Medical Content

What Australia’s new COVID wave means

Nov 21, 2022

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is an infectious disease in which infected people experience mild to moderate respiratory problems. People with old age and medical conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, or cancer are more prone to severe effects.1

Till November 19, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asian countries are as follows: India: 44666676, Indonesia: 6,582,291, Malaysia: 4953418, Thailand: 4,698,373, Bangladesh: 2,036,268, Nepal: 1,000,834, Singapore: 2144522, Philippines: 4019163, Vietnam: 11509472, Bhutan: 62,460, Sri Lanka: 671,455, Myanmar: 632,865, Timor-Leste: 23,318.2

Australia has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks. A new Covid-19 wave is emerging in New South Wales (NSW), predicting an increase in the transmission rate in the upcoming weeks. The cases have been elevated by 63% in Victoria from 10,226 to 16,636, and the rise in NSW is from 7,000 to 19,800. The increase in cases leads to a high number of hospitalizations.3,4

Chief health officer Dr. Kerry Chant recapitulated the urgency of getting booster doses and urged those at high risk to take advice from their doctor regarding the antivirals available to reduce the severity of infection. She advised people to stay home when they have cold or flu-like symptoms and ask to wear masks on public transport.4

The Omicron subvariant BQ1 and XXB are causing significant infection and hospitalization overseas. The World Health Organization does not find a difference between the two subvariant from other circulating Omicron subvariants to classify it as a new variant. However, the two subvariant are a part of Omicron, which is a matter of concern. The WHO has said that no epidemiological data suggests an increase in disease severity due to variants.

The latest surveillance report of NWS found data indicating the start of a new Wave of COVID-19 infection. In late October, there were 9,707 people diagnosed with Covid, and an increase of 11.4% has been seen in a week. The emergency department has seen a rise in admission.4

The children and adolescents survey investigated 64% of 0-19-year-old in Australia who have been infected with Covid-19. The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance and pediatric study lead, Dr. Archana Koirala, said that an all-inclusive study reports more than two-thirds of children in Australia have had Covid-19. She added that the children have no or mild symptoms, so they have not tested for the virus. The adult study showed that 65% of adults in Australia had been infected by the virus, equivalent to the children and adolescents proportion.4

The current data shows that 72.2% of people in Australia have received the third dose booster; at the same time, only 42.1% of those aged 30 or more have had a fourth dose. Professor Bennett said the booster dose is significant for those at risk of illness because it can keep patients out of the hospital. The only group which needs the fifth dose is severely immunocompromised people.3

References

  1. Health topics. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1
  2. COVID-19 Situation in the WHO South-East Asia Region. World Health Organization. https://who.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/73d1d3251de3435cbc0bc586230cc3ef
  3. Hall A. Face mask summer? What Australia's new COVID wave means. SBS News. https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/face-mask-summer-what-australias-new-covid-wave-means/5egfgdk7b
  4. Davey M. New Covid-19 wave to hit NSW within weeks, chief health officer says. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/nov/02/new-covid-19-wave-to-hit-nsw-within-weeks-chief-health-officer-says

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