Australia sees 5,000 in hospitals with Covid, more predicted

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Australia sees 5,000 in hospitals with Covid, more predicted

Robert Besser
24 Jul 2022, 19:26 GMT+10

  • The number of Australians hospitalized with COVID-19 neared record levels this week
  • In response, authorities urged businesses to let staff work from home, recommended the wearing of face masks indoors, and encouraged those eligible to quickly receive booster shots
  • Caused by the highly transmissible new Covid sub-variants, BA.4 and BA.5, Australia is in the grip of a third Omicron wave, with more than 300,000 cases recorded over the past seven days

CANBERRA, Australia: The number of Australians hospitalized with COVID-19 neared record levels this week.

In response, authorities urged businesses to let staff work from home, recommended the wearing of face masks indoors, and encouraged those eligible to quickly receive booster shots.

Caused by the highly transmissible new Covid sub-variants, BA.4 and BA.5, Australia is in the grip of a third Omicron wave, with more than 300,000 cases recorded over the past seven days.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is resisting pressure to reinstate restrictions, such as the mandatory wearing of face masks indoors, but he is encouraging people to return to wearing masks.

“The truth is that if you have mandates, you have got to enforce them. Whilst there are mandates on public transport, not everyone is wearing a mask,” noted Albanese when talking with reporters.

However, Australian Council of Trade Unions President Michele O’Neil said employers must go beyond the government’s pandemic leave payments and provide paid leave at full pay for workers who need to isolate, and offer free rapid antigen tests.

“No worker should have to decide between putting food on the table or isolating with COVID,” he added, as quoted by Reuters.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said that the number of people hospitalized will soon reach a record high, urging businesses to let more staff work from home.

Australian authorities also warned that the country could see “millions” of new Covid cases over the coming weeks.

Official data showed that some 5,350 Australians are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, close to the record 5,390 set in January during the BA.1 outbreak.

Australian doctors stressed that masks must be made mandatory at indoor venues.

In an interview with radio station 2GB, Australian Medical Association President Omar Khorshid, said, “We do not have optional seat belts, we do not have optional speed limits. There are a lot of limits on our freedoms that we accept because it is the right thing to do.”

Authorities also warned about the low number of people receiving booster shots, with only about 71 percent having received three or more doses.

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