The first major study into Omicron in Australia has revealed the new variant is responsible for very few hospitalisations and the majority of those are unvaccinated.
NSW Health released data on who is actually sick with Covid even as cases surge, finding Delta is responsible for most of the state’s severe cases.
Most of the patients being treated in intensive care are unvaccinated, many with underlying health conditions.
The first major study into Omicron in Australia has revealed the new variant is responsible for very few hospitalisations and the majority of those are unvaccinated
There are 52 people in ICU, 34 of whom are unvaccinated. That rose slightly to 55 by Monday morning.
All but a handful of these patients are infected with the Delta variant rather than the new Omicron strain, which early studies indicate is less severe.
‘Everybody in NSW is probably going to get Omicron at some stage. Everyone in Australia,’ NSW Health minister Brad Hazzard said.
‘From early indications NSW Health believe the majority of ICU Covid patients have the Delta variant. Health are seeking to confirm this through additional tests.’
Despite another 6,324 new infections on Monday, officials encouraged people to live life normally as studies indicate Omicron isn’t as serious as its predecessors.
It comes as Covid hospital admissions in London — Britain’s Omicron ground zero — are within touching distance of the Government’s threshold of 400 for introducing lockdown restrictions across the country.
Latest NHS data shows there were 386 new admissions for the virus in the capital on December 22, marking a 92 per cent rise on the figure last week.
Covid hospitalisations are now doubling roughly every 10 days – though they are still a far cry from the 850 at the peak last January.
Figures from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC), which covers units in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, show that between May and November the rate of admission for double-jabbed Covid sufferers in their 60s was just 0.6 cases per 100,000 people per week.
But among people of the same age who remained unvaccinated, the rate was 37.3 per 100,000 per week – equating to a relative risk about 60 times higher.
According to NSW Health there are currently 52 people in ICU, 34 of which are unvaccinated
There are 2,000 healthcare staff who are unable to work because they are either infected with the virus or isolating awaiting test results.
Covid patients need to be cleared by a medical professional before leaving isolation, but Mr Hazzard said Australians could manage it with rapid antigen tests, plenty of fluids, and paracetamol.
Mr Hazzard also pleaded with Australians to only get a PCR test if they had symptoms or were directed to as a close contact, and instead to use rapid antigen.
He said the time delay at overwhelmed clinics meant results would take so long, residents could catch the virus between testing and getting results.
‘If you have a test today and then you are visiting Aunty Mabel in three or four days, it may well be that by then, you are positive,’ he said.
‘A far simpler, far quicker measure would be simply to be get a rapid antigen test… preferably half an hour or an hour beforehand.
‘If you’re not particularly sick, you probably don’t need to be doing very much except probably taking some Panadol if you’ve got a temperature and making sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids.’
The NSW government has encouraged residents to push forward as it looks to normalise living with the virus
Free rapid tests will be rolled out from 2022 onwards at the NSW government looks to normalise living with the virus.
‘Take personal responsibility, socially distance, follow the rules that are in place … but we are about instilling confidence in our people, confidence has been key,’ Premier Dominic Perrottet said.
‘Whether that’s consumer confidence, business confidence.
‘We are going to get through it… let’s not look at the negative, let’s look at the positive.’