Australia starts 2022 with record COVID cases

New South Wales, the most populous state, and Victoria both
posted daily record case numbers of 22,577 and 7,442 respectively on Saturday,
health department figures showed.

There were four deaths due to COVID in New South Wales and
nine in Victoria, taking the national death toll from the pandemic to more than

Including cases in Queensland, Tasmania and the Australian
Capital Territory, Saturday had already set a national record of 33,161 cases,
topping Friday’s 32,946, even before numbers from South Australia, Western
Australia and the Northern Territory were released.

All Australian states, except for Western Australia, have
begun to live with the virus after higher vaccination levels, and the easing in
restrictions has pushed cases higher.

The New South Wales government changed its self-isolation
rules for asymptomatic healthcare workers who had been classified as a close
contact of a COVID case, giving them an exemption if they are considered
critical to their workplace.

Over the week since Christmas Day, cases in New South Wales
have more than tripled from 6,288. Hospitalisations due to COVID have more than
doubled to 901 from 388, while the number of people in intensive care units has
risen by around 50% to 79.

The outbreak has affected sporting events. Australia batsman
Travis Head will miss the fourth Ashes cricket test against England in Sydney
next week after testing positive for COVID.

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