On Wednesday, Australia’s COVID-19 hospitalisation rate dropped to its lowest level in over three weeks, while a stable pace of daily infections increased expectations that the worst of an outbreak caused by the Omicron coronavirus strain had passed.
The news: After peaking at about 5,400 a week ago, hospital cases declined to around 4,600 on Wednesday, with admission numbers down in all states.
What Morrison said: “We’ve seen the peaks of Omicron, I think, come through in (New South Wales and Victoria),” Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is under pressure over his handling of the Omicron wave, told a media briefing.
- Morrison said he had tasked health officials with assessing the impact on the health system before removing any border restrictions as COVID-19 hospitalizations have stabilised. Last Thursday, Morrison expressed hope that international borders will be fully reopened “before Easter.”
What’s going on: Australia is reopening its borders in stages, allowing only skilled migrants, international students, and backpackers to enter.
- Airlines and tourism industries, which have already been hit by a series of lockdowns over the last two years, are hoping for a swift reopening to all visitors.
Facts and figures: Australia’s total infections rose during the past two months, fuelled by fast-spreading Omicron, with approximately 2.3 million cases documented in its most populous states of New South Wales and Victoria.
- Since the epidemic began, it has only detected about 200,000 infections.
- As of Wednesday, 8.2 million booster shots had been delivered, covering half of the eligible population, with authorities urging people to get their third dosage as soon as possible to avoid serious Omicron disease.
- After hospitalisation rates stabilised, New South Wales and South Australia stated they would allow a phased reintroduction of non-urgent surgery starting Monday.
- Australia recorded 70 new deaths on Wednesday, down from a high of 98 last Friday, and just over 40,000 new cases.