Australians cautious as virus cases rise
An explosion in COVID-19 cases in Australia’s most populated state is a reminder the pandemic is not yet over.
In NSW, 30,402 new cases were reported on Wednesday but the state’s health department said a data error meant 10,000 cases from Sunday and Monday had to be included in the numbers.
Victoria also recorded its highest daily infection total in five weeks with 9426 new cases.
There were 7640 new cases in Tasmania, 1226 in the ACT and 6136 in Queensland.
The numbers are reminiscent of the daily figures during summer’s omicron wave which had appeared to be subsiding.
In February, nearly one in two Australians had a household member who took a COVID-19 test in the previous four weeks, an Australian Bureau of Statistics survey has found.
Of those, 17 per cent said someone in their household tested positive.
The survey also showed Australians were more likely to take precautions because of the spread of the virus in February 2022 than in June 2021, before omicron arrived in Australia.
People wearing a face mask rose to 98 per cent in February compared to 44 per cent in June and washing hands or regularly using hand sanitiser increased to 95 per cent.
More than a quarter of Australian households with children under 18 years old said their children’s school, preschool or childcare attendance was impacted by COVID-19 over summer.
Yet despite the emergence of a more infectious sub-variant of omicron, experts say a return to restrictions is not necessary.
Infectious diseases physician Peter Collignon says the most important thing to look at remains the number of deaths and hospitalisations.
“Even in the US, in particular, when you look at states with mandates versus non-mandates, you are hard-pressed to see a major difference,” he told the Seven Network’s Sunrise program on Wednesday.
Australia’s vaccine advisory body is considering whether to recommend COVID-19 booster shots for children aged 12 to 15 years, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation is expected to meet on Wednesday to discuss how the nation’s coronavirus vaccination program will proceed.
Boosters are currently available for people aged 16 and over.
Meanwhile New Zealand has announced it will prioritise Australian tourists wanting to visit the country.
Fully vaccinated Australians will be able to fly in and out of the country without quarantining or isolating from April 13.
“We are reopening and I’m asking our Australian family and friends to book their tickets,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
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