State CHO’s grim third wave warning

Dr Andy Robertson cautioned WA was “almost certainly” going to experience a third wave of the pandemic.“What we’re seeing is BA4 and BA5 rapidly becoming the dominant variants within WA … our numbers have plateaued, they’re now starting to slowly grow again,” he told ABC radio on Thursday.“We could get significant increases in the number of cases we’re having, and unfortunately that will flow into the number of people in hospital and potentially in intensive care.”Dr Robertson said WA could see about 17,000 cases per day when the third wave hits.“We are expecting a significant outbreak to come in the next six weeks or so,” he said.“It is very hard to calculate what those numbers would be … we had an initial peak at around 10,000 and then a further peak at around 17,000 so it’s probably going to be in that sort of ballpark.” It comes as WA Health reported a total of 6387 new infections to 6pm Wednesday, taking the total number of active cases to 31,295 in the state.There are now 240 people with Covid-19 in hospital, including 12 in intensive care.Eight more deaths have also been recorded – a woman and two men aged in their 90s, two women and two men aged in their 80s and one man aged in his 70s.Asked how concerning were BA4 and BA5, Dr Robertson said they were not more severe or transmissible.“They seem to be able to evade the protection from either having had a previous infection with BA2 or having had a vaccine,” he said.Dr Robertson said WA was already seeing increasing reinfection rates.“What we are seeing is an increasing number of people who have been infected with BA2 and then becoming infected (again) after four weeks,” he said.“So maybe six to eight weeks (later) they are developing a second infection and that’s almost certainly either BA4 or BA5.”The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has recommended people aged 50 to 64 receive a winter booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.ATAGI also said people aged 30 to 49 could also receive a winter booster dose but the benefit was less certain.Dr Robertson, who is in the older age bracket, said he would be lining up to get his jab.“I think it is very important to get it,” he said.Dr Robertson said while masks would be encouraged, he did not expect a return to lockdowns.“I don’t think anybody is looking at lockdowns,” he said.“We will continue to look at how this continues to evolve and provide advice to the WA government at that time.“But we are trying to transition to a situation where there is a lot more social responsibility – that people make those decisions … if people are sick, they don’t go to work.”

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