Australia: CHO hopes Queensland COVID wave will peak before Christmas, but cases still rising

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Queensland Health believes the state’s COVID-19 wave might have started to peak but is still urging Queenslanders not to get complacent.

Queensland recorded 10,082 new COVID cases in the week between November 17 and 23, slightly fewer cases than the 10,106 cases recorded in the previous seven-day period.

Chief Health Officer John Gerrard has urged people to get vaccinated as the current Covid wave appears to be nearing a peak. © Matt Dennien Chief Health Officer John Gerrard has urged people to get vaccinated as the current Covid wave appears to be nearing a peak.

Hospitalisations rose again from 245 to 312, while serious cases in the ICU also rose from five to eight, and 14 people died over the seven-day period.

The rise in active cases represents only an 8 per cent jump from the previous week, compared with a 73 per cent increase between November 9 and 16.

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Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said the case numbers suggested the current wave may be reaching a peak.

“It is essential people remain up to date with their vaccinations because they are the safest and most effective way people can protect themselves, their loved ones and the most vulnerable people in the community,” he said.

“I also encourage Queenslanders over the age of 70 to have a plan to obtain antiviral treatments if they do get infected.”

Gerrard said most of the people in hospital with COVID-19 were over 70 years old.

Despite a flattening of the current numbers, Gerrard said Queensland’s COVID-19 traffic light status would remain amber for now.

“This means wearing a mask in healthcare settings, indoors if you cannot socially distance and on public transport,” he said.

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“Queensland Health will continue to monitor the situation and adjust the traffic light, if required, so people have the necessary information to help limit the spread of COVID-19.”

Queensland’s flattening of numbers is in line with the national trend, with NSW recording a 13 per cent increase in numbers, and Victoria a 9 per cent increase on the previous week.

Experts are still worried authorities do not know the full extent of the current wave, because testing has fallen away so sharply.

Official figures are based on PCR tests which are conducted through medical facilities, and self-reported RAT tests.

Survey research released by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer this week showed almost two-thirds of Australians believe the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is now over, while one in three people is less likely to get tested for COVID-19 when they have symptoms now compared with a year ago.

University of Sydney infectious diseases specialist Professor Robert Booy said the decline in testing and overall complacency was a concern for management of the virus into the future.

“Testing earlier means people can seek medical advice sooner and can access anti-viral medicines faster if they are eligible,” Booy said.

“Recent federal government data has shown COVID-19 still poses a very real risk to the health of our communities as we move into a new wave of infections, specifically to those at higher risk of serious illness.”

SA close to latest virus peak .
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