New virus cases in Australia surged to record levels on Tuesday, increasing the strain on hospitals and testing centres across the country. In New South Wales, Australia’s most-populous state, 23,131 new cases were reported, an increase on the record of 22,577 cases on New Year’s Day. There were 1,344 people in hospitals, up 140 on the previous day and 78 more than the record previously set in late September. The new cases were detected from 83,376 tests, a positivity rate of 28%.
Victoria state reported 14,020 cases on Tuesday, eclipsing the record of 8,577 set on Monday. There were 516 people in hospitals, including 108 in intensive care.The new numbers mean Australia has passed the grim milestone of 500,000 COVID-19 cases.
New South Wales Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant on Monday urged people not to seek hospital treatment unless absolutely necessary.“It is important that we all play our part in not placing unnecessary burden on the health system,” she said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday rejected calls for the federal government to make rapid antigen tests free, in part to relieve pressure on PCR testing centres.Australian Medical Association Vice President Chris Moy said large numbers of healthcare workers have been furloughed after contracting the virus, making it difficult for remaining workers to provide adequate patient care.“You have this double-whammy of lots of patients and also staff being furloughed at the same time,” Moy told ABC Radio.