Australia’s medical chief says COVID-19 may have already peaked in NSW after the state notched a record daily high in new cases with the addition of rapid antigen test results.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly says coronavirus case numbers in the state are close to peaking.
“New South Wales is a bit ahead of the other states and that’s not surprising, they started earlier, but they are close to peaking if not already,” he said.
“The other states are a little bit further behind that but I think end of January, early February is probably where we will see a change.”
Prof Kelly said other places around the world have seen huge surges in cases from the Omicron variant, before reaching their peak and starting to come down in a short period of time.
The state reported 22 deaths and 91,928 new cases on Thursday, including 61,387 positive rapid antigen tests taken since January 1 that were only able to be reported to authorities from Wednesday.
NSW Health cautioned some of those cases were the same positive cases reported numerous times from multiple rapid antigen tests and PCR tests.
Prior to the ability to register positive rapid antigen tests with the government, the department had warned it was not getting an accurate picture of the virus’ presence and spread in the community from PCR tests alone.
Customer Service and Digital Minister Victor Dominello said on Thursday the rapid antigen test reporting capabilities added to the ServiceNSW app and website coped well with the demand, as more than 82,000 people reported positive tests in the first 24 hours they were allowed to.
The government has threatened $1000 fines it concedes will be difficult to enforce if people don’t report positive results from a rapid antigen test from January 19, a week after the capabilities first went live.
While PCR queues have receded from the long lines seen at the end of 2021, attention has now turned to an often fruitless search for rapid antigen tests.
A large queue formed near a convenience store in the inner-Sydney suburb of Redfern on Thursday afternoon as word spread it had tests for sale, days after selling out the entirety of an earlier shipment in less than half an hour.
Store owner Hazem Sedda told Nine News he “couldn’t believe” how popular the tests had proven “but everyone wants them”.
The number of people in hospital continues to rise, with 2383 people admitted and 182 in intensive care on Thursday.