Unseasonal increase in respiratory infections hits Queensland

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Queenslanders are urged to prioritise good hygiene habits this festive season amid an unseasonal surge in respiratory infections across the state.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said the recent increase in hospitalisations due to respiratory infection was unusual for this time of year.

“There are currently 322 patients in Queensland hospitals with COVID-19 and 66 patients in hospital with influenza,” Dr Gerrard said.

“The number of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 started climbing in mid-October, plateaued throughout November, and then took a surprising turn upwards again in December.

“The current number of Queenslanders in hospital with COVID-19 is more than four times higher than mid-October.

“While influenza hospitalisations remain far below their winter peak (more than 400), their summer rise is still unusual.”

Last week, 2,162 cases of COVID-19 and 836 cases of influenza were recorded.

Overall, there has been more than 73,000 influenza cases recorded this year, far exceeding the 2022 total of 44,431.

Dr Gerrard added the number of tests coming back positive for Mycoplasma had also tripled since the end of November.

“We have not seen a significant numbers of cases of Mycoplasma infection since before the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“The increase in cases corresponds with similar recent experiences in the Northern Hemisphere.”

Dr Gerrard suggested the current respiratory infection rate rise was likely due to two factorsthe rise in gatherings ahead of Christmas and the influx of travellers from interstate and overseas.

“I urge everyone, especially during upcoming festive gatherings, to practice good hand hygiene habits and stay away from vulnerable friends and relatives if you are sick,” he said.

"Older adults and young children are especially vulnerable to respiratory infections, so it’s important we protect our loved ones this festive season by staying home when we are sick."

Dr Gerrard also reminded Queenslanders over 65 to get a COVID-19 booster if they had not had one this year.


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