NSW’s daily Covid-19 case numbers have exploded just days before Christmas.
The state’s health department announced on Tuesday 3,057 new infections were recorded in the 24-hour reporting period to 8pm last night.
The staggering amount of new cases is the highest daily tally NSW has seen since the pandemic began.
There were also 1,245 new cases in Victoria creating a daily national record for the pandemic of 4,576 cases today.
NSW also recorded two more deaths from coronavirus.
There are 284 Covid-19 patients in hospital, up from 261, and 39 people are in ICU — up from 33.
Almost 137,000 tests were were completed in the last 24 hours.
NSW recorded 2,501 Covid-19 cases in the 24 hours until 8pm on Sunday — a drop of 65 cases on the previous day's record high of 2566.
NSW Health is urging people to keep wearing masks indoors and health experts are calling for a return to mask mandates indoors, as nervous people cancel or reconsider summer holiday travel plans.
But a week after mask requirements were removed for all but the highest risk settings, Premier Dominic Perrottet says it's time for "personal responsibility".
"We are treating the people of our state like adults," he said on Monday.
Meanwhile, there are long queues at testing facilities as people seek reassurance they won't have to go into isolation for Christmas and pharmacies and shops are running out of Rapid Antigen Tests.
Experts call for restrictions to return
This week, health experts have issued a desperate plea to Australia’s leaders to bring forward Covid booster vaccines and reinstate mask-wearing.
Professor of Epidemiology at the Kirby Institute, John Kaldor, told The Project on Monday night that there should also be a limit on indoor gathering until more can be revealed about the Omicron variant.
When asked why Australia’s leaders have said they believe the new strain is likely to be milder than others like Delta, Prof Kaldor said they must know something he doesn’t.
“We’ve got very good vaccine coverage and boosters are on the way … the question of whether it’s a milder disease? The jury’s still out on that one, particularly whether the vaccines protect as well against this variant as they have against Delta.”
The Project host Lisa Wilkinson pointed out that after two years with pandemic restrictions, Aussies may be less inclined to accept reimposed mask-wearing so close to the holidays.
“This is a variant that’s clearly spreading very fast, and there are a number of things we can do to stop that spread that are not major impositions on the community at large,” the professor said.
“Those things can help us buy time while we figure out what’s going on with this new variant.”
Prof Kaldor said he doesn’t want a return to the “lockdown era” but that the country needs “to put the brakes on transmission” so experts can better understand Omicron.
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