A total of 74 deaths due to Covid-19 were reported from Australia on Monday, in one of the deadliest days since the pandemic began even as the country saw some relief as new infections fell marginally. The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has proven exceptionally difficult to handle, pushing up hospitalisation rates and spreading like wildfire Reuters reported.
The deaths were registered by late morning between New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, Australia's three most populous states, exceeding the previous national high of 57 last Thursday, official data showed.
"Today, is a very difficult day for our state," New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said during a media briefing as the state reported 36 deaths, a new pandemic high. He did however specify that there would be no additional curbs as the vaccination rate was high and said the health system was still functioning well enough tk handle the current crisis.
The state of Victoria has declared a "code brown" according to a Reuters report, meaning that it has given hospitals emergency powers to cancel non-essential services as well as revoke staff leave. The declaration is usually meant for short-term emergencies.
67,000 new infections were reported in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, down from a national high of 150,000 last Thursday. The majority of those in hospitals are going and unvaccinated according to Australian health officials
The handling of the pandemic has dented Prime Minister Scott Morrison's image amidst political and social uproar over granting vaccine exemption to tennis player Novak Djokovic whose visa was later cancelled and the man deported after a drawn-out court battle over his flouting of Covid regulations.
Djokovic's vaccine exemption prompted angry responses from the Australian public, where 92.6% of those aged 16 and over are double vaccinated according to statistics published by the Australian Department of Health.
Australia has reported about 1.6 million infections since the pandemic began, of which around 1.3 million were in the last two weeks. Total deaths stood at 2,757.