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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s most populous state New South Wales recorded its highest number of daily deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday as the omicron variant sweeps the country and lawmakers suffer pressures to close growing gaps in the supply chain.
The Sydney home and a third of Australia’s 25 million people reported 16 deaths from the coronavirus the day before. New South Wales reported 30,062 new infections, near record levels.
The second-largest state, Victoria, which hosts the Australian Open tennis tournament this month, has reported 44,155 new cases of COVID-19 and four deaths.
The country reported just under 100,000 cases in total, down from a record 116,025 the previous day, but still exceeding most previous peaks. The total number of deaths for the day was 36.
With the wave causing a rush of government-funded pop-up testing clinics, authorities have changed their message and urged people to do rapid home antigen tests instead, and then report positive results to their home. doctor, who enters them into a database.
Authorities are calling for calm amid reports of bare supermarket shelves as people stay home to avoid infection and delivery staff are self-isolating due to exposure to the virus.
“We have seen very low rates of serious illness,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters. “It’s the layoff of the workforce that remains the main challenge at this point.”
The government and its health advisers have reduced mandatory isolation times for close contact and narrowed the definition of close contact, but are still reviewing the rules for workers on leave, Hunt said.
Australia plans to start immunizing children aged 5 to 11 on Monday. Most states have said they will start the new school year as planned at the end of January, but Queensland, the third most populous state, said it will postpone the return to school by two weeks to give children the time to get vaccinated.
Despite the outbreak, political leaders have cited Australia’s high vaccination rate – more than 90% of people over 16 are fully vaccinated – to justify a plan to reopen. But in recent days, several states have postponed elective elective surgery to free up hospital beds for COVID-19 patients and reintroduce mask warrants.
New South Wales, which emerged from more than 100 days of lockdown at the end of last year, has reinstated a ban on standing dancing and drinking in bars.



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