Masks to stay as NSW COVID hospitalisations hit record



Mask rules and hospitality density limits will remain in NSW after the state recorded a rise in COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalisations.

Exactly two years after the virus was first recorded in Australia, Premier Dominic Perrottet reiterated the state’s hospitalisation rate remained lower than the so-called “best-case” model.

But mask rules and hospitality density limits reintroduced before Christmas to pump the brakes on Omicron’s spread will continue beyond January 27.

“The restrictions we put in place last year … will be rolling over for another month,” Mr Perrottet said on Tuesday.

There were 18,512 more virus cases in NSW in the 24 hours to 8pm Monday, a jump of 3421. There were also 29 deaths, compared to 24 on Sunday.

NSW Health reports there are 2943 COVID patients in NSW hospitals, up by 127, and 183 people in ICU, 13 fewer than the previous day. It is the highest number of people in hospital with the virus the state has so far recorded.

More than 33 per cent of eligible people in NSW have had three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Mr Perrottet promised businesses reeling from the effects of the Omicron wave of COVID will get fresh support within a week.

The state Labor opposition said a business support package was urgently needed to lift small and medium-sized businesses out of the summer’s “shadow lockdown” as the rampant virus keeps workers and customers at home.

Treasurer Matt Kean is working with stakeholder groups and industry “to make sure the support that we provide … during this period has impact”, Mr Perrottet told Sydney radio 2GB.

“Our focus … has always been to put businesses and workers before the budget … and we will continue to do that.”

He also promised non-urgent elective surgery would resume as soon as possible. An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report has found the median wait time for procedures blew out to 48 days in the 2020/21 financial year, an increase of nine days compared to the previous year.

The NSW government would commit funding to clear the surgery backlog when the pressure had eased on NSW public hospitals, Mr Perrottet said.

“As soon as we … get advice from our medical teams that we can bring that non-urgent elective surgery back we will do so.

“It’s a key focus of ours … that we would get that back on track as quickly as possible,” he said.

He also welcomed news from the World Health Organisation that the global health COVID-19 health emergency could end this year if 70 per cent of the world”s population gets vaccinated.

“There’s a long way to go but I think that there’s no doubt that these signs … that are coming out of the WHO and global evidence is incredibly pleasing,” he said.

NSW Health reports 82.7 per cent of people 12-15 have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 78.3 per cent of them have had two doses.

Among children aged 5-11, 28.7 per cent have had one dose of a COVID vaccine.

Nearly 94 per cent of adults have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 95.3 per cent had one jab.

We’ve Already Come Too Far To End This Now.

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