Australia records deadliest Covid-19 day since the start of the pandemic

Angie RaphaelNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

Australia has experienced its deadliest Covid-19 day since the pandemic began, as most of the country nears the expected peak of the Omicron strain.

A total of 77 deaths were reported on Tuesday, although not all of them actually happened overnight.

NSW reported 36 deaths, Victoria had 22 and Queensland recorded 16.

There were also two deaths in South Australia and one in the ACT.

“We know there is a death rate with this disease, as with other infectious diseases,” chief medical officer Paul Kelly told reporters on Tuesday.

“It is much less than it was in previous waves. We know there is less than one per cent here in Australia, but deaths will occur.”

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Camera IconChief medical officer Paul Kelly says ‘deaths will occur’. Gary Ramage / NCA NewsWire Credit: News Corp Australia

Professor Kelly said he had asked his team to take a “very close look” at the deaths that had happened so far during the Omicron wave and would comment further later this week.

“What I do know is that it’s following a similar pattern, so it’s still older people who are most at risk; older people with risk factors that we know about and we know very clearly about now,” he said.

“We do know what to do to prevent those deaths. It won’t always be successful, but we do have treatments now.”

Professor Kelly said the most important thing for people to do is get vaccinated.

He also said he stood by his comments made over the weekend that Australia was “either at or close to the peak of this wave” in most states.

“Some states are lagging a bit further behind,” Professor Kelly said.

“We do know that peaks of the Covid-19 pandemic have a cadence to them.

“They go up, they get to a peak and then they go down – and that is happening. It will happen.”

Amid criticism of the federal government for its rollout of the vaccine in aged care facilities, Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia had “one of the lowest rates of loss of life in aged care facilities in the world”.

“I think that that’s a very significant point,” he told reporters.

NSW has recorded 29,830 new cases, with 2850 people in hospital, including 209 in intensive care.

Victoria has 20,180 new cases, with 1152 people in hospital, of which 127 are in intensive care.

Queensland has reported 15,962 new cases, with 819 people in hospital, including 50 in intensive care.

Tasmania has announced 1310 new cases, with two people in intensive care.

The Northern Territory has revealed 625 new cases, with 43 people in hospital, including one in intensive care.

SA has recorded 3079 new cases, with 285 people in hospital, of which 24 are in intensive care.

The ACT has reported 1860 new cases, with 63 people in hospital, including six in intensive care.

Western Australia has reported 14 new cases, including two local infections. One person is in hospital but not in intensive care.

Infectious diseases expert Sanjaya Senanayake, from the Australian National University, warns the next variant of concern could be just around the corner.

“In the same way that the world was so focused on Delta that Omicron’s emergence took us by surprise, similarly, we should be vigilant for another variant of concern that could surpass Omicron,” he said.

“We always hoped that the next dominant variant of concern would be less virulent – just like Omicron – however, the reality is that we don’t see many viruses that evolve into something less deadly.

“We could have just been lucky with Omicron, and there is no guarantee that the next variant of concern won’t be more deadly and perhaps just as infectious.”

He said the likely sources of a new variant of concern were areas of the world where large populations were unvaccinated, or mutations within an animal, or even a single immunosuppressed person.

“In terms of a vaccine that can address multiple variants, the American military has developed a Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle Covid-19 vaccine,” he said.

“Basically, it is like a round protein with 24 faces, where a spike from different SARS-CoV-2 strains can be attached to each face, thereby giving broader immunity to various strains.”

Phase two of human trials are about to begin.

Rob Grenfell, from the CSIRO, agreed it was likely a new variant would emerge from countries with low immunisation rates and where the virus was able to circulate unabated.

“Even though a new variant of concern is likely to be more infectious and cause less severe disease, we shouldn’t ignore the possibility that a more deadly variant could develop,” he said.

“To prepare for the next variant of concern, we need to develop vaccines that have multiple targets on the virus, particularly enduring sites rather than those, like the spike protein, that regularly change.

“We need to continue to develop therapeutics to counter the virus and the effects of infection, and we also need to finesse our diagnostic pathways.”

Originally published as Australia records deadliest Covid-19 day since the start of the pandemic

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