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12 January 2022
A regional health leader has responded to a spike in Wimmera COVID-19 cases by stressing a need for vigilance in reducing risks of becoming seriously ill from and-or catching and spreading the virus.
Grampians Public Health Unit specialist Dr Rob Grenfell said vaccination, including booster shots, provided the best way for most people to avoid having serious illness from the disease.
He said avoiding circumstances where there was a potential to catch COVID-19 and for people to isolate even when they suspected they might have the disease and could not get or were waiting for tests or results were good measures to follow.
“The issue we have at the moment is more than simply about catching the disease and isolating – it is how catching the disease and isolating is affecting workforces,” he said.
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“This is happening across various industries including health, which is obviously on the pandemic frontline.
“We are seeing an incredible surge in positive COVID-19 cases across the community. Even though the population is strongly vaccinated and the virus appears to be less severe than previous variants, it is still overwhelming our hospitals – as it has in many other countries around the world.
“For many fully vaccinated people this is a mild disease and the reality remains that the most serious hospitalisations involve people who remain unvaccinated.”
Dr Grenfell said the intensity of the disease varied between individuals, but most people who had two vaccination shots and then a follow-up booster would experience a less-severe response.
“Make sure you get vaccinated and get your booster when you can because feeling unwell for a few days, as tough as it might seem, is better than spending time on a ventilator in intensive care,” he said.
Dr Grenfell said people could also limit the potential of catching or spreading the disease by being cautious.
“If you think you might have COVID-19, you possibly have, and if you can’t get a test take matters into your own hands and self-isolate,” he said.
“And generally, reduce risks by wearing a mask, limit your social contacts and keep your distance.”
Recorded COVID-19 case numbers have skyrocketed since last week, when the State Government made it mandatory for people to report positive results from rapid antigen tests, RAT, to the Department of Health.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has also extended a pandemic declaration for another three months.
He made the declaration after consultation with and consideration of advice from Health Minister Martin Foley and Acting Chief Health Officer Ben Cowie.
Mr Cowie noted Omicron had become the dominant virus strain, estimating it accounted for more than 75 percent of newly diagnosed cases.
The government has listed raising protection levels through third-dose vaccination as a public-health priority and a vaccination blitz for children aged five to 11 is underway.
People can log positive RAT results online at coronavirus.vic.gov.au or via the Coronavirus Hotline 1800 675 398.
The entire January 12, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!