States that delayed their reckoning with COVID behind closed borders are now feeling the full brunt of the virus as it runs riot in Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.
Queensland has added 3587 infections to its COVID-19 caseload as a new indoor mask mandate comes into effect across the state.
Some 16,688 Queenslanders now have the virus with significant delays and long queues reporting at testing sites.
Meanwhile, Tasmania has recorded 404 fresh COVID-19 infections while the number of people in hospital with the virus has grown to three.
The state’s health department confirmed the new cases on Sunday morning, as active infections across the state rose to 1219 cases.
And in South Australia, where 2298 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the latest number represents an increase of almost 200 on the day before.
There are 82 people in hospital, which has doubled over the weekend with 40 people in hospital two days ago. Seven are in intensive care.
Premier Steven Marshall said the state has flexed up available hospital beds across the system.
“Omicron is a complete and utter game changer for us here in Australia,” he said on Sunday.
“The COVID-ready expenditure we had was originally for Delta, we have significantly flexed that up and the additional capacity comes on when it is needed.
“We are very much within our current capacity.”
Queensland health authorities say testers processed almost 34,000 results in the 24 hours to 7pm on Saturday. The state is 86.60 per cent fully vaccinated for everyone 16 and over.
Chief Health Officer John Gerrard says despite a jump of more than 1300 cases in a day, he’s not surprised. In part, the increase is related to a change in reporting protocols which saw case figures taken from a 12-hour window on Friday.
“This number is probably a bit smaller than we had expected,” he said in Brisbane on Sunday of the latest data.
“It probably (also) relates to testing over the holiday period and so it will not be a surprise at all that in the next couple of days we see a significant increase in cases as more samples are tested and more people come forward.”
Vaccination and pregnancy
Two of the patients in ICU are pregnant and only one is vaccinated, he said.
Dr Gerrard said there is now clear evidence vaccination during pregnancy is “very safe”.
“This reminds us that it is critical pregnant women and women who are planning to be pregnant get vaccinated,” he said. “The virus is not good for the pregnant mother or for the unborn child.”
In Tasmania, Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff said a three-year-old child had tested positive for COVID-19 in the state’s south, after presenting to Royal Hobart Hospital’s emergency department.
“While no doubt distressing for the family, the child was treated by an emergency department medical specialist and was deemed safe for discharge,” Mr Rockliff said in a statement.
“While the case numbers will continue to cause some concern in the community – which is completely understandable – it is not unexpected, and the reason we are now able to live with COVID is because of our highly vaccinated population.”