Australia: too early to tell if the peak of the winter coronavirus wave has passed

Australia’s Health Minister has said it is too early to tell if the peak of the winter coronavirus wave has passed.

Speaking ahead of a meeting with state and territory counterparts on Thursday, Health Minister Mark Butler said he is optimistic the number of new COVID-19 cases each day could fall.

“Certainly the data we’re seeing right now indicates that we might have reached the peak earlier than we expected to,” he said in a press conference in Canberra.

Butler added that “we’re being a bit cautious” about that, because of the school holiday effect, which shows that numbers and transmissions take a slightly different course because of the holidays.

“Hospital numbers pleasingly are down. They’re still high, at about 5,000 across the country but they’re certainly down from the peak we saw a couple of weeks ago,” he said.

Australia’s coronavirus infection rates remained high over recent weeks, with more than two million new cases recorded since the start of June during which more than 3,500 deaths have been reported.

As of Wednesday afternoon, a total of 9,517,174 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Australia, including 12,026 deaths, and approximately 327,464 active cases, according to the latest data from the Department of Health.

On Thursday, there were more than 30,000 new cases reported across the country and more than 80 deaths.

The federal government is urging as many people as possible to get their booster vaccines, with five million eligible Australians yet to receive a third dose.

“I really, really encourage anyone who is eligible for a booster shot, whether it’s a third dose or a fourth dose, get it now, get the vaccine that is in front of you,” Butler said. ■

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