Are we facing another COVID Christmas?

Right now, it feels like a lot of us are not feeling too darn good, with many experiencing cold and flu-like symptoms before testing positive for COVID once again.

The experts are seeing evidence of this new wave via wastewater surveillance for traces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID. There’s also been an uptick in COVID-related hospital admissions and antiviral prescriptions. 

Fortunately, it’s been estimated that this new wave shouldn’t be with us for too long. But could it affect Christmas?

Watch: signs to use when talking about COVID. Post continues below.

Dr Rebecca Goadby is a General Practitioner who is passionate about women’s health at every stage of their lives. Speaking with Mamamia, she says that monitoring for symptoms and being aware of the current new wave is key.

“I think we all have a responsibility to be concerned about COVID and other respiratory viruses such as Influenza. Doing our bit through vaccination and self-isolation when unwell is a great way to protect yourself, your loved ones and the community,” Dr Goadby says. 

“The good news is that most Aussies have been vaccinated which will reduce the severity of the disease as well as the duration of the new wave.”

Experts have found that this new wave is less likely to affect the lungs, therefore making the symptoms milder. However, those who are immunocompromised as well as the elderly are still at risk of getting it worse.

Are we facing another COVID Christmas?

It’s the golden question we all want answered. 

Yes, this new wave is likely to go on through Christmas and into the new year, says Dr Goadby. However, unlike previous years, we’re testing less, which makes it harder to track case numbers.

“There are definitely fewer people testing now, although, in my experience in the clinic, the majority of people are still vigilant with taking a RAT when they have any symptoms,” Dr Goadby tells Mamamia

“Given the reduced number of people testing and reduced reporting of test results, we now track new COVID waves by the number of COVID anti-viral prescriptions. This data is collected by national prescribing data and relayed to state-based public health departments.”

Where we will see the greatest potential impact is on a micro level. It will be up to us as individuals to self-test and stay at home if we feel sick. 

This could mean not going to a Christmas party or family event if feeling unwell, especially if there are immunocompromised or elderly people set to be in attendance. 

How long should we isolate for if we get COVID?

“The current guidelines advise staying home until your symptoms have resolved. This could be up to 10 days for some people, with a minimum of five days of self-isolation at home currently still recommended,” says Dr Goadby.

Is there a possibility masks will get reintroduced?

We know that mask-wearing is an effective way to reduce transmission of respiratory infections, including COVID,” Dr Goadby tells us.

“I still recommend my patients wear masks in crowded areas (such as public transport) and if they develop any symptoms of infection. 

“At this stage, there is no discussion about mandatory mask-wearing in the community. However, if the number of hospital admissions rises, the advice may change to ensure the community stays as safe as possible.”

Is there still a period of immunity after you’ve had it?

Fortunately, there are plenty of clever infectious disease experts and public health officials who have done research into this very question.

According to Dr Goadby and her colleagues, “the evidence currently shows that most people get approximately six months reprieve from a repeat COVID infection. 

“So hopefully if you’ve had it in the last few months you should be ok for the summer ahead, however, there are no guarantees so ensure you test with any symptoms and self-isolate if you’re not sure.”

What’s the go with COVID boosters?

If it’s been longer than six months since you’ve had a COVID booster vaccine, Dr Goadby recommends you to your GP to see whether it’s time for another one.

If you’re not sure when you last had a booster you can check that information on your My Gov account. 

While we hope this new wave of COVID won’t affect Christmas and our summer plans, it’s important to keep ourselves and our community safe. So stay informed and home, if sick. 

Feature Image: Getty.