Australians will have to take repeated rounds of Covid boosters, live under constantly changing restrictions, and wear masks for all of 2022.
That is the grim prediction of NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant for the year ahead even with vaccine rates topping 90 per cent.
Just as Australians entered the new year expecting life to be something resembling normal within months, Dr Chant has dashed their hopes.
‘I think all of us would just like Covid to be gone… we would like to have one more round of vaccinations, and then have it as a done deal,’ she said.
Australians will have to take repeated rounds of Covid boosters, live under constantly changing restrictions, and wear masks for all of 2022, Dr Kerry Chant (pictured) has warned
‘For some diseases, we’ve been able to achieve that, but we won’t be able to with the current vaccines available.
‘So 2022 is going to be seeing waves of [Covid cases] going up and down and we’re going to have to tailor a series of responses.’
That series of responses appeared to mean fluctuating Covid restrictions along with non-mandatory advice to spend more time outside and limit social interaction.
Dr Chant made her prediction at the end of a sombre press conference announcing 29,830 new Covid cases in NSW and a record 36 deaths.
She said vulnerable people, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions that make them more likely to die of Covid, would have the least normal lives.
‘It is tragic talking about the 36 deaths, many of those were elderly people so we’re always going to have those protective for people most vulnerable in our community,’ she said.
‘They may be the group, going forward, that gets repeated boosters and so we’ll turn our focus from the population, to picking out the most vulnerable.’
Dr Chant flagged ‘additional strategies’ – restrictions and strong health advice to limit gatherings and keep meetings outdoors as much as possible.
That advice has kneecapped the hospitality sector as Australians avoid going out or seeing one another as they are terrified of catching the virus.
She said such advice and restrictions would be active the whole year, and at times could even be worse – despite Premier Dom Perrottet’s plan to scrap almost all restrictions on January 27 and his stated reluctance to bring any back.
Dr Kerry Chant (pictured) has dashed hopes of a swift return to normality just as Australians entered the new year expecting life to be something like it was pre-Covid
‘From time to time we’ll also need to have advice about additional strategies – indoor mask wearing, limiting your household gatherings, meeting outside,’ she said.
‘Some of those things will probably be thing we urge all the time during 2022, but at certain times we’re going to need to amplify those messages and get the community to come with us.’
‘We’ve also got to consider flu and other viruses, which we’ve been free of the the past two years.
‘So 2022 is going to be this recalibration where we’re using all the tools including oral antivirals, which will hopefully become available in February, new vaccines.
‘I think we need to be very open to the fact that there will be new vaccines and technologies that come to the fore in 2022.’
The warnings come just days after Dr Chant predicted half the population could contract Covid during the current wave.
Dr Chant forecast on Friday that as many as four million of the state’s residents – 50 per cent of its population – would be infected.
Her remarks are the first time a high-profile official has given a public estimate on the extent of the outbreak raging down Australia’s east coast.
The respected doctor said not all of those forecast infections would be symptomatic. Many people may not even knowing they are infected.
‘There will still be people that have not experienced or been exposed to Omicron,’ Dr Chant said.
But Australian National University Professor Peter Collignon told Daily Mail Australia earlier this week that he forecast as few as 20 to 30 per cent of Australians will be infected in 2022.
That’s between 5.1milion and 7.7million out of 25.7million Aussies developing a Covid infection this year – whether Omicron, Delta or a new strain – or 2.43million NSW residents.
Dr Collignon’s estimate – which lacks the insight of government modelling – includes people who have already been infected and those who don’t even know they have it and show no signs of being sick.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk