South Australian officials have imposed a slew of Covid restrictions ahead of New Year’s Eve, following the discovery of 774 new cases in the state.
As the super-contagious Omicron variant sparks outbreaks across the country, daily case numbers increased by 140 on Boxing Day, up from 634 on Christmas Day.
There are currently 17 persons in the hospital, three of them are in the intensive care unit, an increase of five in the last 24 hours. Omicron is responsible for more than 80% of new infections on Sunday.
To limit the spread of the virus, Premier Steven Marshall said new laws would be implemented starting at midnight on Sunday.
Home gatherings will be reduced from 30 to 10 persons, while hospitality venue density limitations will be lowered to one per four square metres indoors and one per two square metres outside.
One person per seven metres will be allowed in gyms.
Mr Marshall stated, ‘We are becoming increasingly concerned about the Omicron version.’
‘If we don’t act now, our health systems will be overwhelmed across the country.’
‘To save lives, we need to spring into action.’
As governments work to relieve burden on testing facilities, interstate travellers will no longer be required to take a PCR test before entering South Australia.
Instead, travellers are advised to do a quick antigen test when they arrive.
The revisions come as Covid cases continue to grow in certain regions, putting Australia in the midst of its largest and most widespread outbreak to date.
NSW had 6394 new daily infections on Sunday, up from 6288 on Saturday, Victoria had 1608 (down from 2108), Queensland had 714 (down from 765), the ACT had 71 (down from 142), and Tasmania had 44. (up from 33).
Except for WA, which is suffering with a Delta outbreak, the Omicron form has now infected every state and territory.
Most states and territories have made wearing a mask mandatory as a means of limiting the virus’s spread over the holiday season.
Meanwhile, in other places, the time it takes to be tested and receive a result has ballooned.
In January, the federal government declared that the wait for booster shots will be cut in half twice.
Boosters will be given four months after the second dose starting January 4, down from five months currently.
After that, folks can get boosters after three months starting on January 31.
On January 4, around 7.5 million Australians will be eligible for their booster dose. When the time limit is reduced to three months, this will increase to 16 million by the end of the month.
On Saturday, Australians who rolled up their sleeves for their third dose were commended by Health Minister Greg Hunt.
He tweeted, “Many thanks to Australians for taking us well above two million boosters.”
On Christmas Eve, 123,500 shots were given out, with 94,072 of them being boosters.