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Covid-19 Australia: NSW arts and festival sector to get $43million funding boost by state government

Sixteen of the 17 Covid-19 deaths recorded in NSW overnight were patients who had not received their booster shot, chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant revealed.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Dr Chant said only one person who died had received three doses – highlighting the importance for residents to keep their vaccine records up to date. 

‘We know that for the Omicron variant, having that booster is critical to upping your level of protection,’ she said. 

‘And we know that with both variants, even though the Omicron variant is milder overall, it still will have an incredible impact on people that are elderly and those underlying conditions.’

The revelation comes as NSW and Victoria recorded a dip in Covid-19 cases while ICU and hospitalisation rates spiked in both states.

The uptick prompted health minister Brad Hazzard to take aim at anti-vaxxers for placing unnecessary strain on the healthcare system after it was revealed last week that half of Covid patients in ICU were unvaccinated.

The new cases come as health minister Greg Hunt says there are clear signs that the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is peaking

While Mr Hunt provided some hope for the future, two-thirds of parents still believe it is unsafe for children to return to classrooms in a few weeks time when the country is in the middle of the Omicron outbreak

While Mr Hunt provided some hope for the future, two-thirds of parents still believe it is unsafe for children to return to classrooms in a few weeks time when the country is in the middle of the Omicron outbreak

‘If you are not fully vaccinated, you are six times more likely to end up in hospital and 13 times more likely to end up in ICU,’ Mr Hazzard said.

‘That means you are requiring the assistance of the health staff who are already exhausted. Can I just say to those people who have chosen not to get vaccinated – it’s time to give a damn about someone other than yourself. 

‘Give a damn about your community, your family and most particularly, the health staff.’ 

NSW reported 29,504 new cases and 17 deaths on Monday – down 15 per cent from the 34,660 infections and 20 deaths recorded on Sunday.  

Victoria recorded 22,429 new cases and six deaths – down 20 per cent from the previous 28,128 infections and 13 deaths.

Hospitalisation rates have increased in both states with NSW hospitals treating 2,776 patients – up from 2,650 – and Victoria hospitals treating 1,229 patients – up from 1,114. 

ICU figures have followed trend with 203 patients now in NSW units – up from 191 – and 129 in Victoria units – up from 122.  

The new cases come as health minister Greg Hunt says there are clear signs the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is peaking.

‘There are signs that NSW in particular and the ACT maybe peaking,’ Mr Hunt said Sunday.

‘I won’t call it as having reached it yet, but in particular what we’ve seen, is that all of these jurisdictions have so far significantly undershot the hospitalisation, ICU and ventilation predictions that were made at the outset.’

Premier Dominic Perrottet added: ‘The best way through this pandemic is to push through.’

‘What we can’t have, and I understand that it is a different approach to the last two years, but what we can’t have here in New South Wales and across the country are never ending lockdowns. 

‘Because that will result in a pandemic that becomes a never ending story.’ 

On Monday, premier Dominic Perrottet added: 'The best way through this pandemic is to push through'

On Monday, premier Dominic Perrottet added: ‘The best way through this pandemic is to push through’

Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy warned the national cabinet last week that 10 per cent of the workforce could be absent because of Covid at any one time, which would increase by a further five per cent if schools stay closed

Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy warned the national cabinet last week that 10 per cent of the workforce could be absent because of Covid at any one time, which would increase by a further five per cent if schools stay closed

Lung specialist Dr Lucy Morgan pleaded with residents to get vaccinated to reduce the chances of falling seriously ill and requiring medical care by nurses and doctors.

‘We are exhausted,’ she said. ‘And in responding to the unprecedented demands, the thousands of patients presenting to our hospitals every day, our capacity to manage everything else has also really changed. 

‘In the short-term, that’s OK. But in the long-term, and it’s two years now, this is bad. It’s really hard on us and it’s really hard on the people of New South Wales because this is leading to some delayed diagnoses.’ 

NSW treasurer Matt Kean announced the state government would be extending a lifeline to the events and festival sector and providing $43 million in funding after the industry was crippled by the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.

‘What we want to do is preserve the fabric of the economy,’ he said. ‘Ensure that we come through this, not only safely but we come out stronger. 

‘So my message to the community is very clear – we will stand with businesses, with families and with workers in New South Wales to make sure that we come through this safely but also make sure that we come out the other side stronger.’ 

Two-thirds of parents still believe it is unsafe for children to return to classrooms in a few weeks time when the country is in the middle of the Omicron outbreak.

'What we can't have, and I understand that it is a different approach to the last two years, but what we can't have here in New South Wales and across the country are never ending lockdowns,' Mr Perrottet said

‘What we can’t have, and I understand that it is a different approach to the last two years, but what we can’t have here in New South Wales and across the country are never ending lockdowns,’ Mr Perrottet said

Two-thirds of parents still believe it is unsafe for children to return to classrooms in a few weeks time when the country is in the middle of the Omicron outbreak

Two-thirds of parents still believe it is unsafe for children to return to classrooms in a few weeks time when the country is in the middle of the Omicron outbreak

Just one-in-five parents were happy to let their children go back to school, according to a national survey by parent advocacy group, The Parenthood, in a poll of 3043 families.

More than half of respondents (56 per cent) said school should be delayed to allow precautions to be taken around the provision of masks, rapid antigen tests and ventilation.

A similar proportion (52 per cent) said the peak of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 should be allowed to pass, while 51 per cent said schools should stay closed to ensure more children can be vaccinated.

‘In the weeks since the 2021 school year ended the COVID picture around the country has changed dramatically,’ The Parenthood’s executive director Georgie Dent said .

‘Having spent almost two years heeding the strict message that keeping kids home was the best way to keep them and others safe from this virus, it is not surprising that against a backdrop of surging cases parents aren’t feeling confident or certain that returning as planned makes sense.’

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged states and territories to open schools as planned, although Queensland has delayed its opening by two weeks.

Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy warned the national cabinet last week that 10 per cent of the workforce could be absent because of Covid at any one time, which would increase by a further five per cent if schools stay closed.

Meanwhile, Mr Hunt also announced $24 million in additional funding to assist the temporary widening of telehealth consultations through GPs and other specialists due to the high infection rate from the Omicron outbreak

Meanwhile, Mr Hunt also announced $24 million in additional funding to assist the temporary widening of telehealth consultations through GPs and other specialists due to the high infection rate from the Omicron outbreak

Meanwhile, Mr Hunt also announced $24 million in additional funding to assist the temporary widening of telehealth consultations through GPs and other specialists due to the high infection rate from the Omicron outbreak.

The decision was widely applauded by GPs and other help groups.

The funding will also cover the continued supply of personal protective equipment, such as masks, respirators, face shields and gowns for face-to-face consultations, including patients that have tested positive through a rapid antigen test.

The latter aligns with national cabinet’s January 5 decision that RAT tests no longer need to be confirmed by a PCR test.

Mr Hunt said telehealth had been a vital support during the pandemic, providing greater flexibility in healthcare delivery at the most critical time and continues to be a fundamental part of the pandemic response.

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