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Australia’s oldest Covid survivor turns 105

A NSW aged care resident who recently battled Covid has just celebrated her 105th birthday.

May Harrison, who is thought to be Australia’s oldest Covid survivor, hit the milestone birthday surrounded by family and friends.

“I was very sick and when I came out of it, I was very weak, but I got over it,” she told the ABC.

“We were to have had a bigger [party] on the Sydney Harbour but they didn’t think I was strong enough.

“But I love my parties.”

Harrison is one of nearly 46,000 aged care residents in Australia who have so far tested positive for Covid.

And as the country returns to ‘normal’ as we “learn to live with Covid”, the numbers of those dying from Covid infections have been steadily rising this year.

In Australia, Covid is set to be among leading causes of death for 2022.

Data to the end of April from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows the virus was the fourth most common cause of death certified by a doctor in February, following cancer, dementia and ischaemic heart diseases.

In the first two months of the year alone, there were 29,685 deaths in the country.

Of the Covid deaths we have seen, three-quarters have been among people aged 70 and over. But they have also included eight children aged under nine, five aged 10-19 and 30 people in their 20s.

Burnet Institute epidemiologist Mike Toole told Nine he was surprised the federal election campaign didn’t focus more on Covid deaths.

“We were told earlier in the year don’t look at the case numbers, look at hospitalisations, ICU admissions and deaths,” Toole said. “I’ve been looking at them and they’re going up.”

As restrictions are eased in various states around the country, the number of infections have risen.

When Western Australia dropped mask wearing and eased household contact isolation requirements on April 29, case numbers reached record highs within days.

“What we can do is track changes over time within Australia, and we see those numbers are steadily increasing as we head towards winter," The Doherty Institutes' Sharon Lewin told the Guardian.

“We need more regular testing to accurately detect the case positivity rate, and we need a far higher awareness about how to protect people at most risk of hospitalisation and death.”

As the country braces for a terrible flu season as we head into winter, the Australian Medical Association is also asking people to wear masks again, regardless of the fact they may not be mandated.

Speaking to ABC Radio, AMA Victoria president Roderick McRae said that masks could help keep infections down which would in turn help ease the pressures being felt by hospitals.

A “dreadful” strain of influenza has gone from “zero to 100 faster than your favourite electric car,” McRae said.

“[Influenza] is rife in the community. The symptoms are very similar to Covid-19 because the body can only react in a couple of ways,” he said.

“Influenza is a dreadful dose or combination this year, and the nation is relatively unexposed because of Covid-19.”

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