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Australian Covid cases surge, overloading health system

Sydney, Jan 5 (IANS) Australia's Covid-19 pandemic continues to soar to a record high, increasing pressure on the healthcare system.

Australia crossed the grim milestone of 50,000 Covid infections in a day on Wednesday, the first time when the pandemic started in the country since early 2020, with New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, the two most populous states, forming the bulk of new infections, Xinhua news agency reported.

NSW, the epicentre of the current wave of pandemic fueled by Omicron variant, recorded 35,054 new cases and eight deaths in the past 24 hours till 8 p.m. local time on Tuesday, while Victoria saw a new record of 17,636 cases and 11 deaths in the 24 hours till midnight Tuesday.

Both states also saw more hospitalisations with 1,491 Covid patients in hospitals across NSW and 591 in Victoria.

NSW Health Deputy Secretary Susan Pearce warned that the healthcare system is under pressure and the situation may last for a while.

"We expect for the next several weeks that we will see that pressure continuing," Pearce said. "We also expect that once it starts to decline, it will likely decline quite quickly but we have got some challenging weeks ahead of us."

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet is recommending people who are not required to get a PCR test to "not line up in that queue."

"Because we need people who are feeling unwell or classified as close contacts to be able to get tested," he said.

He also mentioned the state will have a number of rapid antigen tests arriving soon, which will help alleviating some of the testing system's pressure.