SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - Covid-19 hospital admissions have eased for two days straight in Australia’s most-populous state, New South Wales, the first time that has happened in more than a month.
The dip in hospitalisations, as well as intensive care admissions, comes as health authorities say the current wave of cases, fuelled by the dominant Omicron strain, could be nearing its peak in some parts of the country.
Still, daily deaths continue to edge higher, with 46 reported in the state on Friday (Jan 21).
“While it is a difficult day for our state, there are some reassuring signs,” New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet told reporters on Friday. “From a hospitalisation perspective today and from an intensive care perspective, we continue to track better than our best case scenario.”
There are now 2,743 people hospitalised in New South Wales, home to more than 8 million people, with 209 in intensive care.
In Victoria, the second-most populous state, there are 1,096 people hospitalised and 121 in intensive care. It reported 20 deaths on Friday.
The surge in Omicron cases in many parts of Australia pushed Western Australia, one of the world’s final Covid-Zero holdouts, to suspend plans to reopen its borders on Feb 5. Premier Mark McGowan said opening the borders would caused "a flood of disease".
Western Australia will make a decision on any further easing in the near future once the country's east coast has reached the peak of infection and there is a better understanding of the true impact of Omicron, Mr McGowan said late on Thursday.
A review of the border controls will be considered over the course of next month.
"Allowing a wave of Omicron cases to fly straight into Perth from Feb 5, with no testing, no quarantine and no public health measures would cause a flood of disease across our state," Mr McGowan said, referring to the state capital.
While the rest of Australia has gradually opened over the past few months, Mr McGowan has resisted the pressure to do so and residents in the state have lived mostly without masks although they have been cut off from the rest of the world.
Western Australia said the border delay was an opportunity for residents to take the third dose of Covid-19 vaccine before the virus takes root.
There were still some changes to the hard border ruling with the state government making it easier for families separated by the pandemic to reunite.