IN the past week the number of Covid-19 cases increased again but WA Health says if the state has not already reached the peak it is not far away.
Chief health officer Andy Robertson said the predominant Covid variant continued to be BA.5, with about 10 per cent of cases being due to BQ.1 and a further 10-15 per cent of cases were due to XBB, a BA.2 subvariant.
“The number of Covid cases over the past week has increased in line with expectations and if we are not currently at the peak, we expect that we are close,’’ he said.
“As per previous peaks, changes to hospitalisations numbers occur a week or so following the peak.
“Numbers remain well within the capacity of the hospital system.’’
On Friday WA Health reported a total of 11,762 new cases in the week up to December 1 with 185 people in hospital with Covid-19 with four of them in ICU.
The report also included 14 deaths in people aged from 75 to 96 years, dating back to November 19.
In the week prior to that (up to November 24) WA had 10,520 new cases and 195 people in hospital with Covid-19 with 12 people in ICU.
That week’s report included 15 deaths in people aged 71 to 101 years, dating back to October 24.
Prior to that in the week up to November 17 WA had 9065 new cases and 179 people with Covid-19 in hospital, with three in ICU.
The report also included 15 deaths in people aged from 76 to 100 years, dating back to August 8.
After its November 11 meeting the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) said it was unclear when the latest wave of Covid-19 cases in Australia would peak or end.
ATAGI’s update said any reduction in community transmission in Australia from an additional booster dose in people who were already up to date was likely to be minimal.
“A recent wave of the XBB subvariant in Singapore was of short duration and of small size,” the update said.
“Severe disease and death (had been) rare in people who had received at least two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.”
Both ATAGI and WA Health advised people to continue to take precautions.
COVID-19 vaccinations December 2 update
|WA population: COVID-19 vaccination coverage|
|Fourth dose (30+)||33.5%|
|Third dose (16+)||84.1%|
|Second dose (12+)||>95%|
|First dose (12+)||>95%|
Dr Robertson said with the arrival of the festive season families and workplaces were gathering to celebrate so it was important to remain vigilant while meeting up with others.
“Simple precautions including having a booster vaccine, if eligible, having hand sanitiser available, maintaining safe hygiene practices, wearing a mask indoors, particularly with more vulnerable family and friends, and considering a less crowded or outdoor venue can assist in preventing the spread of any respiratory disease.
“Most importantly, get tested if you have Covid-like symptoms and stay at home or stay away from others until at least your symptoms have disappeared.
“Nobody wants to receive Covid for Christmas.
“Our 4th dose booster vaccination rates continue to rise, particularly in the over 50s, who are now at 53.5 per cent.”
One year after Omicon’s emergence the World Health Organization said the variant had continued to evolve with more than 500 sublineages of it circulating – although not one of them had been designated as a new variant of concern.
“So far, these sublineages of Omicron have much in common: they are all highly transmissible, replicate in the upper respiratory tract and tend to cause less severe disease compared to previous variants of concern, and they all have mutations that make them escape built-up immunity more easily,’’ a WHO statement said.
“This means that they are similar in their impact on public health and the response that is needed to deal with them.
“If the virus were to change significantly – like if a new variant caused more severe disease, or if vaccines no longer prevented severe disease and death – the world would need to reconsider its response.’’
The statement said WHO, together with scientists and public health professionals around the world, continued to monitor the circulating variants for signs of the next variant of concern.
But there was apprehension because testing and sequencing were declining globally and the sequences that were available were not globally representative (as most sequences were shared from high-income countries).
“WHO and partners also remain concerned that surveillance at the human-animal interface is limited, where the next variant of concern could come from.
“While it might be difficult to stop a new variant from emerging, quick detection and information sharing means its impact on our lives can be minimised.’’