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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

COVID warning as wave of infections hits NSW

NSW residents are being asked to ensure they are up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations and to practise COVID-safe behaviours as the current wave of infections, driven by the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, continues to grow.

There are fears the number of serious illnesses and death toll will increase significantly unless more people immediately get boosted and practise COVID-safe behaviours, NSW Health said in a statement today.

Health Minister, Brad Hazzard said figures show 56% (1,232) of COVID-related deaths this year were in people who have had two or fewer doses.

“We are at the beginning of the third wave of Omicron which is likely to peak in late July or early August. This increase in community transmission brings with it greatly increased risks for those not up to date with their vaccines,” Mr Hazzard said.

“The best way you can protect yourself from serious illness or worse is to get every vaccination that is available to you.”

If you are fully vaccinated, you have 65% greater protection against hospitalisation or death from Omicron than two vaccine doses alone affords, according to data from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance.

NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant said in addition to booking in for a booster, people should exercise common sense and wear a face mask in public indoor spaces, where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

“Face masks, hand hygiene, staying home when ill, testing yourself when symptoms present, physically distancing, all these measures are not new to us,” Dr Chant said.

“Unless we pull together as one again, this new wave will hit schools and businesses hard, just like BA.1 did, which saw thousands of workers absent.”

Elderly people and those with underlying health conditions are reminded to speak to their GP or health professional about antiviral medications if they contract COVID-19.

Antivirals work best when taken within five days from when symptoms onset. COVID-19 booster doses are recommended for anyone 16 years and older who had their last dose of a primary course at least three months ago.

Visit nsw.gov.au to find your nearest vaccination clinic.

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