Record cases of Covid were reported across Australia on Christmas Day as overwhelmed testing clinics were forced to close and tens of thousands of people spent the holidays in isolation.
New South Wales has recorded its highest number of daily Covid cases, with 6,288 new infections reported on Saturday.
Covid transmission also continued to increase in Victoria, where authorities announced 2,108 new Covid-19 infections and six deaths from the virus.
Queensland announced a daily record of 765 new cases, with State Health Minister Yvette D’Ath saying “this virus is everywhere now”. D’Ath confirmed that 151 of those cases had the Omicron strain.
South Australia recorded 634 new cases on Saturday, down slightly from the 688 reported the day before. So far, sampling from the state’s current outbreak indicates that 81% of cases are the Omicron variant.
The Australian Capital Territory also set a new daily infection record, with 142 cases of Covid. It was the fourth day in a row that ACT broke her daily infection rate.
Tasmania recorded 33 new cases of Covid, while Northern Territory health authorities announced 19 new cases, 10 of which were interstate travelers.
There are now over 30,000 active Covid cases in NSW and over 17,000 in Victoria, with isolation orders wreaking havoc on Christmas rally plans, while testing delays and l exposure to Covid among airline staff has hampered the travel plans of thousands of travelers.
In New South Wales, the record 6,288 new cases were detected out of 149,261 tests carried out during the reporting period up to midnight until 8 p.m. on Friday.
Hospitalizations have remained relatively stable in the state, with 388 Covid patients hospitalized on Saturday, up from 382 on Friday.
On Saturday, 52 patients were in intensive care in the state, up from 53 on Friday. Of those in intensive care, 14 were on ventilators.
There have been no new deaths in NSW, and the state’s first-dose vaccine rate has risen to 95% after slowing in recent weeks.
In Victoria, 2,208 cases were detected out of 83,456 tests. Hospitalizations remained stable at 361, with 71 cases in intensive care in Victoria.
At least six test sites in Melbourne became so overwhelmed that they had to close at 9:30 a.m.
Among the sites closed were Alfred’s Guided Tour, as well as the drive-through sites at Monash University and the Royal Children’s Hospital.
Other venues had long wait times, including a three-hour drive-through wait for Melbourne Showgrounds. A number of other test sites closed for Christmas Day.
Meanwhile, in New South Wales, queues for testing have increased throughout the day. As Sydney locals flocked to Bondi Beach to take advantage of the warm weather, the line of cars at the local drive-through test clinic meandered to the northern tip of the beach in the late morning.
123,500 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine were administered in Australia on Christmas Eve, of which 94,072 were booster shots.
With Australian Associated Press