Queensland's Chief Health Officer says there is "increasing pressure" nationally to return a mask mandate.
Will there be restrictions?
8,407,648 COVID cases have been reported, and COVID-related deaths have been steadily increasing all over the country in recent months, with the daily death count reaching its highest level since February. There are currently 3,272 COVID patients in hospitals across Australia, with many more expected. Authorities have warned people of a third COVID-19 wave, which will be driven by two new variants, BA.4 and BA.5, which are expected to put a strain on the health system. The new covid wave is unsurprising given the changing seasons and climate, as well as the expectation of new variants for months, if not years.
The federal-state has established no changes in preparation for the upcoming wave. Although Authorities are concerned about the next phase of the ongoing pandemic, there is a discussion about whether mask mandates are necessary or whether people are prepared to move towards more self-regulation and self-responsibility, being citizens keeping up with their vaccines. Doctors and health officials are worried about the number of people who are not up to date with their vaccines as mask mandates are being discussed. People over the age of 65 and those with compromised immune systems should receive a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to avoid severe illness and hospitalisation.
What do we know about the variants?
The variants that are spreading have been considered to be particularly nasty since they can evade immunity, whether through vaccination or natural infection. These strains are thought to be the most contagious yet. The ability of the variant to evade immunity increases the likelihood of reinfection. Reinfection is defined as a new infection that occurs at least 12 weeks after the initial infection. This gap exists because many infected people continue to shed virus particles even after they have recovered. However, some unfortunate people develop a new infection within the 12-week period and are thus not counted. Tens of thousands of Australians are likely to be infected for the second or third time, and the number will only grow with BA.4 and BA.5.