COVID updates: New Year’s Eve parties are encouraged to be COVID safe, more than 21,000 cases in NSW

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s happening in COVID news across Australia.

You can jump to the COVID-19 stories you want to read by clicking below.

NSW registers more than 21,000 new COVID cases, six deaths

People in cars are waiting for a covid test
Today’s figures come from nearly 150,000 tests. (ABC News: Tim Swanston)

NSW’s daily COVID-19 cases have almost doubled for the second time in three days, with 21,151 infections and six deaths recorded.

Hospital admissions have increased to 763, up from 746 in the previous reporting period.

There are now 69 patients in intensive care units.

148,410 COVID tests were administered.

Victoria registers 5,919 COVID cases, seven deaths

This is the fourth day in a row that Victoria has recorded a record daily increase, after 5,137 cases were reported on Thursday.

Two PPE-clad health care workers care for the patient in respirator
Admissions have risen markedly from 395 on Thursday to 428 today.(AAP: Provided by Western Health, Penny Stephens)

There are now 28,044 active cases of the virus and 703 people have died in the current outbreak.

Admissions have increased significantly over the past 24 hours, from 395 on Thursday to 428 today.

The number includes 54 patients on intensive care, of which 21 on a respirator.

The health department says another 43 patients are in the intensive care unit, but their infections are no longer considered active.

New Year’s Eve people are encouraged to be COVID-safe ahead of the festivities

Friends drink wine
Police will be on high alert during the celebration of New Year’s Eve in Sydney. (Kelsey Chance, Unsplash)

New Year’s Eve happy people are encouraged to take care when they say goodbye to a challenging year where people across the country are expected to gather to celebrate the arrival of 2022.

Police will be on high alert during the festivities in Sydney, where people are encouraged to be sensible, make reservations and attend event tickets to ensure they are COVID-safe.

In Adelaide, the festivities will continue in the CBD, despite the Chief Public Health Officer asking South Australians to stay home.

Mayor Sandy Verschoor says COVID-safe celebrations are for those who have “done the right thing” and planned ahead.

South Africa lifts the curfew as it says COVID-19 fourth wave peaks

A woman in a hat and face mask holds a cotton ball around her shoulder and looks deep into thoughts
South Africa’s curfew ran from midnight to 4 p.m. (AP: Jerome Delay)

South Africa has lifted its curfew on people’s movements with immediate effect in the belief that the country has passed the peak of its fourth COVID-19 wave powered by the Omicron variant.

The country made the changes based on the course of the pandemic, vaccination levels and available capacity in the health sector, according to a press release issued by Mondli Gungubele, a minister in the presidency.

“All indicators suggest that the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at the national level,” the statement said.

With close to 3.5 million infections and 91,000 deaths, South Africa has been the worst-hit country in Africa during the pandemic at both points.

Thousands message dead Chinese COVID-19 whistleblower Dr Li Wengliang two years after

A woman wearing a face mask walks past a poster of the late Li Wenliang.
People posted candle emojis, short thank you messages and exclamations about how two years have passed so quickly, on Dr Li’s online posts.(Reuters: David W Cerny)

Thousands of people left messages on the late Chinese COVID-19 whistleblower Li Wenliang’s social media account on the anniversary of the day he heard about possible pneumonia virus cases in Wuhan and shared the information with other doctors.

On December 30, 2019, Dr Li – an ophthalmologist at a hospital in Wuhan where the Sars-CoV-2 virus outbreak was first discovered – saw a medical report showing that potential SARS coronavirus cases had been confirmed in the city, he wrote in a post on his Weibo account on January 31, 2020.

In early January, after the information on “SARS cases” was shared in a WeChat group, Dr. Li reprimanded by local police, according to the same Weibo post.

On January 12, Dr. Li in the hospital, infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.

He died on February 7, 2020.

Omicron continues to cause travel headaches across Europe

A group of people, some wearing face masks and others outside, stand in line outside.  Elizabeth Tower, AKA Big Ben, is visible behind
Southern Rail cut off services from the busy Victoria Station amid high case numbers in London.(Reuters: Hannah McKay)

The massive rise in Omicron cases in Europe continues to cause travel chaos during the busy holiday season.

British rail operator Southern Rail says no train will travel to or from London’s Victoria Station before January 10 due to staff illness or forced isolation.

Infections are also rising dramatically in Italy, and German authorities are now restricting travel to that country.

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