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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has implored Australians to "push through" the latest phase of the coronavirus pandemic as cases and hospitalisations continue to grow across the country.
Mr Morrison told reporters on Monday, as the vaccination rollout for children aged 5-11 kicks off, that the Omicron variant "is a gear change".
"We have to push through. That is what Omicron is about," the Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
"We're dealing with serious volumes of cases but not seeing seeing the same impact proportionally from previous variants as to the impact on hospitalisations, ICU, and ventilated patients."
His comments come as NSW recorded its highest daily death toll from coronavirus with 18 deaths.
Mr Morrison claimed as many as half of Australia's 5,097 patients in hospital with Covid-19 "are being admitted for other reasons and have Covid".
However that figure appears to be at odds with claims from data cruncher Juliette O'Brien who found from speaking with clinicians at two major NSW hospitals, that roughly 20 to 24 per cent of those admitted were not primary Covid cases.
'Omicron changed everything': PM
Queensland announced on Sunday it was delaying a return to classrooms by two weeks until February 7. NSW and Victoria, however, do not plan on changing the date.
The PM responded to criticism over a lack of a national plan for schools.
"Omicron changed everything," Mr Morrison said.
"Delta was a completely different variant of this virus. And so, as we have had to do on so many occasions during this pandemic, rules that were written for one situation have to be reconsidered and have to be redone again for Omicron.
"And that's what is being done right now."
He said the Omicron variant case rate would peak at different times across the country.
"Our objective is go back, stay back, day one, term one," Mr Morrison said.
"We will be working through those issues this week to get further certainty and harmonisation between the states and territories."
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