A further 32 people died with Covid in New South Wales on Wednesday in the state’s second deadliest day on record – but Australia’s overall deaths fell from Tuesday’s record high.
There were 32,297 new infections recorded with 217 people still battling the virus in intensive care facilities in NSW.
Victoria recorded 18 deaths on Wednesday with 20,769 new Covid cases. There are 125 people in ICU with the virus, including 42 on ventilators.
The 50 combined deaths are lower than Tuesday’s shocking figure of 58 but it underlines the sentiments of Professor Paul Kelly who said Australia was yet to see the worst of the current Omicron wave.
A further 32 people died of Covid in New South Wales on Wednesday in the state’s second deadliest day on record
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet will reduce the booster wait time from four to three months on Wednesday as the state looks to reduce the strain on hospitals.
With 2,863 hospitalisations recorded on Wednesday, the state government will prioritise boosters as they look to further flatten the curve.
There have been 1,773,457 people in NSW have received a third or booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, about half of the eligible 3.4 million.
On Tuesday, Dr Kerry Chant said the NSW government were pleased numbers were lower than what they had modelled for and it appeared the curve was starting to flatten.
‘The fact that our projections are tracking under (what was expected), the fact that the numbers have stabilised, give us some hope that we have been slowing the spread,’ the Chief Health Officer said.
Dr Chant stressed more can be done to bring those statistics back down, pointing out that just a handful of the 36 people who died were triple-vaccinated.
‘There needs to be a sense of urgency in embracing the booster doses,’ she said.
‘For Omicron, we know the protection is lower and we need that next boosting.
‘I just can’t stress enough the urgency.’
While half the adult population in NSW is eligible for their third dose, only 25 per cent have received one.
Some 70,000 bookings at state vaccination centres went unfulfilled last week, and hundreds are available each day this week.
The state government is also under pressure to boost vaccination rates among schoolchildren, as kids prepare to return to classrooms at the end of January.
There were 32,297 new infections recorded in NSW on Wednesday with 217 people still battling the virus in intensive care
The Federal Chief Health Officer said on Tuesday despite a challenging few weeks dealing with Omicron, it would be some time yet before the worst was reached.
‘We expect death and hospitalisations to continue to rise over the next couple of weeks as we are about to peak in terms of case loads, particularly in the eastern states,’ Professor Kelly told ABC Radio on Wednesday.
‘We know from international experience that Omicron rises quickly, it plateaus and then falls quickly, and I fully expect that this will be the experience here in Australia.’
Australia had its highest one-day death toll from the pandemic on Tuesday, with 77 fatalities reported.
That figure included 36 deaths in NSW, 22 in Victoria, 16 in Queensland – more than double its previous high – two in South Australia and one in the ACT.
The chief medical officer said preparations were being carried out for a second rise of Omicron cases.
NSW also saw 12,450 new positive RAT results, but 10,417 had come from the past seven days
‘I expect we will continue to see cases of Omicron right throughout the next few months, but it will be at a much lower level than it is now,’ Prof Kelly said.
The federal government has activated its private hospital agreement, which would allow more than 57,000 nurses from private hospitals to be used in Omicron-affected areas across the country.
The agreement was created in 2020 after the start of the pandemic.
However, Prof Kelly said public hospitals were still coping with Omicron cases.
‘There is not a public hospital system in the country that has reached their level of concern,’ he said.
‘For hospitalisations, ICU is under pressure, particularly in Victoria, but again there’s plenty of room there.’
The state government is also under pressure to boost vaccination rates among schoolchildren, as kids prepare to return to classrooms at the end of January
The head of Australia’s vaccine rollout, Lieutenant General John Frewen, said there wasn’t vaccine hesitancy among the community, despite 70,000 vaccination appointments going to waste last week.
‘There have been some challenges in the system with bookings,’ Lt Gen Frewen told the Nine Network.
‘I think some people have been shopping around to get bookings and then maybe when they’ve got a better booking, they haven’t gone back and cancelled some of the other bookings.’
More than 5.3 million people have received their booster shot since the rollout of the third dose began in November.
More than 380,000 child vaccines have been carried out since eligibility opened for five to 11-year-olds last week.