A record number of Australians are in hospital with COVID, surpassing the peak at the start of the year, Department of Health figures show.
On Monday, national data showed there were 5,433 people in hospital with the virus, tipping the 5,391 cases recorded in January.
The wide circulation of Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 has been seen the number of people in hospital with COVID increase dramatically.
However, while hospitalization rates are rising rapidly across the country, the number of people in intensive care (ICU) has dropped significantly.
There are now 166 cases in ICU compared to the peak of 425 patients on January 19.
Why are ICU admissions going down?
Australian Medical Association (AMA) vice president Chris Moy says a number of factors have contributed to declining number of ICU admissions.
“There’s three main reasons we’re not seeing higher ICU rates, the nature of the virusthe high vaccination rates and the treatment both at the anti-viral level and with the later management in hospital,” Dr Moy told ABC News.
Dr Moy says the combination of a softer variant, vaccinations and management treatments such as antivirals mean less people are getting sick enough to be admitted to ICU.
But Dr Moy warned against taking low ICU numbers as a good indicator.
“This doesn’t mean it’s not a complete disaster when it comes to how many people are in hospital,” he said.
“People are still bad enough to end up in hospital and they’re packed to the rafters at the moment, which is a massive risk to other patients.”
How many people are in hospital with COVID-19 across the country?
Click the links below to jump straight to your state or territory:
ACT hospitalizations ramp up as cases increase
Despite not yet reaching the 3,000 cases a day scenario that modeling suggested earlier in the month, hospitalizations have been steadily increasing in the ACT.
Due to a current high demand for healthcare and high number of unwell staff, Canberra Health Services are calling for the community to consider their need to attend hospitals with non-life-threatening ailments.
ACT Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman says that peak cases could still be waiting for the ACT in early August.
“We need to use our COVID-smart behaviors again to continue to help protect our community as this new wave approaches and makes its way through Canberra and Australia,” Dr Coleman said.
Here’s what ACT reported on Tuesday:
- 151 hospitalisations, one in ICU and none on ventilators
- No new deaths
Flu hospitalizations make way for COVID cases in NSW
While influenza cases are declining in NSW, the state is preparing for another COVID wave in hospitals in the next weeks.
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants were “circulating widely in New South Wales”.
Here’s what NSW reported on Tuesday:
- 2,344 hospitalisations, with 66 people in ICU and 15 requiring ventilation
- 30 new deaths
NT health experts ‘alarmed’ over recent spike
The Territory’s infection rate is growing at a higher rate per capita than the national average, leading hospitalizations to rise.
John Paterson, chief executive of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliances of the Northern Territory (AMSANT) called for stricter preventative measures to address the “alarming” rise.
“We’ve got to seriously consider perhaps some mandatory public health measures, especially for our most at-risk population and our community members,” he said.
Here’s what NT reported on Tuesday:
- 71 hospitalization with one in ICU
- No new deaths
QLD rolls over 1,000 hospitalizations
Queensland’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have topped 1,000 for the first time.
COVID hospitalizations are now higher than the total number of beds at the state’s largest hospital, the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles said surge plans were in place for hospitals to deal with the rising COVID caseload, including rescheduling appointments.
“This number of hospitalisations, while high, is well within the range that has been anticipated by that surge planning that means our hospitals know what to do with this number of patients,” Mr Miles said.
Here’s what QLD reported on Tuesday:
- 1,123 hospitalizations with 31 in ICU
- 21 new deaths
SA hospitalizations hit new record, but masks not returning
There is currently 284 South Australians in hospital with COVID, the highest number since the pandemic began.
Almost three quarters of new recorded cases in SA are BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron but SA Premier Peter Malinauskas said reintroducing broad mask mandates was not currently under consideration.
“It’s not something that we want to race back to,” he said.
“We’re at a different phase of the pandemic now, we do place a high value now on national consistency.”
Here’s what SA reported on Tuesday:
- 384 hospitalizations with 11 people in ICU
- 19 new deaths
Tas hospitalizations are spiking
Hospital patients with COVID in Tasmania have increased five-fold in the past month, and hospitals across to state have increased their escalation plans.
Nurses at the Royal Hobart Hospital have threatened to strike over mounting pressures.
Here’s what Tasmania reported on Tuesday:
- 177 hospitalizations with three in ICU
- Two new deaths
Victoria hospital admissions soar
Victoria’s COVID hospital admissions have increased more than 80 per cent over the past three weeks.
The AMA’s Dr Chris Moy said the situation posed a major threat to the hospital system and the community.
“I have not heard health authorities so worried for quite a period of time behind the scenes,” Dr Moy told ABC News Breakfast.
Here is what Victoria reported on Tuesday:
- 869 hospitalizations with 39 in ICU and 12 requiring ventilation
- 40 new deaths
WA hospitalizations trending down but peak still coming
Having recorded a recent peak of 7,901 new infections, the seven-day average of infections is now trending downwards.
Despite that, the state’s Chief Health Officer maintains the current peak is yet to arrive.
“The number of cases may vary depending on spread and testing rates within the community,” Dr Andrew Robertson said.
“Western Australia is still anticipating reaching the peak in the coming weeks.”
Here is what WA reported on Tuesday:
- 457 hospitalizations with 17 in ICU
- Four new deaths