Sydney, Jul 5 (IANS): Health authorities in New South Wales (NSW) on Tuesday warned that the most populous state of Australia is facing a new wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, urging the public to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
"We are at the beginning of the third wave of Omicron which is likely to peak in late July or early August. This increase in community transmission brings with it greatly increased risks for those not up to date with their vaccines," Xinhua news agency quoted NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard as saying in a statement.
The state health department recorded 10,504 new cases and 14 deaths in the past 24 hours, while hospitalisations also grew to 1,782.
Hazzard said the current wave of infections was driven by the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, and figures show 56 per cent of Covid-related deaths in the state this year were in people who have had two or fewer doses.
"The best way you can protect yourself from serious illness or worse is to get every vaccination that is available to you," the Health Minister said.
The warning cited data from Australia's National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, which stressed that "fully vaccinated people could get 65 percent greater protection against hospitalisation or death from Omicron than two vaccine doses alone afford".
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said in addition to booking in for a booster, people should exercise common sense and wear a face mask in public indoor spaces, where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
"Unless we pull together as one again, this new wave will hit schools and businesses hard, just like BA.1 did, which saw thousands of workers absent."