Share this

Australians have been warned the pandemic is “not over” as the government announced new measures to combat COVID-19. 

Health Minister Mark Butler said to expect another wave of coronavirus infections this year as he revealed about 160,000 more Australians would be eligible to take the antiviral drug Paxlovid to treat the virus from Saturday.

“This is not over,” Butler said in Canberra today.

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler
Federal Health Minister Mark Butler has warned the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over as cases rise. (Alex Ellinghausen)

“There will be future waves of Covid across the course of this year.”

Australians aged 60 to 69 with just one risk factor will be eligible under the changes.

Previously, patients required two risk factors to access the drug.

”We know how effective Paxlovid and Molnupiravir – two oral antivirals – are in preventing severe disease and hospitalisation and death,” Butler said.

“This will make a real difference to the experience of many tens of thousands of people aged in their 60s and take real pressure off the hospital system as well.”

The government has also extended entitlements for aged care workers without leave who catch COVID-19.

They will still be able to access up to $750 per week through their employer.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said it was difficult to tell if a “ripple” of rising coronavirus infections currently hitting Australia could turn into a “wave” but that he wouldn’t be surprised if it did.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler and Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly provide a COVID-19 update at Parliament House in Canberra on November 15, 2022.  Photo: Dominic Lorrimer
Mark Butler with Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly. (Dominic Lorrimer)

“I don’t have a crystal ball,” he said.

“But in terms of future COVID waves, as (Butler) mentioned, I think we’ve got a ripple at the moment whether that will turn into a wave for the reasons I mentioned, and mentioned in my report, it’s difficult to predict to the stage.

“But certainly, there has been an increase in numbers over the last few weeks as mentioned, but off a very low base.”

Infections are not rising at the rate seen in the most recent summer and winter COVID-19 waves, Kelly said.

However, the top doctor said it is still crucial for Australians to remain up to date with their vaccinations. 

covid-19 microscope shot vaccination crowd with masks

Answers to the most commonly Googled questions about COVID-19

“The evidence that we’ve seen from the Australian experience is the same, as led to ATAGI’s advice in relation to a dose of vaccine: if you have not had a vaccine or an infection in the last six months – that time since the last immunising event is really crucial,” he said.

“So, very strong message particularly to people over the age of 65 and others with risk factors, is to get that vaccine now, don’t wait.”

The federal government will begin rolling out a new advertising campaign on Sunday to reinforce the importance of vaccinations.

Sign up here to receive our daily newsletters and breaking news alerts, sent straight to your inbox.

Share this
You May Also Like

The rejections that cost major companies hundreds of millions of dollars

In 1975, 23-year-old Kodak engineer Steve Sasson went to his bosses with…

Top 10 highest paying jobs in Australia

The ATO has released a list of the highest-paying jobs in the…

It’s early, likely to be big, sloppy and add even more heat to a warming world

An early bird El Nino has officially formed, likely to be strong,…

Attorney General Mark Dreyfus says settlement was ‘absolutely standard’

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus says a Commonwealth Government compensation payment awarded to Brittany…

‘Tranformative’ laws pass protecting intersex people from medical procedures against their will

The new laws – a “transformative moment” for Australian intersex people –…

Driver accused of hitting multiple vehicles and fleeing scene

A man who allegedly drove at 142km/h before crashing into multiple vehicles…

Brittany Higgins texts: Marles backs Gallagher

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles has defended Labor Senator Katy Gallagher over…

Children among several injured in French Alpine town

France’s interior minister says an attacker with a knife has injured children…

Authorities raise alert level as Kilauea volcano erupts

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano began erupting on Wednesday morning, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory…

Cuba gives Beijing permission to build spying facility on island

Cuba has agreed to allow China to build a spying facility on…

Lions speared to death in Kenya over attacks on herds

Parkeru Ntereka lost almost half of his goat herd to hungry lions…

Why Ricky Stuart told Jarrod Croker to retire ahead of Canberra Raiders legend’s 300th NRL match

Jarrod Croker will go down in history as a Canberra Raiders champion…