Australia reported its biggest pandemic caseload on Thursday, with hospitalizations due to a runaway Omicron outbreak rising as the surge put severe strain on supply chains, prompting authorities to ease quarantine rules for more workers. was forced to do.
After successfully containing the virus earlier in the pandemic, Australia has recorded nearly a million cases in the past two weeks as people gradually adjust to living with the coronavirus amid less restrictions. Close to 1.4 million total infections have been detected since the pandemic began.
Australia has reported more than 147,000 new cases so far on Thursday, with the most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) accounting for nearly 92,000, although this includes a backlog of positive household results in early January.
Net new hospitalizations and those in intensive care are at their highest in the pandemic, but officials have said the health system could cope with rising cases.
A total of 53 new deaths have been reported so far, with NSW facing its deadliest day of the pandemic with 22 deaths. But the death rate during the Omicron wave is lower than in earlier outbreaks in Australia, where more than 92% of people above 16 double-dose and a booster drive is accelerating.
Amid pressure on supply chains, Victorian state officials on Thursday exempted more workers from quarantine requirements because of having close contacts. Emergency services, education and transportation workers can go back to work when they are symptom free.
“There is no quick fix,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said during a media conference on Thursday. “These are common sense changes, they will help but they are not everything, there is no easy solution.”
Victoria’s move comes ahead of a meeting of the national cabinet – a grouping of federal and state leaders – later on Thursday, where Prime Minister Scott Morrison will propose steps to relieve pressure on business supply chains.
The state of Queensland on Thursday decided to fully open its home borders for the first time in nearly two years, with travelers not requiring a border pass and negative COVID-19 results.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)