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‘Minefields’: Christmas gatherings could spike COVID-19 cases across Australia

Fergus EllisNCA NewsWire
Aussies are being warned of a further Covid spike ahead of Christmas celebrations this year. NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerar
Camera IconAussies are being warned of a further Covid spike ahead of Christmas celebrations this year. NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerar Credit: News Corp Australia

Aussies have been warned Covid-19 cases could spike during Christmas celebrations this year.

Reported cases have surged to start December, with 6685 cases alerted to the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System through to Friday.

NSW and Queensland have the highest number of cases this month, with 2125 and 1493 cases respectively.

Notified cases nearly doubled from October to November and Mater director of infectious diseases Paul Griffin said Covid-related hospitalisations had almost tripled.

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Dr Griffin said the rise in figures threatened to balloon even further during the Christmas period, labelling social events as “minefields” for the spread of Covid-19.“Family gatherings, office Christmas parties, visits to older relatives, school holidays activities and other social events are all Covid transmission minefields – and the consequences of infection are potentially deadly, especially for our most vulnerable,” he said.

Those most at high risk, people aged over 65 and those who are immunocompromised, have been urged to seek out a 2023 booster vaccination.

“People aged 65 to 74 – and those aged 18 to 64 at high risk – should consider a 2023 booster if they haven’t had one already,” Dr Griffin said.

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Camera IconAussies are being warned of a further Covid spike ahead of Christmas celebrations this year. NCA NewsWire/ David Crosling Credit: News Corp Australia
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Camera IconThose aged over 65 and those vulnerable to Covid have been urged to get vaccinated ahead of Christmas. NCA NewsWire Credit: News Corp Australia

Dr Griffin said there had been an information saturation of Covid-19 over the past two years, but it was still important to remember the presence and ease of transmission of the virus, especially ahead of Christmas.

“This virus is not going anywhere, and we all need to be vaccinated,” he said.

“Don’t stress about the numbers or the subvariants – just understand the risk of transmission has increased.

“At this time of year, there are significant behaviour changes as we become more social, travel more and encounter more people than we would at other times of year, increasing our risk.”

Chief medical officer Paul Kelly said Australia was in the midst of its third wave this year and while the number of cases should subside, the festive season threatened a further spike.

“Earlier this year I think we talked about what my predictions were for 2023 and I said we would probably have two to three waves, and this is our third one for this year,” Professor Kelly told the ABC on Thursday.

He said if people were worried about passing on the virus to vulnerable family members over the holidays, wearing a mask was a “good idea.”

“If you are sick and you’re concerned about passing (Covid-19) on to more vulnerable relatives, for example going and visiting granny in an aged care facility over Christmas … wearing a mask to protect older relatives is a good idea,” he said.

He added that the government was not looking to introduce compulsory mask wearing.

Originally published as ‘Minefields’: Christmas gatherings could spike COVID-19 cases across Australia

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