Australian state extends pandemic declaration for 3 months

The Australian state of Victoria has announced that it would extend its public health order issued under the pandemic for three months, citing the serious risk of the BA.2 Omicron wave in the state.

The extension would begin from Tuesday next week and would last three additional months. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews made the announcement on Wednesday night following advice from the state’s acting chief health officer, Xinhua news agency reported.

“This extension enables us to keep modest and sensible settings in place to reduce transmission and hospitalisation — that means more support for health workers and limiting its impact on our community,” said Andrews.

“We don’t want rules on any longer than they need to be — we’ll continue to follow the advice to protect what we’ve built while protecting our community.”

Covid cases have surged in the state since the highly transmissible Omicron BA.2 sub-strain has become the dominant strain of the virus in Australia.

On Thursday, Victoria reported 12,314 new cases and 4 additional deaths. The highest single-day increase since the tail end of its initial Omicron wave at the beginning of February.

All of Australia’s states and territories are fighting similar battles against the raging subvariant.

On Thursday, New South Wales (NSW) recorded 22,255 cases and 16 deaths.

As of 9 p.m. Wednesday, the Australian Government Department of Health estimated that there are nearly half a million active cases of Covid across the nation.

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