COVID cases set to spike as schools return

Georgie Moore |

Federal, state and territory leaders expect COVID-19 infections to spike as schools return for the year.

No decision has been made about whether to change the definition of full vaccination to require a third dose as Australia’s immunisation advisory group continues to consider the issue. 

But it would be up to individual states and territories to update their respective public health orders.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews earlier suggested Thursday’s national cabinet could agree to change the definition of full vaccination to cover three doses.

Leaders told Thursday’s meeting they anticipated daily infection tallies to rise as schools went back and student surveillance testing began.

They also reported decreased pressure on hospital admissions and intensive care units.

The Australian head of pharma giant Moderna thinks Australia is hitting the peak of its Omicron wave. 

“The question is, well what’s going to happen when schools do go back? What will happen when we come into the colder months of the year?” managing director Michael Azrak told AAP.

“Just looking back over the last three weeks, from pre-Christmas to where we are now, the data and the numbers do seem to indicate that we are at a peak.

“Is going to be a very steep drop off? I just don’t know.”

National cabinet agreed not to change the definition of who was considered an essential worker for now, despite urging from the retail sector to extend isolation exemptions.

Premiers and chief ministers agreed to consider any recommendations should they be provided by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.

NSW on Thursday reported 29 virus-related deaths and 117,316 cases, while Victoria recorded 13,755 new COVID-19 cases and 15 more deaths.

There were another 15 deaths and 11,600 cases in Queensland, while South Australia recorded 13 more deaths and 1953 cases

The ACT racked up 884 new infections, Tasmania 726 and the Northern Territory 626.

Australia has recorded 3402 virus deaths since the start of the pandemic alongside more than 1.8 million infections.