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Omicron bomb: Why half of state's ICU hospital patients are from the Gold Coast

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Queensland is heading into am “Omicron pandemic” and the State’s chief health officer has warned the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is not “trivial”.

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Unvaccinated people currently in the State’s intensive care units have “classical Covid pneumonia” akin to what was seen in New York and Rome during the height of the pandemic and before vaccines were developed.

Dr John Gerrard said half of the ICU admissions are on the Gold Coast, suggesting a surge in the virus on the coast where vaccination rates have lagged behind other regions.

Queensland recorded 9581 new cases on Monday, with 419 people now in hospital with COVID-19 and 21 of them in ICU, seven on ventilators.

But the real case numbers are expected to be much higher due to test results from several private laboratories being unavailable and hampered by a software update.

Gerrard said the overall hospitalisation rate in Queensland was now rising as the virus spreads.

“We expect that rate to in crease significantly in the next week or thereabouts,” Gerrard said.

He said 11 of the 21 ICU admissions and one-quarter of the ward admissions, 101 out of 419, were on the Gold Coast.

And alarmingly, of the 11 ICU admissions on the Gold Coast, six of them are unvaccinated and have the classical Covid pneumonia which was so prevalent during the worst days of the pandemic around the world.

“It is hard to believe, in my mind, how you could still be unvaccinated now in the middle of a pandemic,” Gerrard said.

He said others in ICU were double vaccinated and they had other medical issues, such as strokes, seizures and head injuries.

Gerrard said that about 90 per cent of the cases in Queensland were now the Omicron variant.

“What we are going to see in Queensland is an Omicron pandemic. It is not trivial. The main reason we are not seeing huge numbers of intensive care admissions is because of our vaccination rates. It is not because it is Omicron. It is slightly milder than the Delta strain,” he said.

Gold Coast residents are being urged to get vaccinated as the virus surges there, due to large numbers of interstate visitors during the holidays.

It comes as Victoria recorded 34,808 new cases on Monday, down from 44,155 the day before.

 

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