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- Australia has recorded more than 684,227 cases and 2,301 deaths since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Strains on hospitals and long queues at COVID-19 testing sites have sparked an outrage among the public.
- A new variant of coronavirus, temporarily labelled “variant IHU”, has been reported in France.
The global tally of COVID-19 cases has reached approximately 296 million, claiming lives of around five million people. Coronavirus, which is to be accounted for the current pandemic, has undergone several mutations leading to the emergence of new variants of the virus.
Till date, the World Health Organization has discovered five variants after the first case was reported in China in late 2019. Among this, Omicron is the latest one, which originated at South Africa in November 2021 and has now spread to more than 106 countries.
The ability of coronavirus to mutate was always known. So, it isn’t surprising that another new variant has been discovered in France. It has got 46 mutations with many of them affecting the spike protein. It’s been temporarily labelled “variant IHU”. Till now, 12 people have been tested positive for the virus.
COVID-19 scenario of Australia
Australia has reported 72,357 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. The total number of active cases has reached 330,289 with 3,482 people admitted to hospital. The country has recorded more than 684,227 cases and 2,301 deaths since the coronavirus pandemic began, with more than half of those infections reported over the past two weeks.
Among the states, New South Wales (NSW) has got the highest, reporting 234,066 active cases. A statement made by health department on Sunday stated that testing capacity in NSW was at that time under enormous pressure. The only people getting a PCR test should be those who have COVID-19-related symptoms; live in a household with a confirmed COVID-19-positive case; or have otherwise, been advised by NSW Health to get tested.
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As number of cases are hitting new records, hospitals and testing facilities are facing pressure and are overrun. According to media reports, Western New South Wales' health facilities are "chronically understaffed," and the situation could worsen as COVID-19 cases continue to grow.
The number of people being admitted to hospitals are rising every day and authorities are warning that the number may rise further. Fuelled by the Omicron variant, a rapid surge in cases has led to long queues in PCR-testing sites. Due to this, authorities have asked people to visit public testing sites only if they are having symptoms. Strain on hospitals and testing sites has sparked an outrage among the public about the management of the healthcare system.
The vaccine rollout is also being done rapidly in Australia. As per the federal government, more than 91.7% Australians aged 16 years and over are now fully vaccinated. Over 2.7 million booster doses have been administered. Australia has sufficient supplies of boosters, with nearly 18 million mRNA vaccines in stock. Also, COVID-19 tests are now being done for free at state testing clinics for people who have symptoms or are a close contact.
The emergence of new coronavirus variant IHU has further raised questions about the ongoing status of COVID-19. Australia’s mounting COVID-19 cases have put its healthcare system under immense pressure. The Australian government is trying its best to sustain the healthcare system with vaccine rollout taking place at a rapid pace.
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