Winter COVID restriction return flagged

A leading infectious disease expert has warned state governments may need to reintroduce COVID-19 restrictions in the upcoming winter.

It comes as jurisdictions begin to consider winding back COVID measures as case numbers begin to ease from the Omicron variant.

Victorian officials are meeting on Thursday to determine which restrictions can be lifted, with the possibility of winding back QR check-ins and density limits.

Professor Peter Collignon from the Australian National University said the moves were appropriate given the high levels of vaccination, but indicated colder months could bring with it a return to restrictions.

“We will have to reconsider what happens in winters, we are likely to get another wave in winter,” he told the Nine Network on Thursday.

“It;s appropriate (to ease restrictions now) as we have high levels of vaccination and there will be less spread for the next few months, but we will have to reconsider what happens in winters.”

Despite the potential for relaxed restrictions, Professor Collignon said it was not a cause for people to become complacent about COVID-19.

“The virus is going to be here for years to come, the only good news is, with vaccination, we as individuals are much less at risk than we were before,” he said.

“The virus will circulate for years to come but it will be at different stages, we will probably get worse waves in winter.”

It comes as Australia’s leading vaccine advisory group told Senate estimates four or five doses can’t be ruled for Australians to be up to date with the COVID jab.

Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation chair Nigel Crawford said his organisation would continue to monitor data from countries administering four doses.

Countries like Israel have already recommended a fourth dose and we need to look at that international data and see the impact, and what the new variant vaccines look like,” he said.

“ATAGI is constantly reviewing the evidence … that advice may change over time. It is a possibility but there’s no current recommendation to that effect.”

It comes after new guidelines were issued last week by the advisory body, with people who have received their booster dose now considered as “up to date” on the COVID vaccination.

Those who have not had their booster more than six months after their primary course will now be “overdue”.


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