Australia has recorded another 42 deaths from COVID-19 as the number of people hospitalised with the virus continues to climb in the nation’s most populous states.
Signage notifying customers that Rapid Antigen Test kits are sold out is seen on the entrance to a chemist in Sydney, Tuesday, 11 January, 2022. Source: AAP
NSW has set a new record for its deadliest day of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 21 people dead and another 34,759 cases reported.
The grim milestone comes only two days after the previous record – the 18 deaths reported Monday – and as the number of people hospitalised with the virus continues to rise.
Some 2242 people are in hospital with COVID-19 across NSW, 175 of them in intensive care.Advertisement
The new cases were diagnosed from 134,411 PCR tests on Tuesday, meaning one in four people tested returned a positive result.
However, authorities suspect the true number of infections is higher, with NSW residents still unable to report results from positive rapid antigen tests.
The government is expected to finally launch a feature to report RAT results through the ServiceNSW app and website on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Victoria has recorded 40,127 new COVID-19 infections and 21 people have died with the virus, as the state’s health system continues to struggle.
The new infections include 18,434 from rapid antigen tests and 21,693 from PCR tests, the Health Department said on Wednesday.
The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 jumped to 946, 85 more than the previous day, with 112 in ICU and 31 requiring ventilators.
It comes as doctors and pharmacists will be brought into Victorian primary schools in a COVID-19 vaccination blitz for children aged five to 11.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday announced a $4 million grants program for GPs and community pharmacists to establish mini-clinics at schools in areas that need more uptake.
NSW mulls rapid antigen test vouchers, but still no way to report results
It comes as the NSW premier has floated the possibility of providing vouchers for free rapid COVID-19 tests, but the state’s residents still don’t have a way of reporting their results.
One option being considered by the government is giving residents a Dine & Discover-style voucher to access free rapid antigen tests at pharmacies, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Another is handing out the kits to parents through their children’s schools.
But NSW residents are still unable to report their at-home test results, with pressure is building on the government to launch the function in the ServiceNSW app and website immediately.READ MOREThis man created the ‘Find a RAT’ website on his holiday to help Australians test for COVID
Opposition Leader Chris Minns has indicated registration capabilities are expected on Wednesday, but said it is days too late.
“Senior health bureaucrats are flying blind because they don’t have the true picture of the Omicron variant and its transmission in the community as a result of these changes not being made available,” Mr Minns said on Tuesday.
NSW Health has repeatedly warned the daily case numbers, which have surpassed several records in recent weeks, were not giving a full picture of the virus’ circulation in the community without RATs being tracked.
Customer Service and Digital Minister Victor Dominello on Monday night said the developers were “working around the clock to get this live very soon”.
All other states and territories aside from the ACT and Western Australia have beaten NSW to providing a way for residents to register their results from RATs.
WA only lifted a ban on the tests on Monday.
“We’ve been told for years now that ServiceNSW is the best functioning app of any jurisdiction in the country, and yet it doesn’t seem to be able to perform this basic function,” Mr Minns said.