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Chief medical officer says Australia "close" to peak of Omicron wave

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 13:08, January 15, 2022

CANBERRA, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Australia's Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Paul Kelly declared on Saturday he was optimistic that the country's Omicron outbreak was close to its peak.

Kelly said there were "signs for hope" that the record-breaking wave of COVID-19 infections that has accounted for more than 1 million cases since December has peaked.

"In terms of the actual of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are signs for hope," he told reporters in Canberra.

"Now the actual forecasting based on actual numbers of cases, particularly in New South Wales but also in Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, leads me to believe that we are close to the peak of this wave in terms of cases," he said.

Australia on Saturday reported more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases and more than 50 deaths, according to health departments from states and territories.

Kelly on Saturday morning spoke alongside Health Minister Greg Hunt, who announced that Australia has reached a 95-percent first dose vaccination rate among people aged 16 and older.

"But we want to go further. We want to continue to encourage Australians to come forward," Hunt said.

Approximately 92.5 percent of people aged 16 and older have received two vaccine doses.

On Friday night former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd accused the federal government of using Novak Djokovic's visa to distract from COVID-19 issues.

Incumbent Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement on Friday night that the world No. 1 tennis star's visa was canceled just days out from the Australian Open "on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so."

In response, Rudd, who served as PM twice between 2007 and 2010 and again in 2013, said the move was politically motivated.

"One big political distraction from empty shelves & the national shortage of boosters & RATs (rapid antigen tests)," he wrote on social media.

The Federal Court will hear Djokovic's legal appeal against the visa cancellation on Sunday morning.

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