Australia reports 88 COVID-19 deaths, but hospital numbers fall in NSW and Victoria

New South Wales alone reported 46 new COVID-19 deaths, the highest number ever recorded on a single day since the start of the pandemic.

Members of the public queue in their cars for a COVID-19 PCR test in Sydney.

Members of the public queue in their cars for a COVID-19 PCR test in Sydney. Source: AAP

New South Wales reported 46 COVID-19 deaths on Friday, the highest number of fatalities the state has recorded since the start of the pandemic, while Victoria reported 20.

Deaths from the virus were also reported in Queensland, which had 13 fatalities, South Australia, which had six, the ACT, which had two, and Tasmania, which had one.

Hospitalisations in both NSW and Victoria have fallen over the last 24 hours - down nine per cent in Victoria from 1,206 to 1,096 and more than one per cent in NSW, from 2,781 to 2,743.

Of the hospitalised patients in NSW, 209 are in ICU, down from 212 on Thursday, while the figure also dropped in Victoria from 122 to 121.

Kerry Chant, the NSW Chief Health Officer, said seven of the deaths in the state were from December and early January and had been added to the figure after coronial inquests.

In addition, Dr Chant confirmed the death of a baby from the Hunter New England area who died with the virus in December, although that fatality has not been recorded in official figures pending the conclusion of a coronial investigation. 

NSW recorded 25,168 new cases on Friday, while in Victoria, there were 18,167.

Victoria is also encouraging public sector workers to get their third COVID-19 vaccine jab by offering half a day's paid time off.

Treasurer Tim Pallas on Friday announced the extension of the arrangement, which was also used for first and second doses.

South Australia on Friday reported six further deaths, but a fall in new COVID-19 infections, with Premier Steven Marshall saying the drop is further evidence the state may have reached the peak of the current Omicron-fuelled outbreak.

There were 3,023 new infections on Friday, down from 3,777 on Thursday.

"These numbers do bob around a bit but this is very significantly under our seven-day average," Mr Marshall said. "I'm increasingly hopeful we have got on top of this very dangerous Omicron wave."

There are 298 people in hospital, with 33 in intensive care and seven on ventilators.

The ACT, meanwhile, has had its equal deadliest day of the pandemic, with two new fatalities. A man in his 60s and a man in his 90s died in the latest reporting period, taking the ACT's death toll since the start of the pandemic to 22.

It comes as the number of new infections in Canberra remained stable on Friday, with 826 cases reported. Of those, 259 came from PCR tests while 567 were from rapid antigen tests.

Hospitalisations from COVID-19 in the ACT have also remained stable with 62 patients being treated, with two in intensive care and one on a ventilator.

Tasmania recorded its first coronavirus-related death since reopening its borders to mainland hotspots in mid-December.

The 90-year-old woman, who was unvaccinated, was a resident of the Barrington Lodge nursing home in Hobart.

"Our thoughts are obviously with her family and friends at this difficult time," Premier Peter Gutwein told reporters on Friday.

There have been 2,976 deaths recorded in Australia since the pandemic began two years ago.

Tasmania recorded 866 new virus infections on Friday and has 5,984 active cases.

Booster wait cut in Queensland

Queensland recorded 16,031 new cases as the state moves to cut the waiting time for those waiting to get a booster vaccine.

The new virus cases emerged after 37,121 tests in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Friday, taking the number of active cases in the state to more than 100,000.

There are 855 patients being treated for COVID-19 in hospital and another 54 in intensive care and 22 people on ventilators.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says 62 per cent of those eligible have had a booster and the waiting time for a third jab will be cut from four to three months from Monday.

Meanwhile, the Northern Territory reported 423 new infections, while the number of people in hospital climbed to 62. Of those, two are in intensive care and five require oxygen. 

Western Australia recorded seven new local infections on Friday, four of which had not been linked to any known cases, along with three travel-related cases.

The figures come as Premier Mark McGowan delayed the WA border reopening indefinitely, amid fears opening up to the Omicron variant would result in "lots of people dying".

The WA border was scheduled to open on 5 February.

"Unfortunately, the world changed in December; Omicron arrived," Mr McGowan told reporters on Thursday evening.

"Omicron is a whole new ball game ... We can't just shut our eyes and hope that it is different," he said.

With AAP.

5 min read
Published 21 January 2022 at 9:07am
Source: SBS