Rachel Treisman
The Australian Jewish News
July 21, 2022

WITH COVID-19 case numbers rising across the country, community leaders and medical professionals have urged the community to take precautions to avoid what could be a “perfect storm”.

Richard Glass, president of Wolper Jewish Hospital said the community is at risk due to cold weather, the highly contagious COVID BA4 and BA5 strains, a virulent influenza season, circulating RSV and a healthcare system under “massive strain”.

Glass said safeguarding against serious illness by being fully vaccinated, including having boosters, receiving the flu shot, practising hand hygiene, wearing masks and taking a PCR test at the first sign of symptoms was now “more important than ever”, given that RAT tests are showing a concerning level of “false negatives”.

He said those eligible for anti-virals should access them immediately upon returning a positive COVID test.

“The general community has unfortunately become complacent … While for many people [COVID-19] might be ‘just like the flu’, for the elderly, vulnerable or unvaccinated in particular, it can be fatal,” Glass said.

According to NSW Health figures, there have been over 8500 deaths from COVID in the last six months, four times the number of COVID deaths in 2020 and 2021 combined.

Glass emphasised the importance of wearing masks in indoor settings where physical distancing is not possible, such as public transport, retail settings, cinemas and places of worship.

“Many people are asymptomatic, so wearing masks provides a very important additional layer of protection to both the wearer and those around them, particularly the aged and vulnerable,” he said.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president Lesli Berger told The AJN, “Many members of our community have now experienced COVID firsthand and understand the risks associated with the disease.

“We do not want to unnecessarily alarm our community, but it is important that the community understands that the risk of reinfection, particularly during the winter months, remains high.

“We remind everyone of the importance of getting their booster shots. It continues to be the easiest way to protect you, your family and your community, and to continue to reduce the incidence of serious illness and hospitalisation. Please go and get boosted.”

With the elderly at a higher risk of serious illness, Montefiore is maintaining existing visiting times but visitors should check its website for the latest guidelines.

There were 82,365 confirmed cases in NSW this week, with 143,907 active cases across the state at the time of writing.