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Omicron drives record surge in Australia, COVID-19 infections hit a million

Rising hospitalisation rates prompted state officials to reintroduce some restrictions

Omicron drives record surge in Australia, COVID-19 infections hit a million
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As the Omicron variation raged over much of the country, driving up hospitalisation rates and putting a strain on supply networks, Australia topped 1 million COVID-19 instances on Monday (January 10, 2022), with more than half of them documented in the previous week.

Having successfully kept its virus caseload under control earlier in the pandemic with strong lockdowns and strict border restrictions, Australia is now experiencing record infections as the country prepares to live with the virus after increased vaccinations.

After authorities refused tennis star Novak Djokovic's visa due to issues about his vaccine exemption, Australia's tough border restrictions are once again in the spotlight. On Monday, his fight to stay in Australia will be heard in the courts.

The world's number one tennis player claims that a recent COVID-19 infection qualifies him for a medical exemption from the country's requirement that all visitors be double-vaccinated.

With roughly 55,000 new cases reported in New South Wales and Victoria on Monday, the total number of COVID-19 infections in Australia has reached 1.03 million since the first case was reported nearly two years ago. The data from other states and territories will be released later in the day.

So far, 2,387 individuals have died as a result of the Omicron virus, however the death rate has been lower than in past outbreaks, with 92 percent of people over 16 receiving a double dose and the booster programme moving forward.

Rising hospitalisation rates prompted state officials to reintroduce some restrictions, while businesses have been hampered by employee shortages caused by isolation requirements or people who are unwell.

Authorities have shortened obligatory isolation hours for close contacts and tightened the definition of close contacts, but they are still looking into the rules for furloughing workers, which have caused supply chain gaps.

Pfizer's COVID vaccines will be available to 2.3 million children aged five to eleven years old starting Monday, despite reports of a stock shortfall, which authorities have ruled out.

"There is enough vaccine and there are enough points of distribution, it is just about a little bit of patience," Lieutenant General John Frewen, head of the vaccination taskforce, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp on Monday.

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