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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the days of lockdown are gone, even as daily COVID-19 case numbers continue to escalate across the country.

Mr Morrison told day that with the arrival of Omicron, and Australia’s high vaccination numbers, the government’s approach had “shifted gears”.

“We’ve really got to change the way we think about it and that’s why talking about case numbers now is really not the point,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said COVID-19 lockdowns are not returning. (9News)

“The issue is how we’re managing the impacts on the health system and that’s why ensuring we have sensible rules that allow people to go back to work – and that’s exactly what we’re doing – to ensure we can get on with it.”

Mr Morrison said around the country, there were 148 people in intensive care with COVID-19, and 51 on ventilators. Since Mr Morrison’s statement, that number has grown.

“There are people being counted as being in hospital for COVID, they didn’t go there for COVID, they went there for some other reason and that’s why they were admitted,” he said.

“And they’ve been tested when there and been found to have COVID. We need to get a standard definition on that because these are the key things we have to track now.”

Mr Morrison defended Australia’s COVID-19 testing program, saying free rapid antigen tests were available at testing hubs, even as they continue to fly off the shelves.

There have been significant delays for people trying to get into testing clinics faced across the country

And he said the public hospitals, despite the surge in case numbers, were prepared.

A sign on display advises the public to the requirements of face masks.

How Australia faced the emergence of the Omicron variant

The government last week changed the definition of a close contact, allowing numerous healthcare workers back on the job.

“We’re looking to make further changes on that this week to get more staff back into our hospitals and deal with the need,” Mr Morrison said.

“Over summer, the health professionals have been working hard, they’re taking a break, that’s understandable.

“That’s why we’ve got the arrangements with private hospitals and others to try and bridge that gap in the meantime.”

Source: 9News

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