Omicron Death: Australian authorities have so far resisted a return to lockdown in the face of surging case numbers but have reinstated some restrictions.
Australia on Monday reported its first confirmed death from the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 amid another surge in daily infections, but the authorities refrained from imposing new restrictions saying hospitalization rates remained low.
The death, a man in his 80s with underlying health conditions, marked a grim milestone for the country which has had to pause some parts of a staged reopening after nearly two years of stop-start lockdowns, due to the fresh outbreak.
Omicron, which health experts say appears more contagious but less virulent than previous strains, began to spread in the country just as it lifted restrictions on most domestic borders and allowed Australians to return from overseas without quarantine, driving case numbers to the highest of the pandemic.
The authorities gave no additional details about the Omicron death, except to say that the man caught the virus at an aged care facility and died in a Sydney hospital.
“This was the first known death in New South Wales (state) linked to the Omicron variant of concern,” said NSW Health epidemiologist Christine Selvey in a video released by the government.