The state of Queensland in Australia is experiencing an ‘unseasonal’ spike in respiratory infections, prompting a warning from Queensland chief health officer Dr. John Gerrard.
This rise in hospitalisations for respiratory infections, including Covid-19 and influenza, is said to be unusual for this time of year.
Currently, there are 322 Covid-19 patients and 66 influenza patients in Queensland hospitals.
The Covid-19 hospitalisations increased in mid-October, remained constant in November, and rose again in December, noted Gerrard.
The current number of Queenslanders hospitalised with Covid-19 is four times more compared to mid-October, he added.
Though influenza hospitalisations are below winter levels, the summer increase is ‘unusual’.
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Last week, there were 2,162 reported cases of Covid-19 and 836 cases of influenza.
The total number of influenza cases this year is over 73,000, surpassing the 44,431 cases recorded last year.
Besides, Dr. Gerrard higlighted a threefold increase in positive Mycoplasma tests since late November, a trend not seen since before the pandemic.
This surge in cases aligns with similar patterns experienced in the Northern Hemisphere recently.
Dr. Gerrard attributes the current surge in respiratory infections to two main factors – the increase in social gatherings leading up to Christmas and the influx of travellers from both interstate and abroad.
Additionally, he urges people to practice good hand hygiene, avoid sick friends and family during festive gatherings, and emphasises the vulnerability of older adults and young children.
He also issued a reminder to Queenslanders aged above 65 years to receive a Covid-19 booster if they have not done so this year.
Similar to Australia, China has recently seen an increase in respiratory illnesses as it entered its first full winter since easing Covid-19 restrictions, according to Reuters.
Responding to this, China’s health ministry advocated for the establishment of additional fever clinics.