Technology · August 4, 2022

Covid-19: Health Secretary Mark Butler ‘hopeful’ third Omicron wave peaked

Australia may have seen the worst of the third wave of omicrons, but the country’s top doctor has warned we’re not out of the woods yet.

A decline in Australia’s seven-day moving average and hospitalizations suggest the country could be nearing the peak of Covid-19 infections sooner than expected.

Speaking to reporters in Canberra, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said he was “increasingly confident” cases had peaked.

“The actual data that we’re seeing, particularly of hospital admissions, is going down in all states over the last … week,” he said.

But he said the current wave will not be the last, stressing governments must plan accordingly.

A virtual meeting of state and territory leaders follows to discuss the national response to the virus.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters he was “hopeful” the wave had peaked but warned of the risk of complacency.

“We know there was another surge last summer and we shouldn’t be complacent on that issue,” he said.

In June, amid concerns about the third Omicron wave, the Albanian government agreed to extend a 50:50 funding agreement for public hospitals by another three months.

But with cases peaking earlier than expected, Mr Albanese remained coy when states pushed for a further extension beyond September.

“I’m pleased to say that the update the national cabinet received today is consistent with what was planned at our meeting… having returned from PIF,” he said.

“Our funding arrangements and major decisions the national cabinet made at the time in relation to this data are consistent with the advice we received.”

On Wednesday, the government agreed to be tied to a timeframe for releasing models used to guide decision-making.

“We do not want uncoordinated release of models that may conflict with models released by other jurisdictions,” Health Secretary Butler said.

The Department of Health estimates there are more than 325,000 active cases nationwide.

More than 4,800 people are being treated in hospital, 162 in intensive care and 39 on ventilators.

Originally released as Prime Minister, CMO is confident the Covid wave has peaked