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Australia's record COVID-19 death, hospital under stress

MELBOURNE (Australia) -- Australia recorded a record number of COVID-19-related deaths Tuesday. The country's second-largest state declared an immediate hospital emergency to deal with a surge in patient admissions and a staff shortage caused by the coronavirus.

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Australia's record COVID-19 death, hospital under stress

Its three most populous states were responsible for 74 deaths. New South Wales had 36 deaths, Victoria 22 and Queensland 16. On Sept. 4, 2020, there were 59 deaths due to coronavirus.

Greg Hunt, Federal Health Minister, stated that there were signs suggesting that New South Wales's infection rate is peaking. Victoria was also nearing a plateau.

The New South Wales government has decided not to return to lockdown in an attempt to combat the highly contagious Omicron variant. Because the majority of Australia's largest city had been vaccinated, Sydney ended its 108-day lockdown in October.

A lockdown could have "substantial implications for men and women across the state in terms being able to feed their families," Domonic Perrottet, state premier, told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Victoria declared an emergency in hospitals in Melbourne, its state capital, and in several other regional hospitals, starting Wednesday at noon, due to staff shortages and an increase in patient admissions. Around 5,000 staff are missing because they are infected or have close contacts.

James Merlino, Acting Health Minister, stated that "we've reached an important point in our healthcare system" where there are extreme workforce shortages and a large number of COVID-19 patients who need hospitalization. He also mentioned that the extraordinary workforce is exhausted.

An emergency declaration is when additional capacity and capability are required to handle an influx of patients. Some hospital staff might be called back from leave, and additional services may be delayed. Physiotherapists, medical students and other students may be required to assume nursing duties.

This is the first time that an emergency has been activated in multiple state hospitals.

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 2,700 Australians. Australia is home to 26 million people.

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