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Scott Morrison urges calm as COVID-19 hospitalisations rise and new infections surge

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged Australians to remain calm about the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged Australians to remain calm and to not be alarmed about the sharp rise in cases and hospitalisation figures.

The national number of COVID-19 hospitalisations is approaching 2,000 with 1,963 noted on Monday, after the 1,769 tally on Sunday.

New South Wales accounts for the majority of those numbers with 1,204 people hospitalised with the virus on Monday

With more than 2,500 health workers furloughed in that state, the health system is coming under increasing strain.

Victoria has the next highest COVID-19 hospitalisation figures of 491, with 147 in Queensland, 82 in South Australia, 26 in the Northern Territory, 11 in the ACT, two in Tasmania and zero in WA.

He said authorities have things well in hand and a rise was always expected with the increased infectiousness of Omicron. 

“We know that in the overwhelming number of cases, it has been a mild illness. That doesn’t mean it can’t put pressure on the hospital system – it can,” Mr Morrison told Channel Seven’s Sunrise program on Monday. 

“And that is what we’re working very closely with the premiers and chief ministers to make sure those resources are there.”

He said the ICU figures are relatively low and that should reassure Australians. On Sunday, the national figure for COVID-19 patients in ICU was 148, with 51 people on ventilators. 

“It is important that with the rising case numbers that we see that the severeness of this illness has already been shown to be about 75 per cent less than what we saw with Delta.

“So rising case numbers is part of the Omicron variant. It is part the new phase of the pandemic we’re in.”

Mr Morrison is himself monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms after a COVID-19 positive case attended the press conference he held on Wednesday where he announced a snap national cabinet meeting for the following day. 

He is travelling to Canberra on Monday to finalise arrangements with state governments on concessional access to RATs and targeted distribution of the tests in vulnerable settings such as aged care.

A national cabinet meeting is planned for Wednesday.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the federal government has ordered more RATs and the states are expected to receive more supplies, after placing orders for 84 million tests.

Another record rises in cases in Australian states

NSW recorded 20,794 cases and four deaths on Monday, Victoria reported 8,577 new cases and three deaths and Queensland saw 4,249 cases and one death. 

South Australia reported 2,552 new cases – 263 more cases than yesterday’s COVID-19 tally. 

In Tasmania, a new daily record of 466 new infections was reported on Monday, compared to 397 and 411 on the previous two days. READ MORE‘From Wonder Woman to nothing’: The reality of having long COVID

Two COVID-19 cases are being treated in Tasmania’s hospitals, including a three-year-old child at the Royal Hobart Hospital emergency department.

The ACT recorded 514 new cases of COVID-19, marking a fresh one-day record for the territory.

Monday’s infection count was just above the previous record of 506 cases registered on Sunday.

Rise in hospital admissions 

The number of people in hospital in Australia because of COVID-19 continues to rise, driven mainly by NSW.

The national number of COVID-19 hospitalisations reached 1,769 on Sunday, with 1,000 of those hospitalisations in NSW. 

In the last 24 hours, the number of patients in NSW with COVID-19 in intensive care rose from 83 to 95. 

In Victoria, 56 people are in ICU with COVID-19 and 24 are on ventilators, while in Queensland, 10 people are in intensive care. 

Queensland Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said a man in his late 30s with “probable COVID-19” died at his home on the Gold Coast.

“I can report that a man in his late 30s with probable COVID-19 died suddenly in his home on the Gold Coast last night,” Dr Gerrard said.

“This will be referred to the coroner and our thoughts are with his family.

“I would say that it’s very, very unusual for a young man to die suddenly from COVID-19.

“It’s a very unusual circumstance so it needs further investigation to find out exactly what has happened here.”

Dr Gerrard said authorities did not have confirmation of his diagnosis.

“It’s still on a provisional basis, on a rapid antigen test,” he said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the man’s death was a reminder to people of the health risks from the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

“This is a highly infectious strain. And I want Queenslanders to think really carefully over the next month where they go, especially if they haven’t had their booster,” she said.


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