Australian states break grim records for Covid cases

Sydney, Jan 4 (IANS) The Australian states of New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria on Tuesday reported record high number of daily Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations, as the country’s overall infection tally surpassed the 500,000 mark.

NSW, the epicentre of Australia’s current wave of the pandemic, recorded 23,131 new cases and two deaths in the past 24 hours, reports Xinhua news agency.

It also has 1,344 Covid-19 patients in hospital, up by 140 from the previous day, bringing the state’s hospitalisation total to surpass the previous high of 1,268, which was recorded in September last year.

The mounting hospitalisations continue to strain the state’s public healthcare system and NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant urged people to stay away from hospitals unless necessary.”While we are very well-placed in the global context to manage this case burden, it is important that we all play our part in not placing an unnecessary burden on the health system,” she said.

Local newspaper Sydney Morning Herald said that across the state, intensive care unit nurses are once again working excessive hours of double shifts and overtime.

The second most populous state of Victoria also reported a record-breaking 14,020 cases on Tuesday, the first time for the state to report over 10,000 single-day infections, with 516 patients in the hospital.

In order to process a backlog of outstanding Covid-19 test results, a number of private pathology testing sites in Victoria have suspended operations and will remain closed for at least the remainder of this week.

The Victoria government suggested asymptomatic people who want to check if they are infected with Covid-19 should go for a rapid antigen test instead of a PCR test, and should continue to monitor for symptoms and stay safe if they cannot get rapid antigen test kits, which are in short supply across the country. As of Tuesday, Australia’s overall caseload and death toll stood at 547,160 and 2,270, respectively.–IANSksk/