Hospitalizations due to coronavirus have risen to their highest level since mid-October in Australia’s most populous state, as a surge in omicron cases across the country puts strain on the health system.
In the previous 24 hours, New South Wales registered 11,201 new covid cases, up 87 percent from the previous day’s figure. Six hundred and twenty-five people are in hospitals across the state, including 61 in intensive care units. Testing centres around the state are still experiencing high demand, with some results taking more than 72 hours to arrive.
The majority of Australia has adapted to living with the virus, relying on vaccines and an expanding treatment arsenal. While recent studies have raised expectations that omicron symptoms may be less severe than those associated with the delta wave, some health experts have warned that if too many individuals become infected with the new type, the health system will be put under strain.
On Thursday, new cases in Victoria, the second-most populous state, reached a new high of 3,767.
Within weeks – for approximately a month – Australia might see daily Covid case counts of more than 100,000, before new mask and density limits flatten the curve.
Dr Michael Lydeamore, a Monash University infectious diseases modeller and member of the Doherty Institute modelling group that advises Australia’s national cabinet, made the prediction as states and territories reported more than 18,000 cases on Wednesday, a pandemic high.
“A month of six figure cases is certainly not out of the realms of possibility across Australia,” Lydeamore said, emphasising that the models are based on “broad and crude assumptions.”
He believes we could see six-figure infection rates for a month before the pandemic peaks, most likely in late February.
Covid cases were expected to peak in just over a month, according to recent estimates. By the end of January, a preliminary University of New South Wales model quoted by NSW health minister Brad Hazzard estimated up to 25,000 cases each day in that state alone.