Virus double whammy: Australians warned a new Covid sub-variant is spreading as flu infections rise
- Omicron subvariant XBB infections are soaring
- Experts warn that the variant is highly transmissible
- Flu infections are also expected to jumo
Health experts have warned of a new Covid sub-variant that will spread across Australia as the country heads into winter.
Cases of the Omicron subvariant XBB have already exploded in Queensland, making up 62 percent of Covid infections recorded in the state last week.
The XBB.1.5 subvariant was first discovered in Australia last year, while another strain, XBB.1.16, emerged in NSW in February.
While the subvariants are not expected to be more serious than Omicron, experts have warned about how transmissible they are.
Cases of the Omicron sub-variant XBB have exploded in Queensland, where the variant is known to be more transmissible than other strains (customer pictured wearing a face mask in Sydney)
Dr. Krispin Hajkowicz, an infectious disease specialist at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, said XBB infections in the Sunshine State have skyrocketed.
“Unfortunately, it also seems to be good at evading antibodies from previous infections and vaccinations,” he told the newspaper. brisbane times.
Both XBB.1.5 and XBB.1.16 variants are popping up all over the world, including in Europe and the United States.
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for Covid, told a press conference in January that experts were concerned about the rise in cases of the subvariants.
“We are concerned about its growth benefit, particularly in some countries in Europe and in the US… especially in the northeastern United States, where XBB.1.5 has rapidly replaced other circulating variants,” she said.
Meanwhile, there are also fears that more Australians will be affected by the flu this winter.
Last week in NSW there were 11,474 cases of Covid and 950 flu infections – an increase of almost 10 per cent on the previous week.
In the last week of April, 937 people in Queensland contracted the flu.
“I think we’re going to see a tough winter from all three viruses, really, from Covid, from flu and RSV, that’s definitely what happened last year in the northern hemisphere winter,” Dr Hajkowicz said.
“I don’t see any reason why we should be any different in Australia.”
More than 34,000 flu cases have been reported across Australia so far this year, according to government figures, roughly equivalent to the 2019 season, which was the second worst season on record.
Meanwhile, there are also fears that more Australians will be affected by the flu this winter (pictured residents walking past the Sydney Opera House on a winter evening)