MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Australia reported a record high of COVID-19 deaths Tuesday, and its second-largest state declared an emergency in hospitals to cope with surging patient admissions and a staffing shortage due to the coronavirus.
The 74 deaths occurred in its three most populous states. New South Wales reported 36, Victoria reported 22 and Queensland 16. The previous daily record was 59 coronavirus-related deaths on Sept. 4, 2020.
The New South Wales government has ruled out a return to lockdown to counter the highly contagious omicron variant. In October, Sydney ended a 108-day lockdown because the population of Australia’s most populous city was largely vaccinated.
Another lockdown would have “substantial consequences for men and women right across the state in terms of being able to provide food on the table for their family,” state Premier Domonic Perrottet told Australian Broadcasting Corp.ADVERTISEMENT
Victoria declared an emergency for hospitals in its state capital, Melbourne, and several regional hospitals from midday Wednesday because of staff shortages and a surge in patient admissions. About 5,000 staff are absent because they are either infected or close contacts.