Health

Australia nears omicron peak as daily infections hover around records

Having limited the spread of the coronavirus
through tough restrictions earlier in the pandemic, Australia is now suffering
record caseloads from the omicron variant. Most parts of the country have
shifted to a strategy of living with the virus as they reached higher
vaccination rates.

More than 1.2 million infections have been
recorded this year, compared with 200,000 for 2020 and 2021 combined.

“We are not through it yet and I think
there are still going to be large number of cases diagnosed in Australia over
the next few weeks,” Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly told a news briefing,
referring to the omicron outbreak.

But modelling from some states “leads me
to believe that we are close to the peak of this wave in terms of cases,”
he said.

Infections have dipped over the last three
days while the rise in hospitalisations in worst-hit New South Wales,
Australia’s most populous state, has slowed slightly, official data showed.

Most states are battling record
hospitalisations during the omicron wave, with authorities saying unvaccinated
younger people forming a “significant number” of admissions in
Australia.

“We are seeing an epidemic of the
unvaccinated in young people, we are seeing that in intensive care
admissions,” Kelly said.

Australia is among the most heavily vaccinated
countries against COVID-19, with more than 92% of people above 16 double-dosed,
and with a booster drive picking up pace.

A medical exemption for tennis star Novak
Djokovic from vaccination was met with uproar in the country.

The federal government of Prime Minister Scott
Morrison, fielding criticism for his handling of the omicron wave in an
election year, on Friday cancelled Djokovic’s visa for the second time over
COVID-19 entry rules. Djokovic is seeking a court ruling to stop his
deportation.

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