The Federal Government has activated the emergency levers as Australia experiences its deadliest day of the pandemic. On Tuesday 18 January, 77 deaths from COVID-19 were recorded, up from 57 on 13 January.
New South Wales recorded 29,830 new cases of COVID-19 and 36 deaths in the last reporting period. This is the highest number of daily deaths in the state during the pandemic. Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant warned on Monday that the death toll would rise in the coming days…
New South Wales Prime Minister, Dominic Perrottet, told a news conference on Tuesday that the death toll made it a “very difficult day”.
“Often over the last couple of years we’ve focused on the numbers, but we mustn’t forget that behind every one of those numbers there’s a loved one who has died, or someone who is in intensive care in a hospital going through a very difficult time,” he said.
The government has activated its agreement with private hospitals, providing up to 57,000 additional nurses and 100,000 staff for Omicron-affected areas across the country. It is also triggering the national medical stockpile to support states and territories that are experiencing resource shortages. Ten million medical items – three million rapid antigen tests, two million N95 masks, two million surgical masks and up to one million gloves, gowns and goggles – will also be provided to the aged care sector.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the government was trying to balance the impact of the virus with allowing people to continue working, tasking his team to closely examine Omicron deaths in Australia.
“(Omicron) follows a similar pattern. It’s always older people with known risk factors who are most at risk,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“(But) now we know what to do to prevent these deaths. It’s not always going to be successful, but we have treatments now and if people end up in hospital, we know that the doctors and nurses are fantastic at dealing with that.”
In particular, he urged people to continue to follow restrictions – including isolation for cases and close contacts and uploading rapid antigen test results to the Service NSW app – and thanked health workers for their hard work and residents for making safe choices about COVID, such as socialising outside.
Mr Hunt said the Therapeutic Goods Administration had received the final data for the Novavax vaccine and he hoped they would make a public announcement within the next 10 days or month.