Days After 10K Broke Record, Australia Has 32K New Cases

PM says country is stronger despite lockdowns, fires, floods, mouse plagues
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 31, 2021 2:58 AM CST
Days After 10K Broke Record, Australia Has 32K New Cases
Members of the public queue to take a COVID-19 tests in Sydney, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021.   (Brendon Thorne/AAP Image via AP)

New coronavirus infections soared again in Australia on Friday to a record of more than 32,000, just days after surpassing 10,000 for the first time. Experts say the explosion is being driven by the highly contagious omicron variant and a recent relaxation of restrictions in Sydney and other areas. More than 15,000 of the new cases were reported in Sydney. Another 5,000 cases came from elsewhere in New South Wales state, while almost 6,000 were confirmed in Victoria state, home to Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city.

While hospitalizations and deaths have been increasing from the surge, so far they haven't reached comparative levels seen in previous outbreaks, the AP report. Many cities are going ahead with New Year's Eve celebrations, including the famous fireworks display from the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House. Authorities are expecting far smaller crowds than in pre-pandemic years, when as many as 1 million revelers would crowd inner Sydney.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison remained upbeat despite the rising virus numbers and the many natural challenges the nation has recently faced. "Despite the pandemic, despite the floods, the fires, continuing drought in some areas, the cyclones, the lockdowns, even mice plagues, Australia is stronger today than we were a year ago. And we’re safer," Morrison said in a New Year's Eve message. "We have one of the lowest death rates and the highest vaccination rates from COVID anywhere in the world," he said. (More Australia stories.)

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