Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday declared that the country will not return to lockdowns despite record Covid-19 infections.
Morrison said the time for “heavy-handed” government intervention to keep case numbers down was over, reports Xinhua news agency.
“We’re not going back to lockdowns,” he said. “We’re not going back to shutting down peoples’ lives.”
“There will be other variants beyond Omicron, and we have to ensure, as a country, and as leaders around the country, we have put in place measures that Australians can live with,” he said.
His remarks came ahead of an emergency meeting with state and territory leaders on Wednesday to discuss the surge in cases across Australia.
Morrison said the meeting would focus on how Australians can continue to live with the virus “with common sense and responsibility” but that he would present “strong recommendations” for indoor mask use to continue.
Australia on Tuesday reported more than 4,500 new locally-acquired coronavirus infections — the most since the start of the pandemic.
New South Wales alone reported 3,057 cases, the highest daily infection number among all states during the pandemic, while Victoria recorded 1,245. South Australia, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and Tasmania reported 154, 86, 16, 14 and four new cases.
Leaders will also on Wednesday discuss whether Australians will require a third booster shot to be considered fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
The leaders of Australia’s two biggest states — Victoria and New South Wales — on Tuesday confirmed they would push for shortening the interval between second and third vaccine doses to combat the spread of the Omicron variant.