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Doctors have questioned comments by NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet about the relative severity of COVID-19 and influenza, as the state leader pushes for isolation requirements to be reconsidered at the end of the BA.4 and BA.5 wave.

In an interview with 2GB earlier today, Perrottet remarked that “at the moment, the current strand of flu is more severe than the current strands of COVID”.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet speaking to the media earlier today. Credit:James Brickwood

However, with 113 influenza deaths in 2022 from 187,431 laboratory-confirmed cases nationally compared to 1383 deaths and 1,030,094 cases of COVID-19 this month, ANU infectious diseases expert Sanjaya Senanayake said it was clear the Omicron variant of COVID-19 still had a higher death rate.


“You can say COVID cases are being under-counted, but the same applies for flu,” he said.

Professor Vasi Naganathan, president of the Australian & New Zealand Society for Geriatric Medicine, said he also believed the evidence, including data abroad, indicated COVID-19 was a more severe infection than influenza in adults.

In the week ending July 9, there were 769 people with COVID-19 admitted to NSW hospitals, compared to 84 people admitted with influenza-like illness.

“We have experience from when we had a big influenza outbreak in 2017, and we are not seeing that in the hospitals,” Naganathan said.

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