6 July 2022

ACT records 1477 new COVID cases; ATAGI discussing fourth-dose vax

| Lottie Twyford
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Mass vaccination centre

ATAGI is meeting today to discuss the merits of expanding the eligibility criteria for fourth-dose vaccinations to the general public. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The ACT has reported 1477 (817 PCR and 660 RAT) new COVID-19 infections in the 24 hours to 8 pm yesterday as ATAGI is set to meet today to discuss providing fourth dose COVID-19 vaccinations to the general public.

Today’s tally is the highest number of daily cases recorded in the ACT since 18 January when ACT Health reported 1860 cases at the peak of the first Omicron wave.

A similar caseload – 1458 – was reported last Wednesday (29 June).

Health authorities have warned of an uptick in cases driven by the spread of the BA.4 and BA.5 variants of Omicron, which are believed to be more transmissible than previous strains and better at evading immunity from vaccines and prior infections.

There are now 7354 (3825 PCR and 3529 RAT) active infections in the Territory and 135 people are in ACT hospitals.

Five people are in the ICU but no one requires ventilation. It’s also the highest ICU admissions have been since 1 June.

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A total of 164,870 (98,407 PCR and 66,463 RAT) COVID-19 cases have been recorded since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Yesterday, there were 136 people in hospital and the Territory recorded 1199 new infections.

The double-dose vaccination rate for the ACT’s five-plus population remains 97.4 per cent and 77.4 per cent of residents aged 16 and older have received a booster.

Of ACT residents aged five to 11, 69.1 per cent have received two doses of vaccine.

Brad Hazzard

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said it was his view that fourth COVID-19 doses should be offered to the general public. Photo: Screenshot/NSW Health.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) will meet today to discuss making a fourth COVID-19 shot available to the general population as immunity from previous vaccination and infection wanes.

In its most recent statement, the group said it will continue to review information, including epidemiology and variant-specific vaccines for COVID-19 in the coming weeks.

“ATAGI continues to emphasise the importance of remaining up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations by receiving the primary course and one or two booster doses according to eligibility,” it read.

“Recommendations may be updated as required.”

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard confirmed yesterday it was his view access to a fourth dose should be expanded to the general population.

He criticised people who have yet to get their third dose of COVID-19 vaccine, describing them as “crazy”.

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NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant confirmed the state is in the midst of a third wave of COVID-19 infections, driven by a surge in the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron.

She predicted the wave would peak in late July or early August.

Similar to the ACT’s health authorities, Dr Chant noted this wave would be complicated by the fact that diseases like influenza and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus, a virus that causes respiratory infections) were also on the rise but that hospitalisations would be similar to those seen in late January during the BA.1 wave.

She reiterated Mr Hazzard’s comments that two doses were no longer adequate to protect people against severe disease.

“Disregard anything we said about two doses. It’s three doses or more,” Dr Chant said

A fourth dose is available for immunocompromised people, those over 65, residents of aged care and disability facilities, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over 50.

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Interstate, NSW has reported 10 deaths overnight and 13,775 new cases of COVID-19.

There are now 1822 people in hospital with the virus and 64 people in ICUs around the state.

Victoria has reported 23 deaths overnight and 10,056 cases of COVID-19.

There are now 523 people hospitalised with the virus and 29 patients are in the state’s intensive care units.

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