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Sunday, December 04 2022

Aussie state reintroduces mask mandate amid Omicron surge

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Sydney:  Authorities in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) have reintroduced a mask mandate following repeated calls amid the state’s surging Omicron wave.

From midnight Thursday, masks would be made mandatory in all indoor public spaces across the state until January 27, Xinhua news agency reported.

Indoor density limits have also been reintroduced across the state, with all indoor hospitality venues only permitted to have one person per two square metres.

Health restrictions had previously eased in NSW on December 15. Since then, authorities have emphasised “personal responsibility” and resisted a return to mandates.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said on Thursday the biggest prompt to reintroduce the health measures was the impact on healthcare workers, not the number of hospitalisations and people in intensive care.

“What we’re seeing at the moment is that many of our health workers, around 1,500 just today, are either sick or unable through testing requirements to be able to come into work,” he said.

As of Thursday, 347 people in NSW have been admitted to hospital with Covid, up from 302 reported on Wednesday, and 45 required intensive care, up from 40.

The premier also urged citizens to seek a Covid test only if they needed one, citing the overwhelming of the state’s testing facilities.

NSW saw its highest ever daily increase on Thursday with 5,715 new Covid cases, an increase of more than 50 per cent from Wednesday’s 3,763 cases. In the last one week the state has recorded over 21,000 cases.

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