Cases have jumped in NSW and Victoria while ICU numbers have plunged as experts agree the Omicron outbreak has reached its peak and will soon stabilise.
NSW recorded 18,512 new Covid-19 on Tuesday, marking a 22.7 per cent increase from the 15,091 cases reported on Monday, and another 29 deaths.
Victoria detected 14,836 new infections, a 27 per cent increase from the 11,695 cases the day previous, and also reported 29 deaths.
NSW hospitalisation rates have risen to a record 2,943 up from 2,816 on Monday – as Victoria’s hospital numbers surge from 998 to 1,057.
ICU rates in NSW have fallen from 196 to 183 patients – but remained the same in Victoria for a consecutive day at 119 – down from 120 on Sunday.
Of the 9,090 positive RATs recorded since 8pm yesterday, 8,242 are from tests taken in the last 7 days or a double-up of the same persons PCR test, NSW Health stated.
Tuesday’s numbers come as global health chiefs agree the pandemic has said it’s now ‘endgame’ for the pandemic as case rates and hospital numbers stabilise.
New South Wales has recorded 18,512 local Covid cases and 29 deaths on Tuesday as Victoria hits 14,836 new infections (pictured, shoppers in Melbourne)
NSW detected 15,091 new cases on Monday, marking a 26 per cent dip on the 20,324 reported on Sunday, and another 24 deaths (pictured, a sign notifying customers RAT kits are sold out
The numbers were the lowest tally recorded so far in 2022, marking 48.9 per cent drop since the same time last week and raising hopes the state had seen its peak.
Victoria reported 11,695 new infections on Monday, a 10.6 per cent drop on the previous 13,091, and 17 deaths.
It comes as one of Australia’s most eminent experts claimed NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet was right not to plunge the state into a lockdown.
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant, known for fighting for tougher restrictions, says she is ‘incredibly optimistic’ about the future, exactly two years after the first Covid case was confirmed in Australia.
Experts say Victoria, the ACT and South Australia have also passed their peak while daily infections in Queensland continue to drop, again without locking down.
Mr Perrottet has previously come under fire for refusing to introduce harsh restrictions on Sydney residents after Omicron entered the state in December.
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant (pictured) said she feels ‘incredibly optimistic’ about the future exactly two years after Omicron entered the state in December
Critics such as 2GB’s Ray Hadley has slammed the premier for being ‘arrogant’ in removing mask mandates on December 15 before quickly returning them.
He also critiqued the state leader’s decision to axe hotel quarantine requirements for travellers and doing away with restrictions introduced by his predecessor.
Professor Catherine Bennett, the chair of epidemiology at Deakin University, told Daily Mail Australia the Omicron strain was so virulent it would spread regardless of whether authorities used a heavy lockdown or lighter restrictions.
Prof. Bennett also said the premier’s move to briefly scrap mask rules would not have had a major impact on community transmission of the highly-contagious strain.
She told Daily Mail Australia: ‘What is interesting is where countries have used full restrictions overseas, the lockdown stops Omicron for a short while and then it starts spreading again.
‘It’s harder to stop than previous variants because of the speed with which it moves through the community.’
Professor Catherine Bennett, the chair of epidemiology at Deakin University, said the Omicron variant would spread regardless of a lockdown (pictured, people are tested in Sydney)
She said in countries where a lockdown had been imposed Omicron would stop spreading for a short while before transmission started again (pictured, shoppers in Melbourne)
The expert said there were limits to letting the virus move freely, but by and large NSW had reeled in freedoms that posed a high risk of transmission.
‘People now are managing the virus so they can do all the things they want to do – you can go to a restaurant but there’s a lot more space,’ Prof. Bennett said.
‘It’s not about shutting social life down completely but thinning it out.’
NSW Covid chief Dr Chant said the Omicron outbreak was ‘stabilising’ and it’s now time for people to learn to live with the virus.
‘I think we need to have a sense of optimism, I’m incredibly optimistic,’ she told reporters on Monday.
‘It is pleasing that when we look at a range of measures, our assessment indicates that the spread of coronavirus is slowing, our situation is stabilising.’
She also tried to calm worried parents who are ‘anxious’ about sending their kids to school with students in Victoria and NSW returning at the end of January.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced 6.6million RATs will be delivered to schools and early childhood centres across the state before students resume class on January 31
Principal Glenn Butler opens a box of RAT at Mount View Primary School in Melbourne on Monday before students return to campus on January 31
Federal health minister Greg Hunt said infection and hospitalisation figures in several states and territories were showing promising signs (pictured, a Covid-19 testing clinic in Sydney)
Masks are compulsory for Year 3 students and above in Victoria – which had a peak of 51,084 cases on January 8 – and ‘highly recommended’ in NSW.
An extra two million rapid antigen Covid-19 will be delivered to NSW schools before lessons resume for 2022 – adding to the five million already distributed.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a similar strategy, saying 6.6 million RATs will be delivered to schools and early childhood centres across the state before primary and secondary students resume classes on January 31.
However, pharmacists have warned RAT availability will become stretched after two tests are issued to staff and students across 3000 primary and secondary schools.
Mr Perrottet has sought to ease concerns about the return to school, saying plenty of protective measures would be in place (pictured, people queue to get tested in Melbourne)
Mr Perrottet has also sought to ease concerns, saying plenty of protective measures would be in place to keep children safe from the virus as schools open.
‘I know many parents across the sate are anxious about the return to school,’ the premier said.
‘We have put everything in place to ensure that we can have our schools open in a safe way.’
The premier stood by his decisions to only send students home if they have tested positive, keep classrooms open, and shift focus away from contact tracing.
Federal health minister Greg Hunt said infection and hospitalisation figures in several states and territories were showing promising signs.