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Australia Warns of New COVID Surge

FILE - Customers sit outside a cafe at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, Jan. 8, 2022.
FILE - Customers sit outside a cafe at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, Jan. 8, 2022.

Australia can expect another wave of COVID-19 infections in coming weeks, according to experts, as new variants circulate. Coronavirus cases are rising quickly in New South Wales and Victoria, Australia’s most populous states.

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. The declaration is still active.

In Australia, life is resembling what it was before the virus. Most disease-control measures, such as mandatory mask-wearing on public transport and self-isolation for people testing positive to COVID-19, have been scrapped. Some restrictions, however, still apply to health, disability and aged-care facilities.

Public health authorities in the states of New South Wales and Victoria have warned that another surge in infections is approaching. Official data has shown that in the last week of October, coronavirus case numbers increased in all Australian states and territories except Queensland.

There were 9,707 positive diagnoses in the week ending Oct. 29 in New South Wales, an 11% increase from the previous week.

Government data has shown that more than 95% of Australians over 16 have had at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In a video posted on Twitter on Thursday, New South Wales Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant warned of a spike in infections.

“By looking at all the local information we have and what is happening overseas we believe COVID cases will rise in the coming weeks,” Chant said. “The protection the New South Wales community has from vaccination and previous infection continues to reduce the risk of severe illness. However, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions will continue to be at higher risk.”

COVID-19 continues to spread in other countries.

China's COVID-19 cases hit their highest in 2½ months Thursday, according to health authorities. The world’s most populous nation is following President Xi Jinping's zero-COVID policy, which has seen millions of people locked down in major cities. The WHO has said China has had more than 9 million confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

In the United States, White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that new omicron variants were gaining ground across the country as winter approaches.

Researchers at University College London say Britain could be relatively free of COVID-19 this Christmas but potentially faces another wave of cases in January.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has said COVID-19 variants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are likely to drive up cases in the months ahead in Europe.

As of Thursday, there have been more 628 million confirmed COVID-19 cases globally, including about 6.5 million deaths reported to the WHO.

Isolation has helped to protect some communities from the virus. The WHO said that Niue, a small island in the South Pacific Ocean with a population of 2,000, has recorded 85 COVID-19 cases and no fatalities during the pandemic.