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NSW reports record 29 deaths as QLD COVID cases surge

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NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet insists the health system has the capacity to deal with the Omicron surge as the state records its deadliest day of the pandemic.

The state recorded 63,018 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, including 37,938 rapid antigen test results.

A record 29 people died in the past 24 hours.

There are 2525 people in hospital with the virus, with 184 of those in intensive care, up from 2383 and 182 respectively on Thursday. There are 59 people on ventilators.

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Mr Perrottet said modelling being released on Friday tracking the current spike of hospitalisations was showing the situation was better than projected.

“We are tracking against that modelling and whilst the health system is under pressure, our health teams are doing an amazing job,” he said.

“We are currently tracking at both an ICU and hospitalisation rate here in NSW better than the best case scenario we released last week. So that is encouraging, reassuring and pleasing.”

Camera IconNSW Premier Dominic Perrottet says the health system has the “capacity” to deal with the current Omicron surge. NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw Credit: News Corp Australia

He said both the health system and other jurisdictions were “feeling the strain”.

“The health system is under pressure in this state, just like right around the country and right around the world as we move through this pandemic,” Mr Perrottet said.

“It is going to be a difficult few weeks ahead but the tracking that we are releasing today is very reassuring and encouraging given where we sit today in the pandemic.”

Of the new cases, NSW Health said 37,938 were detected on rapid antigen tests (RATs), with 24,329 of these positive tests from the previous seven days.

There were 25,080 positive cases from PCR tests.

Chief health officer Kerry Chant said the 29 deaths include 15 men and 14 women, three aged in their 40s, five in their 60s, five in their 70s, 11 in their 80s and five in their 90s.

Some of the deaths include people who were fully vaccinated, with Dr Chant saying they “can’t protect everyone”.

“That’s why you need multiple layers of protection and that’s why we advice people to take care around vulnerable people,” she said on Friday.

“We ask people to take those additional precautions so we will tragically still see deaths in individuals that are vaccinated, the vaccines are so good at protection.”

“The vaccines we have available are safe and effective and the fundamentally best thing you can do is get vaccinated and get your booster as quickly as possible. But we will see deaths in people that are fully vaccinated.”

Three people die from COVID in Queensland, 23,630 new cases reported

Three people have died from COVID-19 in Queensland as the state records another 23,630 new virus cases the day before dumping all domestic border controls.

The latest deaths come after Queensland suffered its deadliest day of the pandemic, bringing the total virus-related fatalities in the state to 21.

“Any death is a tragedy and to experience it during a pandemic is heartbreaking,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Friday.

Two of those who died were in their seventies and one in their sixties, while all three were not vaccinated.

The 23,630 new virus cases recorded in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Friday included 10,182 rapid antigen tests.

Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said there were 589 people being treated for COVID-19 in hospital on Friday with 41 in intensive care and 15 on ventilation.

Motorists pass through a checkpoint at the Qld-NSW border.
Camera IconQueensland’s COVID-19 border barricades will no longer be in operation from 1am on Saturday. Credit: AAP

It comes as the government is set to drop all domestic border controls from 1am on Saturday.

Police road border checkpoints will be dismantled and travellers will no longer have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

The government initially planned to ease those restrictions when 90 per cent of eligible Queenslanders had received two vaccine doses.

The latest figures show 91.41 per cent of those eligible have had one jab and 88.18 per cent have received two.

But Dr Gerrard advised the government to make the move earlier because everyone eligible has had enough time to get the jab.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath says border police could be redirected to compliance operations, particularly to enforcing the vaccine mandate in venues and events.

“We are still wanting to make sure that only fully vaccinated people are entering those venues and those events that are more likely to see fast transmission happening,” she added.

International travel restrictions will remain in place until the state hits its 90 per cent vaccination target.

Meanwhile, supermarkets are still struggling to restock with thousands of workers isolating with COVID-19 and even more quarantining as close contacts.

The health minister said she expected stores and pharmacies would control sales of items such as paracetamol, which are in high demand.

“Now because of that I just tell some people to be sensible,” Ms D’Ath said.

“You don’t need to stockpile boxes and boxes. Think about everyone else who’s coming in, who might be unwell, who need that as well.

“It’s a bit like toilet paper – you don’t need to stock up for six months.”

Victoria records 34,836 cases and 18 deaths

Victoria has hatched a plan to treat COVID-19 patients in two transformed quarantine hotels to alleviate pressure on hospitals amid the Omicron coronavirus wave.

The state recorded a further 18 COVID-related deaths and 34,836 new cases on Friday, including 15,440 from rapid antigen tests and 19,396 from PCR tests.

With 239,396 active cases across the state, the number of patients with COVID-19 in hospital has climbed to a record high.

There are currently 976 people in hospital with COVID-19, up 23 from Thursday, including 112 in intensive care. Thirty of those need a ventilator to breathe.

AFGHANISTAN HOTEL
Camera IconThe hotels once used to house Victoria’s returned travellers will soon be filled with Covid patients. NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw Credit: News Corp Australia

To cope with the surge, Acting Health Minister James Merlino has announced two quarantine hotels will be converted into “medi-hotels”.

The Pullman on Swanston and Mantra at Epping in the city’s north will provide “hospital overflow accommodation”, freeing up extra beds.

“Like hospital in the home, this will alleviate some pressure on hospitals,” Mr Merlino told reporters on Friday.

Emma Cassar, the commander of Victoria’s dedicated quarantine agency, said the first of up to 300 patients would start arriving at the hotels from Monday.

Tasmania records 1201 new local cases

Tasmania has reported 1201 new coronavirus cases, but the overall number of documented active cases in the state has dropped for the second day in a row.

Twenty-four people with COVID-19 are in hospital, with 10 of those being treated specifically for virus symptoms. None are in intensive care.

The other 14 people in hospital have unrelated medical conditions.

The new infections have come from 852 self-reported rapid antigen tests and 349 PCR tests.

Tasmania’s health department says 1739 people have been released from isolation in the past 24 hours.

It means there are 7439 reported active cases, down from 7969 on Thursday and 8764 on Wednesday.

Thirty-nine cases are staying in community management facilities and 293 people are utilising COVID-at-home care.

CASE-BY-CASE BREAKDOWN

NSW – 63,018 new cases, 29 deaths

VIC – 34,836 new cases, 18 deaths

TAS – 1201 new cases

QLD – 23,630 new cases, three deaths

NT – TBA

ACT – TBA

SA – TBA

WA – TBA

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