Skip to main content RSS Info Close Search
Feedback

High Threat to Elderly in Australia Amid New COVID-19 Subvariant

Australia is now grappling with the new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2024, marked by the emergence of a novel subvariant, JN. 1, which is rapidly becoming the dominant strain on a global scale.

Key Points

  • Australia faces the JN. 1 subvariant’s surge, causing a “wave-on-wave” scenario, with Victoria and NSW witnessing increased COVID-19 cases.
  • Urgent measures are required to protect the vulnerable elderly population, including policy activation, mask promotion, and ongoing monitoring by health authorities.

 

Australia is now grappling with the new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2024, marked by the emergence of a novel subvariant, JN. 1, which is rapidly becoming the dominant strain on a global scale. 

This new subvariant has taken precedence in Victoria, Australia and concurrently, a surge in cases is being witnessed in New South Wales (NSW). What sets this apart is the unique challenge of a “wave-on-wave” scenario, where consecutive waves of the virus are impacting the nation. 

Amidst this evolving crisis, it is the elderly population and those in aged care facilities who find themselves particularly vulnerable. The statistics reveal a troubling picture, especially in Victoria, where the seven-day average for hospitalizations due to COVID-19 has surged to 377 in January, up from an average of 326 in early December. 

Though not reaching the peak levels observed in the wave of May and June the previous year, this upward trend raises significant concerns for the well-being of the elderly.

In NSW, while official COVID-19 data for this year is pending, the activity levels recorded in the last week of 2023 were notably high. The imminent threat to the aged care and older population demands immediate attention and strategic interventions.

As the JN. 1 subvariant tightens its grip, health authorities are sounding the alarm for increased protective measures.

The housing and care sectors are being urgently advised to activate comprehensive policies aimed at shielding senior Australians, individuals with underlying health conditions, and those residing in aged care and disability care facilities. These policies include the promotion of mask usage and the recommendation of surveillance testing within these vulnerable groups.

Despite the lifting of mandatory mask regulations in early 2022, the current circumstances lean towards a re-evaluation. At-risk individuals in Victoria are strongly encouraged to wear masks, particularly in high-risk settings or if any symptoms are experienced. The Department of Health is actively monitoring crucial indicators, such as hospitalisation rates and wastewater testing, until a discernible downward trend in transmission becomes evident.

Dr. Clare Looker, Victoria’s chief health officer, underscored the urgency of the situation, emphasising the rapid rise of the JN. 1 variant. This has led to a concerning “wave-on-wave” pattern, complicating the state’s recovery from a previous wave of the disease. The speed at which this new variant is spreading necessitates ongoing vigilance and targeted public health measures to ensure the safety and well-being of the elderly and vulnerable population.

In the face of this evolving crisis, a collective effort is imperative to prioritise and protect the most at-risk demographic—our elderly citizens—and fortify the resilience of aged care facilities against the challenges posed by the JN. 1 subvariant.

Share this article

Comments

Read next

Subscribe to our Talking Aged Care newsletter to get our latest articles, delivered straight to your inbox
  1. Many Australians are aware of dangers related to extreme heat,...
  2. A new study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia:...
  3. Our furry friends are more than just pets. They are cherished...
  4. The Department of Health and Aged Care will address the...
  5. As one ages, it’s a good idea to keep as healthy and active...
  6. Lutheran Services has become one of the first Aged Care...

Recent articles

  1. How will older Australians benefit from funding allocations...
  2. Could this platform be the future for health services?
  3. Organisations supporting older Australians have voiced...
  4. This simple idea could make a big difference in your loved...
  5. Does the imbalance in funding for road safety and falls...
  6. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has recently...
  7. Many Australians are aware of dangers related to extreme heat,...
  8. How treatment could help you recover from the loss of a loved...
  9. Why is ANZAC Day important to commemorate?
  10. If you are a care leaver, you may now be reaching an age where...
  11. How does exercising raise funds for dementia research?
  12. The impact of visiting your local park could be greater than...