Queensland records 15pc rise in COVID-19 cases in a week, majority identified as highly infectious BA.2 Omicron sub-variant
Queensland has experienced a 15 per cent jump in COVID-19 cases in the past week with the highly contagious Omicron sub-variant BA.2 spreading mainly among younger people, health authorities say.
The state recorded another nine COVID-related deaths and 8,881 new cases in the latest reporting period — the highest number of new cases since February 2.
There are 252 people receiving treatment in hospital, nine of those are in intensive care.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said authorities were concerned about the state’s low booster and vaccination rates among five- to 11-year-old’s as cases of the sub-variant surge.
“What we’ve seen in the past week is a 15 per cent increase in the number of COVID cases being reported,” Ms D’Ath said.
“It is a timely reminder with cases going up again, that people need to go get vaccinated.
“I’m very pleased with our adult vaccination rates, we are now at 93.28 per cent first dose and 91.49 per cent [second dose].
“But we know that almost 40 per cent of eligible people who are due for their boosters have not got boosted yet.”
Ms D’Ath said the COVID vaccination rate among five- to 11-year-olds was only at 43.15 per cent — a rate she said needed to be higher.
“We are seeing with BA.2 that it’s more of the young people getting this, right from primary [school] age up to 30-year-olds and it is highly contagious,” she said.
Highly infectious BA.2 sub-variant to become ‘dominant strain’
Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said 58 per cent of the samples sequenced in the past two weeks have been identified as the BA.2 sub-variant.
“I think it will be far and away the dominant strain of the virus in Australia within weeks,” Dr Gerrard said.
“It’s a bit more transmissible than BA.1, the initial version of Omicron.
“We have always known that the virus will change, it will mutate and with that, cases will wax and wane.”
Dr Gerrard said pre-school children to 30-year-olds were seeing the highest jump in COVID infections.
“And this reflects the social activity of this age group,” he said.
There are 19 school children in hospital with the virus.
No return to mask mandate
However Dr Gerrard said authorities had no plans to reintroduce a mask mandate or other public health measures in response to the BA.2 variant.
“But people should feel very comfortable to wear a mask if they want to in crowded environments if they wish, including school children.
“This is going to be the pattern probably for months or even years where new variants emerge, minor mutations occur and cases wax and wane and it’s my job to monitor what the effect of that is, particularly on hospitalisations.”
Dr Gerrard said there had been no significant increase in hospitalisations or intensive care admissions.