Covid Australia 2022: Grim ‘life and death’ warning as Victoria makes call on mask mandates


A Victorian government minister has admitted the Covid situation in the state is a matter of ‘life or death’ – but has ruled out bringing back mask mandates.

Energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said Victoria had no plans to reintroduce mask wearing and insisted the decision had nothing to do with November’s state election. 

‘We are always guided by our health advice,’ Ms D’Ambrosio said. ‘The current heath advice in Victoria has with us the right settings for our state.

‘Health is too important – we’re talking about life or death here.

‘Conversations can happen around different states depending on their own circumstances. But here in Victoria, we have the right settings in place.

‘We know what it’s like to have Covid embedded in our community and everything this government has ever done is follow the science and health advice.’  

Her comments on Saturday came after the Victorian Department of Health warned Covid deaths and hospitalisations across the state are set to soar.

Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said on Saturday Victoria had no plans to reintroduce mask wearing

Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 are likely to become the dominant strains in Victoria in the coming weeks

Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 are likely to become the dominant strains in Victoria in the coming weeks

The Victorian Department of Health warned Covid deaths and hospitilisations across the state are set to soar

The Victorian Department of Health warned Covid deaths and hospitilisations across the state are set to soar

Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 are likely to become the dominant strains in Victoria, it said.

‘The Department of Health anticipates the prevalence of BA.4/BA.5 in Victoria is likely to result in an increase in cases – including reinfections – and hospital admissions and deaths.

‘This is because the strain has a greater ability than BA.2 to evade immunity provided by vaccination and earlier Covid-19 infection,’ it said on Friday night.

There are 472 Covid cases in hospital in Victoria; with 15 active cases in ICU, including five on a ventilator, the Victorian department of Health said on Friday night.

There were more than 8,000 new cases recorded across the state on Thursday and 12 Victorians had died.

‘This is in line with similar patterns in NSW and Queensland where both states have seen a significant rise in the number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 during June,’ the department said.

‘Masks are strongly recommended in shared indoor settings; if you can’t physically distance; or you are with those more vulnerable to Covid-19. Improve ventilation by opening doors and windows, using fans or purifiers, and gathering outside where possible.

‘Face masks are still required for everyone aged 8 and above in some locations, including on public transport, ride shares and taxis, and in sensitive settings such as hospitals and care facilities. They are also required by household contacts in quarantine who meet the criteria for leaving home.’

Masks could become mandatory across all of Australia as a looming Covid and flu crisis threatens to bring the nation to a standstill.

Nearly 250,000 Aussies have tested positive for Covid in the past week, with states including New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, recording more than 8,000 cases in the past 24 hours.

Over the past week, NSW recorded the most infections with 61,000, while more than 50,000 people tested positive for the virus in Victoria. 

And those figures are expected to get worse in the coming weeks as the winter chill grips the nation and new, highly infectious Omicron strain BA.5 becomes dominant.

Australia is also now facing a double whammy with rising cases of the flu making this winter the worst influenza outbreak in years, causing chaos in the workforce.

Now Queensland is tipped to be the first to bring back mask mandates in a bid to stem the tidal wave of infection.   

Australia is on the precipice of the grim milestone of 10,000 Covid-19 related deaths, with more than 7,000 fatalities reported in the last six months (pictured, Covid-19 testing clinic)

Australia is on the precipice of the grim milestone of 10,000 Covid-19 related deaths, with more than 7,000 fatalities reported in the last six months (pictured, Covid-19 testing clinic)

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard revealed there had been ongoing talks with his interstate colleagues about mask mandates returning. 

‘I can say that nationally, there is increasing pressure,’ he told 4BC’s Peter Fegan. 

‘There is a school of thought that we should be mandating masks again.’

Meanwhile, it was revealed Saturday that Australia is on the precipice of the grim milestone of 10,000 Covid-19 related deaths, with more than 7,000 fatalities reported in the last six months.

Australia has reported 7,677 deaths over the course of 2022, taking the country’s total to 9,930.

There were also 909 Covid-19 related fatalities in 2020 and 1,344 in 2021.

‘We are going to actually end up with about 14,000 deaths this year from COVID if we keep going at this rate,’ Griffith University infectious diseases and immunology program director Nigel McMillan said.

‘That will make COVID the number two or number three killer in the country of all causes of deaths.

‘Is this what success looks like for Australia in terms of its control of this virus? I would suggest no.’

Prof McMillan said booster uptake is not good enough in states such as Queensland – the lowest in the country at about 63 per cent.

The state with the highest booster uptake is Western Australia, at 83 per cent, with other states and territories falling somewhere in between.

‘We just seem to have become comfortable with the idea that we’re stopping vaccine mandates for all sorts of places, we have loosened our mask restrictions,’ he said.

‘So we have very little in the way of the virus at the moment in terms of (stopping) the virus spreading.’

Queensland Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said he did not want a return to mask mandates, but he admitted the possibility was being talked about.

‘It is something that is still being discussed but … we would prefer not to go down that road,’ he told Brisbane 4BC radio on Friday.

Federal Labor minister Murray Watt said on Saturday the government had not received any health advice on mask mandates and those decisions tended to be made by state governments.

Australia has reported 7,677 deaths over the course of 2022, taking the country's total to 9,930 (pictured, Sydneysiders)

Australia has reported 7,677 deaths over the course of 2022, taking the country’s total to 9,930 (pictured, Sydneysiders)

Prof McMillan said booster uptake is not good enough in states such as Queensland - the lowest in the country at about 63 per cent

Prof McMillan said booster uptake is not good enough in states such as Queensland – the lowest in the country at about 63 per cent

‘I know that this is something that health officials have been discussing nationally,’ he said.

Prof McMillan suggested policy tweaks be made to the public health system, including widening the availability of antivirals beyond people with comorbidities.

Australia is experiencing a succession of Omicron variants that have kept infection rates high, Deakin University epidemiology chair Catherine Bennett said.

However Australia ranked low in deaths per capita when compared to other countries, she said.

‘Whether we look at the total COVID-19 deaths per case, or deaths per capita, Australia sits low on the league tables, together with New Zealand, Taiwan and Japan,’ Prof Bennett said.

Australia’s daily death rates per capita were comparable to the UK and Canada, and lower than France – countries currently in summer and reporting declines in case numbers, she said.

‘It is critical that we learn more about those who are ending up in hospital or not surviving their infections, so that we can identify what needs to be done to avoid preventable deaths and bring the case fatality rate down.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk