A new wave of COVID cases is hitting the nation, as experts warn people to remain vigilant and stay up to date with their vaccines as we enter the festive season.
Associate Professor James Trauer, head of the epidemiological modelling unit at Monash University, says there is a surge of COVID infections spreading through the community.
“Vaccination remains our most important defence against COVID, even though the virus shouldn’t ruin Christmas this year,” he said on Wednesday.
Watch the latest news and stream for free on 7plus >>
COVID is now an endemic virus, which means it cannot be eliminated and is continuously transmitted.
Surges in coronavirus cases were generally caused by new variants, which meant it was “more difficult than ever to predict” when these waves would peak, Prof Trauer said.
Scientists’ view of community transmission is further muddied by a lack of data.
Aussie nurse shares the life-saving ‘mum’s kiss’ method every parent should know
Emily has had 20 jobs in two years. Doctors say the reason why is all in her head
With a marked decline in testing, the daily number of cases does not paint a clear picture of the spread of the virus, though researchers can still use hospital admission numbers and wastewater surveillance to monitor COVID waves.
The severity of coronavirus cases has decreased and fewer Australians are being admitted to ICU because of high levels of population immunity garnered through vaccinations and natural protection from past infections.
Health Minister Mark Butler says it is a new phase of the pandemic.
“We’re seeing pretty regular waves every four or six months,” he told ABC Perth.
“Each wave is a little bit smaller than the one before it.
“We’re getting better every single time at how we manage it in hospital systems and in aged care facilities.”
But he emphasised that the virus “hasn’t gone away”.
Australians are being warned to get vaccinated as cases of COVID-19 take off around the country. (Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP
Prof Trauer says Australians should still exercise caution by wearing a mask and testing before interacting with vulnerable people, such as those older than 65 and especially people over 75.
They should also seek booster vaccines as they provide longer-term immunity than reinfection.
“Booster doses are not recommended at this time for children and adolescents under 18 years of age who do not have any risk factors for severe COVID,” according to the Department of Health.
Prof Trauer said: “Our most important protection against the effects of COVID is immunity, which can be enhanced through vaccination.”
Butler said he was concerned about the comparatively low booster shot uptake, with authorities saying only one quarter of vulnerable Australians have had a recent jab.
“The booster rate is not what we saw in the first few years of the pandemic,” he said.
“I’m particularly concerned that older Australians get out there and get their booster.”
New COVID vaccines, which target common variants of the virus, will be made available from next month.
Pfizer’s monovalent XBB.1.5 vaccine will be available for use in eligible Australians aged five and older.
The Moderna monovalent XBB.1.5 vaccine can be used for those 12 and older.
“They’re the cutting edge most up-to-date vaccines, but thankfully the vaccines that are currently in pharmacies and in general practice are … also very, very effective at protecting you from severe disease or death,” Butler said.
Those who have had a vaccination this year don’t need to get jabbed again.
Little boy’s birthmark-like spots turn out to be sign of ‘ticking timebomb’
Boy’s agonising wait for transplant to treat condition that killed brother
If you’d like to view this content, please adjust your Cookie Settings.