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More deaths, but Marshall hopeful 'we're at the peak'

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UPDATED | SA Health has revised the number of new COVID deaths to three, after Premier Steven Marshall earlier today reported six people had died with the disease. It comes as South Australia joined other states in immediately reducing the wait time between second and third vaccine doses to three months.

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SA has recorded 3482 new COVID cases from 21,393 tests – 15,409 of them PCR tests.

There are 294 people in hospital – a slight rise on yesterday’s figure – with 23 people in intensive care.

There are four people being ventilated, which Marshall said was “one of the lowest numbers for a very long time”.

The Premier said the high number of hospitalisations may have been “artificially bolstered” by several regional residents being admitted to local hospitals for observation, given there is no specialist COVID facility in those areas.

“The ICU and ventilator numbers are stable and in fact reducing over the last week, which is another indication we’re at or about that [Omicron] peak in SA,” he said.

“I think we’re at the peak of that disease right about now.”

Marshall announced in his daily media briefing at 12.30pm that SA had recorded six more deaths associated with the disease, although he was unable to provide further details about any of the cases.

However, in a subsequent update, SA Health said: “Following further clarification this afternoon, SA Health has revised the total of deaths since last reporting period to three deaths.”

“Sadly, SA Health can confirm a man in his 70s, a man in his 80s, and a woman in her 70s who tested positive for COVID-19 have passed away,” the statement said.

Marshall said: “Obviously we extend our condolences to the friends and family of those people who have sadly passed away.”

He said a promised breakdown of the number of people hospitalised who had COVID, and the number who were hospitalised because of COVID, had been delayed by another day – but said the data would be provided tomorrow.

Marshall today joined New South Wales and Victoria in fast-tracking a reduction in the wait-time between a second COVID jab and a booster, with South Australians now eligible for their third dose after just three months, down from four.

Marshall said that would allow more than 200,000 South Australians to become eligible for a COVID-19 booster straight away.

“I am incredibly proud of the roughly 60 per cent of eligible South Australians who have already rolled up to get their booster and our hardworking health workers who have administered more than 370,000 booster doses across the state,” he said.

“This next step in our Omicron response plan increases the number of South Australians eligible for their booster by about 25 per cent and will maximise our booster coverage, arming even more South Australians against the new variant by providing even better protection for the entire community.

“The more South Australians get boosted, the sooner we can look to reduce restrictions and get back to a more normal life.”

Marshall said yesterday was an “extremely good day” on the rollout of vaccines, with 23,491 doses administered.

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