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May 18, 2022

January 21 National Cabinet on Omicron, RATs, vax and treatments

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has issued a media release about yesterday’s meeting of the National Cabinet to discuss their response to COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, approaches to test, trace isolate and quarantine including the use of rapid antigen tests (RATs), and the vaccine rollout and booster programme.

The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, provided an update on the spread of the Omicron variant. Omicron case numbers continue to increase in Australia and globally. Omicron continues to show greater infectivity than the Delta variant, but with much less severity in terms of hospitalisations, ICU and ventilated patients.

His report said that since the beginning of the pandemic there have been 1,514,560 confirmed cases in Australia and 2,841 people have died.

Globally there have been over 333.4 million cases and sadly over 5.5 million deaths, with 3,281,678 new cases and 9,162 deaths reported in the last 24 hours. Professor Kelly said the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge in many countries around the world.

Vaccination rates

In the previous seven days, more than 1.9 million vaccines have been administered in Australia. More than 95.2 per cent of the Australian population aged 16 years and over have now had a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including over 99 per cent of over 50-year-olds and more than 99 per cent of over 70-year-olds.

More than 92.7 per cent of Australians aged 16 years and over are now fully vaccinated including more than 97.5 per cent of over 50-year-olds and more than 99 per cent of Australians over 70 years of age.

Over 5.7 million booster doses have been administered to over 28 per cent of Australians. More than 53 per cent of Australians aged 70 years of age and over have had a booster in the last 10 weeks since the booster program commenced.

More than 21 per cent of 5-11-year-olds have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the first 11 days of the children vaccination program.

COVID-19 Treatments

National Cabinet received an update from Adjunct Professor John Skerritt of the Therapeutic Goods Administration on approvals for the first oral treatments for COVID-19 in Australia, Lagevrio® (molnupiravir) and Paxlovid® (nirmatrelvir + ritonavir).

Lagevrio and Paxlovid are oral anti-viral treatments that have been found to be effective in treating people with mild to moderate COVID-19 who have a high risk of progressing to severe disease, reducing admissions to hospital and ICU and potential death.

The National Cabinet report said that the Commonwealth Government has secured access to 300,000 treatment courses of Lagevrio® and 500,000 courses of Paxlovid® for supply throughout the course of 2022, with the first deliveries of both medicines anticipated over the coming weeks. These oral antiviral treatments need a prescription and are taken every 12 hours for five days. They are designed to interfere with the virus’ ability to multiply.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has further granted provisional approval of Novavax for its COVID-19 vaccine, NUVAXOVID for primary course vaccinations. This is the first protein COVID-19 vaccine to receive regulatory approval in Australia. The Commonwealth Government has ordered 51 million doses of the Novavax vaccine which will be available as a primary course vaccine, with supplies available in coming weeks following deliveries and further batch testing.

AHPPC Updated Advice on Use of Rapid Antigen Tests

National Cabinet agreed to the new AHPPC guidance on Rapid Antigen Testing for Current High Community Prevalence Environment. Rapid antigen tests are an important diagnostic tool to manage impacts on health system capacity, public health and safety, protect vulnerable Australians and minimise disruptions to daily life.

Rapid Antigen Tests are to be used for three purposes:

1.As a diagnostic test as an alternative to PCR for those at high risk of having COVID-19
2.To manage outbreaks
3.To help early indication of cases in high risk settings

Use of RATs to detect cases in high-risk settings is recommended in residential aged and disability care settings where there is high community prevalence, healthcare settings managing very high-risk patients (e.g. transplant ward, hematology unit, oncology ward, renal dialysis units) and other critical services (e.g. other parts of health care and emergency services). Rapid Antigen Tests are not routinely recommended to detect cases early for other industries, businesses and organisations.

National Cabinet will meet again next week on Thursday 27 January 2022.


 

Recent stories, information and updates regarding COVID-19

COVID-19 update: May 16

The Northern NSW Local Health District says that to 4pm yesterday, 15 May, 384 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the District, including 82 positive PCR tests and 302 positive rapid antigen tests.

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It’s National Volunteer Week

Volunteering Australia says volleys are the backbone of the country in times of crisis and emergency.

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COVID-19 update: May 9

Today there are 41 COVID-19 positive patients in hospital in Northern NSW, with none of these in ICU.

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COVID-19 update: May 6

The Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) reports that there are 37 COVID-19 positive patients in hospital in Northern NSW, with one of these in ICU.

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COVID-19 update: Monday 2 May

The Northern NSW Local Health District reports that in the 24 hours to 4pm yesterday, 1 May, 274 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the area, including 56 positive PCR tests and 218 positive rapid antigen tests

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COVID-19 update: Friday, April 29

The Northern NSW Local Health District reports that to 4pm yesterday, 28 April, 398 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the region, including 74 positive PCR tests and 324 positive rapid antigen tests.

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COVID-19 update: Thursday April 28

The Northern NSW Local Health District reports that to 4pm yesterday, there were 541 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the region, including 143 positive PCR tests and 398 positive rapid antigen tests.

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COVID-19 update for Wednesday, April 27

The  Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) reports that to 4pm yesterday, 26 April, there were 569 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the region, including 74 positive PCR tests and 495 positive rapid antigen tests.

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COVID numbers up heading into the long weekend

The Northern NSW Local Health District reports that to 4pm yesterday, 21 April, 754 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the region, including 137 positive PCR tests and 617 positive rapid antigen tests.

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COVID-19 rules to change from Friday

The NSW Government has just announced updated rules in regards to COVID-19 including changes around close contacts and international travel.

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