Monday May 29, 2023

Governments urge greater COVID booster take-up as third wave looms



The Australian government is urging people to come forward for a COVID-19 booster shot as authorities predict a coronavirus resurgence by mid-winter.

New South Wales chief health officer Kerry Chant expects a third wave to peak in late July and early August at levels similar to January, when the Omicron variants first emerged.

Dr Chant said hospitalisations could also reach similar numbers seen during the worst of the COVID pandemic, as the surge in cases is being driven by two Omicron sub-variants, BA.4 and BA.5, and health experts believe the number of cases and deaths will continue to grow.

NSW recorded 10,504 cases and 14 deaths in the latest 24-hour reporting period, while Victoria recorded 8740 COVID-19 cases and 16 deaths on Tuesday, taking the state’s death toll since the start of the pandemic past 4000.

“I’m concerned about this picture,” Dr Chant said.

She said waning immunity is also contributing to increased pressure on hospitals and a fourth vaccine dose would be welcomed, noting it was clear two doses of vaccinations were no longer enough.

Dr Chant called on people to keep up to date with their vaccinations, wear masks indoors and stay at home if they had cold or flu symptoms.

Calls for a renewed mandate on face masks have also been considered by multiple states and territories.

“Previously, we did tell you to get two doses, and that that will provide protection against COVID,” she said.

“But the virus has changed. So now with Omicron, the evidence is clear that we need three or in some cases four doses to provide the best protection against getting very sick.

“We need to act now to slow the spread of the virus in the community.”

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard is urging people to get their booster shot as statistics show the majority of deaths are among the unvaccinated.

“These rather pesky little variants are quite intelligent, and they are working their way around the current vaccines to an extent,” Mr Hazzard said.

“But … if we are fully vaccinated, we are far less likely to get as ill and far less likely to die.”

NSW has recorded 1232 COVID-related deaths this year, with 56 per cent of them among those not fully vaccinated.

– with AAP


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