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Just when we thought the peak of Omicron was over - just like in a telenovela, surprise! It has a twin!
The new Omicron sub-variant, which has been dubbed BA.2, is already hurling its way across the nation.
Yesterday (March 10), NSW recorded 16,288 new infections, which was 3,000 cases more than the previous day and the highest number since January.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said preliminary data from the University of NSW indicated that cases are expected to 'more than double' within six weeks due to the new variant.
COVID-19 update – Thursday 10 March 2022— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) March 9, 2022
In the 24-hour reporting period to 4pm yesterday:
- 95.9% of people aged 16+ have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
- 94.4% of people aged 16+ have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine pic.twitter.com/mKJw41fQMX
Mr Hazzard also said that BA.2 might be a lot more infectious in the community than BA. 1; however, there is still a lot unknown about the new strain.
"It's very preliminary and we need to do a lot more digging," he said. "But we are concerned at this point that BA.2 is amongst us and overtaking BA.1."
The Health Minister expressed at the budget estimates hearing his concern that many people have become complacent with their booster Covid-19 vaccine, as only 56.3 per cent of people have received the jab.
"While the community may have gone to sleep on the virus, the virus has not gone to sleep on the community," he said.
"The virus can still wreak havoc if we don't go out there and go and get our boosters fast."
Victoria has recorded eight Covid-19 related deaths, with five deaths in Queensland, four in NSW and South Australia and one in the Northern Territory.
According to the Danish research institute Statens Serum Institute (SSI), many countries in Europe, such as Denmark, Sweden and Norway, are also experiencing a significant increase in cases.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says studies suggest the new variant is a ‘sublineage’ and is a lot more contagious than the first strain of Omicron.
In late February, The WHO issued a statement saying: “The Omicron variant of concern is currently the dominant variant circulating globally, accounting for nearly all sequences reported to GISAID. Omicron is made up of several sublineages, each of them being monitored by WHO and partners.”
However, despite being more transmissible, UNSW School of Population associate professor James Wood said there is no ‘real evidence’ to suggest the new variant is more lethal than BA. 1.
"Denmark hasn't experienced a surge in deaths … I'd say it's similar," he said. "We can expect a rise in hospitalisations and intensive care … (but) we have progress in booster coverage — that's the sort of thing that will help keep severe disease down."
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