Australia suffers deadliest pandemic day
Australia has recorded its deadliest ever day of the Covid-19 pandemic as the Omicron variant continues to put a strain on hospitals. Infections were slightly on the decline, however.
The latest uptick has seen more Australians admitted to hospitals in the last few days than at any time during the previous two years of the pandemic. A total of 77 deaths were recorded on Tuesday, more than the previous national high of 57 last Thursday.
However, the number of daily infections was lower compared to last week. About 73,000 new infections were reported on Tuesday, down from a high of 150,000 last Thursday.
“Today is a very difficult day for our state,” New South Wales (NSW) Premier Dominic Perrottet said in a media briefing after his state reported a record-high 36 deaths.
Most of those who died on Tuesday had not received their booster shot, prompting the state health officials to encourage more Australians to urgently get vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the state of Victoria declared ‘code brown’ emergency measures, which allow staff to be redeployed to critical areas. It also allows hospitals to cancel or delay non-urgent clinic services.
The authorities have also activated a plan for private hospitals to divert more than 100,000 staff members and up to 57,000 nurses to Omicron-affected areas around the country, Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
The surging case numbers had a negative impact on consumer confidence and spending last week, as many Australians retreated to self-imposed lockdowns. A measure of consumer confidence dropped to its lowest since October 2020.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s ratings also took a hit amid the Omicron-driven surge, with a poll this week showing only 41% of Australians said he was doing a good job.
Australia has reported about 1.6 million infections since the pandemic began, of which around 1.3 million happened only in the last two weeks. The total death toll stands at 2,776.