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COVID case rise slows, peak on horizon

All Australian jurisdictions except the NT experienced major levels of excess mortality in 2022.

All Australian jurisdictions except the NT experienced major levels of excess mortality in 2022. Photo: Getty

The rise in COVID-19 cases is slowing nationally as NSW eyes a peak in its infections on the horizon.

States and territories reported a total of 111,449 new cases on Friday, a six-per-cent rise on last week’s figure but well down on the 15-per-cent jump the week earlier.

In NSW, where 41,000 new infections were reported, authorities said those registering positive rapid antigen tests were helping paint a clearer picture of the wave.

“We don’t think we’ve reached the peak of the wave just yet,” NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said.

“But we expect to see the peak in the coming week or so.”

While most jurisdictions recorded lower rises than last week, Queensland bucked the trend with a 17-per-cent jump.

Federal figures show infection rates in regional areas and among Indigenous people are particularly high, but hospitalisations remain below 10 per cent of available public health wards in all jurisdictions.

In the past week, reported deaths of people with COVID-19 jumped 50 per cent in NSW and 25 per cent in Victoria. Nationally, the deaths of 219 people with COVID-19 were reported in the past seven days.

It comes as a comprehensive analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on mortality rates in Australia found they were 13 per cent more than predicted from January to August.

In all, Australia recorded 15,400 “excess deaths” across Australia in the first eight months of 2022.

The measure captures not only confirmed virus deaths but those incorrectly diagnosed and reported, and those from other causes attributable to the crisis such as health systems being overwhelmed, resources being diverted or fewer people seeking treatment.

The Actuaries Institute’s COVID-19 Mortality Working Group estimates 8200 of the fatalities were directly due to the virus, with another 2100 having it as a contributory cause and the remaining 5100 featuring no link.

The deaths peaked in the last week of July and fell across August.

Spokeswoman for the group Karen Cutter said all jurisdictions except the Northern Territory had “significant levels of excess mortality in 2022”.

“Generally, about half of this was due to deaths from COVID-19, with the exception of Tasmania that had relatively fewer deaths from COVID-19 and more deaths from other causes.”

She said a lower-measured excess mortality for WA reflected the later introduction of the virus there compared with the eastern states.

With its relatively young and affluent population, the ACT experienced lower excess mortality than the larger states while the NT, also with a very young population, showed a low net impact.

The Working Group said it was notable there were excess deaths in almost all age bands. Females generally died at higher rates than similarly-aged males.

COVID-19 disruptions have meanwhile been blamed for the lowest number of public elective surgeries performed in over a decade.

The number of patients treated over the past financial year on non-emergency waiting lists fell to the lowest since 2010-11, according to data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Weekly virus data by jurisdiction:

NSW: 40,194 cases, 48 deaths

Victoria: 27,790 cases, 85 deaths

Queensland: 13,632 cases, 15 deaths

Western Australia: 12,383 cases, 26 deaths

South Australia: 9,986 cases, 35 deaths

Tasmania: 4,030 cases, three deaths

ACT: 2,610 cases, five deaths

Northern Territory: 827 cases, two deaths

– AAP

Topics: COVID-19
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