More than 12,000 New Covid cases as NSW prepares for New Year's Eve

·4-min read

NSW has seen another steady rise in Covid-19 cases, just a day out from New Year's Eve festivities.

On Thursday, NSW announced there were 12,226 new Covid cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday night and one death.

There are 746 people in hospital across NSW and 63 in ICU.

Pictured in NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and people standing in line in Sydney for a Covid test
NSW announced over 12,000 new Covid cases on Thursday. Source: AAP

On Wednesday there were 11,201 new Covid-19 cases in NSW and three Covid-related deaths.

As of Thursday, 95 per cent of the population aged 16 and over had received one dose of vaccine, and 93.5 per cent had received at least two doses.

There were 97,201 Covid tests to 8pm on Wednesday night, a huge drop in tests compared to those announced on Wednesday when 157,758 tests were carried out.

On Tuesday, 93,581 tests were reported to NSW Health.

On Wednesday, NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant warned "there is probably more disease in the community than the numbers reflect" as testing laboratories clear backlogs.

In addition to the Omicron variant sparking close contact alerts as positive case numbers surge, PCR test requirements for interstate travel have also caused significant delays to results.

Testing sites across NSW are under immense pressure. Source: Getty Images
Testing sites across NSW are under immense pressure. Source: Getty Images

Despite the spike in Covid-19 cases, Sydney's New Year's Eve fireworks display will go ahead to wrap up 2021.

The City of Sydney says it can't predict how many people will turn out for the display, but five of the six locations it manages are sold out with about 17,000 tickets booked.

Tickets are still being sold for 25 other locations, which have capacity for almost 87,000 people.

Masks are encouraged, unvaccinated people are asked to stay home and tickets for viewing spots are limited, but the spiralling outbreak has largely failed to put a dampener on the event, which last year proceeded with crowds banned from the CBD.

Victoria's case numbers surge

Victoria's Covid cases have begun to climb rapidly, with 5,137 new cases being announced on Thursday, along with 13 Covid-related deaths.

The case numbers are a new record for the state.

On Wednesday, 3,767 new cases were reported.

As of Thursday, there are 395 people in hospital, with 55 people who are infectious with Covid-19 in the ICU, 45 who remain there but have been cleared of Covid-19.

Some testing sites in Melbourne have closed early on Thursday morning, due to capacity already being reached. Source: AAP
Some testing sites in Melbourne have closed early on Thursday morning, due to capacity already being reached. Source: AAP

"Our thoughts are with those in hospital, and the families of people who have lost their lives," Victoria's health department said on Twitter.

Like NSW, Victoria's Covid testing ability continues to struggle under the strain of the caseload.

On early Thursday morning, multiple testing sites were closed as they reached capacity.

National cabinet scheduled for today

State and territory leaders, along with Prime Minister Scott Morrison are expected to meet for national cabinet on Thursday.

The emergency meeting was announced in response to yesterday's Covid figures, while the states struggle with testing capacity and rising hospitalisations.

"We're going through a gear change when it comes to how we manage testing arrangements, the definition of close contacts, how we furlough staff and isolate people who are impacted by cases," Mr Morrison told reporters on Wednesday.

One of the issues set to be discussed at national cabinet is the definition of a close contact, an update would define a close contact as someone who had four hours of contact with a positive case in a household setting.

The changes could also mean close contacts would quarantine for seven days, if a negative rapid antigen test is produced on day six.

"We just can't have everybody taken out of circulation because they just happen to be in a particular place at a particular time," Mr Morrison said.

Rapid antigen tests are also set to be on the agenda for the national cabinet meeting. Source: AAP
Rapid antigen tests are also set to be on the agenda for the national cabinet meeting. Source: AAP

Subsidies for rapid tests are yet to be confirmed and they are very hard to come by in some parts of the country.

Both NSW and Victoria have ordered millions of the tests and already promised to provide them for free, but they won't be available until the end of January.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese accused the prime minister of passing the buck on testing to the states.

"We have the NSW government trying to purchase rapid antigen tests that will be available, wait for it, at the end of January, when we have a crisis right now," he said.

"We have businesses that are unable to open. We have people that are waiting day after day to get the results of the tests and we have some people who simply can't get tested so they are just staying isolated."

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