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The new COVID-19 Omicron variant sweeping the country has already outstripped the previous wave’s January peak that saw restrictions re-imposed around the country.

Public health clinician and Conjoint Associate Professor with the University of Newcastle Dr Craig Dalton said the BA.2 sub-variant was already far more widespread than the original BA.1 variant.

“Laboratory data shows that other respiratory virus infections are either low or stable and that the Omicron BA.2 variant is rapidly replacing BA.1, hence this current surge in illness can be attributed to the increased transmissibility of the BA.2 variant,” he said.

Dr Dalton said the new peak was particularly affecting school students aged five to 17.

“This age group is experiencing rates of illness we typically see in the midst of a winter influenza epidemic,” he said.

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