Sydney: The state of New South Wales (NSW), as the epicenter of Australia’s Covid-19 infections, reported a record high daily increase of cases on Wednesday December 22.
The state health department recorded 3,763 new Covid cases and two deaths in the 24 hours to 8 p.m. Tuesday, the highest daily increase since the pandemic outbreak started early last year. The hospitalisations for Covid also exceeded 300, with 40 people in intensive care, Xinhua news agency reported.
According to the latest figure from NSW Health on Sunday, 313 Covid cases with the Omicron variant have been confirmed in the state since the first infection was detected in late November.
Despite the continued sharp increase of Covid transmission, NSW is no longer practicing mask mandates, density and visitor limits in some indoor venues. Unvaccinated people were also allowed to enter non-essential venues.
“Based on rising cases and Omicron (which we still need more data on), it would be preferable to keep indoor mask-wearing, and good contact tracing,” epidemiologist Professor Alexandra Martiniuk from the University of Sydney told Xinhua.
“When health is put as a priority, a strong economy follows… Masks and QR code check-ins should not reduce economic gains rather should improve them.”
Martiniuk said the current Covid figures are rising fastest among the 20-year-olds, and this age group is not as likely as older age groups to be hospitalised with the virus, which means hospitalisations typically lag case growth.
Responding to the growing calls of reinstating Covid restrictions, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet acknowledged on Tuesday that the increase in cases would lead to more hospital admissions but said he is not committed to reintroducing compulsory masks in indoor settings.
“We are treating the people of our state like adults. If we need to tailor our responses from time to time, we will.”
“When it comes to face masks, we recommend face masks in areas where you can’t socially distance.”