Omicron ‘Peak’ Is Yet to Come, Says Australia’s Chief Medical Officer

Omicron ‘Peak’ Is Yet to Come, Says Australia’s Chief Medical Officer
Australian Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly addresses the media during a press conference in Canberra, Australia on Dec. 17, 2021. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)
Marina Zhang

Australian Chief Medical Officer (CHO) said that although daily COVID-19 Omicron case numbers are decreasing, the worse has yet to come.

CHO Paul Kelly stated that it would be several weeks before deaths and hospitalisations from the Omicron variant reach their peak, despite plateauing COVID-19 cases.

“We expect death and hospitalisations to continue to rise over the next couple of weeks as we are about to peak in terms of caseloads, particularly in the eastern states,” Kelly told ABC Radio on Wednesday.

“We know from international experience that Omicron rises quickly, it plateaus and then falls quickly, and I fully expect that this will be the experience here in Australia.”

Australia had its highest one-day death toll from the pandemic on Jan. 18, with 77 fatalities reported.

On Tuesday, there were 36 deaths in New South Wales (NSW), 22 in Victoria, 16 in Queensland—more than double its previous high of 7—two in South Australia and one in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

When asked about a possible second peak of Omicron cases, Kelly said that it was possible. But he noted that under the current projections, based on the case numbers, the recent outbreak is showing the typical “Omicron curve” that most other countries had already seen.

“I expect we will continue to see cases of Omicron right throughout the next few months, but it will be at a much lower level than it is now,” Prof. Kelly said.

As of Jan. 18, the Australian federal government will mobilise 57,000 nurses and 100,000 health workers from the private sector in its fight against the Omicron strain of COVID-19.

The agreement was made in April 2020 and makes available private health workers in the event of a critical shortage during the pandemic.

“It’s a workforce which is skilled, planned, appropriate and available,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters on Jan. 18.

“The states and territories will where necessary work directly with the staff and with the hospitals themselves, whether it’s the large part of the private hospital networks and it will be up to the states and territories to activate those, but we have activated them at the Commonwealth end,” he said.

Hunt said the national medical stockpile, including PPE, will also be made available.

However, the CEO of the Australian Private Hospitals Association, Michael Roff, said that the private hospital sector was not informed of this change and still was uncertain of the practical implications of this agreement.

Kelly said that whilst he was not involved in this matter, the announcement Hunt made was “absolutely clear that the private hospitals and their staff under the agreement that had been signed in 2020 are available and assisting right now in both the aged care issue, as well as the public hospital system and backing up those capabilities.”

Marina Zhang is a health writer for The Epoch Times, based in New York. She mainly covers stories on COVID-19 and the healthcare system and has a bachelors in biomedicine from The University of Melbourne. Contact her at [email protected].
Related Topics