SA braces for rise in COVID-19 infections

·2-min read

South Australia is bracing for a rise in COVID-19 cases in coming weeks following the arrival of the latest Omicron variants.

A number of BA.4 and BA.5 cases have already been detected in SA, with new modelling suggesting those numbers will increase significantly, along with a small rise in hospitalisations.

The peak in daily cases of between 4000 and 5000 is expected to hit SA about July 12.

Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said the modelling was probably the most uncertain ever provided, with the total number of infections across the community and the ongoing impact of vaccinations adding to the complexity.

Professor Spurrier said the modelling also did not take into account the growing use of antiviral treatments, which could reduce hospitalisations.

"But what is clear is there is a reasonable certainty that we will have another peak in the next month," she said.

"The actual size of that peak, there's a lot of uncertainty around that."

In light of the latest modelling, Premier Peter Malinauskas said the current COVID-19 restrictions in SA would remain in place.

They are limited, but require positive cases to isolate for seven days and for close contacts to get regular testing and wear masks.

Masks also remain a requirement in certain areas including health and aged care facilities and on public transport.

"This is what we are going to see over the course of the months and potentially years ahead," the premier said.

"Case numbers will go up, case numbers will go down and we are to be equipped to be able to handle that circumstance."

"The prospect of case numbers going back up again is something that as policy makers we have to be conscious of and turn our minds to and it's important that South Australians do too."

SA reported 2270 new infections on Tuesday along with 11 deaths with some of those dating back to February.

There are 230 in hospital with nine in ICU.

The state's case numbers have been dropping slowly in recent weeks and dipped below 2000 on Sunday for the first time since early March.

Health Minister Chris Picton said hospitals remained under considerable strain, not just because of COVID-19 but because of flu infections and other winter demand.

He said the government had opened every bed available across the public system and was also using more beds in private hospitals.

Some non-urgent elective surgery has also been cancelled.

The minister said there were plans to increase capacity further but that would take time.

"As much as we'd like it to be the case, the pandemic is not over," he said.

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