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The majority of Australians infected with Covid-19 should be able to cope with the virus well at home, according to infectious diseases expert Robert Booy.
‘Most people can manage at home, and can manage well,’ Sydney based Professor Booy told Sunrise on Wednesday.
‘They will not get severe symptoms. They will get a cough, fever, lethargy and fatigue, and they will get better over a few days to a week.
‘All you need is adequate hydration, water, bed rest, if you have analgesics for pain, and antipyretics for fever.’
Infectious disease expert Professor Robert Booy (pictured) believes the majority of Australians infected with Covid-19 should be able to cope with the virus well at home
Many hospitals are already struggling to cope with the influx of Covid patients (pictured, an ICU at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney)
Analgesics, also called painkillers, are medications that relieve different types of pain — from headaches to injuries to arthritis. Antipyretics are medications that stop or reduce fever.
Dr Booy added people should look out for chest pain, worsening breathlessness and lethargy as worrying symptoms that might need further medical attention.
‘For people with chronic conditions or lung disease, some are given an oximeter, a special machine to measure the amount of oxygen in your blood, and you will need to go to hospital (or get medical attention) if your oxygen saturation is dropping,’ he said.
Professor Booy went onto state rapid antigen tests (RATs) should be free across Australia – and he fears they may be hoarded by some.
It comes as experts slammed the Morrison Government for ‘painting a rosy picture’ of the new Omicron variant because it is less severe than Delta – as hospitals continue to fill around the country due to the sheer number of people infected.
Australia saw a record 47,738 new infections on Tuesday, the largest combined figure the country has seen so far during the pandemic.
Two women attend a PCR testing clinic in Brisbane
Dr Stephen Parnis, an emergency physician from Melbourne, said although the new strain was less severe, the surging number of cases means a significant number of people will still be hospitalised.
‘I am concerned about the government response if it paints too rosy a picture,’ he told The Project.
‘I don’t think the New South Wales health system is strong and going strong. I think it is facing challenges that have never been seen in my lifetime. We need to be honest to keep people’s confidence and trust in place.’
NSW alone has already seen hospitalisations surpass any previous point during the pandemic, however ICU cases remain well below the wave of the more severe Delta variant.
But Dr Parnis said because Omicron ‘spreads like wildfire’ there has been increased strain on testing clinics and community-based healthcare, rather than mounting cases in intensive care.
Many staff members are also being forced to isolate after either catching Covid or being deemed a close contact, putting a strain on already exhausted workers.
Dr Parnis said a lot of strain could be immediately taken off the healthcare system if RATs were subsidised by the Morrison Government.
‘Let’s stop playing games with the issue over cost for rapid antigen testing,’ he said.
‘If we continue with this nonsense that people need to pay to get access to these RAT tests then we’re going to see a disproportionate number of people get sick in the suburbs that have low socio-economic status and that’s the last thing we want in Australia.
‘We’ve not run the pandemic in that way at any time in the last two years and we shouldn’t be starting on it now.’
Dr Stephen Parnis said although Omicron was less severe, the surging number of cases means a significant number of people will still be hospitalised.
Scott Morrison is holding a National Cabinet meeting on Wednesday to discuss the RATs supply crisis.
Low-income earners, welfare recipients, pensioners, the unemployed and veterans are among those who would benefit from his proposed incentive.
The Prime Minister is under mounting pressure to make rapid antigen tests free as widespread shortages of the critical Covid testing kits hit crisis point.
Recipients will receive cash payments for up to five rapid antigen tests under Mr Morrison’s proposal, which could even be doubled if states agree to the incentive at Wednesday’s meeting.
The government handouts will be distributed through the same system used for Covid disaster payments earlier on in the pandemic, where recipients will meet an eligibility test in order to receive the cash boost, The Australian reported.
Most states are seeing hospitalisations surpass any previous point during the pandemic, however ICU cases remain below the wave of the more severe Delta variant
Mr Morrison will also ask the state and territory governments to contribute 50 per cent of the cost of the scheme after the national cabinet previously agreed last week on free testing for the disadvantaged.
The Prime Minister is also expected to announce on Wednesday that millions of ‘click and collect’ free take-home tests will be distributed at testing sites to ease the enormous strain on pathology labs which are taking up to five days to process results due to overwhelming demand.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese reiterated calls for free RAT tests for everyone after Mr Morrison rejected the move earlier this week.
‘I think that anyone who needs a rapid antigen test shouldn’t be excluded from it because of their income,’ Mr Albanese told the ABC on Tuesday night.
‘Our health system is based upon the principle of Medicare – that people get the healthcare they need when they require it.’
‘I would have no problem with that whatsoever. At the moment, people can’t get access to supply and, if they can, for so many people it’s simply unaffordable.’
Covid cases in NSW soared to 35,054 on Wednesday while Victoria recorded 17,636 new infections overnight – but ICU admissions in both states remain steady.
NSW’s numbers are the highest daily total recorded for any Australian state since the beginning of the pandemic – and are a large jump from the 23,131 infections announced on Tuesday.
The number of people in hospital has risen to 1491, from 1344 reported on Tuesday. Of those, 119 are in intensive care units, an increase of 14 in 24 hours.
While ICU numbers are rising, the tally is short of the peak of 244 seen in September.
Victoria’s hospitalisations are at 591, a jump from 516 on Tuesday, with ICU rates dropping by three to 53.
Eight more people in NSW lost their lives with the virus while Victoria had 11 deaths.
Queensland recorded 6,781 new Covid-19 cases, a significant uptick from the 5,699 cases detected on Tuesday.
There are now 32,000 active cases across the Sunshine State, but health authorities say that figure is much higher due to queues at testing clinics and test wait times.
There are currently 265 people in hospital with the virus and only 10 patients in ICU, a positive sign the number of admissions remains steady.