Australia last year. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP
The rate of COVID deaths also increased last year by 23.7 per cent since 2021 and 24.5 per cent since 2020.
The average age of those killed by the virus was 85.8 years, accounting for 5.2 per cent of all deaths.
Men made up more than half the COVID deaths and most occurred during one of the multiple Omicron waves of the pandemic.
Nearly half of those who died from the virus developed pneumonia as a result, the ABS said.
Heart disease made up 9.8 per cent of 2022 deaths while dementia – including Alzheimer’s – made up nine per cent.
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