Australia New infections surge to all-time high as Omicron overtakes Delta as Victoria's dominant strain

09:19  01 january  2022
09:19  01 january  2022 Source:   theage.com.au

The risk of hospitalization with omicron lower delta, according to a British study

 The risk of hospitalization with omicron lower delta, according to a British study health-coronavirus-omicron-study: the risk of hospitalization with omicron lower to delta, according to a British study © Reuters / Jeeneah moon the risk Of hospitalization with Omicron lower in Delta, according to a British study London (Reuters) - the risk of having to remain at the hospital because of COVID-19 is 40% less than 45% for patients contaminated by the Omicron variant Coronavirus compared to those infected with the Variant Delta, according to a study conducted by Imperial College,

The Omicron variant has overtaken Delta as the dominant strain of COVID-19 in Victoria as the state reported a record number of positive infections for the fifth day in a row.

The COVID-19 testing queues have continued into the new year, with lines outside Melbourne's Town Hall on Saturday. © Joe Armao The COVID-19 testing queues have continued into the new year, with lines outside Melbourne's Town Hall on Saturday.

Victoria recorded nine deaths and 7442 new coronavirus cases on New Year's Day, up from 5839 the previous day. The rise comes as Melburnians brace for longer delays at testing sites over the weekend with some expected to close due to the extreme heat.

Sample testing of positive cases indicated that Omicron was now the most common strain across the state, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said in his daily update on Saturday.

Fears for hospital system as cases rise and staff availability falls

  Fears for hospital system as cases rise and staff availability falls Victoria's healthcare system faces a staffing crisis at a critical time when hundreds of staff are in isolation and COVID-19 hospitalisations are on the rise.In addition to a sharp uptick in critically ill coronavirus patients in Victorian hospitals since the end of November, The Age can reveal that only two Victorians have so far been admitted to hospital after being infected with the highly infectious Omicron variant. Both patients were admitted and discharged on the same day.

Two weeks ago, just 1.7 percent of all positive cases in Victoria had possible indicators for Omicron.

"Community sample testing of positive cases for the Omicron variant indicates that it is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in Victoria," Professor Sutton said.

As the state hit another record daily tally, NSW recorded 22,577 new coronavirus cases. But despite the record figures the Victorian government is remaining steadfast on no extra measures to slow the spread, in line with a radically changed approach to the virus agreed to by federal and state leaders at national cabinet this week.

Victorian Transport Minister Ben Carroll said on Saturday: "There are no plans for more restrictions."

Mr Carroll also defended the government's decision to ignore advice from Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, provided just before Christmas, which urged the Andrews government to close dance floors, implement density caps in hospitality, require people attending major events to have a negative rapid tested before entry and restrict access to hospitals and aged care homes.

Omicron surge hits hundreds of flights in US

  Omicron surge hits hundreds of flights in US Airlines say they are experiencing Covid-related staffing shortages over the busy Christmas period.A quarter of the more than 4,000 flights cancelled worldwide on Friday and Saturday were in the US, according to website Flightaware.

In the December 23 report, which was made public on Friday under the state's new pandemic legislation, Professor Sutton said his advice was designed to avoid a worst-case scenario of more than 25,000 cases per day in Victoria, as modelled by the Burnet Institute.

On Saturday, Mr Carroll said he believed Victoria would not reach 25,000 cases, even though NSW has almost hit that threshold already.

"From what I'm aware of that, that was very much a worst-case scenario, and it's not expected that we reach those figures," he said, saying Victoria would not follow the NSW trajectory because of Victoria's prior use of lockdowns, mask requirements indoors and spacing measures on public transport.

"They've possibly put the brake on Omicron where we haven't had the rates where New South Wales has," he said.

Video: Victoria records 1,503 COVID cases as hospitalisation rate increases (ABC NEWS)

NZ buys time for COVID-19 boosters, but quarantine changes cancels Christmas for some

  NZ buys time for COVID-19 boosters, but quarantine changes cancels Christmas for some Jacinda Ardern's government is trying to prevent the spread of Omicron to allow time for New Zealand's population to get booster shots, but the border restrictions are about to be challenged in court.He was due to arrive in Auckland from the United Kingdom on December 18 and seven days in hotel quarantine would have had him seeing his family on Christmas Day.

"We need to be vigilant though, you don't rest on your laurels. We all need to live in an outdoor lifestyle and be as safe as we can."

People who don't have any symptoms are being encouraged to seek a rapid antigen test instead of a PCR test.

The number of cases will become less clear in the coming week as the state moves towards relying on the at-home tests. The Age revealed on Saturday that the government had IT infrastructure available for those who tested positive to COVID-19 on a rapid test to create unique codes that store their test results online to be included in official figures, but Mr Carroll said the idea was still potentially "months" away.

"This is something [COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar] is looking at and is certainly being investigated," he said. "How far away it could be, I don't have a direct answer, but it could literally be months."

Saturday's Victorian case numbers bring the number of active cases in the state to 24,161. The previous record for Victoria was set on Friday, with 5919 COVID-19 cases.

South Africa: Wave Omicron Passed Without Peak

 South Africa: Wave Omicron Passed Without Peak Deaths © Phill Magakoe Vaccination in front of a shopping center of Pretoria, December 8, 2021 South Africa, where the new VVID variant is detected. Last month, announced having passed the peak of the Omicron wave, with an increase only "marginal" of death, while many countries are experiencing record infections.

The number of people in hospitals in Victoria with COVID-19 has risen to 451, and 98 people are in intensive care units. Of those, 51 still have active COVID-19 infections, and 21 are on ventilators, while the seven-day hospitalisation average rose to 406 from 392 on Friday.

Mr Carroll said he was not aware of any plans to adjust elective surgery if hospitalisations continued to rise in the coming weeks.

The rising case tally comes after health officials warned Melburnians some testing sites may be forced to close over the weekend due to the extreme heat.

Authorities urged anyone planning to get a COVID-19 test to visit the government's coronavirus advice website before leaving home to see which testing sites were open.

On Friday, the audience at Moulin Rouge! The Musical was told to leave Melbourne's Regent Theatre mid-show after a staff member within the company tested positive for COVID-19.

The performance was cancelled for the day and audience members were told they would be contacted by the ticketing company.

"We made the decision to discontinue this afternoon's performance of Moulin Rouge! The Musical after a positive COVID-19 test result within the wider company was made known to us," she said.

"We will have an update regarding future performances as soon as possible."

With Paul Sakkal

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New year, new mask: Why you should start wearing N95s .
Cloth masks won’t cut it against omicron.Masking best practices have changed since the beginning of the pandemic, and confusion still abounds about which mask to wear and in what circumstances. However, medical experts are in agreement: Masks are a crucial component in stopping the spread of all variants of Covid-19, and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved N95 respirator is still the most effective mask on the market.

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