The number of hospital patients infected with COVID-19 has reached near-record levels in WA.
WA Health on Wednesday reported there were 320 West Australians hospitalised while COVID positive, the most since May 27.
The highest ever recorded was 327 COVID infected hospital patients on May 18, at the height of WA’s first Omicron wave. Of these, 10 required intensive care.
The health department does not distinguish whether these people are in hospital “from” or “with” the virus.
The more contagious sub-variants of Omicron – BA.4 and BA.5 – are driving the latest wave of infections across Australia.
In WA, another 6880 cases were reported on Wednesday, bringing the total number of active infections to 34,375.
More than 80 per cent of the State’s cases – 28,187 – were in the Perth metropolitan area.
The next highest was the South West (2118), followed by the the Mid West (788), Pilbara (762) and Wheatbelt (698).
Another six deaths were reported: a woman in her 90s, two men and two women in their 80s and a man in his 60s.
Despite increasing sickness levels, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has ruled out the return of pandemic leave payments, blaming the financial situation inherited by the new Federal Government.
Federal Health Minister Mark Butler on Wednesday told Sunrise that employers had been asked by Australia’s chief health officers to consider a return to work from home arrangements for a “short period”.
“Really, it will be a matter for employers to decide in consultation with their employees and given the circumstances of their business, rather than a decision or a mandate from governments,” he said.
Mr Butler described the latest wave — the third to hit Australia’s east coast this year — as “very concerning” and encouraged people to wear masks in crowded indoor spaces.
“It’s likely over coming weeks that some millions of Australians will catch COVID, some of them catching it again after perhaps having caught it earlier this year,” he said.
“We’ll want to reduce that number and limit transmission through people, just thinking a bit more about wearing masks in indoor areas, particularly where they cannot socially distance.
“Our main focus has to be on reducing the number of people who get severely unwell, who are at risk of attending hospital, being admitted to hospital, or even worse. That’s why we have really rolled out this campaign to reinforce the importance of getting boosters, particularly that third dose.”
Mr Butler reiterated that despite increasing infections, Australia was “moving beyond government mandates and lockdowns” to an era giving the public “good solid health advice for them to apply”.