At the peak of the Delta outbreak, on 21 September, there were 1,266 people hospitalised with infections, and 244 in intensive care.
Testing numbers to 8pm on the first day of 2022 were down to 90,019, a drop from 119,278 on New Year’s Eve.
The high case numbers come as Premier Dominic Perrottet continues to focus on hospitalisation and intensive care numbers rather than the daily case total.
Despite comprising about six per cent of the population, unvaccinated people make up the majority of those in intensive care, Health Minister Brad Hazzard says.
To ensure hospital systems can cope, asymptomatic health workers who are in isolation due to being a close contact of a positive case will be permitted to leave isolation in “exceptional circumstances”, NSW Health announced on Friday night.
Victoria posts 7,172 cases, extreme heat closes testing sites
The first day of 2022 hasn’t been kind to 7,172 Victorians, the state’s latest residents to contract COVID-19.
A further three virus-related deaths have also been recorded for 1 January.
However the number of Victorian coronavirus patients in hospital care remains relatively stable at 472, up 19 on Saturday’s figure and 48 beyond the seven-day average.
Of them, 52 are classified as active ICU cases and 22 are in need of ventilation.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton’s daily update said on Sunday community sampling had revealed 76 per cent of all samples collected over the Christmas period were the Omicron variant. Further testing to confirm this is being undertaken over the next week.
In total, Victoria is managing 31,461 active COVID-19 cases.
Health authorities says virus testers managed to process 48,252 results in the 24 hours to Saturday evening.
The state is 93 per cent fully vaccinated for everyone aged 12 and over.
Some 7,442 infections were reported on Saturday, another pandemic record. There were 51 actively infectious patients in intensive care and 21 ventilated.
Extreme heat caused the closure of eight of the state’s testing sites on Saturday.
Queensland records 3,587 new cases
Queensland has added 3,587 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. However, hospital numbers remain low with 112 patients in care, five of them in ICUs and none requiring ventilation.
Health authorities say testers processed almost 34,000 results in the 24 hours to 7pm on Saturday.
Queensland is 86.60 per cent fully vaccinated for everyone 16 and over.
Chief Health Officer John Gerrard says despite a jump of more than 1,300 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 figures.
“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.”
Dr Gerrard said what experts were now seeing with the virus was that it was “a vastly different disease” to that which was spreading in the community last year and prior to vaccination.
“With a degree of contagiousness of this virus, we are going to be seeing very large numbers of cases, even though the severity is clearly going to be less,” he said.
“We are going to see very large numbers of cases and a small proportion of a very large number (who fall ill) is still a large number.”
Masks were declared compulsory in “virtually all indoor spaces” in Queensland from 1am on Sunday.
Previously masks were only required indoors at supermarkets, shops, on public transport and ride share as well as airports and planes, cinemas and theatres in Queensland.
They now need to be worn at workplaces unless unsafe to do so, pubs, clubs and cafes unless when seated, indoor stadiums and sport arenas, libraries, hair dressers and nail salons, and medical centre waiting areas.
Queenslanders were also urged to return to work-from-home arrangements where possible.
SA hospitalisations ‘very much within capacity’
South Australia, meanwhile, recorded 2,298 COVID-19 cases on New Years Day from 21,140 tests.
The newest caseload is up from 2,108, while hospitalisations have also risen by 11.
There are currently 82 people in hospital, Premier Steven Marshall said on Sunday, a number which he said was “still very much within our current capacity”.
Seven people are in ICU.
“We see a lot of admissions but also a lot of people are leaving hospital on a daily basis after their conditions have stabilised,” Mr Marshall told reporters on Sunday.