Sydney, 31 January 2022 (TDI): Australia recorded the lowest number of COVID-19 cases in two weeks. Approximately 34,000 cases were recorded on Monday, in total, 2.3 million infections have been reported since the advent of the Omicron variant.

Students are set to return to school this week following the end of their summer break. Most schools will go through a difficult time opening up, as COVID-19 cases, although low, still continue to mount.

Authorities have expected staff shortages as a result. A pool of about 350 retired teachers has been set up to support school staff. Hospitalizations have stayed at about 5,000 for the last few days

“There will be challenges and there will be bumps over these first few weeks.” -James Merlino, Victoria state Deputy Premier

Masks have been mandatory for both indoor and outdoor activities, with students being urged to get tested at least twice a week. The government has also started handing out personal PCR test kits to families to stop hospitals from overcrowding.

The Omicron variant has severely disrupted supply chains in the country as a result many Australians have lost confidence in Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. A news poll revealed that confidence dropped to 39%, the lowest it has been since March 2020.

The Prime Minister has enjoyed high ratings based on his stringent yet effective containment policies and financial packages, but with the Omicron variant, the country is witnessing the overcrowding of hospitals, supply chain disruptions, and supermarket shelves being empty.

What is the Omicron Variant?

The Omicron variant is a variant of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) that was first recorded in South Africa on the 24th of November, 2021. This variant spreads much faster, although it is much less lethal.

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an American infectious disease epidemiologist reiterated that getting vaccinated is the best defense against this variant.