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People's Daily Online

Australian state pushes booster shots, not restrictions amid surging COVID-19 cases

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 11:26, December 19, 2021

As daily COVID-19 case numbers in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) continue to surge, authorities have pushed booster shots as the way forward instead of restrictions.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Sunday called for all eligible citizens to get the booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

He noted that people were already "voting with their feet", saying that NSW Health Facilities had given 57,000 booster shots in the last week up from 15,000 in the previous week.

On Sunday, NSW reported 2,566 new cases in the 24 hours to 8:00 p.m. Saturday, a slight increase from 2,482 cases reported on Saturday.

A total of 313 cases of the Omicron variant have been confirmed in the state since the first case was detected in late November.

Hospitalizations, which have yet to follow the sharp rise in cases over the past week, have also begun to grow, with 227 COVID patients reported to be in the hospital, up from 206 on Saturday.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said rising cases would be "the new normal" and rebutted calls for re-imposing indoor mask mandates and restrictions, saying that numbers in intensive care units (ICU) would be a key metric going forward.

"We want to make sure that our health system has the capacity as we move through this next challenge of the pandemic," he said.

Currently 28 individuals in NSW are in ICU with the disease.

"When we believe there's evidence in front of us (that) we need to potentially tighten restrictions, we will," said Perrottet.

Meanwhile the island state of Tasmania announced on Sunday that masks would be made mandatory in response to three new cases detected, which brought their total number of cases since opening borders to the rest of Australia on Wednesday to seven.

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