’Three doses or more’: New Covid advice

Health authorities have made a fresh plea for residents to “go back to basics” following the detection of five new Covid variants sweeping the state. Hospitalisations are set to peak again at the end of this month and into August – prompting a fresh plea from health officials to get a booster shot. “We predict hospitalisations will be similar to BA. 1 in January,” NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said. Dr Chant said the virus had “changed” and the newer BA. 4 and BA. 5 variants needed three or four vaccines for protection. “Disregard anything we’ve said about two doses. It’s three doses or more,” she said.NSW hospitals are under extreme pressure after the state recorded 10,504 cases and 1782 hospitalisations on Tuesday. There are 58 patients in intensive care with Covid-related cases. There have been 14 deaths in the last 24-hour reporting period. Sixty-eight per cent of people in NSW have been triple vaccinated amid flu and respiratory illnesses spreading wildly throughout the state.Health Minister Brad Hazzard said figures show 56 per cent of Covid-related deaths this year involved people who have had two or fewer doses of a vaccine.According to data from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, people who are triple vaccinated have 65 per cent greater protection against hospitalisation or death from Omicron than just two jabs. The data comes as calls for a fourth jab grow stronger. The Therapeutic Goods Administration is considering an application from Moderna for a new booster shot that targets the B. 4 Omicron variant.Dr Chant said she would support the national vaccine advisory group ATAGI on passing a fourth jab when she meets with them on Wednesday.The federal government has warned elderly people to speak with their GP about antiviral medication following the confirmation of 14 positive Covid cases at an aged care facility in Victoria. “St Basil’s Home for the Aged is experiencing a Covid-19 outbreak and is being provided with a range of commonwealth supports, including onsite infection prevention and control,” a federal Department of Health and Aged Care spokeswoman said.The 14 cases recorded on July 2 were out of the 60 residents living at the aged care home in Fawkner. In 2020, 45 elderly patients died from a Covid outbreak at St Basil’s. During that outbreak, 94 residents and 94 staff tested positive to the virus. The nursing home was charged on Monday with nine breaches of Occupational Health and Safety Act after it allegedly failed to provide a safe work environment for its staff in 2020. Dr Chant encouraged residents to “do the little things” such as stay home when unwell, test if you have symptoms and stay up to date with vaccinations. “Face masks, hand hygiene, staying home when ill, testing yourself when symptoms present, physically distancing … all these measures are not new to us,” Dr Chant said.“Unless we pull together as one again, this new wave will hit schools and businesses hard, just like BA. 1 did, which saw thousands of workers absent.”The only restriction in place in the state is mandatory mask wearing on public transport.

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