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COVID-19

Sydney COVID-19 cases expected to top 2,000 a day

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(Last Updated On: September 6, 2021)

Sydney, the epicentre of Australia’s biggest coronavirus outbreak, is expected to see daily infections peak next week, authorities said on Monday, as they look to speed up immunisations before easing lockdown rules.

Australia is trying to contain a third wave of infections that has hit its two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, and its capital Canberra, forcing more than half the country’s 25 million people into strict stay-at-home restrictions, Reuters reported.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the government’s modelling revealed the state would require its highest number of intensive care beds in early October, with “additional pressure on the system” in the next few weeks.

Daily cases in Sydney’s worst-affected suburbs are expected to rise to as high as 2,000 until the middle of this month, the modelling showed.

“If too many of us do the wrong thing, (if) there are too many super-spreading events, we could see those numbers higher,” Berejiklian said during a media briefing in Sydney.

A total of 1,071 COVID-19 cases are currently in New South Wales hospitals, with 177 people in intensive care (ICU), 67 of whom require ventilation. Officials have said they had quadrupled ICU beds to about 2,000 in the state early last year to handle the pandemic.

The state reported 1,281 new cases on Monday, most of them in Sydney, down from 1,485 a day earlier. Five new deaths were recorded. Victoria state, which includes Melbourne, reported 246 new cases on Monday, its biggest daily rise of the year.

Despite the recent outbreaks, Australia’s coronavirus numbers have remained relatively low at around 63,000 cases and 1,044 deaths helped by hard lockdowns and border restrictions, Reuters reported.

Authorities have pledged more freedom of movement, including opening of state borders, once 70% to 80% of the population aged over 16 is vaccinated, although some virus-free states may delay their reopening plans due to the Delta outbreak in Sydney.

Just over 38% of Australia’s adult population has been fully vaccinated, with the country expected to reach 70% by early November based on current rates.

COVID-19

Australia suffers deadliest day of pandemic as Omicron drives up hospital cases

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(Last Updated On: January 18, 2022)

Australia suffered its deadliest day of the pandemic on Tuesday as a fast-moving Omicron outbreak continued to push up hospitalization rates to record levels, even as daily infections eased slightly.

Australia is dealing with its worst COVID-19 outbreak, fuelled by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus that has put more people in hospitals and intensive care than at any time during the pandemic, Reuters reported.

A total of 77 deaths was recorded, exceeding the previous national high of 57 last Thursday, official data showed.

“Today, is a very difficult day for our state,” New South Wales (NSW) Premier Dominic Perrottet said during a media briefing as the state reported 36 deaths, a new pandemic high.

Only four of those who died in NSW had received their booster shot, prompting the state’s health officials to urge people to avoid delays and get their third dose soon. Thirty-three were double-dosed.

“There needs to be a sense of urgency in embracing the booster doses,” NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said. “For Omicron, we know that the protection is lower and we need that next boosting to get that higher level of protection.”

To help public hospitals cope, the federal government has activated a plan for private hospitals to provide up to 57,000 nurses and more than 100,000 staff to Omicron-affected areas around the country, Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

While authorities usually do not specify the coronavirus variant that leads to deaths, officials have said most patients in intensive care were infected with the Omicron strain, with unvaccinated young people forming a “significant number”.

Queensland said none of Tuesday’s record 16 deaths in the state had received booster shots. Of the 45 people who have died in the state due to COVID-19 since Dec. 13, only one had received their third dose.

“Please come forward and get your booster, we know that it makes a difference,” state Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.

About 73,000 new infections were reported on Tuesday, down from a high of 150,000 last Thursday. So far, Australia has reported about 1.6 million infections since the pandemic began, of which around 1.3 million were in the last two weeks. Total deaths stood at 2,776.

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COVID-19

Afghanistan unable to detect omicron variant: health ministry

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(Last Updated On: January 17, 2022)

Public Health Ministry officials said Monday that Afghanistan’s health sector does not have the medical equipment needed to detect the newly mutated version of the coronavirus and as such, they have no idea how many people are infected with the omicron variant.

While the case number in Afghanistan is lower compared to neighboring countries, the ministry of health says the latest data put the number of cases at 40. However, it’s not known how many have the omicron variant.

“We have problems to identify the new variant of COVID-19. We call on the international community to help us. They vowed that they will continues their help,” said Javid Hazher, spokesman for the ministry of public health.

Meanwhile, staff at the Afghan-Japan Hospital, the main COVID-19 treatment center in Kabul, said that between 15 and 20 patients seek treatment at the hospital daily, however they are not able to detect the variant.

“So far, the mutated type of COVID-19 has not been identified because we have not received the diagnostic device and we have asked the Ministry of Health to make the device available as soon as possible,” said Mohammad Anil, HR director of the hospital.

Members of the public meanwhile have called on the ministry to take special measures to help curb the spread of the virus – which is currently in its 4th wave in the country.

“It has been 15 days that my mother is sick and we are satisfied with the hospital but we ask people to not go outside without wearing masks and washing their hands,” said Mohammad Juma, one Kabul resident.

“People should wear masks, and this is Islamic law, when we pray and wash our hands, we do not get sick,” said Mohammad Arif, another resident.

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COVID-19

Beijing orders travellers to take COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival in city – state media

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(Last Updated On: January 16, 2022)

Chinese travellers into Beijing from Jan. 22 to end-March are required to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their arrival in the city, Beijing Daily, a government newspaper reported on Sunday.=

China has reported local cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant in at least five provinces and municipalities, including a first infection in Beijing itself on Saturday, just weeks ahead of the Olympic Winter Games in February, Reuters reported.

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