Australia records 60 further COVID-19 deaths as case numbers continue to grow

A safe return for students and teachers during the current COVID-19 wave will be decided upon by each respective state and territory.

A paramedic by an ambulance in Victoria.

The number of deaths due to COVID has increased. Source: AAP

Sixty people have died from COVID-19 as virus cases continue to grow across Australia. 

In New South Wales and Victoria, there are currently one in 10 residents who are living with COVID-19. 

But the daily number of people hospitalised in NSW has fallen for the first time since 18 December - from 2,863 on Wednesday to 2,781 - while ICU numbers also fell to 212 from 217.

The state reported 30,825 new infections and 25 people lost their lives, while Victoria reported 15 deaths on Thursday, and Queensland nine.

In Victoria, the health department reported 21,966 new COVID-19 cases.

The total number of active cases in the state is currently 246,894, with 1,206 patients in hospital, 122 in ICU and 40 on ventilators. 

It comes as national cabinet met on Thursday, with the Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing plans for returning to face-to-face school learning will be announced by each state and territory leader in the coming days. 

South Australia has also seen a spike in deaths as 11 people in the state have lost their lives to COVID-19,  as the state reported another 3,777 infections and the government eyed an easing of restrictions in coming weeks.

Among the 11 deaths, five occurred in aged care centres.

Premier Steven Marshall said 290 people were in hospital with the virus, but 47 of those were admitted for other reasons.

There were 29 people in intensive care with six on ventilators.

Mr Marshall said he was hopeful South Australia was "at the top of the peak" in regard to the current Omicron-fuelled outbreak.

"South Australia is in a much better position than three or four weeks ago," he said.

"I think we've very much stabilised the situation.

"Obviously, we can't be complacent ... but I'm feeling increasingly optimistic that in the coming weeks we'll be able to ease restrictions proportionally and still keep those case numbers at a point which aren't worrying our hospital system."

An 18-year-old is among nine COVID-19 related deaths reported in Queensland as the state records another 16,812 virus cases.

Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said the teenager had "significant underlying medical problems", and his thoughts are with the families and friends of those who had died.

A total of 850 people are currently in hospital with COVID-19 in Queensland, including 48 in ICU.

Booster dose 'not an optional extra'

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has urged residents of the state to roll up their sleeves and get a COVID-19 booster vaccination.

Mr Andrews said it was not an "optional extra", and a third dose was necessary to "protect against severe illness".

State and territory leaders met along with Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday to discuss Australia's COVID-19 response as the Omicron variant spreads at an unprecedented rate.

Mr Andrews said three COVID-19 vaccine doses were required to be "properly protected" and he "expected" national cabinet would "reflect" this.

Victoria on Wednesday reduced the interval between the second and third vaccine doses, with residents now able to access a booster shot at three months, down from four, at state vaccination centres.

Mr Andrews also confirmed that his government had placed an order for a further 166 million rapid antigen tests, in addition to the 44 million already ordered.

Victorian authorities also said on Thursday the state will resume IVF services, a day after the state announced that it'll be suspended along with other elective surgeries and non-urgent medical procedures.

Victoria's hospital system is under extreme pressure, with the 

What is happening elsewhere?

Tasmania has recorded 927 new COVID-19 cases, with the number of people in intensive care increasing to three.

Thirty-one people with the virus are in hospital, 14 of those being treated specifically for virus symptoms.

Three cases are in ICU, a rise from the two cases reported on Wednesday.

The ACT has 892 new cases, 62 people in hospital of which three are in ICU.

The Northern Territory reported 459 new cases, as infectious continue to rise among the Indigenous population and remove communities. 

It brings the total number of active cases in the Territory to about 3970, with 54 people in hospital and one in intensive care.

Among the newly infected are 15 people in Galiwin'ku, 515 kilometres east of Darwin in East Arnhem, bringing the cluster on Elcho Island to 49.

In Western Australia, five new COVID-19 infections have been recorded, with one of those not linked to any known cases so far.

Health authorities are working alongside contact tracers to determine any exposure sites in the state. 

With AAP. 

5 min read
Published 20 January 2022 at 9:07am
Source: SBS News