Australia could be ‘stuffed’ when the next Covid-19 variant arrives on our shores unless mask mandates are brought back in, ABC presenter Dr Norman Swan warned.
Dr Swan renewed calls for the return of masks in indoor settings on Monday as the highly infectious and ‘immune evasive’ Omicron strains BA4 and BA.5 run rampant.
State and territory leaders convened an urgent national cabinet meeting on Saturday after federal health minister Mark Butler warned to expect ‘millions’ of cases in the coming months.
Dr Swan described the latest wave of the ‘immune evasive’ sub-variants was very worrying.
The accredited medical doctor said vaccines aren’t working as well as they used to as he called for improved ventilation measures and mandatory indoor masks.
There are growing calls for Aussies to wear masks in high risk environments such as shopping centres (pictured Sydneysiders in the CBD on Sunday)
Dr Swan told ABC’s Radio National Breakfast: ‘We probably do need to mandate masks and N95s in high risk environments, otherwise when the next variant comes along and it’s more virulent than this one – in other words more likely to kill you or make you seriously ill – we’ll be stuffed.’
Dr Swan said governments had a responsibility reinstate mask rules, and insisted vaccines alone weren’t enough to protect the population.
Dr Swan said he would host world leading immunologist Chris Goodnow from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research will be a special guest on a program of Radio National’s Health Report.
‘He himself has had four doses of the Covid vaccine and is currently unfortunately disabled with a cardiac side affect of Covid,’ Dr Swan said.
‘The point he’ll make tonight is that vaccines are important in the protection against severe disease but don’t work as well as they used to.
Dr Norman Swan says vaccinations are important but aren’t working as well as they did with previous Covid variants. Pictured is Olympian Kate Campbell being vaccinated
Australia could be ‘stuffed’ by the time the next Covid-19 variant emerges, according to Dr Norman Swan (pictured)
‘What is not happening is what some people thought would happen, which is that we would build up a background resistance and this would become milder and milder with time.
‘What it’s showing is that with repeated re-infections, there is an increased risk of cardiac, kidney and other side effects, which increased with time independent of vaccination.’
‘We’ve got to slow this down and prevent it as we’re going to have a significant burden of cardiac and pulmonary disease as a result of this.’
Dr Swan described Australia’s current third wave of the virus as very worrying.
‘The history of this virus is perplexing, every six months or so a new variant appears,’ he said.
‘BA4 and BA.5 are behaving as if they’re a new variant, even though they’re a sub-variant of Omicron.
‘Six months after Christmas, here we go again with viruses that are evading the immune system.
‘As time goes on, this virus is perplexing the immunologists because it’s not behaving as expected.
‘The government has loaded the dice on the vaccines and the vaccines are not enough.’
Dr Swan called for a return of mandate masks and N95s in high risk environments (pictured, Sydney shoppers on Sunday)
Dr Swan ended the radio interview by accusing the federal and state governments of prioritising the economy over public health.
‘Mask wearing should not affect the economy to a significant extent but we’ve got to slow this down and plead with people nicely to not necessarily go to work,’ he said.
‘It’s young people as well who are getting these long term side effects even though they’re not getting severe diseases.
‘This isn’t the common cold – and it’s not the flu.’
Australia recorded 39,028 new infections and 30 deaths on Monday.
Dr Swans also accusing the federal and state governments of prioritising the economy over public health.
The astonishing Covid-19 stats that EVERY Australian needs to see – and the data proves we DON’T need more rules – as a busy city centre hospital’s ICU ward sits almost EMPTY of Omicron patients
By Kevin Airs For Daily Mail Australia
The median age of those dying from Covid in Australia is now 83 years old – the same age as the nation’s average life expectancy.
The federal health department’s latest Covid report exposes as myths the claims being used to drive Australian authorities to re-introduce mask mandates and continue having Covid cases isolate for seven days.
The data comes as St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney said they have just ‘one or two’ patients in ICU – with top doctors confirming the winter wave is far less severe than those to have previously hit Australia.
‘We certainly don’t have many,’ confirmed a hospital spokesman on Monday.
‘It’s not presenting so much on the very acute side, where patients need ventilation.’
The median age of those dying from Covid in Australia is now 83 years old – the same age as the nation’s average life expectancy, new government data has revealed
The ICU at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital now has just one or two Covid patients as medics admit the current wave is less severe.
The hospital admits most Covid patients are not in an acute state and do not need ventilation
The vast majority of those who have caught Covid are under 50, with 3,121,953 cases so far. Just 293 people under 50 have died of the virus since the pandemic began.
The statistics show that since Australia’s mass vaccination rollout began, those under 50 face a less than one in 10,000 chance of dying from Covid.
‘The median age of all those infected is 31… [but] the median age of those who died is 83,’ the latest federal health department ‘Coronavirus At A Glance’ report states.
Australia’s average life expectancy is 82.9 years of age.
Most killed by Covid were men over 70 and women over 80, accounting for 7,585 deaths out of the nation’s total virus death toll of 10,582 as of 3pm on Friday.
The vast majority of those who have caught Covid are under 50, with 3,121,953 cases so far but just 293 of that age have died of the virus since the pandemic began. Most killed by Covid were men over 70 and women over 80, accounting for 7,585 deaths out of the nation’s total virus death toll of 10,582, up to 3pm last Friday
NSW Premier Dom Perrottet admitted on Monday that the current flu wave was now a bigger threat than Covid
And even if Covid breaks out among elderly frail residents in aged care centres, more than 95 per cent of those infected will survive.
Of the 63,875 who caught Covid in Australian aged care centres, 60,771 recovered, with less than 1 in 20 of infected residents dying, for a tragic toll of 3,104.
NSW Premier Dom Perrottet admitted on Monday that the current flu wave was now a bigger threat than Covid.
‘At the moment, the current strand of influenza is more severe than the current strands of COVID,’ he told 2GB.
‘As we move through the next phase of the pandemic, we need to balance up the competing health issues.’
Even if Covid breaks out among elderly frail residents in aged care centres, more than 95 per cent of those infected will survive
VITAL COVID FACTS
Just 293 people under 50 have died of Covid
If you’re under 50 and catch Covid, you have a 1 in 10,000 chance of dying
St Vincent’s Hospital ICU currently only has one or two Covid patients
Most people who die are men over 70 or women over 80
The median age to die from Covid is 83
The average life expectancy in Australia is 82.9
Even frail elderly residents in aged care homes have a 95 per cent chance of surviving covid infection
More than 60,770 aged care residents out of the 63,875 infected have recovered from Covid
Just one in 20 in aged care homes have died after they caught the virus
The official figures come as pressure grows for a return to compulsory masks ahead of a feared new outbreak of the virulent new Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.
Doomsday modelling by the Burnet Institute for the NSW government last year said the state’s health system could cope with up to 947 Covid patients in ICU.
But NSW currently has just 64 Covid cases in ICU across the state with only 13 on ventilators, according to NSW Health.
The stats have also destroyed claims that Omicron is super-infectious, with infection rates staying constant all year long.
Australia’s Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 outbreak, which started in January, coincided with the end of most mask mandates and lockdown restrictions.
Omicron BA.2’s R0 – the number of people one person can infect without restrictions – is said to be around 13.3.
But the Re – the effective rate of infection – has stayed around 1 or less since the middle of January, after a brief spike to 2.0 for a couple of days after New Year.
The government’s mass double-jab vaccination program, taken up by 95 per cent of the population, has played a huge part in controlling the spread of the virus.
But the subsequent third booster shot program has been less successful , with just a 71 per cent take up, as work now starts on encouraging a fourth jab.
Of the 63,875 who caught Covid in Australian aged care centres, 60,771 recovered, with less than 1 in 20 of infected residents dying, for a tragic toll of 3,104
AUSTRALIA KEEPS SEVEN-DAY ISOLATION AS WORLD MOVES ON
Australia is doubling down on mandatory isolation as other countries around the globe move towards abandoning them altogether – and it’s costing taxpayers $800million.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese came under fire last week for back-flipping on a decision to scrap $750-a-week payments for casual workers and people without sick leave benefits who are forced into isolation for seven days.
He was pressured to bring back the payments after refusing to budge on mandatory isolation, and encouraged people to wear face masks.
However, the UK, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Lithuania and Switzerland no longer have isolation, while positive cases are only ‘recommended’ to self-quarantine for five days in the United States.
Countries such as Sweden no longer categorise Covid as a ‘critical illness’.
Mr Albanese argued the isolation period was necessary to combat surging Covid cases and ease pressure on hospitals, despite a large portion of the strain coming from influenza cases.
In the 24 hours to Friday morning, 43,491 new cases of Covid were reported across Australia. There were 65,770 confirmed cases of the flu within the same period.
There is no mandatory isolation period for influenza, and no payments for casual workers off sick with the flu.
Former deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth said on Monday that government officials calling for the reintroduction of mask mandates need to ‘move on’.
‘Anyone advocating for mandates needs to move on from that because unless significant things change with … the way this virus behaves, we’re not going to be bringing in restrictions or mandates,’ he told Sky News.
Dr Coatsworth said antiviral medication and booster shots were significantly more effective than face masks.
Mr Albanese had earlier said the $750-a-week pandemic leave disaster payment would not be reinstated past June 30.
However, he announced on Saturday that it would be made available again from Wednesday and would extend to September 30.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has urged students and children to mask up in schools, while NSW education minister Sarah Mitchell also flagged the return of masks in class.
NSW schools have suffered a 30 per cent rise in staff shortages through sickness as a result of Covid and flu this year, she said.
‘We are absolutely feeling the pressure…there’s no question of that,’ Ms Mitchell admitted.
NSW and Victorian health ministers have both so far resisted the growing calls for a return to mask mandates, but critics say the looming state elections in October and November are the main reason behind any delay in bringing them back.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has urged students and children to mask up in schools, while NSW education minister Sarah Mitchell also flagged the return of masks in class
Victoria chief health officer Ben Cowie told the state government to bring back masks, but the advice was rejected by state health minister Mary-Anne Thomas.
‘I made a decision based on the advice that I had received that further mandating masks was not the most effective way to get the message out about the importance of mask wearing,’ she said.
South Australia would need to declare another state emergency, after allowing the last announcement to expire, before they could issue any new mask mandate.
Federal health minister Mark Butler also says it is ‘unlikely’ the government will enforce compulsory masks, but urged people to wear them in public and to work from home where possible.
Deakin University’s Professor Catherine Bennett insists compulsory masks will ease the coming Covid wave and also play a major psychological role
But Deakin University’s Professor Catherine Bennett insists compulsory masks will ease the coming Covid wave and also play a major psychological role.
‘When you put a mask on, it’s a reminder that things aren’t quite normal. It reinforces behaviours like taking a step back from other people,’ she told Seven West media.
‘The mask could be the thing that also helps us stay mindful of those other things … and stay that bit safer.’
The stats also revealed NSW has had the most Covid cases in Australia with 2,971,525 and 3,798 deaths. Victoria has had the most deaths with 4,148 from 2,245,301 cases.
Northern Territory has had the least number of cases and deaths with 53 deaths from 83,684 infections, ahead of even ACT which has had 84 deaths from 175,923 cases.
The nation has also just passed the 75million milestone for the number of Covid test results since the pandemic began, almost three each for every single person.
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