The charts below show the number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19, respectively. The data are but shown by State and Territory over the month of Dec 2021.
A feature of the Covid-19 data is the accelerating case numbers, as can be seen from comparing the charts shown in The Dossier over the Christmas – New Year period. In the chart immediately below, cases for NSW have almost doubled in one day to 21,151. Cases for all other States and Territories have increased to record levels as well, except for WA.
More charts after the jump.
As our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has been repeatedly reminding us, case numbers are only part of the story with Covid-19 and that we should be more focused on hospitalisations and deaths. This is because hospitalisations and deaths are not increasing anywhere near the rate for case numbers. Accordingly, I have plotted hospitalisations over the last month, on the same monthly scale as the chart above. The deaths from Covid-19, on the same monthly scale, is shown after the hospitalisations chart.
In the chart above, for NSW, the pattern of hospitalisations is increasing, in parallel to that for case numbers over the same time period. This observation is unusual because a time lag between cases and hospitalisations would normally be expected. Regardless, the increasing Covid-19 hospitalisation is putting a lot of stress on the NSW Health system. For Victoria, the uniformly higher level of hospitalisations is a residual effect from patients in the hospital system from the earlier delta wave of cases in that state.
The chart above, reveals a worrying uptick in hospitalisations at the very end of the month for the VIC, SA, QLD and NT. The hospitalisations occurring in these States and Territory shows the expected lag in time from the onset of the omicron wave just prior to Christmas to new year’s eve. A similar time lag is not seen for NSW for unknown reasons (as mentioned previously) Overall, the rate of hospitalisation is much lower than the rise in case numbers. However, the much greater transmissibility of omicron, compared, to delta, will place greater stress on hospital systems throughout Australia, as is already being seen in NSW.
Deaths have remained uniformly higher in VIC and NSW, than in the rest of the country, throughout the month. This is thought to be a residual effect of patients in hospital, from the earlier wave of the delta variant, unfortunately, succumbing to the virus or other complications. The chart above reveals a worrying uptick in deaths for NSW and SA at the very end of the month. This uptick in deaths warrants careful monitoring over the next week.
The current wave of (mostly) omicron Covid-19 cases is resulting in a lower rate of hospitalisations and deaths than was observed for the delta variant. However, the much greater transmissibility of omicron in the current wave of Covid-19 threatens to put the Nation’s Health systems under great stress in the coming months. This has already been observed in NSW. Likewise, Death rates can also be expected to rise throughout the Nation in the coming months.
The data presented here are a strong warning against the views expressed in some quarters that the omicron variant is “inevitable” and that we should just “let ‘er rip“. To do so would increase financial losses to businesses, place unsustainable stresses on the hospital system and result in unnecessary deaths.