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Worst Omicron outbreak in Australia, hospitalisations at an all-time high

FILE PHOTO: A lone woman, wearing a protective face mask, walks across a city centre bridge as the state of Victoria looks to curb the spread of a COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne, Australia, July 16, 2021. REUTERS/Sandra Sanders

On Tuesday, Australia had its bloodiest day of the pandemic, as a fast-moving Omicron outbreak pushed hospitalisation rates to new highs, despite a minor decrease in daily infections.

The news: The Omicron strain of the coronavirus is causing the worst COVID-19 outbreak in Australia’s history, putting more people in hospitals and critical care than at any other time throughout the pandemic.

  • Official data showed that 77 people died, surpassing the previous national high of 57 set last Thursday.
  • Only four of the patients who died in NSW had got their booster shot, prompting health officials in the state to advise people to get their third dosage as soon as possible. Thirty-three were given two doses.

What they’re saying: During a press conference, Premier Dominic Perrottet of New South Wales (NSW) said, “Today is a really tough day for our state,” as the state announced 36 deaths, a new pandemic high.

  • “There needs to be a sense of urgency in accepting the booster dosages,” said Kerry Chant, NSW Chief Health Officer. “We know the protection for Omicron is lesser, and we need that next boost to reach that higher level of protection.”

What’s going on: According to an ANZ survey released on Tuesday, the increase in case numbers shattered consumer confidence last week, prompting self-imposed lockdowns and restricting spending even as states sought to avoid lockdowns and keep companies open.

  • Omicron has lowered Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s approval ratings, putting opposition Labor in the lead months before a federal election.
  • Victoria declared a “code brown” at hospitals on Tuesday, which is generally reserved for shorter-term emergencies and gives hospitals the authority to cancel non-urgent health services and staff leave.
  • While most coronavirus variants that cause deaths are not identified, officials have stated that the Omicron strain infected the majority of patients in intensive care, with unprotected young people accounting for a substantial percentage.

Facts and figures: None of the state’s record 16 deaths on Tuesday had received booster doses, according to Queensland officials.

  • Only one of the 45 patients in the state who had died from COVID-19 since December 13 had gotten their third dose.
  • On Tuesday, approximately 73,000 new illnesses were detected, down from a peak of 150,000 last Thursday.
  • Since the pandemic began, Australia has reported 1.6 million illnesses, with 1.3 million occurring in the previous two weeks. The total number of people that died was 2,776.
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