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Covid cases in NSW rise to 34,759 while ICU admissions stay steady

NSW has recorded its deadliest day of the Covid pandemic so far as 21 residents died from the virus and infections rose by more than a third to 34,759.

The 34 per cent rise from Tuesday’s 20,293 cases came as the state began recording rapid antigen tests conducted at home in daily case numbers for the first time.

Victoria recorded 40,127 new cases on Wednesday – a slight increase on the 37,994 infections confirmed on Tuesday.

Top infectious diseases expert Professor Peter Collignon has meanwhile revealed Covid is causing fewer hospitalisations than a bad flu season in Australia. 

Professor Collignon said it was important to have perspective when looking at hospitalisation and ICU numbers during an appearance on the Today Show. 

The expert revealed the number of people in hospitals with the virus was less than the number of patients admitted with influenza during a recent winter. 

‘We’re seeing a lot of people in hospital and a lot of people in ICU but we need to keep it in perspective,’ he said on Wednesday. 

Top infectious diseases expert Peter Collignon revealed the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 was less than the number of patients admitted with influenza during a recent winter

‘It’s still less than what we often see in winter with influenza for instance a number of years ago, and it seems to be less of an issue than even six months ago with the proportion of infected people going into hospital.’

Mr Collignon said the high level of vaccination across Australia meant a smaller proportion of people were requiring care in hospital, or dying. 

‘So much so, that if you’re vaccinated your risk is probably similar to a season of influenza, it’s the one or two million unvaccinated adults we still have who are disproportionately in hospital and disproportionately in ICU.’

The expert reminded people worried about being infected with the virus that Australians didn’t have access to vaccines a year ago. 

He said those who were fully vaccinated with a booster shot had a ‘much, much lower chance of coming into serious grief than a year ago’. 

The top infectious diseases expert said it was important to have perspective when looking at hospitalisation and ICU numbers (pictured, shoppers walk in Melbourne)

The top infectious diseases expert said it was important to have perspective when looking at hospitalisation and ICU numbers (pictured, shoppers walk in Melbourne)

‘A lot of us are going to get Covid over the next year or two, but the consequences now for serious disease – which is what matters – is so much less than a year ago, we need to come to terms with that,’ he said. 

He said it was important to get more staff on the ground, decrease the fear level in society and ensure those vulnerable were at ‘the front of the queue’ for care. 

Mr Collingnon was asked when he predicted Australia would experience the peak of the Omicron wave, and if infections would get worse before they got better. 

‘My view is that it should start flattening out in at least in the next week, a lot of the cases we’re seeing is mainly being spread by people in their 20s and 30s, and you can see why because they were locked down for so long,’ he replied. 

‘So as people are moving around less, more on holiday and interacting with large numbers less I think the numbers will come down.’

The expert said it was important to get more staff on the ground, decrease the fear level in society and ensure those vulnerable were at 'the front of the queue' for care

The expert said it was important to get more staff on the ground, decrease the fear level in society and ensure those vulnerable were at ‘the front of the queue’ for care

He said hospitalisations tended to lag five to seven days after infections levelled out, which he said were currently at high, but not exponential, levels. 

Mr Collignon added that data observed from the Delta variant revealed that if a fully vaccinated person is naturally infected with Covid they build better immunity against the virus than what a booster shot can provide.

‘Providing your vaccinated, and if your unlucky enough to get Omicron, you are likely to have longer-lasting immunity than even with a booster,’ he explained. 

‘Natural infection tends to give you long-lasting immunity mainly because you’re exposed to more parts of the virus rather than just the spike protein which is the vaccine strategy.’

He urged unvaccinated people not to attempt to be infected naturally for the benefit of immunity as the consequences were much higher for death or serious disease. 

It comes as experts predict Australia Day could be the day Omicron finally peaks in the major cities in hopes the country can return to normal after that. 

experts predict Australia Day could be the day Omicron finally peaks in the major cities in hopes the country can return to normal after that (pictured, a man is swabbed for Covid)

experts predict Australia Day could be the day Omicron finally peaks in the major cities in hopes the country can return to normal after that (pictured, a man is swabbed for Covid)

Major Australian cities could see a dramatic drop off in Covid-19 infections by the end of January as the Omicron surge ‘runs out’ of ‘core’ carriers to infect.

While new Covid cases topped 84,000 Australia-wide on Tuesday – including 38,000 in Victoria, 26,000 in NSW and 20,466 in Queensland – there are underlying signs that alarming tally could dramatically improve by the end of this month.

So many of Omicron major carriers, people aged between 20 and 30, have been exposed already that the virus will began failing to reproduce when it meets people with immunity.

Initially that will happen in hotspots where the virus has run rampant, including vast areas of Melbourne and Sydney, and in Newcastle.

Catherine Bennett, chair in Epidemiology at Deakin University predicted the wave should start to turn around in about two weeks, before the end of January.  

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