Dire Covid warning ahead of Christmas

Australians have been urged to go back to their pandemic habits as cases of Covid-19 surge leading up to Christmas. Picture: NCA Newswire / Gaye Gerard

A major mask warning has been issued by health authorities following Covid-19 cases skyrocketing in the lead-up to Christmas.

A new wave of the virus is now sweeping across the country, with a 23.6 per cent spike of new cases recorded.

There were 6550 new cases of Covid-19 reported across the country over the last week, with the Department of Health and Aged Care confirming a reported average of 936 cases per day.

Virus cases are rising in the lead up to Christmas, with health authorities urging Australians to wear masks. Picture: NCA Newswire / Gaye Gerard

In NSW, Covid-19 activity increased “across all indicators” in the past fortnight, with more than one in ten PCR tests conducted returning a positive result.

“Emergency department presentations for COVID-19 increased across most age groups, particularly young children and those aged 65-years and older,” the latest data from NSW Health revealed.

The rise in cases has prompted a recommendation from health authorities to return to pandemic habits of washing hands and staying home if you feel ill.

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

NSW Health Pathology virologist and infectious diseases physician Dominic Dwyer said health departments across the state had been noticing more positive cases, supporting reports of a “new wave” of Covid-19.

“PCR testing in NSW Health Pathology, which services the public hospitals throughout NSW, showed that 8.6 per cent of PCRs were positive for SARS-CoV-2 last week,” he said.

He said cases of SARS-CoV-2 were being monitored via testing, adding the size and length of the wave was “unknown” at present.

There were 6550 new cases of Covid-19 reported in Australia in the last week. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling

“This wave reinforces the importance of Covid-19 booster vaccinations,” he added.

NSW residents are not the only ones being urged to wear masks, with Victorian officials also offering similar advice.

“This is an expected part of the ongoing evolution of the coronavirus in the community, as our immunity from both infection and vaccination wanes with time and COVID-19 continues to circulate,” the acting chief health officer said.

Victoria recorded its highest daily average of new cases since June, with 321 people testing positive on Friday.