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Unhappy anniversary: Two years since virus landed, Covid toll soars


Victoria has recorded its highest daily Covid-19 death toll since its second wave, on the two-year anniversary of Australia’s first case being discovered in Melbourne.

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The state reported 29 virus-related deaths and 14,836 new cases on Tuesday, including 6297 from PCR tests and 8539 from rapid antigen tests.

The deaths are the highest confirmed in a single day since September 4, 2020, when Victoria posted 59 fatalities amid Melbourne’s 112-day lockdown. It marked Victoria’s deadliest day of the pandemic, while Tuesday’s figure of 29 was the third highest daily death toll.

The grim result came two years to the day since the first case of Covid-19, then known as the novel coronavirus, was announced in Australia.

The infection was found in a man who flew to Melbourne from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, just under a week earlier.

Since then, there have been more than 775,000 infections reported in Victoria. Roughly 550,000 have been detected in the past three weeks, as the Omicron variant runs rampant through the community.

There are currently 183,154 active cases in the state, down from an all-time high of 245,040 on January 17, in a sign the Omicron wave may have peaked.

But hospital patients with Covid-19 in Victoria have risen by 59 to 1057, after falling slightly in recent days.

There remain 119 people in Victoria in intensive care, with 45 of those on a ventilator.

In NSW there were 18,512 new cases recorded on Monday, a jump of 3421, as well as 29 deaths, compared to 24 on Sunday.

NSW Health reports there are 2943 Covid patients in NSW hospitals, up by 127, and 183 people in ICU, 13 fewer than the previous day.

More than 33 per cent of eligible people in NSW have had three doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

The latest figures come as Victorian schools receive rapid antigen tests in the lead up to students and teachers returning to classrooms next week.

More than 14 million testing kits are going to schools as part of a four-week surveillance regime for students and staff, including 6.6 million before January 31.

Parents will be tasked with testing their children from home twice a week and notifying the school if a result is positive.

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