Land has recorded more than 500,000 cases in the past week as it learns to live with COVID-19.
Australia needs to “push through” a fast-growing Omicron outbreak, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, as the country’s total COVID-19 cases exceeded one million, more than half of which were recorded just last week.
The situation is a reversal for Australia, which has suppressed previous waves of the pandemic through restrictions and strict border controls and quarantines.
After vaccinating almost all of its adult population, Australia is now trying to live with the virus, but the rapid escalation in cases has put pressure on medical workers and the health care system.
“Omicron is a gear shift and we have to push through,” Morrison told a media briefing in the capital, Canberra. “You have two choices here: you can push through or you can lock up. We are in favor of pushing through. ”
The country confirmed just over 67,000 cases on Monday, compared to just under 100,000 on Sunday. Authorities said the Monday number could be an “underestimation” because some states do not include those who tested positive in rapid antigen tests at home.
Australia has now reported 1.04 million cases since the pandemic began two years ago. About 2,387 lost their lives to the disease.
Morrison maintained the health care system had managed it. More than 3,500 people are currently in hospital, compared to about 2,000 a week ago.
About 92 percent of those older than 16 received two doses of vaccine, and children between the ages of 5 and 11 began receiving their first doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine on Monday.