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COVID-19 infections reach new highs in Australia amid Omicron outbreak

FILE PHOTO: Medical workers administer tests at the Bondi Beach drive-through coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing centre in the wake of an outbreak in Sydney, Australia, December 22, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

With a runaway Omicron epidemic driving up hospitalisation rates and putting tremendous strain on supply networks, Australia recorded its largest pandemic caseload on Thursday, forcing officials to relax quarantine regulations for more workers.

The news: Following earlier success in limiting the virus, Australia has reported over a million cases in the last two weeks as people acclimate to living with the coronavirus under fewer restrictions. Since the epidemic began, about 1.4 million infections have been detected.

  • More than 147,000 new cases have been reported in Australia so far on Thursday, including roughly 92,000 in New South Wales (NSW), the most populous state, although this includes a backlog of positive at-home results dating back to January.
  • Despite the fact that net new hospital admissions and persons admitted to intensive care are at an all-time high during the pandemic, authorities have stated that the health systems can handle the increased cases.

What’s going on: So far, there have been 53 additional deaths confirmed, with NSW having the bloodiest day of the pandemic with 22 deaths. However, the death rate during the Omicron outbreak is lower than in previous outbreaks in Australia, where more than 92 per cent of persons over the age of 16 have been double-dosed and a booster effort is underway.

  • In response to the strain on supply chains, Victorian state officials freed more workers from quarantine regulations on Thursday because they were close contacts.
  • If they are symptom-free, employees in emergency services, education, and transportation can return to work.

What they’re saying: During a press conference on Thursday, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews declared, “There is no simple remedy to this. These are common sense measures that will assist, but they aren’t the only solution; there isn’t one.”

In addition: Victoria’s decision comes ahead of a meeting of the national cabinet – a gathering of federal and state leaders – later on Thursday, where Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to propose measures to ease the strain on industry supply chains.

  • Queensland agreed on Thursday to fully open its domestic borders for the first time in over two years, removing the need for border passes and requiring travellers to have negative COVID-19 findings.

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