SA COVID-19 cases surge by 50% in just a week, prompting health officials to issue warning

The state has witnessed a startling 50% increase in COVID-19 cases in just one week, coinciding with the onset of end-of-year celebrations.

As South Australia confronts a significant surge in COVID-19 cases, Health Minister Chris Picton is calling on the community to take proactive measures to shield the most vulnerable. The state has witnessed a startling 50% increase in COVID-19 cases in just one week, coinciding with the onset of end-of-year celebrations.

The latest figures, released on Friday, reveal a jump to 2,493 weekly cases from 1,691 the previous week, a stark contrast to the 546 cases recorded in the last week of August. Despite this rise, hospital admissions have remained stable, averaging 30 per week. However, health officials warn of a potential delay in hospitalisations following the spike in cases.

Minister Picton emphasised the importance of vaccination, especially for high-risk groups such as the elderly, those with chronic illnesses, or individuals with compromised immune systems. “With South Australia experiencing a COVID-19 wave as we head into the festive season, we are asking people to take sensible steps to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the community,” Picton stated. He urged those eligible, particularly older individuals or those living in aged care facilities, to get booster shots and consult with their GPs for antiviral treatments.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) now recommends a booster for people aged 75 and older six months after their last booster dose or COVID-19 infection. Additionally, a second booster in 2023 may benefit those with impaired immunity. For the general population, however, the immune memory generated by the vaccine remains adequate.

South Australia is currently dealing with the XBB variant, a recombinant of the Omicron strain, which constitutes the majority of cases. The BA.2.86 variant, also known as Pirola, accounts for less than five percent of current cases and is not driving the current wave.

Vaccines, available through GPs and pharmacies, offer protection against all variants, significantly reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death. High-risk groups are also advised to have a plan with their GP for receiving antiviral treatments if they contract COVID-19.

Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier highlighted the community’s role in mitigating the impact of the virus. “As South Australians, we have the tools to reduce the impact of this current wave, and to protect those we love from severe illness from COVID-19,” she said. Spurrier strongly recommended booster doses for family members in residential aged care who haven’t had a vaccination or COVID-19 infection in the last six months.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild to severe and include a runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever, shortness of breath, fatigue, headache, and muscle aches. Officials remind the public to stay home if sick, even if they test negative for COVID-19, to prevent spreading the infection to those at higher risk.

For more information, South Australians are encouraged to visit the SA Health website and consult the latest ATAGI advice.

As the festive season approaches, the call to action is clear: get vaccinated, stay informed, and take necessary precautions to protect not just oneself but the broader community from the ongoing threat of COVID-19.

For more information visit the SA Health website.
The latest ATAGI advice can be found here.

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