The NSW government has introduced new restrictions as the state prepares to face peak Omicron case numbers

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  • New modelling suggests NSW Omicron case numbers will peak in late January.
  • Health officials are preparing for a worst-case scenario of 600 in ICU and 6,000 hospitalisations.
  • As a result, NSW Premier has reintroduced a blanket ban on singing and dancing at pubs, clubs and other venues.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

New South Wales is expected to come under even more pressure when the peak of the state’s wave of Omicron cases takes hold of the economy in the later weeks of January, new government modelling suggests.


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Speaking to reporters on Friday afternoon, NSW Health official Susan Pearce said the state’s case numbers will likely see a sharp increase in the two final weeks of January before sharply falling.

“Based on this information at the moment — and again, it is a model, and we will need to continue to monitor it — we believe, by the middle of February, we will be certainly well past the peak of this,” Pearce said.

“And we expect that peak to occur in around the third to the last week of January.”

The modelling offers three likely scenarios, the worst based on events that took place in New York, which applied to NSW could see the transfer of 600 patients to ICU along with a total of 6,000 hospitalisations by mid-January.

But Pearce said she and her team are confident the state will face milder — though, still challenging — conditions instead. Milder settings would instead see ICU admissions hit a ceiling of 273 cases along with 4,700 hospitalisations.

“We have got some challenging weeks ahead of us. But we have been planning for this pandemic and continuing to reinvent ourselves for two years now,” Pearce said. “Omicron has thrown us a fresh set of challenges.”

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In a bid to limit the spread, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced a suite of “minor amendments” to the state’s health restrictions.

Among them was a blanket ban on singing and dancing from January 8 in pubs, clubs, nightclubs, bars, restaurants and recreation facilities, with the exception of weddings or students who may be taking singing or dancing lessons.

NSW Health will also work closely with major event operators in the coming weeks to ensure their events go ahead in step with COVID-safe principles, but at this stage none of them will be forced to cancel.

The final portion of the Premier’s announcement related to vaccine mandates, which have been broadened to include booster shots for those — like teachers, aged care workers and others in public-facing roles — who are already subject to mandates that require them to have two shots of the jab.

“The modelling today is encouraging. Whilst it will be a difficult few weeks in NSW, our people and the effort we have made to go out, to get vaccinated, to get boosted, has been key to opening up our society, to living alongside the virus,” Perrottet said.

“This is a challenging time, not just in NSW, but around the world.”

As the state prepares for Omicron cases to balloon, NSW chief health officer Kerry chant urged residents to avoid socialising in large groups and encouraged those with access to rapid antigen tests to use them for screening purposes before heading outside.

She said about half of the state’s cases are currently accounted for by people between the ages of 20 and 40, and are being transmitted in pubs and clubs.

“That’s why restrictions on dancing and singing have been reintroduced to help slow the spread of the virus,” Dr Chant said.

“The concern around the behaviour of dancing and sing… is the fact that when people are in those environments and dancing, you’re actually encountering and bringing together people from very different social networks,” she said.

“We are really just trying to slow the spread, reduce the introduction to new social networks, to remove that peak, blunt that peak.”

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