Australia is experiencing a spike in COVID-19 numbers as the country braces for a new wave ahead of Christmas. A Department of Health spokesperson said "over the last week to October 30, 2023, 7,227 cases of COVID-19 were reported across Australia [which is] an average of 1,032 cases each day." "Compared to average daily case numbers over the previous week, an increase of 11.8% (equivalent to 109 cases) per day was reported nationally." Epidemiologist Professor Catherine Bennett said infections across Australia were showing an upward trend. "We started to see this a few weeks ago now particularly in some states like Victoria, but now it's progressively being apparent across states as well like NSW." In weekly figures from October 24, all states posted an increase in COVID-19 cases with NSW recording a 23.8 per cent increase and Victoria a 15.8 per cent increase. The number of hospitalised COVID-19 cases increased by an average of 17.5 per cent. New variants such as EG.5 (an Omicron subvariant) were responsible for 50 per cent of infections, based on the NSW data, Professor Bennett said. Since the Omicron strain arrived in 2021, there had been surges of infection as immunity started to wane. These waves then drop off because people either had a booster or recovered from their infection, Professor Bennett said. But the reassuring news was that waves were spaced further apart. "The virus itself isn't getting any less virulent, but it has less impact on individuals on average, because we're able to fight off infections more effectively." IN OTHER NEWS: Professor Bennett said if people heeded warnings, the severity of the wave could be dissipated by Christmas. "If enough people do that, it will hopefully help us see this turn around as we're going into December so that by the time we get to the family season, we might be in a better position when people do want to get together." If you haven't had a booster, now was a good time, Professor Bennett said. The Department of Health spokesperson said vaccination was "voluntary but strongly encouraged" for those who are at "higher risk of severe health outcomes from COVID-19, including older people and those with complex health needs".