SA COVID-19 hospitalisations surge

·2-min read

The number of people in hospital in South Australia with COVID-19 has surged to record levels as the new Omicron variants continue to take hold across the state.

SA Health on Monday said 306 people were in hospital with the virus, an increase of more than 70 since Thursday last week, and the first time the number has gone above 300.

Of those in hospital, 11 were being treated in intensive care.

The increase also came as the state braced for an expected peak in the current wave of infections this week.

Recent modelling suggested daily case numbers would peak as high as 6000 during the current wave, though officials conceded there was some uncertainty with the numbers.

SA Health reported 4053 new virus cases on Monday, while latest genome sampling indicated more than 65 per cent of SA's cases were now the new BA.4 and BA.5 strains.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the latest wastewater testing had also picked up more evidence of the virus than would be expected from the level of reported cases.

"It does make me a bit concerned that there may be cases that are not being picked up in our community," she said.

Professor Spurrier said she expected hospital admissions to go higher again, given the lag between a rise in cases and hospitalisations.

That would continue the pressure on the state's hospital system, she said.

The state's Emergency Management Council is due to meet on Tuesday, but is unlikely to impose any increased restrictions such as widespread mask mandates.

However, the government has strongly advised people wear masks in most indoor settings.

"We've got to see how the public reacts to this rather than jumping in at the deep end and getting very heavy-handed," Professor Spurrier said.

"In South Australia to bring in a mask mandate we would have to declare another statewide emergency.

"So at this stage, let's see how we go with all of the messaging."

Also on Monday, the government rolled out a new service to help keep young children with respiratory illnesses out of hospital.

Adelaide's Women's and Children's Hospital will provide an at-home service for a range of conditions.

"This is yet another way we can reduce pressure on our hospitals during winter," Health Minister Chris Picton said.

"We're now ramping that service up to provide care for more kids in our community."

Mr Picton said the government had further committed an extra $6 million to hire 10 more clinicians for its virtual care service for children.

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