COVID RATs spark call for rapid flu tests

A US study shows prescribing steroids halves the death rate among former patients with long COVID.
A US study shows prescribing steroids halves the death rate among former patients with long COVID.

Rapid flu tests could help health workers, manufacturers say, as hospitals brace for a gruelling flu season amid rising coronavirus cases.

Pathology Technology Australia CEO Dean Whiting said rapid flu tests, similar to the rapid COVID-19 tests people are now familiar with, could help decide what treatments patients need faster.

He said there was an opportunity to learn from the coronavirus pandemic when it came to combating influenza and the federal government just had to give the green light to already existing technology.

"We're still early in influenza season, so there is an opportunity for the government to make interventions that could have an instant impact," Mr Whiting said.

It comes as NSW reported 12,020 new coronavirus cases on Friday, with 1398 people in hospital including 60 in intensive care. There were 13 deaths.

Victoria posted 18 deaths with the virus and 13,181 new cases, while 12 people died with COVID-19 in Queensland.

Meanwhile, University of Florida researchers say steroids can cut death rates by over 50 per cent in patients hospitalised with long COVID-19 upon discharge.

Researchers went through the health records of more than 1200 adults hospitalised with the virus in the past two years.

They found patients with the highest levels of an inflammation marker also had the highest risk of dying within a year of being discharged.

The common lasting symptoms are fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, joint pain and chest pain, according to researchers.

But the silver lining, as signalled in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, is that prescribing steroids cut the risk of dying by 51 per cent.

Clinics for long COVID-19 patients have already opened around Australia.

Another study published in The Lancet this week by Chinese researchers found long COVID-19's ravaging effects on the body can last two years after a person is discharged from hospital.

LATEST 24-HOUR COVID-19 DATA:

NSW: 12,020 new cases, 13 deaths, 1398 in hospital with 60 in ICU

Victoria: 13,181 new cases, 18 deaths, 491 in hospital with 25 in ICU

Tasmania: 1118 new cases, two deaths, 39 in hospital with one in ICU

Queensland: 6555 new cases, 12 deaths, 407 in hospital with 11 in ICU

WA: 15,565 new cases, three deaths, 279 in hospital with 12 in ICU

NT: 319 new cases, no deaths, 16 in hospital with none in ICU.

Australian Associated Press