Australians have been urged to don face masks and stick to outdoor gatherings as COVID-19 infections surge in the lead-up to Christmas.
Infectious diseases pediatrician Robert Booy doesn’t expect infections to fall until February following an anticipated January peak fuelled by holiday travel.
“There are so many simple things we have been doing already that work that we can continue doing without too much fuss,” he told the Nine Network on Sunday.
“We don’t have to be locked down, but we can observe simple measures like masking indoors, like spending more time outdoors where it is ventilated, social distancing by a metre to two metres.”
Professor Booy thinks QR codes should be continued or brought back to help control the spread and avoid a return to lockdowns.
“Even then, we can do things like a partial lockdown where people can get on with their lives, but they limit the amount of time in pubs, clubs, hotels and the like,” he said.
NSW recorded 2566 new infections on Sunday.
Byron Bay alert
It came after dozens of guests, including schoolies, were forced to quarantine at a Byron Bay caravan park because of an outbreak.
In Victoria, there were 1240 new cases and four deaths.
South Australia on Saturday recorded 73 new infections, Queensland 24 locally acquired cases, the ACT 18, the Northern Territory eight and Tasmania one.
Australia has surpassed a 90 per cent double-dose rate for people aged 16 and older. More than 1.2 million booster doses have been delivered into arms.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeatedly urged states not to return to lockdowns and border closures.
He said people should focus on hospital numbers over daily infection tallies.
In NSW, there are 227 people in hospital and 28 of those in intensive care. There are 392 people hospitalised in Victoria.
“The South African data suggests (Omicron) is about half as severe, half as likely to put you in hospital,” Prof Booy said.
“But if it’s spreading twice as fast, it’s the same amount of people going into hospital.”