NEWS

Experts are calling for masks to be brought back before Christmas

As COVID-19 cases spike and a new strain is detected.
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Health authorities are urging Australians to wear masks after COVID-19 cases spike and a new strain of coronavirus is detected before Christmas.

The variant, which has been dubbed as Pirola, has been described by scientists as the most deadly strain of the virus since Omicron.

WATCH NOW: The Queen opens up about how COVID-19 affected her health. Article continues after video. 

According to the World Health Organisation, the variant is “under monitoring” and has numerous mutations. 

At this stage, only one case in Australia has been identified in Western Australia. 

However the eighth wave of COVID-19 has hit Australia, with 6, 500 cases being reported nationwide in the last month of October 2023.

NSW Health posted on X, “Consider wearing a mask in crowded indoor areas and be kind to people who choose to wear a mask.”

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Speaking with news.com.au a spokesperson for WA’s health department encouraged Aussies everywhere to remain “vigilant” in the coming weeks. 

“There are more than 30 mutations, especially in the spike region, when compared to the Omicron strains that are circulating currently,” the spokesperson revealed. 

“The number of mutations is similar to the number of mutations found in Omicron when compared to the strains circulating at the time it first emerged.” 

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Pirola was first detected in Denmark on July 25th, before being detected in both the US and Israel. 

Most recently it was identified in the United Kingdom in an individual who had no recent travel history. 

According to the UK Health and Security Agency, this could mean that there may already be “significant community transmission” in the country. 

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Speaking with the Sydney Morning Herald, Thomas Russo, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Buffalo medical school revealed that symptoms appeared similar to those of previous strains such as Omicron, Delta, and Alpha. 

Early research does suggest that Pirola may not be as deadly, but epidemiologists are calling for caution. 

“It’s not just about what this variant does and how it might impact us…it’s also the bigger picture,” Professor Catherine Bennett told the ABC. 

“What could this mean for our future, if this [variant] builds a new viral genome platform on which more mutations accumulate? Where does that take the virus and what does that mean for us?”

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Approximately 68.7 million total vaccine doses have been administered since February 2021. 

Vaccinations are free, and booster shots are available. For more information on vaccinations, head to the Australian Government Department of Health & Aged Care website

If you are wanting to find out more information about Australia’s stance on Coronavirus, head to the Australian Government website. If you are distressed and/or concerned by this news, the resources on Health Direct can connect you with the right support.

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