Almost two-thirds of Australians are still complacent about the risk of Covid-19 infection despite a surge in case numbers and the emergence of new variants, a report has revealed.
As a flurry of new Covid-19 alerts sound across the country, a research poll conducted by Pfizer Australia found that 60 per cent of Australians believe Covid-19 is a thing of the past.
The data compares community sentiment to that of Australians a year ago when Covid-19 was rampant across states and territories, borders were closing and many people were coming in and out of lockdown.
The study also found that 61 percent of people were less concerned about the impact of Covid-19 in their community, while around 46 percent were less concerned about their personal risk of developing a serious illness.
Health experts have urged people to work from home wherever they can.
University of Sydney infectious disease specialist and pediatrician Robert Booy said complacency during the current wave is worrying.
“Protecting against Covid-19 infection requires several steps, including making sure your vaccinations are up to date, practicing Covid-safe behaviour, and making sure you act quickly if you test positive for Covid by speaking to your GP to learn if antivirals are right for you,” Professor Booy said.
“Recent federal government data has shown that Covid-19 still poses a very real risk to the health of our communities as we enter a new wave of infection, particularly for those at higher risk of serious illness.”
Latest government data for the week ended November 15 reported 75,590 cases of Covid-19 across Australia, with an average of 10,799 cases per day.
This corresponds to an increase of 38.3 percent compared to the previous week.
In the same period, 27,869 people were diagnosed with Covid-19 across NSW.
Professor Booy said early testing is still the best measure for adequate treatment and containment of the virus.
Last week, NSW Health changed its Covid-19 risk rating from green to amber, while Covid cases in NSW and Victoria have doubled in just two weeks.
Queensland also changed its Covid-19 risk rating from green to amber earlier this month.
“The fact that one in three Australians are less likely to test for Covid-19 if they are experiencing symptoms, or to consult their GP if they test positive, compared to a year ago, is worrying,” Professor Booy said.
“Earlier testing means people can seek medical advice sooner and have faster access to antiviral drugs if they are eligible.”
The Actuaries Institute’s Covid-19 Mortality Working Group estimates the number of deaths from Covid-19 in the first 10 months of 2022 at around 9,800.
This makes Covid-19 the third leading cause of death in Australia for January to October 2022. It is also expected to be the third leading cause of death for all of 2022.
Pfizer’s country medical director Krishan Thiru said many communities are still suffering the effects of Covid-19.
“These findings show that we need to get Covid-19 back on Australians’ radars and we want to do our part to raise public awareness of the risk that Covid-19 still poses and the role that we can all play to protect ourselves and those most at risk,” said Dr. Thiru.
Hearts4heart founder Tanya Hall urged Australians to remain vigilant, particularly those in high-risk areas or categories.
“This research shows that one in five people at higher risk, such as those over 70, those with health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, are less likely to test or see a GP if they have Covid -19 symptoms,” she said.
“These people are more likely to suffer from serious illness, including hospitalisation, from Covid-19, so it is important that these groups act quickly by speaking to their GP if they test positive.”
Originally published as Research found many Australians are ignoring Covid-19 warnings despite rising cases