COVID-19 hospitalisations up in the west


COVID-19 hospitalisations and community transmissions are increasing in the west due to a new COVID-19 variant, according to Western Health.

The latest quantitative wastewater measures indicate high COVID-19 viral loads in state wastewater and this increase in community transmission is linked to the new variant JN.1 which is causing similar impacts internationally.

Western Health is urging the population to take steps to limit transmission, especially to protect those at greatest risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, including people aged 65 and above, people with a disability or chronic medical condition and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Western Health infectious diseases unit head Dr Marion Kainer said it’s important not to become complacent about COVID-19.

“It is still a serious illness, and infections, particularly repeated ones, have been linked to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes among other serious conditions,” she said.

Western Health suggested six action to protect the community.

Wear a high-quality and well-fitted mask, stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccine which is available at your GP or local pharmacy, let fresh air in by opening windows and doors when you can, get tested if you have symptoms, stay at home if you have COVID-19 for at least five days and until you have no symptoms and take antivirals if eligible.

Dr Kainer said well-fitting P2 or N95 respirators provide excellent protection from infection.

“If you do become infected, masks also make it much less likely that you will infect your loved ones. Wear masks or respirators in indoor areas or outside if crowded,” she said.

“The outdoors is your friend during this time of increased transmissions. The risk of getting infected outdoors is 20 times lower, and doing things outside as much as you can is one of the easiest and most practical ways to keep safe.

“If you’re indoors, open doors and windows as much as possible. If this is not possible due to inclement weather, investing in a HEPA air filter and running it on the highest setting can also reduce the risk of transmission. When traveling in a car, wearing masks or respirators and opening the window, even a little bit, can make a huge difference.”