• Kevin Pollard & Tony Bosworth

COVID update – 135 new and 445 active Hawkesbury cases – Omicron peak appears over in South Africa



Welcome to New Year’s Day – hope you all enjoyed some festivities last night to welcome in 2022.


On this day 2 years ago the Wuhan Health Commission confirmed 27 cases of an unidentified virus. So far, they said then, there were no signs of human-to-human transmission.


Our good friend Kevin Pollard has once again crunched the day’s numbers so we’ve got an excellent overview here of the Hawkesbury situation, and wider afield too.


Today Kevin has also put together some info on the growth of COVID in the Hawkesbury – it makes for interesting reading.


All of our local COVID test centres remain closed until Tuesday.


We are getting a few comments on our social media pages along the lines, of “we're all going to get it at some point so let's just get on with it,” rather than trying to stop COVID's spread. It's worth pointing out that it’s not just the supposedly fairly minor Omicron circulating – the potentially more dangerous Delta is still on the march too.



Today’s Hawkesbury facts:

* 135 new COVID cases reported in the Hawkesbury in the last 24 hours, after 104, 69, 41, 26, 26, 20, 14, 14, 13 new cases on previous days.


* There are 445 active COVID cases in the Hawkesbury (was 324 yesterday)

* On December 11 the Hawkesbury had 5 active cases.


* Between November 9 and 23 the Hawkesbury didn't record a single COVID case and we were at 0 active cases (for only 1 day) on 23 November.

* 38 days later the Hawkesbury has recorded a total of 536 new cases (including 135 new cases today) and has 445 active cases.

* Of today's 22,577 new NSW cases (21,151, 12,226, 11,201, 6062 on previous days) reported to 8pm, Friday, December 31 - 1094 are from the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, which includes the Hawkesbury.


* There are 111,995 active cases (was 89,418 yesterday) in NSW.



New Hawkesbury COVID cases in last 24 hours and postcodes they are in:


* 67 in the 2756 postcode (Windsor, Sackville, Wilberforce, Bligh Park, Clarendon, Ebenezer, Mulgrave, Pitt Town, South Windsor, Freemans Reach, McGraths Hill, Upper Colo, Central Colo, Colo Heights, Lower Portland, Glossodia)

* 35 in the 2753 postcode (Richmond, Richmond Lowlands, Londonderry, Grose Vale, Grose Wold, Bowen Mountain, Hobartville, Yarramundi, Agnes Banks)


* 19 in the 2754 postcode (North Richmond, Tennyson, The Slopes)


* 13 in the 2758 postcode (Bilpin, East Kurrajong, Kurrajong, Kurrajong Heights, Kurrajong Hills, Mountain Lagoon, Wheeny Creek, Mount Tomah, Berambing, Blaxlands Ridge, Devils Wilderness)

* 1 in the 2757 postcode (Kurmond)



Total active COVID cases in the Hawkesbury as of 8pm December 31 - and postcodes they are in:


* 241 in the 2756 postcode (Windsor, Sackville, Wilberforce, etc) - was 180 yesterday


* 105 in the 2753 postcode (Richmond, Londonderry, Grose Vale, etc) - was 73 yesterday


* 48 in the 2754 postcode (North Richmond, Tennyson, The Slopes) - was 32 yesterday


* 45 in the 2758 postcode (Bilpin, East Kurrajong, etc) - was 34 yesterday


* 6 in the 2757 postcode (Kurmond) - was 5 yesterday

* 1 in the 2775 postcode (Lower Macdonald, St Albans) - was 1 yesterday



Hospital numbers and cases:


NSW Health is today reporting the deaths of 4 people - 3 women and 1 man – none from the Hawkesbury.


There are 901 people in hospital with COVID today, 69 up on yesterday (was 832, 746, 625, 557, 520 on previous days) and 79 of them are in ICU (69, 63, 61, 60, 55 on previous days), with 26 (19 ,24, 23, 19, 17 on previous days) on ventilators.


There were 166 people in hospital 18 days ago, 901 today.


There were 21 people in ICU 19 days ago, 79 today.


6 of those 79 in ICU have the Omicron variant, 73 have Delta.


46 of the 79 (58.2%) are unvaccinated, including three children under 12 who aren't eligible for the jab because of their age.


33 of the 79 (41.8%) in ICU are fully vaccinated.


The large majority of the 79 in ICU have underlying health issues.


The rate of positive tests is now at 18.93%, so of the 119,278 COVID tests carried out 22,577 were positive.


The positivity rates were 14.25%, 12.58%, 7.10%, 6.48% on previous days.


The average amount of tests in the four days to 24 December and December 28 and December 30 was 155,000 so if there were that many tests processed up to 8pm yesterday and with the 18.93% positivity rate today, there would be 29,342 cases in NSW today.


The very high positivity rate suggests significant numbers of cases are not being detected in the community, we don't know how many people have tested positive to RATs and haven’t been PCR tested, or how many are not bothering to get tested at all as PCR testing queues are up to 8 hours long.


Some 77% of 490 NSW testing sites are closed or operating on reduced hours between December 25 and January 2, so not everyone will/can PCR test so real numbers today are likely to be approximately 35,000 positive cases and between 7000 and 35,000 new cases each day over the last 11 days.



Global COVID news….and some of it is good:


Some potentially good news… South African study data has suggested that country’s Omicron peak – they were the first country to see Omicron - has indeed passed with no major spike in deaths or hospitalisations compared to previous waves.


Peak daily death toll during the South African Omicron wave was 126 on December 30, 2021, with the pandemic high being 839 new deaths back on January 19.


With growing evidence showing the Omicron variant causes mostly mild symptoms and lower rates of hospitalisation and death, more and more scientists are starting to wonder: Will the newest variant herald the beginning of the end of the COVID pandemic?


Spanish flu cases (back in 1918) also plummeted in its third year a century ago. If mask-wearing and social distancing are thoroughly implemented, there’s a chance new cases will fall dramatically by 2023.


But, a new US study finds the majority of high-viral load Omicron cases are missed by almost every rapid antigen test, including Panbio Abbott and SD Biosensor/Roche which are available in Australia. Abbott is the most used RAT in the US. This adds to previous evidence finding reduced sensitivity of rapid tests to Omicron. A negative RAT should not be a ticket to resume normal activity. A negative RAT does not mean you aren't infectious.


RATs have low sensitivity to Omicron and are more likely to show positive when symptoms are strong (days 3-4). So in early Omicron infection (days 1-2) and at the end (days 5-8) you're quite likely to get a negative result.


Using RATs to screen people to attend events, work, school, hospitals, aged care? Many in Australia will find this very concerning. Key message: Don’t use a negative RAT to abandon other measures like a PCR test, socially distancing, masks, etc.




Big thanks to Kevin Pollard for the research and crunching the numbers.


Our source information - link to NSW Health figures:

https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/find-the-facts-about-covid-19





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