Australia starts 2022 with record COVID-19 cases

Crowds gather at Mrs Macquarie's Point ahead of the New Year's Eve fireworks display in Sydney on Dec 31, 2021. (DAVID GRAY / AFP)

SYDNEY / JERUSALEM / ANKARA – Australia started 2022 with a record number of new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak centred in the eastern states grew, and New South Wales eased its isolation rules for healthcare workers as the number of people hospitalized with the virus rose.

New South Wales, the most populous state, and Victoria both posted daily record case numbers of 22,577 and 7,442 respectively on Saturday, health department figures showed.

New South Wales, the most populous state, and Victoria both posted daily record case numbers of 22,577 and 7,442 respectively on Saturday, health department figures showed

There were four deaths due to COVID in New South Wales and nine in Victoria, taking the national death toll from the pandemic to more than 2,250.

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Including cases in Queensland, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, Saturday had already set a national record of 33,161 cases, topping Friday's 32,946, even before numbers from South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory were released.

All Australian states, except for Western Australia, have begun to live with the virus after higher vaccination levels, and the easing in restrictions has pushed cases higher.

The New South Wales government changed its self-isolation rules for asymptomatic healthcare workers who had been classified as a close contact of a COVID case, giving them an exemption if they are considered critical to their workplace.

Over the week since Christmas Day, cases in New South Wales have more than tripled from 6,288. Hospitalisations due to COVID have more than doubled to 901 from 388, while the number of people in intensive care units has risen by around 50 percent to 79.

The outbreak has affected sporting events. Australia batsman Travis Head will miss the fourth Ashes cricket test against England in Sydney next week after testing positive for COVID.


The Israeli Health Ministry on Friday said it has approved the administration of the fourth booster vaccine shot against COVID-19 for nursing home residents and staff.

The ministry also approved the fourth shot at assisted living facilities, geriatric hospitals, and institutions for people who suffer from dual diagnoses.

ALSO READ: Israel starts vaccinating young children as COVID-19 cases rise

On Thursday, the ministry approved the administration of the fourth shot for those with suppressed immune systems.

However, a recommendation by an expert panel at the ministry to give the fourth shot to the entire elderly population aged over 60 has not yet been approved.


The number of COVID-19 cases in Turkey doubled in the past 10 days, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Friday.

But there was only an increase of 4.6 percent in hospitalizations, Koca said on his Twitter account.

Turkey on Friday reported 40,786 new COVID-19 cases, raising its tally of infections to 9,482,550, according to its health ministry.

The death toll from the virus rose by 163 to 82,361, while 23,968 more people recovered in the last 24 hours.

READ MORE: 1st batch of Chinese COVID-19 vaccines arrives in Turkey

Turkey has started mass COVID-19 vaccination on Jan. 14 after the authorities approved the emergency use of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine.

Nearly 57 million Turkish people have received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and over 51.6 million had got their second doses. Turkey has so far administered 131.64 million doses including the third booster jabs.