COVID-19

How Australia is tackling new Covid spike

Health Minister Mark Butler said Australia had “moved beyond” the era of broad measures now that “we are deep into the third year of this pandemic”. He said instead, the message to Australians was to “take responsibility” and make their own choice. It comes as adults as young as 30 become eligible for their fourth shot, with those aged over 50 now urged to roll up their sleeves for another booster. “We need to make sure that people feel that they’re able to take control of their own circumstances in this third year, and that’s why I encourage people to consider wearing a mask if they’re indoors and not able to socially distance,” Mr Butler told ABC News. Australia recorded 43,118 new cases on Thursday and 61 deaths – with a seven-day average of 42 deaths a day.When pressed on whether Australia should “sit back and accept” the rising death toll and high case numbers, Mr Butler said three years in, there was a line to straddle. “We don’t sit back and accept it, which is why we’re boosting hospital capacity and making sure that people are up to date with their vaccinations,” he said. On Thursday, Mr Butler confirmed adults aged over 50 would now be eligible for a fourth Covid-19 vaccination, with adults aged over 30 to have the option to get another booster. With two months of winter still ahead, Mr Butler said it was imperative all eligible Australians came forward to get their boosters. “We have to do everything that we can to re-energise the booster campaign. I said that in the lead-up to the campaign,” Mr Butler said. “Still, there are more than five million Australians who had their second dose more than six months ago but still haven’t had their third dose – that crucial booster that lifts your immunity.“Even if you had Covid earlier this year, that does not protect you from getting Covid again because this new subvariant BA. 4 and BA. 5 will get around the immunity that you may have had over the course of the summer.”On Thursday, the Victorian Health Minister would not rule out a return of a mask mandate, while the Tasmanian Premier “strongly recommended” people wear masks indoors. Queensland’s chief health office revealed some elective surgeries may have to be postponed to make more space in hospitals for Covid patients.

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