Covid deaths spike in NSW and Victoria after premier's booster backtrack

New South Wales and Victoria have experienced a spike in Covid deaths, as Dan Andrews backtracks on the three-dose Covid vaccine mandate on international tourists.

NSW reported 8183 new locally acquired cases of Covid-19 and 32 deaths on Saturday.

Some 1650 people are in hospital with the virus, after the number of hospitalisations fell below 2000 this week for the first time since January.

Victoria reported 19 Covid-related deaths and 7224 infections, with public hospitals across the state preparing to resume non-essential healthcare.

PCR drive through Covid testing clinic.
Both states recorded a spike in deaths after the easing of some restrictions were announced. Source: AAP

Victoria hospitals resume non-essential healthcare

Despite an increase in deaths, Covid-19 related hospitalisations have halved in the past three weeks, leading the state government to announce the code brown pandemic alert issued for the health system would be lifted and non-essential healthcare will resume in public hospitals.

On Thursday, Victoria Premier Dan Andrews backtracked on his proposed three vaccine mandate for international arrivals following backlash from business leaders and the federal government.

"This was supposed to have come to national cabinet a number of times,” he said.

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews talking at a press conference.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews said non-essential hospital procedures will resume. Source: Getty

“As it stands now, it’s two (doses), because that’s what the commonwealth government have announced, and that’s what ATAGI considers required to be considered fully protected.

"If that changes, well then we’ll have to wait and see. But again, we will try to the maximum extent possible to have consistent rules. That will probably mean that they won’t be perfect rules, because we’ve all had to compromise a ­little bit."

NSW grilled over Covid response

On Friday, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant, joined by other senior NSW Health staff including healthcare unions and academics, fronted state parliament's public accountability committee.

The government defended its handling of the pandemic during the Omicron wave, with Mr Hazzard saying it was managed "to the very best of our ability."

"NSW and Victoria have done an extraordinary job," he said on Friday.

The minister also denied suggestions that the government had "let [Omicron] rip" against health advice, insisting at the inquiry that the community knew it was trying its best.

"Nothing has been done lightly, it's been done with great gravity," Mr Hazzard noted, labelling the state's Covid death total, currently about 1600, as "infinitesimally small" compared to other countries.

with AAP

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