Australia reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases for a third day on Saturday, with outbreaks on the rise in the two most populous states, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison has continued to downplay the risks as the country relaxes measures to combat the pandemic.
The state of New South Wales reported 2,482 new cases, the state of Victoria reported 1,504 new cases and the state of Queensland reported 31 new cases on Saturday, surpassing the previous record of 3,820 cases in Australia a day earlier.
Morrison reiterated on Saturday that the focus should be on hospitalizations and intensive care cases and ventilators rather than the actual number of cases as the country learns to live with the virus.
So far, he said the growing number of cases in NSW did not translate into pressure on hospitals, with just 26 people in intensive care.
“I wouldn’t agree that Australians are complacent about this. We take this incredibly seriously. It’s best to approach it with a calm head and a clear plan, ”Morrison said at a press conference in Hobart, the island state of Tasmania.
He said Australia is not in the same situation as the UK, Europe or North America, where cases are skyrocketing.
In the latest easing of pandemic restrictions, fully vaccinated international travelers arriving in Sydney and Melbourne will no longer need to self-isolate for 72 hours, the governments of New South Wales and Victoria said on Friday.
Incoming travelers will still need to have a PCR test within 24 hours of arrival, but will only need to self-isolate until they receive a negative test result.
“We know international travel has been a difficult time with new rules and the emergence of the Omicron variant, but this announcement aims to simplify the process and ensure that Australia’s two largest cities have a consistent approach.” New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said. said in a statement.
Australia closed its borders shortly after the start of the pandemic in 2020, which reduced COVID-19 cases compared to other wealthy countries. The country has so far recorded around 239,000 cases and around 2,130 deaths.
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