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WA awaits news as COVID outbreaks SURGE across Australia



Outbreaks in each State and Territory are growing at an exponential rate, realising fears the festive period has become a superspreader event.On Monday Premier Mark McGowan announced WA’s COVID-19 restrictions would be extended to January 4, pinning the blame on dozens of revellers who attended a rave at the centre of the State’s outbreak who had not come forward for testing.“They have had plenty of time to not only be contacted by our contact-tracing teams, but be aware of the infections that occurred at that party,” Mr McGowan said on Tuesday.“Disturbingly, we have heard reports from our contact tracers that some had turned off their phones so they could not be contacted.”Devastated events businesses — facing tens of millions of dollars in losses — have accused the WA Government of jumping the gun on cancelling New Year’s Eve celebrations after WA recorded no new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.An update on WA’s latest case numbers is expected later this morning.Here’s how other States and Territories are faring:New South WalesNSW has recorded a horrific rise in coronavirus cases, with almost double the number of virus infections overnight.The State reported 11,201 cases on Wednesday, an increase of more than 6000 over the previous 24-hour period.There are 625 people in hospital with the virus, 61 of them in intensive care, with 23 on ventilators.NSW also announced a further three deaths – all aged in their 70s, 80s and 90s, vaccinated but with underlying health conditions.NSW Health said the State’s testing capacity “is currently under enormous pressure” as thousands of people across the State – including travellers required to have a negative PCR test before travelling to some States – have had to queue for hours to be swabbed.Queensland will accept rapid antigen tests instead of PCR tests for travellers from interstate hotspots from January 1.NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has been pleading with the Queensland government to change its border entry requirements and heralded the announcement as a “good move” on Wednesday morning.VictoriaVictoria has also seen a massive surge in COVID-19 infections with 3767 new cases and five deaths – the highest daily number the State has seen since the start of the pandemic.The State had 2738 new cases and four deaths reported on Tuesday.Victorians will get 34 million free rapid antigen tests by the end of January.“Rapid antigen testing is the way that Victorians can have confidence as they go about living with COVID and making sure that they do their bit to keep the pressure off our hard-working hospitals,” Health Minister Martin Foley said on Wednesday.“We would much prefer to have a national approach to what is a national, indeed an international, supply issue. but failing that, as per usual, the states have had to step up over the course of this pandemic and fill the gap left.”How the tests will be distributed is still being worked out.The State is already handing out free rapid tests in some circumstances, including to students and staff exposed at schools.QueenslandQueensland has caved in to mounting political pressure and will allow travellers from interstate hotspots to enter with a negative result from a rapid antigen test.Queensland’s tough testing regime for visitors has come under fire, particularly from NSW.NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet begged the Queensland Government to ease border entry requirements.Visitors to Queensland had required a negative PCR test within 72 hours of coming to the state.Mr Perrottet said the “tourism testing” had clogged an overwhelmed testing system.Thousands of travellers only added to massive testing queues, waiting for hours to be swabbed.The groundbreaking change comes as the State records another uptick in COVID-19 cases, reporting 1589 new cases in the past 24 hours.There are 6368 active cases, but no patients are being treated in intensive care.Omicron continues to be the more dominant strain of the virus, with almost 80 per cent of cases identified as the new variant.South AustraliaSouth Australia reported another record-breaking tally on Wednesday with 1471 new cases, marking a significant jump on Tuesdays infections of 995.The data comes amid news the State will place limits on elective surgery and mandate vaccine boosters for frontline healthcare workers ahead of an anticipated increase in hospitalisations.“Omicron is moving too quickly,” Premier Steven Marshall says.Restrictions on elective surgery will soon come into place so health resources “can be focused on the very imminent, likely increase in hospitalisation across our State”.Mr Marshall said “there is no need” for people to queue for hours to get a test and advised people book in advance if they require one instead.“Those people that are booking in are going through in a prioritised way, they’re getting through in an hour or just over an hour,” Mr Marshall says.South Australia will no longer be conducting screening tests for interstate travel because it does not have the capacity.“We just simply need to dedicate all the testing capability that we have to those people that have symptoms and those people that are close contacts,” Mr Marshall says.The State is also increasing the capacity of vaccination clinics as residents are encouraged to get boosters.Frontline health, aged care and disability workers will also need to get a booster within two weeks of becoming eligible to stay on the job.“We’ve got to make sure that we preserve as much of our health workforce as we possibly can,” Mr Marshall says.TasmaniaTasmania has recorded 55 new coronavirus cases, including an aged care worker, sending a Hobart home into lockdown.The staff member worked at St Ann’s aged care facility on Christmas Day and was tested for COVID-19 on Monday.They returned a positive result on Tuesday and the Public Health Services and the Department of Health’s aged care emergency operations centre is now working with the facility.Tasmania now has 300 active infections, the majority of which, 158, are being managed at home.Tasmania was free of COVID-19 when it reopened to fully vaccinated travellers from mainland hotspots on December 15.COVID across the country at a glanceWith AAP

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