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Australia faces Omicron wave as New South Wales sets new daily fatality record

Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, made reporting of rapid antigen test results mandatory on Wednesday as it lived its deadliest day in the pandemic with 21 deaths.

State Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet has said residents who fail to register a positive rapid antigen test will face a fine of up to £ 634 from next week.

Mr Perrottet said the registration process is straightforward and will help health officials provide more support to people with underlying health conditions.

The 21 deaths reported in New South Wales on Wednesday surpassed the previous record of 18 set on Monday. The state recorded 34,759 new cases of COVID-19 and 2,242 hospitalizations, including 175 intensive care patients.

The state of Victoria, whose capital Melbourne is hosting the Australian Open tennis tournament from next week, has also reported 21 deaths as well as 40,127 new cases.

Deputy Prime Minister James Merlino said the state’s healthcare system was strained, with around 6,600 employees on leave after testing positive or coming in close contact with a positive case.

New pandemic orders coming into effect Wednesday make booster injections mandatory for essential workers in a variety of fields, including healthcare, disability care, elderly care, emergency services, correctional facilities, hotel quarantine and food distribution.

Food and beverage manufacturing, distribution and packaging workers will be allowed to continue working after coming into close contact with a positive COVID case.

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