COVID updates: NSW reports new peak; Victoria records two deaths; South Australia announces new restrictions
Victoria, Queensland and the ACT's daily COVID numbers were all lower on Boxing Day compared to Christmas Day, but New South Wales and South Australia have reported new daily records.You can jump to the COVID-19 stories you want to read by clicking below.
A major pathology lab has temporarily shut 28 Covid-19 testing sites across New South Wales as it tries to keep up with demand.
Australian Clinical Labs shut down drive-through and walk-in clinics on Monday, but would progressively reopen them today as it cleared through a backlog of swabs.
'These closures have been necessary due to the significant increase in testing volumes across the state,' the company said.
Drive-through sites there are shut include: Clarendon Hawkesbury Showground, Dural, Emerald Hills (Leppington), Granville (Parramatta Rd), Hornsby Overflow Car Park, Hunters Hill, Kingswood, Liverpool, Marsden Park, Minto, Parklea, Penrith, Sydney Olympic Park, Warriewood, Windsor and Winmalee.
New infections surge to all-time high as Omicron overtakes Delta as Victoria's dominant strain
Victoria recorded nine deaths and 7442 new coronavirus cases on New Year's Day.Victoria recorded nine deaths and 7442 new coronavirus cases on New Year's Day, up from 5839 the previous day. The rise comes as Melburnians brace for longer delays at testing sites over the weekend with some expected to close due to the extreme heat.
Walk-in clinics that are shut include: Ashfield, Blacktown, Campsie, Fairfield, Frenchs Forest, Harris Park, Manly, Narrabri and Windale. © Provided by Daily Mail
The sites at Castle Hill, Parramatta and Charlestown would likely reopen Tuesday but the remaining sites will be closed indefinitely as employees clear current workloads.
'Clinical Labs temporarily closed some testing sites in NSW,' the company said on its website on Monday evening.
'These closures have been necessary due to the significant increase in testing volumes across the state.
'Many of these sites will progressively reopen from Tuesday 4th January.'
Despite a loosening of rules around test requirements in NSW, testing clinics have remained swamped with long lines for more than two weeks.
Hundreds queue without knowing test sites are shut, as Qld records 5699 cases
Queensland has recorded 5699 new cases of COVID-19, as hundreds were left frustrated after waiting hours in queues at closed testing sites. Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said COVID was spreading across Queensland, with more than 25,900 cases active across the state on Tuesday. "That means many people you know are likely to have COVID," Ms D'Ath said. "We have 11 people now in ICU, two of those people are on a ventilator." Ms D'Ath said there were very long lines at testing clinics across the state, adding that "a number of private pathologists are not opening at the moment".
NSW reported 20,794 new Covid cases on Monday as hospitalisation numbers near the figures reached during the height of the Delta outbreak in September. © Provided by Daily Mail Australians forced to wait in line for hours at Covid testing clinics as infection rates spiral to new record highs are taking desperate measures to cut the queue, like sleeping in their cars. Pictured: A Covid testing clinic in Wyndham Vale, Melbourne
There were 1204 people in the state's hospitals with COVID-19 on Monday, just 62 cases shy of the record set on September 21 when NSW was in the grips of Delta.
Monday's figure marked a rise by 165 on the previous day's figure.
Amid dramatically escalating case numbers attributed to the Omicron variant, Premier Dominic Perrottet has been urging residents to turn their attention from the caseload to hospital numbers.
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant on Monday said authorities would be looking at 'the whole picture', including hospitalisation figures, intensive care admissions, the positivity rate and case numbers.
Victorians fed up with lack of rapid antigen tests as they're turned away from testing queues
People are becoming frustrated at the COVID-19 testing regime as they are turned away from screening stations and unable to come by at-home testing kits. Testing stations are again closing their queues early this week as demand continues to grow amid the Omicron outbreak, of which 76 per cent of samples in Victoria since Christmas are the latest COVID-19 variant.Bendigo Health reported as much as a four-hour wait on Sunday and Monday to get tested at its McLaren Street drive-through and walk-in testing stations.
© Provided by Daily Mail Some people have even been sleeping in their cars the night before just to avoid the hours-long wait to get a PCR test. Pictured: A Covid testing clinic in North Ryde, Sydney
The increasing hospitalisation numbers may mask the true picture of the severity of the virus, with a small NSW Health study finding that some patients counted in the COVID-19 numbers were actually admitted to hospital for completely different reasons, like childbirth.
NSW Health says that with the spread of COVID-19 in the community, it's unsurprising that patients admitted for other injuries and illnesses will be found to have COVID-19 too.
While ICU numbers are rising - 25 at the latest count - they are well short of the peak of 244 in September. © Provided by Daily Mail Many clinics in NSW and Victoria have been forced to turn people away by the thousands as early as 9am, as banks of cars at drive-thru clinics queue kilometres. Pictured: A Covid testing clinic in Melbourne Read more
Contact tracers to focus on vulnerable settings as Omicron wave to peak .
Queensland contact tracers are to focus on vulnerable settings and will limit publishing exposure sites unless they are venues of high concern, as the Omicron wave is set to peak and COVID cases become unmanageable. Tensions were rising on Wednesday, with 6781 new COVID-19 cases and thousands of frustrated Queenslanders languishing in long queues to get tested following a surge from New Year events. But, despite many people reporting they had contracted the virus from parties or large events, Queensland Health was yet to declare any "super-spreader" events and no longer reported exposure sites.