Australia’s New South Wales has the highest COVID-19 death toll


Pedestrians cross an intersection in the city center as the state of New South Wales on 9th REUTERS / Loren Elliott

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SYDNEY, Jan 9 (Reuters) – Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, recorded the highest number of daily COVID-19 deaths on Saturday as the Omicron variant grips the country and lawmakers are under pressure to find widening loopholes in the Close supply chain.

The home of Sydney and a third of Australia’s 25 million residents reported 16 deaths from the coronavirus the previous day. New South Wales reported 30,062 new infections, close to record levels.

The second largest state, Victoria, which hosts the Australian Open tennis tournament this month, reported 44,155 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths.

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With most of the six other states and territories still not reporting daily numbers, the starting numbers were below the national record reported on Saturday of 116,025.

The nation was well on its way to surpassing 1 million accumulated infections on Sunday, the Australian Broadcasting Corp reported.

As the surge brought a rush to government-funded pop-up testing clinics, authorities changed their messages, urging people to instead do quick antigen tests at home and then report positive results to their doctor, who will record them in a database.

Authorities are calling for calm amid reports of empty supermarket shelves as people stay home to avoid infection and delivery staff self-isolating from exposure to the virus.

“We have seen very low rates of significant illness,” Federal Health Secretary Greg Hunt told reporters. “The vacation of the workforce remains the greatest challenge at the moment.”

The government and its health advisors have cut mandatory isolation times for close contacts and narrowed the definition of close contacts, but continued to review rules for workers on leave, Hunt said.

Australia plans to start vaccinating children ages 5-11 on Monday. The government says they have enough supplies to make sure every child is vaccinated.

Despite the outbreak, political leaders have cited Australia’s high vaccination rate – more than 90% of people over 16 are fully vaccinated – to warrant a reopening plan. But several states have postponed non-urgent elective surgeries to clear hospital beds for COVID-19 patients in the past few days and reintroduced masking requirements.

New South Wales, which emerged from more than 100 days of lockdown late last year, reintroduced the ban on dancing and drinking while standing in bars.

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Reporting by Byron Kaye; Adaptation by William Mallard

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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