Omicron ‘Hope’ outbreak peaked in NSW, Vic | Northern Beaches Review

Authorities are hopeful that the Omicron COVID-19 outbreak has peaked in several Australian jurisdictions as the country reaches a milestone in vaccination.

Health Minister Greg Hunt announced on Saturday that the country had achieved a 95% first-dose vaccination rate against the virus for people aged 16 and over.

He said the milestone surpassed “almost all possible predictions that were made at the start of the pandemic”.

“It is often referred to as a full level of vaccination, but we want to go further, we want to continue to encourage Australians to come forward,” Mr Hunt told reporters.

More than a million vaccines have been delivered in the past three days, which is a record for any immunization program in Australia’s history, he said.

Some 92.5% of Australians aged 16 and over have received two doses of the vaccine, while 52.6% have received their booster, including more than 245,000 people on Friday.

More than 250,000 children aged 5 to 11 have received their first dose of the vaccine since becoming eligible on Monday, including 57,000 on Friday.

Mr Hunt also reported that a decision on the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine – which is not yet available in Australia – is expected by the Therapeutic Goods Administration “within the next 10 days”.

About 51 million doses of the protein-based vaccine have been ordered by the federal government.

An announcement on oral treatments for COVID-19 is also imminent, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said, as the federal vaccine advisory committee began deliberating on the possibility of a second booster.

Mr Hunt and Prof Kelly said there were ‘hopeful signs’ that outbreaks in the ACT, NSW and Victoria have peaked.

“All forecasts, and now the actual forecasts based on the actual number of cases, particularly in NSW but also in Victoria and ACT, lead me to believe that we are close to the peak of this wave in terms of cases,” said the latter, noting that infections are likely to be underreported.

However, Prof Kelly said the situation in Western Australia “is a different story”.

“When they start to have cases it will be later. But for most of the rest of Australia we are still on this upward curve, we can plateau and then there is a drop in cases after that “, did he declare.

NSW recorded 48,768 new cases of COVID-19 and 20 deaths on Saturday and Victoria recorded 25,526 infections and 23 deaths.

Both states announced extensions to their rent relief programs for small and medium-sized businesses, many of which have been forced to close or reduce hours of operation because staff have COVID-19, is in close contact with a positive case, or awaiting test results.

Queensland has recorded 19,709 cases and six deaths, SA 4,349 infections and four deaths, ACT 1,320 cases and Tasmania 1,139.

The NT has recorded 412 cases and one death – a woman in her 40s from the Bagot community in Darwin.

The deaths bring the national toll from the virus to 2,632, while there are more than 45,000 Australians battling the virus in hospital.

Professor Kelly noted that there will be an increase in hospitalizations and deaths in the coming weeks, but noted that the overall rate of serious illness is “extremely low”.

Western Australia recorded nine new cases, two of which were locally acquired and seven returned from interstate or overseas.

There are now 120 confirmed active cases of COVID-19 in WA, of which 40 are in hotel quarantine and 80 are in self-isolation.

Australian Associated Press

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