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A forecast double winter wave of COVID-19 and the flu will be top of the agenda when National Cabinet meet today.

The federal government is expected to allocate $2.1 billion to a management plan, after health experts spent months predicting a surge in respiratory illnesses during the winter.

Australia has not seen widespread winter flu for about two years, with COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns largely preventing a viral spread.

There are concerns about the impact of COVID and the flu this winter. (Nine)

But with those restrictions now all but vanished nation-wide, there are fears about the level of impact the flu will have alongside a new strain of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

New data has suggested the BA.2 strain is becoming dominant in New South Wales, where cases are set to double in the next month.

Victoria is expected to follow a similar trajectory.

The BA.2 sub-variant is expected to be 30 per cent more infectious than the previous Omicron strain – itself noted for its infectiousness.

NSW Australian Medical Association president Dr Danielle McMullen said “a fair bit of spread” was expected through the community as the new strain become dominant.

“So far, we don’t have any data from the rest of the world that it is any more or less severe, which is reassuring,” she told Today. 

“We know that Omicron has been a milder variant than previous ones before, so we’re hopeful that that continues.”

But she warned higher case numbers expected across the country could see further disruption to communities.

“The best thing people can do to help reduce that spread is get the booster dose,” Dr McMullen said.

The BA.2 variant is so far causing a higher rate of infection in young children and school students, which Dr McMullen said was not unexpected given their more mixed social settings.

Speaking on Today yesterday, former Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth urged people not to neglect their flu jabs.

Another health issue, the mosquito-borne illness of Japanese encephalitis, will also be on National Cabinet’s agenda.

Coles Eastgardens

How Australia faced the emergence of the Omicron variant

The government has committed funding to buy 130,000 doses of a vaccine to protect against the deadly disease.

At least two Australians have been confirmed to have died of the virus.

Source: 9News

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