So what exactly is the BA.5 subvariant? Should you be worried? And how can you protect yourself against it?
What is BA.5?
“At the moment BA.2 is the majority of cases in Australia, but BA.5 is starting to take over.”
How transmissible is it?
“It’s up to 25 per cent more transmissible than BA.2, mainly because it can evade our immune system,” he said.
With this in mind, Professor Esterman expects to see case numbers continue to rise in Australia over the coming weeks.
How is it different from other subvariants?
“There’s a recent research from Japan, which [has found] the earlier versions of Omicron tended to mainly affect the upper respiratory airways, and that was one of the reasons why it appeared to be milder than [the Delta variant],” he said.
“To me, that’s probably more of a concern than the case numbers themselves.”
Should we be worried?
“It really came along at a time when we were coming into winter, so that was an extra challenge.”
“With the influx of influenza patients and increased case numbers because of BA.5, I think we will get to a stage in the next two or three months, where most governments will have to consider introducing some public health measures.”
What should we do to protect ourselves?
“Knowing the things that we can all do [and] being up to date with your vaccine is important, as is continually just being extra careful through winter,” she said.
Victoria’s Minister for Health Martin Foley, when announcing recent modifications to COVID-19 rules, said: “Modest changes to our public health measures will keep Victorians protected as we continue to safely lift mandates and support businesses and individuals to begin to manage their own COVID-19 risk.”