Record number of COVID cases reported in 2 Australian states

The Australian states of Victoria and Queensland reported record levels of new daily coronavirus infections on Tuesday as pressure on testing centers prompted calls for wider use of rapid antigen tests.

The state of Queensland has reported 1,158 cases, the first time the state has seen more than 1,000 cases in one day, but hospitalizations remained low. The state has more than 4,000 active cases, of which 257 are believed to be the omicron variant.

State Health Minister Yvette D’Ath announced on Tuesday that travelers from out of state will no longer have to undergo a PCR test five days after arrival. D’Ath said that of the tens of thousands who crossed state borders recently, only 0.6% tested positive by day five.

“Anyone who’s in line now for the fifth day test.” . . will no longer be required to take the Day 5 tests from now on, ”she said. “We thank everyone for doing the right thing. We made sure to do it in a safe and responsible manner, but from now on, that no longer applies.”

Victoria state reported 2,738 new cases on Tuesday, breaking the state’s previous record of 2,297 cases in mid-October.

Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, saw a slight drop in the number of cases, but that corresponded to fewer tests around Christmas Day. The state reported 6,062 new infections on Tuesday, up from 6,324 a day earlier.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the requirement for travelers to Queensland to have a negative PCR test 72 hours before departure put unnecessary strain on the facilities of test. He said that by enforcing this requirement, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk “perverted the goals of pathology testing.”

“If Queensland thinks people are coming COVID-free, that isn’t necessarily true,” Hazzard said. “These tests were carried out three or four days before arrival. It is counterproductive.

“This rule is contributing to the collapse of the country’s largest pathology system. We’re not getting the turnaround times we need. “

Long queues were reported at test centers around Sydney on Tuesday.

Australian Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has called for rapid antigen testing to replace PCR testing for most interstate travelers, to ease pressure on testing centers.

“Using this rapid antigen test before interstate travel is a better approach than the more expensive and time-consuming PCR test,” Frydenberg told ABC. “I think it’s a reasonable balance in recognizing that people want a certain level of safety with their health before they travel.

“But at the same time, they want to avoid the long queues and long wait times associated with PCR tests.”

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