Will COVID Be the Grinch That Steals Christmas Again?

It goes without saying, but Mr. COVID is just the worst. He’s a mass murderer, he locked me in my house for over 100 days, and he doesn’t know when to leave the party. 

Moreover, the COVID pandemic is currently taking a turn for the worse in Australia. This can be demonstrated by going over the following facts:

  1. Queensland is now up against its fourth wave of the COVID pandemic. During the past week, hospitalisation levels have more than doubled.
  2. Victoria has also been hit with another wave of the spicy cough.  The state’s case numbers have jumped up by 63%. 
  3. South Australia’s cases have skyrocketed up by over 3000 infections.
  4. In NSW, Tangara School for Girls has closed, with one-third of its staff getting COVID. Additionally, a new wave has been announced, with cases going up by a nasty 40%.
  5. Even Canberra has been hit with a wave. As of November 10, the state recorded 1194 new cases within a seven day period. Its case numbers increased by 30%.

Suffice it to say, this situation isn’t great. Nobody wants to end the year with this sort of bang.

But why are these COVID waves happening? Will yet another Christmas be ruined by this Grinch? Whelp, let’s dive into these Qs now:

Why Is Australia Being Smashed With COVID Waves?

There are a multitude of reasons for our current COVID conundrum. First of all, most people’s vaccine immunity is waning, and there are basically no public health measures across the states. 

As Professor Adrian Esterman, Chair of Biostatistics at the University of South Australia, said, “Many people have had their last dose of vaccine over six months ago, and by now have comparatively little protection against symptomatic disease. At the same time, we have little or no public health measures in place to put a brake on transmission.”

What’s more, there is a whack of new Omicron variants in Australia. A soup of BA.1, BA.2, BA.4, BA.5, BA.2.75, BQ.1, BR.2, and XBB have been slopped across the country. 

Recently, the Australian Government has been discussing the fact that two of these new subvariants in particular could drive up our case numbers.

“We are seeing an increase in COVID-19 case numbers in Australia, reflecting community transmission of the Omicron variant XBB. We are also closely monitoring the overseas transmission of a second Omicron variant: BQ.1,” said the Australian Government’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly.

“The overseas experience is that these new variants have driven increases in case numbers, and hospitalisations at a rate proportionate to these increases, because of their ability to evade the immunity provided by prior infection and vaccination.”

Should Aussies Start Working From Home?

Multiple experts have stated that working from home schemes were a fast, easy, and effective way of limiting how COVID spreads.

For instance, an infectious diseases expert, Dr. Paul Griffin said, “I think, particularly where the job includes being in proximity to large numbers of people, that it would be wise whenever transmission increases to work from home at least for a proportion of time.”

“It’s a simple strategy that we’re probably going to recommend periodically whenever we encounter these waves as they continue.”

Related: Who Needs to Get The New Omicron Booster Vaccine

Related: Queensland’s Been Smashed With a Fourth COVID Wave

Will These COVID Waves Impact Christmas?

UNSW’s Associate Professor, James Wood, believes that the current COVID waves should be over before the start of the silly season. 

“I expect that we will see a short sharp wave, similar to the recent one in Singapore, with a peak by the end of November,” said Wood. 

Kelly has also reflected this sentiment when discussing Australia’s most recent outbreaks.

He said, “We’ve seen these same variants go to other countries, most recently Singapore. They had a quick, sharp wave of cases but not a lot else, and then they’ve moved on.”

“I think that’s probably where we will be. We have very high hybrid immunity at the moment from both previous infection and vaccine, so we are in a good place.”

How Can I Stay Safe During These Waves of COVID?

Kelly has three pieces of advice for those of us who don’t want to get COVID. Ergo, Kelly has some advice for all of us.

To begin, make sure you’re double-vaxxed and boosted up. This is because having three or four jabs will increase your COVID immunity in the coming months. 

“Vaccination is your best protection against getting severely ill or dying from COVID-19. And evidence from overseas indicates vaccination reduces the prevalence of symptoms associated with long COVID,” said Kelly.

This man has also recommended taking a mask with you when leaving the house. 

“If you’re at indoor public places or in crowded settings, a mask can help protect you and reduce the chance of infecting others. It’s a simple, sensible way to add another layer of protection and contribute to our collective effort to slow the spread of the virus.”

Last but not least, Kelly has stated that you shouldn’t leave your home if you’re sick with COVID. Unfortunately, this one should go without saying.

“If you have tested positive or are not feeling well, stay at home until the symptoms have passed. If you do have to leave your house, wear a mask and avoid going to any high-risk settings, including hospitals, and aged and disability care facilities,” said Kelly.

“Through these three measures, you can make a significant contribution to protecting yourself, your family and friends, and the wider community against these new COVID-19 variants.”

Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.