Virus stats to reveal rule change effects

A week after isolation rules were reduced from seven days to five, national data for the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Australia is set to be released. 

It will be the first time the latest data is available after the federal government took a national approach to the way virus figures are reported.

Previously, health authorities in each state published daily numbers of cases and deaths. 

The new reporting method was announced after national cabinet decided to reduce the isolation period for COVID-19 patients from seven to five days. 

However, only those without any symptoms are permitted to leave isolation after the shorter time frame and health experts expect this to keep the number of new infections low. 

“With no symptoms you are much less likely to still be infectious,” epidemiologist and biostatistics professor Adrian Esterman told AAP. 

“I don’t think the recent changes to isolation rules will have much impact on transmission.” 

But independent MP Monique Ryan is concerned the federal government has moved too quickly to change virus rules. 

Dr Ryan, who was the neurology director at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital before entering parliament, wants a national summit on COVID-19 to discuss a plan in the event of increased infections and pressure on hospitals. 

She said people working in the aged, disability, child and health care sectors feel left behind to deal with the ongoing impact of the virus while the rest of the nation tries to move on.

“I’m really concerned that we’re in the process of dismantling all of the controls (and) the mitigation strategies about COVID at a time when, in fact, we’ve got more COVID in our community than we ever had before,” Dr Ryan told Sky News on Thursday. 

“I’m calling for a rejigging of the conversation in light of the fact that COVID hasn’t gone away and it’s not going to go away in the next six to 12 months.”

As the northern hemisphere approaches winter, Dr Ryan is concerned Australia will be left vulnerable to new virus strains because of reduced health measures.

Prof Esterman said a new subvariant of the Omicron virus mutation was spreading in England and he would not be surprised if Australia saw a similar wave forming in November.


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