Australia Covid update: NSW restrictions to stay as 76 virus deaths recorded across country

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Damian Shaw/AAP</span>
Photograph: Damian Shaw/AAP

Covid restrictions in New South Wales will remain in place for another month to ensure children can return to school and elective surgery can resume, it was revealed on Tuesday, as the country recorded 76 more deaths from the virus.

The NSW premier, Dominic Perrottet, made the announcement as the state recorded 18,512 new Covid cases and 29 deaths.

It means the indoor mask mandate, QR code check-ins, a ban on singing and dancing and the one-person per two square metre density limit in hospitality venues, including pubs, nightclubs and cafes, will continue until 28 February.

When the restrictions were announced earlier this month, Perrottet said they would apply until 27 January.

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But he said given an expected rise in infections when students return to school later this week and the resumption of non-urgent elective surgery in mid-February, the extension was a “measured and proportionate approach”.

“It comes down to priorities. I want there to be confidence in our parents, I want there to be confidence in our teachers that we can get kids back in the classroom for day one, term one,” Perrottet said.

“If you’re to ask what’s more important, someone singing or dancing or someone getting their non-urgent elective surgery back, I know what the right approach is.”

There are 2,943 people in hospital with the virus in NSW, an increase of 127 since Monday, though the number of people in intensive care units has dropped by 13 to 183.

Of the 29 people who died, all but one were aged 65 and older. Two had received three vaccine doses, 21 had two doses and six were unvaccinated.

Victoria recorded 14,836 new Covid cases, an increase on the 11,695 a day earlier, and 29 deaths. There are 1,057 Victorians in hospital with the virus, an increase of 59 since Monday, while intensive care admissions remain stable at 119.

With thousands of people continuing to contract the virus daily, the Victorian health minister, Martin Foley, launched a campaign to encourage those with mild symptoms to manage their illness at home.

He said since the start of 2022 more than 550,000 people have contracted the virus but just 0.71% have required hospitalisation.

The deputy state controller of Victoria’s health system operations, Adam Horsburgh, said the campaign would also “relieve some of the pressure that our frontline doctors and nurses are facing”.

“I hear firsthand many of the stories of people who have felt the need to attend an emergency department or call triple zero because they didn’t necessarily know how else to access the advice or support that they needed when they tested positive,” he said.

Horsburgh said since a system-wide “code brown” was enacted at state hospitals last week, the number of admissions have either remained stable or improved slightly.

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However, there are still no plans to resume elective surgery in the state.

“We’re very conscious of the impact that the deferral of elective surgery has on everyone on a waiting list but we do not believe at this point in time that the system is in a position to restart elective surgery,” he said.

In Queensland, there were 9,546 new Covid infections and 11 deaths, though the state’s chief health officer, John Gerrard, is confident the state is approaching the peak of its Omicron wave.

In South Australia there were 1,869 new cases – the state’s lowest figure for 2022 – and five deaths.

The Australian Capital Territory recorded 904 infections and one death, while Western Australia recorded 15 cases.

In Tasmania, there were 643 new cases and one person died from the virus.

Tuesday marks two years since the first Covid case was detected in Australia. On January 25, 2020, a man who flew to Melbourne from Wuhan tested positive for the virus.

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