A harsh Winter' bad flu season and the surge of COVID cases forms a dangerous concoction for Australians – especially the elderly.
That's the analysis of CQUniversity public health expert' Dr William Mude' as Australia reaches its 10 000 Covid death milestone.
"Australia is in the middle of a Winter season – one of the harshest in a living memory – which is usually a season for flu. This means that a lot more people' especially the elderly and people with a compromised immune system' are at risk of adverse outcomes when they become infected with Covid'" he explained.
"Flu and Covid are both respiratory illnesses with similar symptoms and modes of spreading. Putting the two together' in the middle of winter' is a dangerous concoction for severe outcomes."
The 10 000 Covid death milestone means that in every 100 000 people who had Covid in Australia' 122 people died from their infection.
"This rate shows a very sad outcome of Covid in Australia' and especially when the country has done so well in keeping its population safe from the pandemic'" Dr Mude explained.
"It underlines why we must continue to take precautions to prevent Covid."
Dr Mude said the sudden increase in deaths in Australia can be attributed to several factors.
"While Australia has achieved very high rates of vaccinations against Covid' we are beginning to see many of the control measures that have kept Australians safe being lifted' including wearing of masks' social distancing' and travel restrictions.
"Removing these mandates without a proper staging process are possible explanations for the high transmission in the community and the outcome is what we are seeing in the increase in the number of deaths."
According to Dr Mude' the Covid outlook for Australia looks grim with expected increases in case numbers (although many will be unreported)' hospitalisations' ICU admissions' and deaths' mainly due to the way Covid is transmitted and the current relaxation control measures.
"With what we know about the current Omicron variant and its sub-variants' many people can be infected and remain asymptomatic. As a result' these people will not be tested and will be missed from the case numbers.
"However' increase in hospitalisations' ICU admissions' and deaths will mean there are high community transmissions' which need to be closely monitored."
Dr Mude said it is difficult to predict what will happen next with Covid in Australia' but there are some things that are for sure.
"What we know about Covid is that the virus keeps mutating to different variants and sub-variants' which is why it is difficult to predict what will happen next.
"It is possible that another variant or sub-variant may emerge' we don't know. But I would tend to think that Covid is not going away any time soon because of its ability to mutate and the way it is transmitted.
"Also' with international travel resuming' I think we will continue to see Covid around for sometime."