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Christmas travellers swamp Australia's Covid-testing centers as cases hit a record high

Christmas travellers swamp Australia's Covid-testing centers

December 24, 2021: -Australia’s Covid-19 testing facilities were stretched on Thursday between a record increase in cases and as tens of thousands of domestic travelers thronged the centers to get test results necessary to travel interstate for Christmas.

Few states require travelers to have a negative test result 72 hours before departure to be permitted entry, even as Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged them to ease the testing requirement, which he said was redirects resources that could be used to ramp up the rollout of the booster shots.

On Thursday, over 8,200 new cases were reported in Australia, the most significant daily increase in the pandemic, which eclipsed the previous high of a few 5,600 a day earlier. The bulk of cases is in its most populous states of New South Wales and Victoria.

Despite the spike, hospitals remain far lower than during the delta wave, as active coronavirus cases in the country neared 44,000.

The health department said that around 800 Covid-19 patients are in hospitals across the country as of December 20, but only 37 of those are omicron cases in an emailed response. Only one issue is in intensive care, and no deaths have been reported.

Morrison asked people to focus more on the number of people in hospitals than the total infections and resisted calls for a national mandatory rule to wear masks indoors.

But Victorian state authorities said they would make masks mandatory indoors from Thursday night. At the same time, Queensland state also has mandatory mask rules, with health officials telling the spread of the virus has become “inevitable and necessary.”

“For us to go from the pandemic phase to an endemic phase, the virus has to be widespread. We all have to have immunity,” Queensland Chief Health Officer John Gerrard told reporters.

Australia’s tally of 273,000 infections and 2,173 deaths is far lower than many countries, even between the omicron wave.

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