Alarm raised as Vic Covid deaths set to soar

“The Department of Health anticipates the prevalence of BA.4/BA.5 in Victoria is likely to result in an increase in cases – including reinfections – and hospital admissions and deaths. “This is because the strain has a greater ability than BA.2 to evade immunity provided by vaccination and earlier Covid-19 infection,” the government said on Friday night.Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 are likely to become the dominant strains in Victoria.It comes as fears grow Queensland could reintroduce mask mandates, as its Covid wave worsens.Queensland’s chief health officer Dr John Gerrard has confirmed the reintroduction of mandatory masks is “being discussed” nationally.Dr Gerrard said a number of his interstate colleagues had flagged the possibility of once again asking people to mask up to slow the spread.“I can say that nationally, there is increasing pressure, there is a school of thought that we should be mandating masks again,” he said.The prevalence of Omicron stealth strains BA.4/BA.5 in Victorian metropolitan and regional wastewater catchments has recently soared, showing growing transmission of the worrisome variants in the community.There were currently 472 Covid cases in hospital in Victoria; with 15 active cases in ICU, including five on a ventilator, the Victorian department of Health said on Friday night.More than 8000 new cases were recorded across the state on Thursday, and tragically, 12 Victorians died.“This is in line with similar patterns in NSW and Queensland where both states have seen a significant rise in the number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 during June,” the department said.“Masks are strongly recommended in shared indoor settings; if you can’t physically distance; or you are with those more vulnerable to Covid-19. Improve ventilation by opening doors and windows, using fans or purifiers, and gathering outside where possible.“Face masks are still required for everyone aged 8 and above in some locations, including on public transport, ride shares and taxis, and in sensitive settings such as hospitals and care facilities. They are also required by household contacts in quarantine who meet the criteria for leaving home.”Mask mandatesVictoria’s state-commissioned services have administered 6,280,175 vaccine doses so far, with 833 doses administered yesterday at state-run centres.Victorians aged 16 and over have a 68.4 percentage of three doses of a Covid-19 vaccine whereas 94.6 per cent of Victorians aged 12 and over have had two doses.

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