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Aus state's hospitalisations surge to new high

Sydney, Jan 3 (IANS) The number of Covid-19 hospitalisations surged to a new high in Australia's most populous state of New South Wales (NSW), while the country is battling with its largest outbreaks fuelled by the Omicron variant, health authorities said on Monday.

The NSW, the epicentre of Australia's current wave of the pandemic, recorded 20,794 new cases and four deaths in the past 24 hours, slightly dropping from its peak of 22,577 daily increase recorded on January 1, reports Xinhua news agency.

However, despite the fluctuant increasing infections, the number of hospitalisation and people in intensive care unit (ICU) in the state grows steadily with 1,204 hospitalized patients reported on Monday, including 95 cases in ICUs and 25 requiring ventilation.

The mounting cases and a huge number of close contacts imposed great pressure on the state's healthcare system.

Australian Medical Association vice president Chris Moy told local media outlet AAP that the system was "struggling" with staff shortages as case numbers rise and health workers fall sick, test positive or are identified as close contacts.

Local newspaper the Australian said nursing staff at a leading Sydney hospital have been asked to identify patients for early discharge and to accept cash incentives to cancel their annual leave due to "critical staffing shortfalls" reaching "crisis level" because of Covid-19.

Australia's Health Department reported 1,978 hospitalisations, including 148 in ICU and 51 currently ventilated, a record high since the pandemic began in the country in early 2020.

As of Monday, Australia has registered a total of 499,987 coronavirus cases and 2,266 deaths.