Victorians have been warned of potentially deadly thunderstorm asthma conditions as several regions see extremely high pollen counts on Wednesday.
Parts of the state are set to be hit by severe storms bringing powerful winds and rain from Wednesday onwards as a cold front moves in from the west.
Urgent warnings issued in the morning cautioned residents that the conditions will loosen up pollen, exacerbate hay fever symptoms and possibly lead to asthma attacks.
The Mallee, Wimmera, South West and Northern Country regions are rated in the high-risk category for thunderstorm asthma, while moderate conditions are forecast for Central, North Central and West and South Gippsland areas.
Justin Dunlop, Ambulance Victoria's state health commander, said the bureau had informed him the next two weeks would be the peak of this year's pollen season which runs from October to December.
“These two weeks with the peak pollen is critical,” he said.
“So it’s important if you suffer from hay fever or asthma that you know the symptoms to look for and take your medication.”
Ten people died during or soon after a thunderstorm asthma event in Melbourne on November 21 in 2016, with about 1400 people also treated in hospital.
But what has Melbourne University Pollen Count co-ordinator Associate Professor Ed Newbigin is some people might mistake Covid-19 for thunderstorm asthma and vice-versa.
“Symptoms for hay fever overlap with the symptoms for COVID-19 to an extent, people who are experiencing hay fever today and have never experienced it before should get tested for coronavirus,” he told The Melbourne City News.
“Those with a history of hay fever should take their normal treatment but if symptoms persist go get tested.”
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