Prime Minister Morrison optimistic about wave of virus in Australia
SYDNEY (AP) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday his country’s healthcare system can cope with the new wave of coronavirus infections as Victoria state reported a record number of new cases and hospitalizations up sharply in New South Wales.
Morrison spoke in two television interviews ahead of Monday’s numbers release.
Victoria reported 8,577 new cases, a record for the state that eclipsed the previous peak of 7,442 on New Years Day.
New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, saw a slight drop in the number of cases, from a record 22,577 on Saturday to 20,794 on Monday. But the number of people hospitalized rose to 1,204 against 1,066 the day before. There were 95 people in intensive care, an increase from 12 the day before.
Speaking to the Seven Network, Prime Minister Morrison said Australia’s healthcare system is well equipped to deal with the increased number of cases caused by the spread of the omicron variant.
“It is important that with the increase in the number of cases, we find that the severity of this disease is already about 75% lower than what we have seen with delta,” said Morrison. “The increase in the number of cases is part of the omicron period, it is part of the new phase of the pandemic that we find ourselves in.”
“That doesn’t mean it can’t put pressure on the hospital system. It is possible and that is why we are working closely with prime ministers and chief (state) ministers to make sure those resources are there, ”added Morrison.
Morrison said the federal government will take action to ensure hospitals have the resources they need to deal with the increase in admissions. His government changed the definition of “close contact” last week to ensure that health workers who may have been exposed to an active case do not have to self-isolate and can return to work.
“We are looking to make further changes to this this week to bring more staff back to our hospitals and meet the needs,” Morrison told 9 News.