news

90,000 cases and 74 deaths: Why aren't we talking about COVID-19 anymore?

If COVID-19 isn't big on your radar at the moment, you're not alone. 

With a national election campaign, cost-of-living crisis, and floods making headlines in recent months, you'd be forgiven if you weren't aware of Australia's high COVID-19 rate. 

But while our minds have been elsewhere, Australia's COVID-19 cases have been bubbling along on an upward trend. 

In fact, our country currently has the highest per capita infection rate in the world excluding the islands of Montserrat, Anguilla and The Falklands. 

With three new sub-variants detected in Australia, and concerns case numbers could rise during winter months, here's what you need to know about the current COVID-19 situation in our country.

How many COVID-19 cases are being reported in Australia?

Over the weekend, more than 90,000 people around Australia reportedly contracted the virus.

On Saturday we recorded over 48,000 new cases and on Sunday there was a slight dip with over 42,000 cases. 

Graph showing daily new COVID-19 cases per million people based on a seven-day rolling average. Image: Our Wold in Data. 

Across the country, New South Wales recorded 9,036 cases on Sunday, Victoria recorded 10,197 and Western Australia topped the states with 12,399. 

ADVERTISEMENT

For Western Australia, this figure was actually a welcome drop, after the state recorded three days of over 15,000 cases earlier in the week. 

They're being warned things may get worse, however, before they get better.

On Friday, WA Chief Health Officer Dr Andy Robertson said cases could reach between 20,000 and 25,000 cases per day before they decline. 

Three new Omicron variants.

Earlier this month, it was reported that three new Omicron sub-variants had been detected in Australia - BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5.

The BA.2.12.1 sub-variant is thought to be more transmissible than Australia's dominant BA.2 Omicron variant and is responsible for about one third of COVID-19 cases in the US, ABC reported.

These new BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants are likely to displace the BA.1 and BA.2 variants across the country. 

"We will need to study this over time to see if their advantage is one of 'fitness/transmissibility' and/or their ability to be more slippery to existing antibodies," said Associate Professor Stuart Turville from the UNSW's Kirby Institute.

"As with all variants, the key parameter to watch is disease severity and this data takes time to accumulate.

"There is still a lot about this virus that is unknown and there are many paths it has the potential to take."

What is Australia's COVID-19 hospitalisation and death rate?

On Sunday, there was almost 3,000 COVID-19 patients in hospitals around the country, including 1,377 in New South Wales, 528 in Victoria and 19 in the Northern Territory.

About 40 people are dying from COVID-19 per day, based off the latest seven-day average.

Over the weekend, Australia reported 74 deaths, with almost 7,800 Australians dying with the virus since the start of the pandemic.

Calls to refocus on COVID-19 after the election. 

Given Australia's current high infection rate, Australian Medical Association vice-president, Chris Moy, says he hopes governments will turn their focus back to COVID-19 after the election. 

Speaking to ABC on Sunday, Dr Moy said a mix of fatigue and complacency had seen the virus shunted from the national spotlight. 

"I think, past the silliness of this election, we do need to refocus," he said. 

"Because this is adding an extra layer of healthcare needs, which is beyond what we've had in the past."

ADVERTISEMENT

Dr Moy warned the health system was also trying to help thousands of Australians suffering from long COVID.

"Which is, I think, something as a community we haven't acknowledged." 

Authorities are also concerned COVID-19 cases will rise with the addition of new-sub-variants and increase in the flu as we head into winter months.

Listen to The Quicky, Mamamia's daily news podcast. Post continues below. 

What are the leaders doing about it?  

Labor leader Anthony Albanese says if he wins the election, he will ramp up the COVID-19 education campaign to encourage people to get their booster shots.

"We are not getting the publicity that we used to get," he told the ABC's Insiders program on Sunday.

Albanese said the government could stop using $1 billion on political advertising spruiking their credentials, including pretending their record on climate is anything other than "abominable".

"What they should do is channel funds into making sure we promote those vaccination rates."

He and half his shadow cabinet have caught COVID-19 during the campaign ahead of this Saturday's election.

"We know the infection is out there, we know that the more people that are vaccinated, the better the health outcomes will be," he says.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison's latest COVID message has been to young people, encouraging them to shed their pandemic blues and return to sports fields.

He has pledged another $20 million for the Sporting Schools program which would see it expanded to include up to 700,000 students in years 9 and 10 if his government is re-elected.

Morrison said Australia was heading into a time of great opportunity, and he and the government were shifting gears to secure them.

"We need to get (children) off those phones and get them on the field," he said. "They can have fun with their devices ... but we want them out there running around."

- With AAP.

Feature Image: Getty/Our Wold in Data/Mamamia.

Do you have a baby or young children? Take this short survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher!