COVID-19 infections in Australia likely ‘double’ of what’s being reported, health minister warns

Health Minister Mark Butler says COVID-19 infections in Australia are anticipated to be double the number in official data as the country faces a winter wave of the virus.
Mr Butler said around 300,000 cases had been reported in the past seven days as cases rise in response to the surge in infections.
“The Chief Health Officer and I are confident the real number is likely to be more than double that,” he told reporters.

“We are seeing hundreds and hundreds of Australians infected every single week in this wave.”

It comes as Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told Australians to do what they can to limit the virus’s spread in response to new COVID-19 subvariants.
Medical experts have encouraged mask wearing to help limit transmission and are now calling on employers to consider the feasibility of employees working from home.
Professor Kelly said the challenge of new Omicron subvariants circulating in the community “poses a significant new threat”.
“The reason for that is because it’s much more infectious than earlier variants,” he said.

“We need to do that collectively to slow the spread of virus as well as to protect the vulnerable and to protect our health system.”

Medical authorities have also continued to encourage take up of booster vaccine doses for those eligible to update their vaccination status.
Over last seven days 550,000 Australians have had their fourth dose — with most of those over the age of 50.
But Mr Butler added that only about 50,000 people had taken up a third dose over the same time period, with up to five million Australians eligible.
He said the third dose rate “isn’t shifting fast enough”.
“I strongly urge people who are eligible for a third dose but have not yet had it to go out and get that booster,” he said.

There are currently around 5,200 Australians with COVID-19 in hospital.

COVID-19 vaccine for under fives clears hurdle

Mr Butler also revealed a .

But he stressed that this remained only the “first step” in the process of approving the product that has only commenced usage in the United States in recent weeks.

The vaccines must now be considered by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation before children could access them.
“There is no action yet that can be taken by parents or should be taken to seek to make an appointment or otherwise,” he said.
“There are still a number of steps yet that need to be secured before we are in a position to make available this vaccine.”
He also said global supply of the specific vaccine remained “very limited” with his department in active negotiations with Modern to secure doses.

“I want to stress again that there is very limited supply of this Moderna product which is a different product to the product made available to other age cohorts.”

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