Top doctors have told Australians it’s time to put the Covid panic behind them, despite Queensland introducing ‘ridiculous’ new mask advice and the national broadcaster bombarding the country with endless reports of the latest wave of the virus.
The country is entering its fourth wave of Covid with sub-variants BQ.1 and XBB slowly taking over BA.5 and becoming the dominant strain.
Queensland on Thursday changed its Covid traffic light system from green to orange and recommended wearing face masks in some environments, while ABC health guru Dr. Norman Swan, says the number of deaths will rise.
But the latest developments have led to a rapid response from Australia’s top doctors, urging residents to calm down and move on with their normal lives.
Former deputy medical chief Dr Nick Coatsworth has declined to talk about the latest wave as it is time to “move on” from the pandemic, while Catherine Bennett, Deakin University’s chair of epidemiology, said that “being anxious is not the The answer is’.
Australians have been told it’s time to move forward with Covid as fear mongers continue to try and spread fear over the latest wave of the pandemic
Former Deputy Medical Chief Dr. Nick Coatsworth has refused to talk about latest wave as it’s time to ‘move on’ from the pandemic
“Go on and do your normal things,” she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Panic never helps in my opinion. Being aware of changing risks and responding to them and managing them is the best thing you can do.’
Professor Bennett acknowledged that residents should be aware of the latest wave.
“We’re seeing numbers, especially hospitalizations, rising across the country,” she said.
“We know from data from abroad that adding Covid variants to the mix increases transmission rates. What it means for individuals is that their exposure risk increases.’
Professor Bennett said it was important that residents listened to the advice of health professionals, got their booster, but didn’t make drastic changes in their lives.
“This is exactly when we want people to be aware of the changed risk of contracting the virus, and use that information to manage their own risk,” she said.
“Maybe consider sitting outside a cafe instead of a cafe, or wear a face mask when traveling by public transport.”
Queensland increased its Covid protocols with residents being advised to wear face masks on public transport and regularly test for the virus if they have flu-like symptoms.
The XBB strain has been described by some international experts as the ‘nightmare variety’ and the ‘most vaccine resistant yet’.
Professor Bennett reassured residents that while transmission rates will increase, the new Covid strains did not appear to be more serious than their predecessors.
dr. Swan spoke of public concern that rapid antigen testing was less effective at detecting certain strains of virus
Professor Bennett said it was important residents listened to the advice of health professionals, got their booster, but didn’t make drastic changes in their lives
‘Abroad the picture is reassuring. Countries did not see the same impact on hospitals as previous waves when transmission speeds were pushed by BQ.1,” she said.
Her comments came as ABC went into overdrive with an endless stream of articles about the latest wave of the virus.
The broadcaster’s chief health correspondent, Dr. Norman Swan, said Australia was “into the next wave” and warned of more deaths.
‘[Cases are] going, Victoria and NSW 20 percent in the past week, South Australia 27 percent, Tasmania 40 percent,” he told RN Breakfast on Friday.
“It’s very difficult at this point to tell the death statistics, unfortunately they will follow.”
dr. Swan addressed public concerns that rapid antigen testing was less effective at detecting certain strains of virus.
It came when Queensland advised residents to take a test every two days if they live with someone who has tested positive for Covid.
“Some US data suggests that Omicron did indeed degrade the performance of RAT tests,” said Dr Swan.
“It’s anecdotal what you hear from the community. Negative, negative, negative, and then you’re fed up and you go get a PCR, and the PCR is positive.
Most Australian states and territories are sticking to wearing masks, with NSW Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet saying authorities are looking for health experts to strike the right balance
“This is a huge problem, and with BQ.1 and XBB we really need to know what the level of performance is and which brands are doing better than others.”
Meanwhile, Queensland health officer John Gerrard says there is no cause for alarm and Queensland will not return to forced mask mandates.
“We are encountering a new wave here in Queensland, as in other states of Australia, and this is not unexpected, but these waves are likely to last for several months or even longer,” said Dr. Gerrard Friday to ABC Radio.
He said the peak of the wave was expected within weeks.
“The duration of these waves is unclear… we think the peak will definitely be before Christmas, sometime in early December.”
dr. Gerrard said that while precautions were necessary, people should continue their daily routines.
“This is just the means of communication of what is happening with COVID in the community, and this will be going on for months or even years, so people have to get on with their lives.
“But a very specific most important message and that is that people should be aware of their vaccinations.”
Victorian Deputy Prime Minister Jacinta Allan also said there has been no change in health advice in the state, despite a 62 percent increase in cases in the past week (stock image)
Most Australian states and territories are sticking to wearing masks, with NSW Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet saying authorities are looking for health experts to strike the right balance.
“We advise people to wear masks and in hospitals when visiting aged care facilities,” Perrottet told radio 2GB in Sydney on Friday.
‘Here in NSW we are open and free.’
Victorian Deputy Prime Minister Jacinta Allan also said there has been no change in health advice in the state, despite a 62 percent increase in cases in the past week.
But the government did say that face masks remain an inexpensive and highly effective tool for reducing transmission.
“It’s a timely reminder,” Ms. Allen told reporters on Friday.
“It doesn’t matter if you have a cold, the flu or COVID, it just makes sense to stay home when you’re sick.”
The Northern Territory is ‘strong’ encouraging but no longer requires residents to get tested if they feel unwell. Face masks are still recommended in indoor environments.
Professor Adrian Esterman, professor of biostatistics at the University of South Australia, said a mix of waning immunity and few public health measures drove the new wave.
“Many people have had their last dose of vaccine more than six months ago and now have relatively little protection against symptomatic diseases,” said Prof. Esterman.
“It is now up to the other states and territories to follow Queensland’s lead and improve their health advice.”