As cases surge, NSW re-imposes Covid curbs

As Covid-19 instances reached a new high, Australia’s most populous state reintroduced some restrictions and cancelled elective surgeries on Friday.

Premier Dominic Perrottet announced measures prohibiting dancing and singing in pubs and nightclubs, as well as delaying non-urgent surgery until mid-February, after New South Wales recorded 38,625 new cases.

On Friday, there were 1,738 hospitalizations in the state, with health officials warning that the figure might rise to 4,700 or perhaps 6,000 in the worst-case scenario over the next month. Hospitals are already overburdened, as 3,800 medical personnel have been placed in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19.

“It’s been an enormously tough two years,” Perrottet acknowledged, but said the restoration of the protocols was “logical and proportionate.”

On Friday, the chairman of the Australian Medical Association chastised Perrottet, claiming that the increase in case numbers and hospitalizations was due to his decision to loosen restrictions just as the omicron form began to spread across the state.

“These additional limits, which we understand may go into effect today, may marginally slow the spread, but they’re not going to turn this curve around,” AMA president Omar Khorshid told the media. “Either everyone is immune or they’ve contracted the infection.”

“It’ll take a few weeks to get to this climax, so we’ll just have to brace ourselves,” Khorshid remarked.

By the middle of next month, Deputy Health Secretary Susan Pearce expected that New South Wales would have recovered from the worst of the omicron surge.

“Experiences from other parts of the world have demonstrated that this would rise swiftly and pass quickly,” Pearce said to reporters. “By the middle of February, we anticipate we will have passed the top of this.”

On Friday, the overall Covid-19 picture in Australia was similar, with record case numbers in most states. Over 76,000 new cases were reported across the country, with over 3,600 patients admitted to hospitals, including 223 in intensive care.

The state of Victoria, where tennis star Novak Djokovic was spending his second day in quarantine, recorded 21,728 cases and would implement new laws requiring everyone who has a positive quick antigen test to isolate and notify close contacts.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk encouraged individuals to work from home whenever possible, and Queensland reported 10,953 incidents.

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