Another Christmas, another COVID wave - as cases across continue to rise as the festive season parties and gatherings pick up for the third year running.
And it's no different in the Illawarra where cases are generally following the rising pattern being seen across NSW, according to the region's Public Health Director Curtis Gregory.
Mr Gregory said the peak of this wave was likely to be a couple of weeks away, given that people are more likely to get together and let their hair down at this time of year.
"We're anticipating we'll see cases rising up until maybe mid December and then hopefully a trail off," Mr Gregory said.
"And in previous years, there's been a bit of a tail and then a bit more of a blip in between Christmas and New Year which we might see again this year."
He said the annual Christmas wave was expected, as it was driven by people's behaviour as well as their fluctuating immunity to the virus.
"People are out and about socialising, wanting to let their hair down and really enjoying themselves, and they don't tend to think about all the things that protected us before," he said.
"One of the main drivers for COVID, which makes it a little bit different from our other respiratory illnesses like flu which are a bit more seasonal... is the level of immunity within the population.
"It's probably been a fair while since people have had COVID - it's been months since the winter peak,and it's also been months since people have had booster vaccinations."
"We're also seeing a lot of increased travel, both local and international, so there's more people going overseas and they're bringing back different variants - it's all Omicron but it's a real soup of varients".
Although there are no longer mandated restrictions, Mr Gregory said it was vital people observe the tried and tested distancing, masking and isolation guidelines.
"All the mandated stuff has pretty much been wound back and even the reporting has gone," he said.
"You still can get a PCR, but it's only really if there's a clinical need, and there's no longer a mechanism for registering the RATs."
"But we still want people to take a layered approach - so not just individual measures, but using all of them together by layering the protective measures."
He said the most obvious protective measure was to stay up to date with booster shots.
"The vaccine protects against the acute symptoms and means that you're less likely to go into hospital, you're less likely to need that intensive care and it also offers protective against the longer form of COVID as well," he said.
"But if you're in any doubt about your individual situation, have a chat to your GP and get that personalised medical support."
He said this was particularly important for people with compromised immune systems or underlying condition that may make COVID worse.
"You should talk to your medical support team and have a plan in place in case you do have severe respiratory illness," he said.
"That way they can do the test to work out whether it's COVID or not, which will allow your medical support to actually prescribe an antiviral and help you with that."