The Project's Lisa Wilkinson has slammed Aussie politicians for refusing to tighten Covid restrictions, despite the fact the new Omicron variant is spreading rapidly, as she believes they are worried doing so will hurt their chances at the polls.
The host claimed our leaders aren't following the health advice they once relied on as they know "the greatest gift they can give as politicians at the moment is Christmas".
Australian National University professor Peter Collignon predicts this current wave will peak in mid-January and then slowly drop.
Chief health officer Paul Kelly has also said that Australia's high vaccination rates will likely mean there will be fewer hospitalisations and deaths, however, epidemiologist John Kaldor, who appeared on The Project said the 'jury was out' on how severe this new variant could be.
"Our leaders are steadfast in arguing that Omicron is likely to be a more mild Covid variant and that our vaccine coverage is among the best in the world. So, with boosters on the way as well, do you know something they don't?" Lisa asked Professor Kaldor.
"It sounds like they know something that I don't," he said. "The question of whether it is milder - the jury is still out on that one. We have very early evidence particularly on whether the vaccines protect as well against this variant as they have against Delta, that is information still being accumulated."
He added that while he's not advocating for further lockdowns, he believes governments should re-introduce mask mandates and restrictions on larger gatherings.
"What we are trying to say is, this is a variant which is clearly spreading very, very fast," he said. "There are a number of things we can do to slow that spread that are not particularly major impositions on the community at large and those things can really help us to buy time until we find out exactly what is going on with this new variant."
Professor Kaldor admitted that while it wouldn't be a popular move, having restrictions on larger gatherings would help stop the spread as families and large groups come together at Christmas time.
He also told The Project hosts that if Omicron is in fact, a milder variant, that would be great and if the vaccine could fight it, even better, but if the opposite is true we could see hospitals under severe duress as they were in Melbourne over the past two years.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison called a National Cabinet meeting to be held today to discuss the surge in cases with state leaders, but stressed that Australia will not follow Europe back into lockdown.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet also revealed on Monday that there would be no further Covid restrictions.
The state recorded 3,057 new infections on Tuesday in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, after almost 137,000 tests. This takes Australia's total new cases to 4,302.
"We are taking a balanced and proportionate response," Perrottet said. "It is completely focused on keeping people safe while at the same time opening up our economy and ensuring that people are able to work, be in jobs and provide for their families."
"There will also be new variants of this virus. It is not going away. We need to learn to live alongside it."
In Victoria and Queensland, masks are now compulsory for shopping.
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