Tasmania lifts COVID alert level as cases rise

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Tasmania is re-recommending masks in indoor settings as COVID-19 hospitalisations rise and new cases exceed the national average.

Weekly cases rose 30 per cent to 2712 cases, leading Premier Jeremy Rockliff to advise Tasmanians to take extra precautions.

“While masks are not mandatory, they are recommended in indoor settings, on public transport, or when visiting people at higher risk,” he said on Saturday.

“I understand that some in the community may be concerned around COVID, but this is not unexpected – we’ve always said there will be waves, but this is a normal part of living with COVID-19, and we are prepared, and acting accordingly.”

People in hospital with COVID-19 rose from 41 to 67 in the past week, while the figure of those in hospital specifically due to COVID-19 has almost doubled.

At 75 per cent and 50 per cent respectfully, Tasmania’s third-dose and fourth-dose vaccination rates are slightly above the national averages.

But new cases reported in the past two weeks are only second to South Australia, on a per capita basis.

SA has had a particularly high number of cases in regional and remote areas, according to the federal health department’s common operating picture.

More than 88,000 cases were reported nationwide on Friday – a rise of 10 per cent on the prior week.

Meanwhile, outbreaks in aged care facilities are on the rise nationwide, with 41 reported in the past week.

Across 560 facilities with current outbreaks, 387 new cases were reported in residents while 58 staff were newly infected.

Most outbreaks are in NSW (159), Victoria (147), Queensland (98) and SA (84).

Research by Pfizer released this week suggested almost two-thirds of Australians believe the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind them, despite the new wave of infections and different variants of the virus emerging.

One in three people is less likely to get tested when they have symptoms now compared with a year ago.

University of Sydney infectious diseases specialist Professor Robert Booy said the apparent decline in testing was a major concern and urged Australians to keep up to date with their vaccinations.

– AAP

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