Prime minister Anthony Albanese has asked the federal Department of Health to provide him with a briefing update on COVID-19, following public criticism directed at both sides of politics over the lack of meaningful discussion of the pandemic during the election campaign.
Prior to election day, honorary enterprise professor at the University of Melbourne Stephen Duckett criticised both major parties for a lack of a clear vision on COVID, as previously reported in The Mandarin.
Albanese is returning from Japan, where he met with Quad leaders from the US, India, and Japan. The prime minister had tested positive for COVID during the election campaign and has since recovered. He is set to return to Australia today.
The most recent national figures have new cases in the past 24 hours at 34,322, and 2,912 people in hospital with COVID.
As Australia enters flu season, there is a concern about the impacts on the health system of both COVID and influenza. As many have been locked down for the past two years and therefore immune systems have not been exposed to the flu, there may be an increase in both the number and severity of influenza this year.
State-side, NSW health secretary Susan Pearce flagged that emergency departments were under pressure from not only a rise in COVID cases but an increase in flu cases as well.
“We are urging the community to support us during this challenging period by making sure those who need emergency medical care can receive it by saving ambulances and emergency departments for saving lives. Please do not call triple zero or attend emergency departments for non-urgent issues,” Pearce said.
NSW health minister Brad Hazzard urged residents to get a flu vaccine to relieve some of the pressure on hospitals.
Up north, Queensland has set up free mobile flu vaccination units to ease pressure on its hospital system, with premier Anastasia Palaszczuk calling fighting both COVID and the flu ‘doubly hard’.
Other health concerns at the moment include the cases of monkeypox that have popped up in Melbourne and Sydney, although health officials have emphasised due to the close contact needed for transmission a pandemic is unlikely to occur. Officials are closely monitoring the situation.