Queensland’s COVID-19 hospitalisations have jumped by more than 20 per cent in the past week, with another 15 deaths recorded.
More than 10,100 positive COVID tests have been logged in the state during the seven days to Wednesday, up more than 73 per cent from the previous week.
Of the 245 people in Queensland hospitals on Wednesday with COVID-19, five were in intensive care — four down on last week.
Mater Health’s director of infectious diseases Paul Griffin said fewer people required intensive care during the fourth Omicron wave in Queensland, compared to previous waves.
“We’re not seeing the intensive care units filling up,” Dr Griffin said.
Dr Griffin said complacency was still the biggest issue.
Queensland lags on third dose of COVID vaccine
Queensland has the lowest percentage of eligible people who have received a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine of any state at 65.2 per cent — much lower than the next worst state, NSW, which has 70.3 per cent.
Only 45.7 per cent of eligible Queenslanders aged 30 and older have received a fourth dose.
COVID vaccination is also low among Queensland children with just 44.5 per cent of five to 15-year-olds receiving the recommended two doses — the lowest in the nation.
“I think people are just really tired of COVID and don’t really want to hear about the fact that we’re in another wave,” Dr Griffin said.
“The impact of this wave, and subsequent waves, is going to be greater than it needs to be if we don’t get some of these basics right.
“I’d really just like to see some improvements in things like vaccination uptake, testing, people isolating when they’re unwell … so that we can keep this wave under control as well as reduce the burden of subsequent waves.
“Despite what some people are trying to say, the virus certainly hasn’t gone away.”
Dr Griffin said while the risk for severe disease was higher in the elderly and people with chronic health conditions, it could still occur in the young and fit.
“I think that point’s been lost on a lot of people,” he said.
Arduous process for antivirals
The infectious disease physician called for streamlining access to anti-viral medications moving forward.
“Strictly speaking, you need a laboratory-based PCR or a medically supervised rapid antigen test (RAT), which still is something that nobody really knows where to get,” Dr Griffin said.
“If you have to contact a doctor to get a PCR test … waiting for that result and then contact a doctor again to get a prescription for the antivirals and then contact a pharmacist — that’s a fairly arduous process with inherent delays.
“We know those antivirals work best if they’re initiated early.
“I’ve been suggesting that the highest-risk people probably should have a COVID plan where they work out the quickest way to get all those things done before they get COVID so it can happen quickly.”
Dr Griffin said COVID-19 antiviral drugs worked best if they were initiated within 48 to 72 hours of symptoms developing.
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