This week, Australia became a world leader.
But it wasn’t a feat of engineering or some sort of sporting achievement – it was an unwelcome title.
according to the world data baseAustralia leads the world in COVID infections per capita (if you ignore the small islands of Montserrat, Anguilla and the Falklands).
As of Friday, 54,591 cases were reported across Australia, in the last two consecutive days of around 58,000 cases as Western Australia braces for new infection records.
Saturday’s figures pushed the official seven-day average to more than 48,000 daily cases, putting Australia behind only Germany and the United States in the total number of new daily cases recorded.
Some countries, like Denmarkhave removed COVID-19 testing recommendations, and others have reduced testing regimes, meaning it is now harder to get similar comparisons across the world.
However, in Australia hospitalizations and deaths are also on the rise, with the average number of daily COVID-related deaths reaching 40, doubling since March.
But with the country in the midst of an election campaign – in which COVID is barely mentioned – a raging war in Ukraine, the cost of living rising and after more than two years of COVID restrictions, the virus has, in a way understandable to some, dropped the radar.
And the experts understand.
“I’m done with that,” Burnet Institute CEO Brendan Crabb said. “We are all.
“But the numbers we’re seeing in Australia are extraordinary. So many people are very, very sick.
For Professor Crabb, ‘disconnect’ comes down to what he describes as a fear of ‘COVID past’ and ‘COVID now’.
He said that after two years of extreme impacts, governments and politicians are now afraid to talk about COVID. Instead, he said, they had removed mask mandates and kept their “head in the sand,” ignoring the key element of why cases — and hospitalizations — had now risen: the transmission.
And “COVID now,” he said, was having a massive impact on society.
“Remember that a lot of COVID is bad for business,” he said. “We can’t ignore this. We’ve seen this for months.
“And as a nation we also don’t know the health impact. How many of the more than 350,000 active cases in Australia right now will have chronic impacts? Overseas data suggests that 10% of them And it will impact your heart, impact your lungs, your organs and your brain.
“It’s not nothing.”
University of Melbourne epidemiologist Nancy Baxter said the numbers could “get worse”.
“We’re at a point where COVID is now one of the top killers of Australians, and probably by the end of the year will be one of the top three,” she told the ABC. .
“And with the increase in the number of cases, new sub-variants [will be] It could push him even further, which would have a bigger impact.
Cases ‘will increase’
As Professor Baxter suggests, the emergence of new Omicron sub-variants in Australia complicates matters.
Westmead Institute virologist Tony Cunningham, who has studied the evolution of viruses for more than four decades, said the continued emergence of alternative variants around the world was “concerning”.
“We don’t know if any of these new variants will acquire the ability to infect the lungs to the same degree as, say, Delta.
“There’s COVID everywhere. And where there’s more virus in the community, there’s more likelihood of variants emerging.”
University of South Australia epidemiologist Adrian Easterman said cases will “rise” across Australia.
“And hospitalizations will continue to rise as cases increase,” he said.
“Our governments are sending the message that it’s all over. It’s not over yet.
“We are at the end of the game. We have reasonably good vaccines, good treatments and at least a reasonable portion of the population that is immune.
“But it is not finished.”
The country’s healthcare workers are a sector of the community acutely aware that COVID is “not over”.
This week the Royal Australasian College of Physicians reiterated its call for urgent action on burnout and burnout in the industry, saying “there is no respite”.
Australian Medical Association President Omar Khorshid said healthcare workers felt there was “a deliberate mitigation” of the continued challenges COVID-19 was placing on the healthcare system.
“We’re kind of stuck,” he said.
We’re treating COVID like it’s a cold, and saying no masks, keep playing.
He said healthcare workers were fed up, especially around messages from politicians that the pandemic was “over”.
“In Perth [we’re I’m based]they say it could soon be 20,000 to 25,000 cases a day,” he said.
“And we’ve had a lot of anecdotal reports of people not testing themselves, or when they get a positive test not registering the result with the government.
“And, of course, that has an impact on healthcare workers. For example, in WA alone, we have around 2,500 healthcare workers at the moment.
“We feel like there’s been no advice on the fate of our public hospitals. Our workers can’t understand it.”
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