Australia Vows to ‘Push Through’ Omicron Wave as Infections Cross 1 mln

SYDNEY, Australia, Jan. 10 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned on Monday that Australia must “push through” the fast-moving Omicron wave outbreak. As illnesses topped 1 million, with more than half occurring in the last week alone, putting pressure on hospitals and supply networks.

Despite harsh lockdowns and strict border controls earlier in the epidemic. Australia is now dealing with record infections as part of its effort to live with the virus following better vaccination rates.

As businesses struggle with worker shortages due to sickness or isolation requirements. Officials in certain jurisdictions have been obliged to reinstate restrictions.

Faced with political pressure at the outset of an election year. Morrison proposes to relax isolation requirements to allow people. Who has been in close contact with asymptomatic infections to work in food production and distribution?

Omicron Change

“Omicron is a gear change, and we have to push through,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said during a press conference in Canberra. “You have two options here: you can either push through or lock down. We believe in perseverance.”

Morrison intends to broaden the changes to transportation and other vital sectors. After presenting his suggestions to state leaders at a national cabinet meeting this week.

Morrison noted that Australia’s health systems were coping despite dealing with large numbers of cases. Over 3,500 patients have been admitted to hospitals, up from about 2,000 a week earlier.

According to a Reuters calculation, Australia’s infection rate surpassed 1 million on Monday, with more than half occurring in the previous week.

Omicron Wave

According to Woolworths, supply shortages could last another three weeks, a supermarket chain where one out of every five employees is under quarantine.

“At this time, our supply chain has adequate merchandise to meet client expectations,” Chief Executive Brad Banducci told ABC Radio. “Unfortunately, it may not always be their preferred brand.”

Australia’s rigorous border controls have resurfaced in the spotlight after the country denied renowned tennis player. Novak Djokovic’s admission was due to concerns about his vaccine exemption.

Djokovic’s legal challenge to the decision to revoke his visa was heard by a judge who expressed worry over the Serbian’s treatment by border officers upon his arrival.

CASE NUMBER IS ‘UNDERESTIMATE’

The total of little over 67,000 illnesses reported on Monday could be an “underestimate,” according to health experts because of some states’. Also, figures do not include people who tested positive in at-home quick antigen tests. The final count on Sunday was just under 100,000.

Since the first case nearly two years ago, the total number of COVID-19 infections in Australia has reached 1.04 million.

The death toll has risen to 2,387, despite the Omicron wave has resulted in fewer deaths than prior outbreaks. Also, 92 percent of people over the age of 16 receive two vaccine doses.

On Monday, Australia began rolling out inoculations with Pfizer’s (PFE.N) vaccines for children aged five to eleven years old as part of its booster program.

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