Covid-19 Australia: Fast spreading variant XBB hits Australia’s shores as cases rise

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Covid-19 Australia: Fast spreading variant XBB hits Australia’s shores as cases rise

A new 'nightmare' Covid-19 variant has hit Australia's shores just weeks after the final restrictions were scrapped.The XBB strain, which recently eme

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A new ‘nightmare’ Covid-19 variant has hit Australia’s shores just weeks after the final restrictions were scrapped.

The XBB strain, which recently emerged in Singapore, is already running rampant in Australia where cases have risen tenfold in a few weeks.

Some international reports and experts have dubbed the strain as the ‘nightmare variant’ and fear it’s the ‘most vaccine-resistant yet’ after cases in Singapore recently doubled in a day.

The XBB strain, another spin-off from the Omicron variant, went from making up one fifth of Australia’s Covid cases to more than a half in just one week.

But despite rising Covid cases and hospitalisations, infectious diseases experts say those who are fully vaccinated are far less likely to become seriously ill with the virus.

A new 'nightmare' Covid-19 variant called XBB strain has hit Australia's shores in recent weeks (pictured Sydneysiders in the CBD this week)

A new 'nightmare' Covid-19 variant called XBB strain has hit Australia's shores in recent weeks (pictured Sydneysiders in the CBD this week)

A new ‘nightmare’ Covid-19 variant called XBB strain has hit Australia’s shores in recent weeks (pictured Sydneysiders in the CBD this week)

In Victoria, Covid cases have risen by nearly a quarter in the last week alone while hospitalisations rose by 20 per cent, sparking concerns from health officials about the growth of XBB.

‘Surveillance shows the presence of multiple Omicron subvariants in Victoria including rapid growth of (the Omicron subvariant) BQ. 1 and XBB in the past month, with a combined prevalence of approximately 10 per cent in wastewater and clinical sample,’ Victoria’s chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton said.

‘Continued growth at these rates would see these subvariants overtake BA. 5 as the dominant variant.’

Some infectious disease experts estimate 80 per cent of Australians have had Covid in the three years since the pandemic hit out shores in January 2020.

International experts have also raised concerns about the increased transmissibility of XBB strain.

However Deakin University infectious diseases expert Professor Catherine Bennett believes Australia has a much higher hybrid immunity to new variants than 12 months ago when Omicron first hit our shores, sparking an explosion of cases.

‘More than half the population has been both vaccinated and had an infection, and that does put you in a more resilient position in when facing future waves,’ Professor Bennett told NewsCorp.

Australian National University infectious diseases expert Professor Peter Collignon agreed and said there was no evidence XBB was more virulent.

‘We won’t see the same high hospitalisation and high death numbers that we saw between December and July, because that’s when all the variants were circulating and people were basically getting infected for the first time,’ he said.

The new variant has emerged after the final Covid restrictions were recently scrapped (pictured, a Sydneysider being swabbed at a drive-through clinic)

The new variant has emerged after the final Covid restrictions were recently scrapped (pictured, a Sydneysider being swabbed at a drive-through clinic)

The new variant has emerged after the final Covid restrictions were recently scrapped (pictured, a Sydneysider being swabbed at a drive-through clinic)

NSW recorded 10,050 cases in the week ending October 27 — an increase of 13.7 per cent while Queensland has seen 4447 cases of Covid reported in the last week.

Infectious disease specialist Maria Van Kerkhove, who works on the Covid-19 response at the World Health Organisation, raised concerns about the XBB variant last week.

‘We do know that this recombinant has a significant growth advantage, all of the sub-variants of Omicron are showing increased transmissibility and properties of immune escape,’ Dr Van Kerkhove said.

XBB has also reached America where it has now been detected in 15 states.

Deakin University infectious diseases expert Professor Catherine Bennett (pictured) believes Australia has a much higher hybrid immunity to new variants than 12 months ago

Deakin University infectious diseases expert Professor Catherine Bennett (pictured) believes Australia has a much higher hybrid immunity to new variants than 12 months ago

Deakin University infectious diseases expert Professor Catherine Bennett (pictured) believes Australia has a much higher hybrid immunity to new variants than 12 months ago

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