New South Wales has reported a record 5715 new Covid-19 cases and one new death – an increase of almost 2000 cases since Wednesday.
There are now 347 people in hospital with the virus, with 45 of those in intensive care. There were 302 people in hospital on Wednesday, with 40 of those in ICU.
Pressure is mounting on NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet to stop the spread of the virus as cases skyrocket and hospitalisations rise.
The NSW government has ruled out reintroducing mask mandates in indoor settings, but Perrottet flagged two major changes earlier on Thursday.
Rapid antigen tests will be free and mailed directly to NSW residents’ homes while QR code check-ins in all hospitality and retail settings are set to return.
Millions of rapid testing kits will also be made available at pharmacies, GP clinics, other sites and delivered directly to homes for free.
NSW’s massive surge in cases fuelled by the Omicron variant has sent people scrambling ahead of Christmas in the hopes of testing negative before celebrating with family.
Long queues at testing clinics and sold out rapid antigen tests have caused grief in the lead up to the holidays.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged state leaders to abandon travel testing requirements. He said only one in every 1000 travellers had been testing positive for the virus, while 20 in 1000 close contacts received positive results.
Of the over 16 population in NSW, 93.5 are double-dose vaccinated while 94.9 have had at least one shot.
In Victoria, 2005 new infections and 10 deaths were recorded on Thursday.
There are now 398 infected people in Victorian hospitals with 72 active patients in intensive care and 39 on ventilators.
Victoria’s Acting Premier James Merlino is expected to announce later on Thursday whether a face mask mandate will return to more indoor places.
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