Melbourne residents wear masks amid COVID-19 outbreak. Source: Shutterstock.
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  • Australia’s state leaders are being warned not to “panic and overreact” about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus
  • As NSW and VIC further ease restrictions, including for the unvaccinated, COVID-19 cases have begun to rise
  • Despite the surge in cases, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has urged state leaders to “not panic”
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison is now urging people to focus less on the case numbers and more on hospitalisation rates, which are still low
  • However, experts have called for restrictions to stop the spread of the Omicron strain

Australia’s state leaders are being warned not to “panic and overreact” about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Home to more than half of Australia’s population, New South Wales and Victoria have further eased restrictions, including for the unvaccinated, as double dose vaccination levels in people aged 16 and over topped 90 per cent.

On Thursday, New South Wales saw its biggest caseload since the pandemic began, recording 1742 new infections. However, hospital numbers remain steady and the number of Omicron cases now stands a 122.

Over in Victoria, a total of 1622 new infections have been recorded, the biggest in nearly seven weeks.

Despite the surge in cases, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has urged state leaders to “not panic.”

“Don’t overreact, show compassion and common sense. Understand that we need to live with the virus … (No one) wants to go back to lockdowns,” Frydenberg told Seven News.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is now urging people to focus less on the case numbers and more on hospitalisation rates, which are still low. However, experts have called for restrictions to stop the spread of the Omicron strain.

“There is nowhere else in the world that has decided to say we have this new variant coming that seems to spread much faster, so let us relax restrictions,” epidemiologist Nancy Baxter told broadcaster ABC.

Authorities have warned that daily infections in NSW could rise to as much as 25,000 cases by the end of January as Omicron spreads.

Yesterday, NSW lifted restrictions for the unvaccinated after keeping them in lockdown for months.

People in the state who are unvaccinated are now able to receive household visitors, sit down in hospitality venues, and go shopping in non-essential retail businesses.

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