Dr.Michael Baker: “Infections was due to ‘waning immunity’ “
New Zealand and Australian health experts are advising people to wear masks as both countries mark an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations ahead of the summer holidays.
In a statement, Australia’s New South Wales health ministry said there’d been a “moderate” rise in COVID-19 activity, including the number of people presenting to emergency departments.
“Consider wearing a mask in crowded indoor areas and be kind to people who choose to wear a mask,” NSW Health said on X.
With large family gatherings also expected in the coming months, South Australia’s top doctors have called for Christmas congregations to be held outside, 7 News reported.
“There’s also lots of other viruses around as well – including the flu virus – and these viruses are dangerous as well,” Australian Medical Association president John Williams told the broadcaster.
South Australia’s health ministry said the state’s cases had risen to 2493 in the week to Friday compared with 1700 infections in the previous seven days.
COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations have also been on the rise in New Zealand. There were 5872 reported cases of COVID-19 in the week to Monday and 212 people were in hospital.
Epidemiologist Michael Baker, from the University of Otago, told RNZ’s First Up getting a booster jab, wearing a mask in areas with bad ventilation and staying home when sick were the best protections.
People should assume if they’re in a confined area with “more than a handful of people, there’s a reasonable chance that someone else will be infected with the virus”, he said.
COVID-19: New Zealand hit by fifth wave driven by ‘waning immunity’, epidemiologist Michael Baker warns
New Zealand is being hit by a fifth wave of COVID-19 infections driven by people’s immunity to the virus waning, epidemiologist Michael Baker says.
He urged New Zealanders to stay home if sick, despite self-isolation requirements no longer being in place.
“People are more vulnerable and that’s driving another wave and it looks like this is the way the virus is going to behave for the foreseeable future – with peaks and troughs – and we’re very much in a peak at the moment,” Baker told First Up.
He said the rise in infections was due to “waning immunity”.
The number of infections in hospital was also the highest since January, he told First Up.
“We actually have to go back right back to January to see this number of copies of the virus in the wastewater across New Zealand,” Baker said. “So that’s one thing to look at and the other is the hospitalisations – and they’re at their highest point for six months.”
There were 5872 reported cases of COVID-19 in the week to Monday and 19 people died.
Of those new cases, 2823 were reinfections.
In addition, there were 212 COVID-19 cases in hospitals – five of whom were in intensive care.
The seven-day rolling average of cases was 838.
Unite Against COVID-19, the Government’s coronavirus response agency, has reminded Kiwis anyone aged 30 and older is eligible for boosters.
People aged between 16 and 29 who are either high-risk or pregnant are also eligible, it said.
“For most people, including healthy children, the protection provided by the current vaccinations is long-lasting enough to protect against severe COVID illness.”
And in Australia
Australians have been urged to go back to their pandemic habits in the lead-up to Christmas, following a surge in Covid-19 cases across the country.
A major mask warning has been issued by health authorities following Covid-19 cases skyrocketing in the lead-up to Christmas.
A new wave of the virus is now sweeping across the country, with a 23.6 per cent spike of new cases recorded.
There were 6550 new cases of Covid-19 reported across the country over the last week, with the Department of Health and Aged Care confirming a reported average of 936 cases per day.
In NSW, Covid-19 activity increased “across all indicators” in the past fortnight, with more than one in ten PCR tests conducted returning a positive result.
“Emergency department presentations for COVID-19 increased across most age groups, particularly young children and those aged 65-years and older,” the latest data from NSW Health revealed.
The rise in cases has prompted a recommendation from health authorities to return to pandemic habits of washing hands and staying home if you feel ill.
“Consider wearing a mask in crowded indoor areas and be kind to people who choose to wear a mask,” NSW Health said in a statement.
NSW Health Pathology virologist and infectious diseases physician Dominic Dwyer said health departments across the state had been noticing more positive cases, supporting reports of a “new wave” of Covid-19.
“PCR testing in NSW Health Pathology, which services the public hospitals throughout NSW, showed that 8.6 per cent of PCRs were positive for SARS-CoV-2 last week,” he said.
He said cases of SARS-CoV-2 were being monitored via testing, adding the size and length of the wave was “unknown” at present.
This wave reinforces the importance of Covid-19 booster vaccinations,” he added.
NSW residents are not the only ones being urged to wear masks, with Victorian officials also offering similar advice.
“This is an expected part of the ongoing evolution of the coronavirus in the community, as our immunity from both infection and vaccination wanes with time and COVID-19 continues to circulate,” the acting chief health officer said.
Victoria recorded its highest daily average of new cases since June, with 321 people testing positive on Friday.