NSW records rise in hospitalisations amid 12,226 new Covid-19 cases

NSW has recorded a spike in hospitalisations after breaking a new daily record with 12,226 new cases of Covid-19 and one death on Thursday.

There are 746 people in hospital with the virus, a jump of 121 from Wednesday, 63 of which are in intensive care.

Of the 63 people in ICU, 24 are on ventilators.

Just 97,201 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours across the state compared to 157,758 on Wednesday but a large number of swabs are expected to be delayed, with residents having to wait up to eight hours in line and private clinics being closed.

In NSW, 95 per cent of people aged 16 and over have received a first dose of the vaccine, while 93.5 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant on Wednesday warned there was “probably more disease in the community” than the statistics reflected, with testing clinics backlogged after a mad rush of testing.

Victoria has also broken its record for daily cases on Thursday with 5137 new infections and 13 deaths.

The new record is a jump from 3767 infections recorded on Wednesday.

There are now 395 infected people in hospital with 55 active in intensive care and 23 on a ventilator.

More than 92 per cent of eligible Victorians are fully vaccinated and the state hosts 23,833 active cases.

A total of 81,093 tests were taken yesterday and 3775 vaccines were administered at state hubs.

PCR testing sites in both states have been under immense pressure over the festive period, with long queues waiting as soon as some sites open and many people reporting lengthy wait times for results.

With testing capacity under “enormous pressure” in NSW, authorities have said only those with symptoms or living in a house with a confirmed case should be getting PCR tests.

“Rapid antigen testing can be an additional precaution that you can take if you are planning to socialise with large groups of people, particularly indoors, or interacting with people who are elderly or have serious health conditions,” NSW Health said in a statement.

NSW Health officials on Wednesday confirmed they were scrapping the mandatory seven-day isolation period for the majority of people.

In a statement, the department said it would only contact “a small number” of exposed people to direct them into self-isolation, such as healthcare workers or other high-risk groups.

“Most people who become aware that they been exposed to a person with Covid-19 will be advised of this by their friends, colleagues and social networks,” the department said.

“Most people who have spent time with a person with Covid-19 in an indoor setting are NSW Health said about 25 per cent of people exposed to the virus may still develop their infection after seven days.

“For the next seven days, they should exercise caution and avoid high-risk settings and large indoor gatherings, and use a rapid antigen test if coming into contact with vulnerable people,” it said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called a snap meeting of national cabinet on Thursday as testing clinics across the country are overrun and thousands of people are spending their holiday period in isolation.

State and territory leaders will discuss a range of problems relating to the rampant spread of the virus fuelled by the Omicron variant and the resulting pressure on the test, trace and isolate measures.

Perrottet said he would like to see a consistent approach to a number of these issues.

“I spoke with the Prime Minister this morning and obviously we’ll be having national cabinet tomorrow,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“I’m looking forward to having a discussion in relation to changes to be made in relation to close contact definitions and isolation periods.

“I certainly believe it would be best if we had a national approach and I look forward to having those discussions as we move forward through the meeting tomorrow.”

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