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Deadliest day of the pandemic: Australia records 74 COVID-19 deaths

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The latest announcements mean 357 deaths have been reported in the country over the past seven days, nearly 13 per cent of the total deaths in Australia from COVID-19 during the pandemic.

NSW reported 29,830 new cases on Tuesday – the majority recorded via PCR testing – while 2,850 people are in hospital of which 209 are in ICU.

The same figures stood at 2,776 in hospital and 203 in intensive care yesterday.

Meanwhile, Victoria recorded 20,180 new cases on Tuesday and has 1,152 people in hospital.

The new infections confirmed by the health department include 11,747 from rapid antigen tests and 8433 from PCR tests. 

It is the second consecutive day that case numbers have declined in the state. 

Victoria has declared a Code Brown emergency for all its Melbourne hospitals and six in the regions, as the system buckles under COVID-19 admissions and staff shortages.

Acting Health Minister James Merlino announced the measure will come into effect from midday on Wednesday and last for four to six weeks as hospitalisations are expected to peak.

Queensland has recorded 15,962 new cases, with the government moving to limit emergency department visitors as the state’s outbreak grows.

The new virus cases emerged after 32,506 tests across Queensland in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Tuesday.

There are 819 patients being treated for COVID-19 in hospital and another 50 in intensive care with 18 people on ventilators.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said only one of the 45 virus deaths recorded since mid-December had received a booster vaccine.

“I want to emphasise that of these 45 deaths only one person has had a booster shot, and if I can … for anyone out there to do anything today to prioritise getting your booster, particularly if you are elderly and vulnerable,” she told reporters.

“Please come forward and get your booster. We know that it makes a difference.”

Vaccine bookings not filled

The latest figures come after 70,000 vaccine bookings went unfulfilled in NSW last week.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant told reporters on Monday she “can’t stress enough the urgency of getting boosters”.

Just a handful of the 22 men and 14 women who died on Monday were triple-vaccinated, Dr Chant said.

“There needs to be a sense of urgency in embracing the booster doses,” she said.

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“For Omicron, we know the protection is lower and we need that next boosting.”

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The first 1.2 million rapid, at-home tests ordered by the NSW government have arrived, with another 15 million expected within a week.

The government’s order of 50 million will be distributed to schools, social housing, vulnerable and remote communities.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported the state’s 1.2 million students would need to take RATs twice a week under one proposal for the return to school.

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Parents may also be asked to supervise children in classrooms to counter staff shortages and prevent a return to home schooling.

The NSW-Victorian plan will be presented to National Cabinet later this week.

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