Carrie Bickmore has shed light on her short holiday to the UK, revealing there’s a big difference between Brits and Aussies coming out of the pandemic.
Carrie Bickmore has shed light on her short holiday to the UK, noting that Brits are much less concerned about the spread of Covid-19 than Australians.
More than two-and-a-half years have passed since coronavirus first emerged in the UK, and Brits have by and large removed Covid from everyday discourse, according to The Project host.
“I noticed when we‘re overseas, no-one spoke about Covid. It was really interesting,” Carrie said on Tuesday night’s program.
“It wasn’t that Covid wasn‘t there … you’d be on a packed Tube and we would wear masks because it was so weird being so close to people after all these years of being apart and people are coughing and spluttering — and it wasn’t like there was no sickness, but no-one spoke about it.”
Masks have not been mandatory on public transport – or in any setting – for several months in the UK and all Covid restrictions were relaxed long ago.
Brits who test positive for Covid don’t have to isolate and are allowed to mingle with whoever they wish.
Co-host Waleed Aly said he had a similar experience to Carrie in mainland Europe and the US.
“The really big difference is … they made a rule that you no longer had to isolate. There was no point, if you got Covid or you didn’t.
“If one of us gits COVID, that’s seven days [in isolation]. You don’t want to get it because you might have something important coming up and you couldn’t travel.”
Meanwhile in Australia, there is ongoing discussion about the possible return of mask mandates as Covid cases increase thanks to new variants of Omicron which can evade vaccines.
Infectious disease expert Professor Paul Griffin said while rising cases in Australia was cause for concern as hospitals predict a massive spike in admission, it wasn’t an excuse to panic.
“We don‘t want people to panic. We want people to take it seriously enough that they do the right things,” he said.
“We’re fortunate woe have expanded access to fourth doses and antivirals and we still have our masks and our social distancing and ventilation. All of those tools. If we put them together we should be able to get on top of this wave quickly. If we don‘t, it has the makings of something very significant. We want people to heed those warnings.
“They are really challenging these new sub variants. Woe have seen some reports they do cause a bit more lung damage and maybe slightly more severe disease. They haven‘t been verified yet. I wouldn’t assume that’s the case. The trouble for us now is the numbers.
“The numbers are so high that even a small proportion of severe disease translates into big numbers in hospitals and enough people getting really sick. That’s what we’re seeing at the moment.”
Experts are predicting hospitalisations from the current BA.5 variant will peak at a similar level to the initial wave of the Omicron strain in January.
More than 40,000 Covid cases are now being reported daily across the country, with thousands in hospital and more than 100 people in intensive care.
Australian Medical Association vice-president Chris Moy, who has regularly cautioned against relaxing Covid restrictions, said hospitals were “facing a really big threat”.
“I’ve not heard health authorities so worried for quite a period of time behind the scenes, because we’re extremely worried about facing BA.4 and 5 Omicron variants which are more infectious and cause more reinfections,” Dr Moy told the ABC on Monday.
“More people are ending up in hospital just when our hospitals are absolutely chock-a-block full because they’ve been neglected for so long. We’re just about to enter a much worse phase.”
The AHPPC said the new subvariants could more easily evade immunity and were likely to cause rates of reinfection to rise among those who had previously been infected and those who were fully vaccinated.
It will also be harder to stop these variants because a prior Covid infection or vaccinations are reportedly not as effective at preventing them from spreading compared to previous strains.
“We‘re extremely worried about facing BA. 4 and 5 Omicron subvariants, which are more infectious, cause more reinfections and severe disease, because it looks like they’re more likely to go down into your lungs,” Dr Moy continued.
NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant last week warned the state was “at the start of a third Covid-19 Omicron wave and expect to see a significant rise in cases” and said the outbreak could peak in July or early August.
“I’m concerned about this picture and I am calling on the community to do a few things to protect yourself and each other,” she said.
“Isolate if you’re sick and get tested, wear a mask when indoors and around other people and know if antivirals are recommended from you,” Dr Chant said.
“So please wear a mask in indoor areas around other people outside your home, including public transport, pharmacies and shops. Masks, while protecting yourself, can also protect other people.”
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