Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on Australia, with the number of deaths steadily rising in recent months. Halfway through June 2022, there have been 9,058 covid deaths in Australia reported.
Omicron infection in Australia surged and peaked at the start of 2022. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) received and registered a total of 2,639 deaths at the end of January 2022, the majority of which or approximately 97% were due directly to Covid-19. A significant increase from the early days of the pandemic, when only a handful of covid-related deaths were recorded.
The rise in covid deaths has placed immense strain on the healthcare system and is currently a growing concern among Australians, especially during the winter season.
The Coronavirus Disease and How It Spreads
Covid-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus that was first identified in 2019. It is similar to SARS-CoV, the virus that caused the 2002-2004 SARS pandemic.
The virus spreads through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory illnesses spread. People can also become infected by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes. Covid can also spread through close contact with an infected person, such as shaking hands, hugging, or being in close proximity without a mask.
People aged 70+ and/or with chronic diseases have a higher risk of getting infected with Covid-19 and becoming severely ill.
Australia’s Covid-19 Response in Early Pandemic
In the first two years of the pandemic, Australia has been lauded by countries around the world for the effective management and containment of the virus and its earlier variants.
Apart from the land down under geographical advantages, the country responded to Covid-19 by instituting a number of measures to contain the spread of the virus. These included travel restrictions, quarantining of arrivals, social distancing measures, and contact tracing. As a result of these efforts, Australia has been successful in reducing the spread of Covid-19 and has had relatively low numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths.
Sudden Spike of Australian Covid Cases
With 25,000+ new cases on the global board, the number of covid deaths in Australia from the beginning to mid-2022 doubled and surpassed the number of deaths in 2020-2021 combined. NSW, VIC, and QLD have the most number of cases recorded to date. Due to the steep climb of infection, Covid-19 has been reported by ABS in January 2022 as a leading cause of mortality in the country following cancer.
To better understand the live updates published online by the Australian Government Department of Health on their website, the increased Covid-19 mortality is not equivalent to a high death rate but rather refers to the increase of transmissions and active cases.
Explanations for Why Covid-19 Cases Have Been Rising in Australia
Although the emergence of new covid variants and the increase in the number of people being tested (which subsequently resulted in more reported positive cases) are initial factors to look at, we should also take into consideration the role and implementation of public health protocols and government initiatives.
Relaxed Public Health Measures
People may be letting their guard down now that restrictions have eased in many parts of the country. Many have stopped wearing masks in public places and gatherings and some have become ‘unwilling’ to do so.
Low Vaccine Coverage
Not all areas in Australia have reached their target in delivering booster vaccines. There could be several underlying factors such as inadequate and inaccessibility of units to dispense in the locality.
What We Need to Know About Omicron
The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is a more contagious variant of the virus believed to be two to three times more transmissible than the original COVID-19 virus and the Delta variant. The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated Omicron and its predecessors as ‘variants of concern’ with the potential to cause breakthrough infections or reinfections. At this time, there is no evidence that the Omicron variant is more resistant to current vaccines or treatments.
What is Omicron BA.1? BA.2?
BA.1 and BA.2 are subvariants genetically identified as distinct versions of Omicron. BA.1 and another similar version BA.1.1 caused a surge of new cases in mid-January in the United States. Subsequently, the more transmissible BA.2 may be the culprit of the recent surges worldwide.
Are the Symptoms the Same
Omicron infection symptoms to be vigilant of are similar to previous variants. Covid-19 vaccination, age, other health conditions, or a previous infection can contribute to the severity of these symptoms. CDC listed the following to be on the lookout for:
- Fever or chills
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- Nausea or vomiting
- New loss of taste or smell
Reinforce Minimum Health Standards and Protocols
Prevention is still better than cure. Whether at home or in establishments and other public places, it is crucial to put into daily practise good hygiene and healthy living to reduce the detrimental impacts of Covid-19 in Australia.
- Wear a mask. Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze and cough
- Sanitize. Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand rub
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home if you are sick or if you have worsening symptoms
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
- Avoid sharing personal household items
- Wear a mask if you are sick and around other people
- Get vaccinated against the flu. Don’t miss scheduled booster shots.
- Monitor your health closely and seek medical attention if you develop covid-19 symptoms
- Avoid non-essential travel outside of Australia
- Stay up to date with the latest information from Australian health authorities.
Health and Safety Measures for Groups at Greater Risk
The Australian Government Department of Health has published “Advice for groups at greater risk.” This information will greatly benefit aged care providers, caregivers for people with disability and first aiders. Know more about what you can do to minimise risks.
Conclusion. Convert your worries to strengths. Regardless of the level of Covid-19 infection in Australia, it is important for everyone to remain vigilant in following public health advice to help slow the spread of the virus. This includes maintaining good hygiene, wearing a mask when out in public, and keeping physical distancing. If you have any symptoms of Covid-19, get tested and isolate yourself until you receive your results.
If you are interested in taking a first aid course in Australia to prepare yourself for emergency situations at home or in the workplace, contact CPR First Aid, a leading provider of compliant and high-quality first aid courses and training nationwide. The knowledge and skills acquired from a Regular First Aid or Disability First Aid course make a huge difference in quality care and in saving people’s lives. Reach out to us and let’s get you certified in a day!