New Omicron strains hit older Victorians



The latest COVID-19 subvariant is landing a greater proportion of older Victorians in hospitals, but authorities predict the current wave might have already peaked.

Figures show 49.2 per cent of people fighting COVID-19 in Victorian hospitals are aged 75 and over amid the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron wave.

That compares with 33.4 per cent during the first Omicron wave and 17.3 per cent during the Delta wave last year.

“They are over represented in our hospital numbers compared to previous peaks and about half of our hospitalised cases are over 75 years of age,” chief health officer Brett Sutton said on Monday.

“Those individuals, in particular, need to consider all of the things that they can do to protect themselves.”

Modelling prepared by the Burnet Institute forecast hospital cases for Victoria’s current wave to peak at 900-1000 in early August.

But health authorities believe the numbers have plateaued or are declining, with the seven-day rolling average dropping to 811 from 831 last week.

“We look to be on the downslope … with about a 10 per cent reduction in case numbers compared to last week,” Professor Sutton said.

Stage three of Victoria’s winter response plan, which included unlocking private hospital capacity for public patients, was activated on July 17 when COVID hospitalisations hit 800.

The state is comfortably under the threshold that would trigger the next stage of the plan.

Health authorities estimate only 45 per cent of total infections are presently being diagnosed and recorded and there have now been 50,000-odd reinfections.

Roughly 8 per cent of Victoria’s total cases across the pandemic have been reinfections, which leave more people at a greater cumulative risk of long COVID.


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