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Govt says Omicron has peaked on second anniversary of COVID-19 arrival

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Two years to the day since Australia’s first confirmed COVID-19 case, authorities say Omicron outbreaks have peaked amid ongoing shortages of rapid antigen tests.

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Today marks two years since Australia confirmed its first COVID-19 infection – on January 25, 2020 – in a Victorian man who flew from China to Melbourne.

The country recorded a cumulative 40,681 new infections and 58 additional deaths on Monday, with Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt declaring infections had peaked in New South Wales, Victoria, the ACT and potentially South Australia.

“It’s an important moment where we are seeing, now, clear signs that this Omicron wave, at least in New South Wales, Victoria, and the ACT, has peaked,” he said.

“South Australia has also had some very promising signs as the Premier and the chief health officer have indicated, along with the health minister there.”

SA recorded 2009 new COVID cases yesterday, which Premier Steven Marshall described as “the lowest we’ve seen for a very long period of time” – however that came from a low day of testing, with 9756 PCR tests conducted and 4005 RAT kits administered, a 20.8 per cent testing decrease on the previous day.

The number of people in hospital remained steady however, with 294 cases hospitalised, 29 of whom were in intensive care and six on ventilators.

Meanwhile, concession card holders have become eligible for 10 free rapid antigen tests from pharmacies over a three-month period.

But Pharmacy Guild of Australia president Trent Twomey said widespread supply shortages meant many pharmacies would be unable to keep up.

The federal government sought to pin the blame on people and companies hoarding tests.

“It (the concession card rollout) is a staged program; it commences this week with more pharmacies participating as supply comes in,” Hunt said.

“The advice we have is there are 16 million rapid antigen tests expected in the pharmacies over the remaining period between now and the end of July (sic January) – that’s just from what are called the wholesalers.”

A new rapid antigen test collection site will open at Para Hills West at 8am today, while another site is planned to open in Playford by the end of the week.

The Para Hills West site is located at The Paddocks near the corner of Kesters and Bridge Roads.

Another test collection site opened at the Noarlunga Interchange car park yesterday, bringing the total number of sites to four in metropolitan Adelaide and eight across regional South Australia.

“Omicron was a game changer but South Australia’s strong plan is mitigating the health and economic threat while also navigating our State’s inevitable opening up and protecting local jobs during this challenging period,” Premier Steven Marshall said

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