‘Signs of hope’ Omicron has peaked, says Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly | The Canberra Times

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Health Minister Greg Hunt says Australia has reached a 95 per cent first-dose vaccination rate against COVID-19, while there is hope the latest Omicron outbreak has peaked. Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said there were “signs for hope” the outbreaks in NSW and Victoria as well as the ACT, have peaked. “All predictions and now the actual forecasting based on actual numbers of cases, particularly in NSW but also in Victoria and ACT, leads me to believe that we are close to the peak of this wave in terms of cases,” he said, noting infections are likely to be going under-reported. However, Professor Kelly noted the situation in Western Australia “is another story”. “When they do start to get cases it will be later on. But for most of the rest of Australia, we are still on that upward curve, we may be plateauing and then there is a downswing of cases after that,” he said. Prof Kelly also noted there will be a rise in hospitalisations and deaths in the coming weeks but noted the overall rate of severe disease is “extremely low”. READ MORE: Mr Hunt said the milestone for first vaccine doses for Australians aged 16 and older surpassed “almost all possible predictions that were made at the outset of the pandemic”. “That is often referred to as a full vaccination level but we want to go further, we want to continue to encourage Australians to come forward,” Mr Hunt said on Saturday. Some 92.5 per cent of Australians aged 16 and over have had two vaccine doses, while 52.6 per cent had received their booster, including 245,000 people on Friday. More than 250,000 children aged between five and 11 have received their first dose of a vaccine since becoming eligible on Monday, including 57,000 on Friday. Mr Hunt also flagged a decision on the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine – which is not yet available in Australia – is expected by the Therapeutic Goods Administration “in the coming 10 days”. Some 51 million doses of the protein-based vaccine have been ordered by the federal government. NSW recorded 48,768 new COVID-19 cases and 20 deaths on Saturday, while Victoria registered 25,526 infections and 23 deaths. Infectious disease experts have warned people may become reinfected with COVID-19 due to different variants circulating in the community. Epidemiology chair at Deakin University Professor Catherine Bennett says while the majority of cases in the country are linked to the Omicron variant, people are still being infected with the Delta strain. She said people who caught COVID-19 linked to one strain could still get it again from the other. “We know Omicron has higher rates of reinfection, and that was in people who have had Delta,” Professor Bennett told ABC TV. “Even if Omicron doesn’t reinfect after an infection has cleared, you can still have a Delta infection at a party and still be vulnerable to Omicron, so it is still possible to have a reinfection.” Australian Associated Press

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