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Another 57 COVID-19 deaths in Australia as Victoria set to resume elective surgery

At least another 57 people have died with COVID-19 in Australia.

New South Wales recorded 27 deaths, while Victoria reported 18 and Queensland had 12. 

The fatalities in NSW comes as hospitalisations continue to fall, despite an increase in case numbers and deaths for the second consecutive day.Advertisement

NSW recorded 10,463 new COVID-19 cases – up more than 2,000 cases from the previous day – and there were also 11 more deaths than Tuesday.

Hospitalisations have dropped by 105 to 1,478, while there were 92 people in intensive care on Wednesday – four fewer than reported by NSW Health on Tuesday.

Nearly half the population – about 49.1 per cent of people – have received a booster shot statewide.

The state government has announced Sydney’s public transport services will return to a regular timetable at the end of the month when COVID-19 restrictions are expected to ease.

Elective surgery in Victoria to return

Victoria reported 8,149 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with 5,295 detected through rapid antigen tests and 2,854 via PCR lab testing.

There are 397 people in Victorian hospitals, down 44 from Tuesday’s number. Of these, 68 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care and 13 require ventilation.

Active cases are continuing to decline, dropping from 50,967 to 49,936. 

It comes as all elective surgery is set to resume in Victoria by the end of the month, with the government signing off on a full restart plan as the state’s Omicron wave subsides.

From Monday, public hospitals in metropolitan Melbourne will be able to perform category 2 surgery and private metro hospitals will ramp up to 75 per cent capacity for any type of elective surgery, up from 50 per cent.

Health Minister Martin Foley will then consider allowing all surgery to go ahead from 28 February.

Each hospital will also assess their own capacity based on staff availability and COVID-19 demands, with 44 still treating infected patients.

In regional Victoria, the private hospitals cap will rise from 75 per cent to 100 per cent from Monday and public hospitals will continue to carry out any elective surgery based on their individual capacity.

Victoria suspended all less urgent category two and three surgery in early January as the Omicron variant ran rampant through the community, ratcheting up pressure on the health system.

But the state’s rolling seven-day average of COVID-19 hospitalisations now sits at 457 patients, dropping from a peak of more than 1,200 patients in mid-January. Staff unavailability figures have also fallen by roughly two-thirds to 1,400 workers.

Queensland sees rise in cases among children

Queensland recorded another 12 virus deaths and 6,596 cases after 10,738 tests in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Wednesday.

There are also 432 patients being treated for COVID-19 in hospital and another 34 in intensive care.

Queensland Chief Health Officer John Gerrard says another 1,905 children have tested positive, up from 1,587 new cases the previous day.

He admits there’s been “a bump in cases in children” since school returned last Monday, but he says child hospitalisations are not rising.

“The numbers are not enormous, we had larger numbers only two or three weeks ago, and we have not seen increases in hospitalisations among children,” Dr Gerrard told reporters on Wednesday.

“To me the bigger concern when children get infected is the risk to their parents and their grandparents and that’s why it is so critical that anyone coming in contact with children get the booster.”

The latest figures show that 92.4 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had one dose of a vaccine, while 90.38 per cent have had two, and more than 62 per cent have had a booster.

What else is happening around the country?

Meanwhile, the Australian Capital Territory has recorded 594 new cases of COVID-19 – the highest number of daily cases reported in the national capital for nearly a month.

Of the new cases detected, 329 came from PCR tests while 265 were from positive rapid antigen tests.

Hospitalisations from COVID-19 have also declined in the past 24 hours, down from 49 to 48.

The number of patients being treated in intensive care for the virus has also decreased from four to three, while there are still two patients on a ventilator.

Vaccination rates have risen to 62.2 per cent of those 16 and over having had a booster dose, while 76.6 per cent of five to 11-year-olds have received their first dose.

Wednesday also marked the easing of visitor restrictions in ACT health facilities. Patients will now be allowed to have two visitors per day, but only one can visit at a time.

Visitors were barred from hospitals for several weeks following the spike in Omicron cases in Canberra.

In Tasmania, the number of new cases has risen for a third day in a row, with the island state reporting 625 infections.

Thirteen people with COVID-19 are in hospital with eight of those being treated specifically for the virus, the state health department says.

Two cases are being cared for in intensive care, an increase from one on Tuesday.

There are 3,116 documented active cases statewide, a marginal increase on 3,033 from 24 hours earlier.

There were 513 new cases on Tuesday, 408 on Monday and 371 on Sunday.