20 January 2024

NSW urged to heed COVID-safe message as cases hit highest level since December 2022

| Jarryd Rowley
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The spread of COVID-19 is the highest it’s been in NSW since December 2022, but NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant remains optimistic. Photo: File.

NSW Health is urging people to remain wary of heightened COVID-19 transmission this summer as cases have peaked to levels not seen since December 2022.

Emergency departments around the state have recorded high presentations of the virus but insist that cases that require hospital admissions are decreasing, suggesting that the severity of cases is declining.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant urged people to practise COVID-safe behaviours to prevent infection.

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“Currently, the Omicron variants EG.5 and JN.1 appear to be driving the majority of transmission in the community, with JN.1 increasing in prevalence, in line with what we have seen in other countries,” Dr Chant said.

“While there is no evidence to suggest these variants cause more severe disease, the overall increase in case numbers puts more people, especially vulnerable people, at risk from COVID-19.”

Dr Chant said no-one wanted to see high levels of community transmission, and in order to prevent them, the population needed to continue following COVID-safe measures.

“I am calling on the community to do those simple things that will make a big difference,” she said.

“If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, please stay at home. If you are experiencing symptoms and you do need to go out, please wear a mask.

“Don’t visit high-risk settings like hospitals, aged and disability care facilities or people who are at higher risk of severe illness until your symptoms resolve.

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“To receive the best protection against serious illness or death from COVID-19, it is important to stay up to date with your recommended COVID-19 vaccinations.”

Dr Chant urged people to have a plan with their doctor if they are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. This plan may include recommending a PCR test if you get sick, or the use of antiviral medication, if you are eligible.

For more information on staying COVID-safe, click here.

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