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Australia Grappling With Fresh Omicron Outbreak; COVID Deaths Rise

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Australia is battling a fresh Covid-19 outbreak as the country reported one of its highest daily death tolls on Thursday. Hospital admissions are at record levels as the authorities struggle to contain the highly contagious Omicron variants.

The BA.4/5 variants are good at evading immune protection from vaccination or prior infection and have been driving a surge of new infections globally, a Reuters report said.

Since the first wave of Omicron earlier this year, Australia has reported the highest daily numbers with 89 deaths on Thursday and 90 on Wednesday. The country recorded 55,600 new cases on Thursday, the highest since May 18.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese insisted that state leaders and federal health officials have not suggested making masks compulsory in indoor venues, despite recommendations by some doctors to do so.

High levels of public compliance with resilient social distancing restrictions saw Australia avoid high death tolls unlike in other countries during the first waves of the pandemic. But the Australian public do not want to resort to such measures again despite the surge in infections. PM Albanese has resisted pressure from some health experts to impose a mask mandate.

“It’s no good having a mandate unless it’s enforced,” Albanese told ABC Radio.

He said health officials also had to take into account the effects of tough restrictions on mental health, according to Reuters.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Australia has recorded about 9 million COVID-19 cases along with 10,968 deaths.

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