Australia news live update: NSW child aged under five dies with Covid on state’s deadliest day; more than 5,000 in hospital have the virus, PM says

LIVE – Updated at 00:41

Follow all the day’s news live.


Good morning everyone, and thanks to Matilda for taking you through the morning. We’ll take you to the Victorian press conference very shortly but, for now, the prime minister is still speaking.

Morrison was asked how to prevent essential workers who may work across state lines from being caught up in conflicting rules around isolation, after NSW and Queensland changed the rules around isolating as a close contact in certain essential industries.

He said he’d consult with states before pre-judging what action should be taken, but that he “anticipates … that we will see agreement occur between the jurisdictions”.

And I think that that is very important … You’ve got people working in food production, food processing, food distribution. It does move across borders. A really good example of that cooperation was last week with the seven-day rolling testing for truck drivers. That was something that we had put in place.

Now, if that had not been done and agreed by everyone, bar WA which has a different set of circumstances, that would have been problematic. But the premiers were very quick and very practical about that and I would expect a similar response here.

Morrison says more than 5,000 people in hospital with Covid

Morrison says more than 5,000 people are in hospital with Covid in Australia. He says up to half of those patients aren’t in hospital due to their Covid infection:

Omicron is a gear change and we have to push through. That is what Omicron is about. We’re dealing with serious volumes of cases but not seeing the same impact proportionally from previous variants as to the impact on hospitalisations, ICU, and ventilated patients.

There are 5,097 patients in hospital who have Covid. That does not mean they went to hospital because of Covid, it means they are in hospital and have Covid. As we outlined a week or so ago, up to half or thereabouts of those patients who have been admitted are being admitted for other reasons and have Covid.

That still means they have to be treated in hospital as a Covid patient, but that is not the reason they went to hospital.



In relation to your encouragement to Australians to push through, looking at potential future new strains – are you satisfied with the level of preparation and contingency planning done ahead of Omicron? And has the government, the federal government, stepped up in relation to what’s occurred with Omicron, its future preparation and contingency planning for potential new variants?



Cool! Glad we got that sorted!


With that, I shall hand over to the fantastic Calla Wahlquist to take you through the Victorian press conference!

‘You can push through or lock down. We’re pushing through’: Morrison

Scott Morrison says Australia isn’t “letting it rip” when it comes to the Omicron variant, but instead is “pushing through”.

You’ve got two choices here. You can push through or you can lock down. We’re pushing through.

That’s [how] you get through this. You get through to the other side and it’s going to be tough. The whole pandemic has been tough and Australians have shown the resilience and patience and the determination. They’ve dealt with the circumstances, as they’re in front of them – not behind them. And the government is taking the same approach based on the best possible medical advice. And the best possible medical advice is to push through.



A number of medical experts are now saying that Australia is most certainly in the let it rip stage management of the pandemic. Why are we at that time now? And is there an acceptable death toll that’s just a reality now in the same way as the flu?


No, I don’t accept that analysis, because that’s not the approach that the government is taking at a commonwealth level or in the states and territories. I’d describe it more as I said before as pushing through.

I mean, we do have public health social measures in place. We do have other restrictions that are in place. But we also have a very practical understanding of how the Omicron variant works. And it works very differently to the Delta strain.

So no, I’ve heard those suggestions and I understand Mr Albanese has made this suggestion. Well … you know… If Mr Albanese thinks that the answer is to put Australia back into lockdown, then I don’t agree with you.

I agree with the advice that we’re receiving, that we need to keep pushing through. And I’d encourage Mr Albanese to seek a briefing with the health authorities.

I understand that the last one he had was on December 2. And so, that is available to him. I’m sure that he’ll take that up.

The ACT records three Covid deaths and 938 new cases

The death toll in the ACT has jumped up by three overnight, going from 12 to 15 lives lost in total.

This comes as the state records 938 new Covid-19 cases.


Morrison was asked if Australia will consider moving to the US isolation model, where fully vaccinated Covid-19 positive people are allowed to isolate for only five days after testing positive. But it doesn’t sound like it’s on the cards just yet.

As I said, our measures are never set and forget. They’re never set and forget. But they’re always set for Australia. Let me stress that.

Other countries are doing any number of things. We always look at what they’re doing, but that doesn’t mean that it works here. Other countries have different experiences, different health systems. They have different experiences of the pandemic. We set Australia’s rules for Australia. And Australia has one of the lowest death rates, one of the strongest economies coming through the pandemic and one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.

By following the Australian way, these Australian results have been proved to be very good for Australians by and large. And so we’ve got to keep focus on making sure our settings are for Australia and for Australians.


Morrison says, for the sake of the workforce, it’s important that most states send children back to school at the end of January as planned.

As you heard already from the New South Wales Premier, the Victorian Premier, the situation in both of those states are fairly similar.

And I do welcome the fact that in Queensland, the children of essential workers and others are able to go back at the same time. See, one of the big challenges we have is to balance that need to ensure that we have kids back at school, because we need kids back at school learning.

We need kids back at school because it also has very significant impacts on the workforce availability – particularly in the health sector. And so, that is very important. And obviously, of course, above and beyond all of those issues is the health and welfare of the kids and those who work in the schools.

So they’re the issue that is are being managed and I think that we can have some very clear principles around all of those that can be applied to the relevant circumstances on the ground in each state and territory.


Reporter: “On schools, national cabinet in November first discussed a test-to-stay approach for schools. Why is it that two months later, we still haven’t got a plan for the return to school?”


Well, Omicron is the answer. Omicron changed everything. Delta was a completely different variant of this virus.

And so, as we have had to do on so many occasions during this pandemic, rules that were written for one situation have to be reconsidered and have to be redone again for Omicron.

And that’s what is being done right now. And so, the applicability of those situations is being reconsidered by the medical experts and that’s what Paul and his team have been doing, quite thoroughly, and that’s what we set out to be able to be talking about this Thursday.



Make sure you know where to get the best advice to assist you in those circumstances. And there are several ways of doing that.

If you develop severe symptoms then you should not hesitate and call an ambulance. But that is a very, very small proportion of what we are seeing.

The vast majority of those 500,000 active cases are mild or indeed asymptomatic. And that is an important part. But sometimes those more severe things can happen and so seek advice and seek it early.


Here is what Kelly has to say about food supply workers being given exemptions from close contact isolation:

We cannot [PCR] test everybody when there are so many cases. Hence the discussions we have had around rapid antigen testing and that will assist in the coming weeks.

We cannot trace everybody as we used to. That contact tracing exercise has changed.

And there are reasons, very strong and good reasons for society to keep functioning, for our healthcare system to keep functioning, for our aged care residents to be cared for, and now in the food and grocery supply chain, to make sure we do have those products on the shelves that we do need to make a risk-based approach to those settings of isolation and quarantine.


We will be hearing from the Victorian Health minister in about 15 minutes.

PM announces national isolation guidelines for essential supply chain workers

Scott Morrison has announced a new set of national guidelines – endorsed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee – that will allow close contacts in some vital industries to come out of isolation if they are fully vaccinated and do not have any Covid-19 symptoms. They include workers in jobs that are vital for the food supply chain and in some healthcare settings.

Morrison says Victoria is likely to make a similar announcement on this later today.

The medical expert panel, the AHPPC, has endorsed a new set of arrangements that relate to workers in critical supply chains, and processing, food production, and distribution, as well as emergency services.

Now, as you know, some states have already moved on that … I understand the Victorian government will make further announcements on that today. That paper is now before national cabinet for endorsement.

I was not going to wait until Thursday for that and [after] discussions with the chief medical officer … we agreed it should immediately go to national cabinet for endorsement. [We] anticipate that will happen over the course of the morning. It was sent to them earlier today, so we will wait for that endorsement and that will enable them to take that up.

What that involves is asymptomatic close contact being able to go to work in those sectors.

© Provided by The Guardian
Scott Morrison speaks to the press in Canberra this morning. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


The chief medical officer, Paul Kelly, says Australia has moved into a new stage of the pandemic, the “living with Covid” stage, which I think is safe to say is a pretty optimistic reading of the current mood in the country.

And what exactly is his big advice for “living with Covid”?

Keep some Panadol in the cupboard. Yep. Here is Kelly:

We are in a new phase of the pandemic as we have been talking about in the last few weeks. We are living with Covid and that brings with it many advantages but some issues that need us to change some of our settings in relation to living with Covid.

One of the key areas there was discussed by my colleague professor Michael Kidd yesterday in a press conference, which was about preparing yourself in case you are in contact with or actually contract Covid.

I’m sure everyone who is listening to this and seeing this knows someone now in Australia that has Covid. We have over 500,000 active cases at the moment. That is a very different situation to even a few weeks ago.

So those issues about being prepared, having some paracetamol or ibuprofen in your cupboard. Don’t wait to get symptoms to treat yourself if you have … Covid. Make sure you know where to get the best advice to assist you in those circumstances.


Morrison says the next step is taking the isolation exemptions into other critical sectors.

We are especially looking at … both in aviation and in other distribution tasks.

So not customer facing … on the food side, so talk about Coles and Woolworths, we’re not talking people working on checkouts. Anyone who is customer facing, they are not doing that.

But those who are driving the truck to deliver the food, those stacking the shelves at night, those in the distribution centres, those who are in the abattoirs, the manufacturing places that are producing food, all of those now caught up in those new critical supply chain rules, and we are looking to extend those to other sectors.

I note some premiers have noted that they would begin to look at how we can apply that in the hospitality sector. We’ll take that one step at a time. For now we are very focused … on those critical supply chains and getting the workers where we need them to go.

As the case numbers continue to rise the volume of cases will of course have an inevitable impact on the workforce. And so we are looking to maximise those who can remain in the workforce.


Morrison says the federal government is working to ensure small to medium-sized businesses are not required to test their staff for Covid-19.

It is very tough on business and so we are working to ensure that we can alleviate the impacts on business, firstly when it comes to any regulatory issues and the first of those is occupational health and safety regulations.

The attorney general is leading a process with the states and territories which we anticipate being concluded in time for national cabinet on Thursday which will remove any suggestion of a requirement that small medium sized businesses have to be undertaking testing of their staff.

There is some confusion about that. I should note and pretty much all states except possibly for Western Australia, there are no exposure sites anymore. And so the risk of a business becoming an exposure site is not something that they – as they were concerned about earlier in the year – that is now changed because of the definition of close contacts and the like.

So working out those occupational health and safety regulations and giving small business certainty around that is very, very important. We identified this issue last week and so that work has been done.


The treasurer Josh Frydenberg is still at work despite contracting Covid several days ago, Morrison says.

The treasurer despite having Covid is still battling on. He’s improving.

I speak to him very regularly and he’s been speaking to the banks as well … monitoring what the impact is on their customer base on their small businesses. And the reports we are getting back are that while this is a tough time, and it is really tough for businesses because of the impact of Covid.

That’s living with Covid – when there are a high number of cases it is difficult. But what we are seeing is there are strong balance sheets. Right across the economy.


09 Jan 2022 23:50

Morrison says Australia currently has more than enough ICU and ventilator capacity, but medical staff shortages are still placing pressure on the system.

There are 78 patients who are on ventilators, which is well, well, well within capacity. The major stresses on the hospital system relate to workforce issues and they will come back to that in a moment.


09 Jan 2022 23:45


There has been a request for federal resources to support any response or recovery effort. That is well in hand with the local authorities.

But you would have seen this morning that minister McKenzie has announced that the commonwealth disaster payments, which are $1,000 for adults and $400 for children, have been activated.

You will be able to get those online or by ringing up tomorrow at 9am and get those payments if you were in the Gympie, Bundaberg or Fraser Coast areas, as defined.

There is also the disaster recovery allowance for those who have had income impacted, a payment for up to 13 weeks at the jobseeker rate. That will also be available from tomorrow morning.

Scott Morrison press conference begins

09 Jan 2022 23:42

The prime minister Scott Morrison is speaking now in Canberra and starts by giving an update on the Queensland floods.

I want to express my condolences to the family of the 22-year-old man who was killed during the course of those floods and also we continue to hold out hope and prayers for the young girl, 14-year-old girl who was washed away in the floods and our thoughts are with her family as well. [We] have a daughter who is 14 years old, so we can understand the terrible, terrible time that family must be going through at the moment.

I want to thank all of those who are engaged in the rescue and search work up in Queensland at the moment. It was quite a deluge, as we know. The floodwaters peaked in Maryborough last night at 10 metres. That is a little less, I understand, them back in 2013, but a very serious flood.

An evacuation order was put in place for the CBD area and homes were obviously affected, as were parts of the CBD. There is an evacuation centre that has been established at the Brolga theatre, around 25 people are there, the plan was activated by the head of emergency management yesterday.

What that enables is all the disaster arrangements and request being facilitated through the commonwealth, through the emergency management authority.


09 Jan 2022 23:37

NSW premier Dominic Perrottet says that although the state government hasn’t ruled out opening close contact isolation exemptions for those in the hospitality industry, it’s not currently on the cards, despite calls for this from the sector.

I understand completely where the hospitality sector is coming from even before the outbreak of Omicron we have had right across the board significant staff shortages in a number of industries. And we want to obviously continue to deal with those as we go through.

We will work with our health teams in relation to that but we need to prioritise here and ultimately our number one responsibility is to keep people safe. But as we move through this period I would expect further adjustments will get made as we have from time to time. But obviously we have been in contact with hospitality industry completely understand their concerns.

Better to be open [and] have this issue, as I have said in the past, better to have the issue of labour shortages than be closed. But we will move through, I will continue to have discussions with them and work with the health teams. But at this stage we are completely focused on ensuring that those essential workers in those areas of food supply and manufacturing distribution networks have the labour force required to keep society moving through.


09 Jan 2022 23:33

NSW chief paediatrician Matthew O’Meara says Covid-related staff shortages are to blame for some children having their vaccine appointments cancelled.

As you have heard 63,000 children have already been booked in to NSW Health vaccine clinics. Many more, in fact the majority will get their vaccines through their local GP or local pharmacy. You can see where to get your child vaccinated through the vaccine clinic finder. Just book in.

I acknowledge some children who have been booked in for vaccines through their GP or pharmacy have had their appointments cancelled. There have been problems due to the supply chain and due to staff illness. Just like other vital industries.

I know that delay can be really frustrating, as you have tried so hard to protect your child as soon as possible. I appreciate your understanding and your patience. The interval between the two doses is eight weeks.

So children who get their first vaccine today will be eligible for their second vaccine in early March. That eight-week interval means that more children will be able to get their first dose of the vaccine even sooner.


09 Jan 2022 23:30

Chant says there have been issues communicating with all Covid-positive people in NSW and she is worried that people “fall through the cracks”.

Clearly I worry that people do fall through the cracks and that’s why we need – we have been doing the work we have been doing to make sure there is call lines, working with our GP colleagues and trying to get as much information out there. There are groups where there are therapies that are time critical.

The other thing we want people to do is present early. So not wait for them to be six or seven days into their illness before they seek testing. That often means that the window of opportunity for some of the therapies is diminished. So I think I would like to acknowledge the role that GPs are playing in supporting their patients.

Pharmacists are fantastic as a point of call as well. And our call lines. But I do acknowledge the challenges of communicating effectively with everyone.


09 Jan 2022 23:29

Perrottet says his preschool-aged daughter was vaccinated last week:

As a parent I know it can be daunting. You are getting your children vaccinated, we had our daughter just last week being vaccinated who is in preschool.

I think she screamed the GP centre down. But what I know here with our hubs we are supporting that GP network here in NSW is that it’s a very kid-friendly environment – highly supportive to ensure there is as much comfort for parents, anxious parents and children as we go through this period.

© Provided by The Guardian
NSW premier Dominic Perrottet speaks to the media at the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick today alongside Dr Kerry Chant. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP


09 Jan 2022 23:28

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant says the man in his 30’s who passed away in the latest reporting period was unvaccinated.

The gentleman in his 30’s was not vaccinated. And in terms of underlying health conditions, I really haven’t been briefed adequately, and not all health conditions you would expect to lead to that. So I haven’t got that information available.

I think I just highlight the key points that we know that vaccinations is going to help us. We know that with Omicron having that booster is going to be really critical. And I do want to urge everyone particularly the elderly or those with chronic underlying health conditions to get into the boosters.


09 Jan 2022 23:26

We will be getting Tasmanian health updates from the premier at 2.30pm today.

Child under five dies with Covid at home in NSW

09 Jan 2022 23:23

The NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant has confirmed a child under the age of five was one of the 18 NSW Covid deaths overnight. The child passed away at home.

Sadly we are announcing the deaths of 18 people, six women, 11 men and a child aged under five.

The child from south-western Sydney died at home and had significant underlying health conditions.

And a man [in] his 30s from eastern Sydney died at Prince of Wales Hospital. Can I just express my sincere condolences for those that lost their loved ones.


09 Jan 2022 23:16

Dr Kerry Chant has urged people, even if they test positive on a RAT, to connect with health services to ensure they are safe for the duration of the disease.

One of the key issues we just want people to be linked with care. If you fall into the categories where you are unvaccinated, you are pregnant, you have chronic underlying medical conditions, please don’t delay getting a Covid diagnosis.

It is critical that you are linked with care and also please a reminder do not take symptoms such as breathlessness, particularly in young people when that is not your underlying usual condition, without taking that very seriously.

I think you have heard before from some of our intensivists and respiratory physicians we don’t expect young people to get breathless or dizzy and that’s a sign you really need to escalate your care.


09 Jan 2022 23:12

The NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant is up now to run us through the (not particularly accurate) Covid-19 case tally for the day.

So today we have around 2,030 Covid cases admitted to the hospital with 150 people in intensive care, 47 of whom require ventilation. There were 20,030 cases detected by PCR testing reported in NSW from the 24 hours to 8pm last night. And 84,000 tests, PCR tests were reported in that period. That clearly is an underestimate as people are moving and transitioning to RAT testing, the rapid antigen testing.

But just to let you know that’s certainly hopefully freeing up quite a lot of the capacity for PCR testing for those who need it and if you can’t access a RAT, and need to be tested, please proceed to get a PCR test.


09 Jan 2022 23:09

The NSW premier Dominic Perrottet is speaking now:

Today we commence here in our state the rollout of vaccinations for our five -to 11-year-olds. And that will occur in GPs, pharmacists, in many of our hubs right across our state. We here in NSW want to particularly support that system as we move through.

We appreciate that and acknowledge that vaccination is being key to keeping our community safe and efforts that people have made right across our state during this vaccination program [have] insured that NSW is in a particularly strong position to deal with this phenomena, the global phenomena, and vaccinations and boosters have been key to that.


09 Jan 2022 23:00

Please forgive me for saying the prime minister’s press conference was an hour and a half away. As previously mentioned I’m stuck in Queensland and forgot about that whole pesky daylight saving thing!

Scott Morrison’s press conference is, in fact, about half an hour away!

Scott Morrison to hold press conference this morning

09 Jan 2022 22:57

We will be hearing from prime minister Scott Morrison at 10.30am AEDT this morning. That’s in about half an hour.

They haven’t said what’s it about just yet, but I reckon the primary school vaccination program is a pretty safe bet.


09 Jan 2022 22:47

A reminder that we are set to hear from NSW’s leaders (sans the deputy premier who is isolating at home with Covid) in about 20 minutes. It seems like the big topics will be the vaccination of children aged five to 11, when primary schools will come back from summer break, and how the state will go when including RAT tests in the daily cases tally.


09 Jan 2022 22:45


09 Jan 2022 22:42

Media have gathered outside the Park Hotel in Melbourne’s Carlton, as Novak Djokovic prepares to fight his deportation in Australia’s federal court this morning.

The court is set to meet at 10am to decide the fate of the men’s tennis world No 1, who has been confined to the Park Hotel, where a group of refugees are also being held, since Thursday.

Government lawyers made their submission late on Sunday evening, saying the automated email that Djokovic received confirming he was eligible to enter Australia was not an “assurance” he was permitted to enter.

There is no such thing as an assurance of entry by a non-citizen into Australia. Rather, there are criteria and conditions for entry, and reasons for refusal or cancellation of a visa.

The email from the department stated that the applicant’s responses to his Australian Traveller Declaration indicated that he met the requirements for ‘quarantine free’ travel into Australia.

Djokovic fans had gathered outside the centre until late on Sunday night, dancing, singing and protesting against the detainment of their hero – but there is no sign of them yet this morning.

There are a small number of refugee activists already gathered. They have laid banners on the ground and are calling for Djokovic to help them advocate for the men stuck inside the immigration hotel.

Djokovic’s lawyers have prepared a suite of arguments, including that the tennis star’s Covid-19 infection in December means he is within Atagi’s guidelines.


09 Jan 2022 22:37

Federal disaster payments available to Queensland flood victims from Tuesday

09 Jan 2022 22:30

The minister for emergency management and national recovery and resilience, Bridget McKenzie, says Queenslanders in communities impacted by the current flooding will be able to apply for financial support from the federal government from Tuesday afternoon.

And gosh she is saying “Liberal and Nationals Government” a lot in her statement.

By making this financial support available, the Liberal and Nationals Government is helping people get back on their feet as soon as possible.

The Disaster Recovery Payment is a one-off, non-means tested payment of $1,000 for eligible adults and $400 for eligible children. This payment is available to anyone in those affected local government areas who has suffered a significant loss, including a severely damaged or destroyed home or serious injury.

The Disaster Recovery Allowance provides a short-term income support payment to assist individuals whose income has been affected because of this disastrous event. The Allowance is available for up to 13 weeks, equivalent to the maximum rate of Jobseeker Payment or Youth Allowance.

The Liberal and Nationals Government continues to provide support in the hope of strengthening and uplifting communities, as they overcome the significant damage caused by these events.

© Provided by The Guardian
Flood waters from the Mary River submerge a basketball court in Gympie, north of Brisbane, on Sunday. Photograph: Darren England/AAP


09 Jan 2022 22:26

We are getting close to the start of tennis star Novak Djokovic’s hearing from 10am at the federal court today. We will bring you all the updates when that starts.

© Provided by The Guardian
Media at the Park Hotel in Melbourne ahead of Novak Djokovic’s court hearing today. Photograph: Diego Fedele/Getty Images


09 Jan 2022 22:21

In other news, well known Melbourne charity figurehead Father Bob Maguire has also tested positive for Covid-19 but has been released from hospital to isolate at home.


09 Jan 2022 22:12

So just for context, it’s worth remembering that the Victorian case numbers include RATs that have been registered by individuals but the New South Wales numbers are currently only reflecting PCR test results. Basically, Victoria might not actually have more cases than NSW, and take everything with a grain of salt for the time being.

NSW records 20,293 new Covid cases and 18 deaths

09 Jan 2022 22:06


09 Jan 2022 22:01


09 Jan 2022 21:58

Hold by for Covid-19 numbers. T-minus one minute.


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Man abducted in south-west Sydney

09 Jan 2022 21:57

A man has been allegedly kidnapped from south-west Sydney as police investigate whether a car fire nearby is connected, reports AAP’s Greta Stonehouse.

Police say the 39-year-old man was abducted from a Condell Park home in Third Avenue on Sunday at about 7.30pm.

The state’s robbery and serious crime squad are assisting Bankstown detectives while investigations continue into a Greenacre car fire hours later.

The vehicle was set alight in an open carpark at a Lawford Street unit block on Monday about 1.25am, spreading to a second car before it was extinguished by firefighters.

Authorities are calling for anyone with information or who may have dashcam footage of the incidents to come forward.


09 Jan 2022 21:56 Caitlin Cassidy

A 14-year-old girl remains missing as parts of Queensland continue to be affected by major flooding.

The aftermath of ex-tropical cyclone Seth has caused “unexpected” heavy rains and storms across parts of the state, with further cyclone activity expected this week.

Severe thunderstorms were no longer occurring across Capricornia, Wide Bay and Burnett but a tropical cyclone may be brewing further north in the wake of Seth, with a tropical low developing east of Cape York Peninsula.

The premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said the cyclone was forecast to hit the coast as a category one system at about 4am on Monday, local time.

You can read the full report below:

Related: ‘Haven’t seen anything like it’: Queensland braces for Cyclone Tiffany as rescuers search for missing teen

School return locked in, says NSW premier

09 Jan 2022 21:44

January 28 is the non-negotiable date for NSW children to return to school, the premier says, with rapid antigen testing critical to the plan, reports AAP.

A further 50m at-home rapid test kits have been purchased by the state in addition to the 50m already held in reserve, the premier, Dominic Perrottet, said on Sunday.

The announcement came as NSW reported its deadliest day of the pandemic, recording 16 deaths related to the coronavirus.

There are currently 1,927 virus patients in NSW hospitals, 130 more than the previous day. Of them, 151 are in intensive care with 38 needing ventilation.

There were also 30,062 new infections reported from less than 100,000 conventional PCR lab tests.

NSW is yet to launch a system to report rapid test results, but Perrottet says he’s advised the switch will happen by mid-week, at which point case numbers are expected to surge afresh.

The newly purchased rapid tests would be instrumental in getting kids back to school, he said.

We are finalising our back-to-school plans at the moment. This will be a core part of the plans getting kids back in the classrooms …

There will be challenges as we move through the return-to-school program but ultimately we can’t let perfection be the enemy of good. We need kids back in class.

While just over 78% of children aged 12 to 15 in NSW have been fully vaccinated, primary school-aged children, those between five and 11 are only become eligible for their first dose from today.

Very few will be fully vaccinated when classrooms open their doors amid the nation’s biggest outbreak.

That has prompted the Queensland government to delay the return to classrooms by two weeks, to 7 February.

© Provided by The Guardian
NSW schools are set to return on 28 January despite the state’s out-of-control Covid surge, rising hospitalisations and deaths. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

Woolworths works to quell supply issues

09 Jan 2022 21:42

The head of Woolworths has worked to quell concerns about supply shortages as supermarket shelves are left bare, reports AAP’s Dominic Giannini.

Bradford Banducci told ABC on Monday that customers won’t be left hungry but some concessions needed to be made due to the increased demand.

There is enough product in our supply chain to meet the needs of our customers [but] it might not always be their favourite brand unfortunately.

Banducci said supply issues would likely last for the next two to three weeks as the country comes to the predicted peak of Omicron cases.

He noted he was taking a conservative estimate, with his team saying supply would be able to meet demand by the end of the week.

NSW and Queensland have moved to try and ease pressure by easing quarantine requirements for close contacts.

It’s a move that’s been branded as reckless by the Transport Workers’ Union which is worried it would only exacerbate shortages if there were breakouts in workplaces.

National secretary Michael Kaine expressed his dismay at the changes.

Close contacts are more likely now than ever to have the virus, because of Omicron and definition of close contacts …

The concern is they will be required to work. That means you have people [who are] the most likely to have the virus in workplaces.

There is a real danger here that this might make matters worse.

The Australian Retailers Association said access to rapid antigen tests needed to be a priority for workers, calling for them to be made free and immediately available for essential frontline retail and distribution centre workers.

© Provided by The Guardian
Empty shelves of fruit and vegetables are seen at a supermarket in Sydney on Friday. The spike in Covid infections has caused major logistical disruptions, with staff members, truck drivers and distribution centre workers among those forced to stay at home with the virus. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


09 Jan 2022 21:30

Lieutenant general John Frewen has once again refuted claims that there is a vaccine shortage for those aged five to 11, telling ABC radio that Australia “will have more than enough vaccines for every kid to have their first dose before the end of the year”.

If there have been circumstances of people having trouble finding a booking I’m not going to contest that, but for every one of these anecdotal stories there are many thousands of positive stories.


09 Jan 2022 21:20 Paul Karp

Close contacts of people with Covid-19 will be allowed out of isolation to work if their job is critical for food supply or emergency services under new rules in New South Wales and Queensland.

The two state governments announced the relaxed restrictions to ease food shortages on Sunday as federal health officials revealed isolation rules may soon change nationwide.

With case numbers spiking due to Omicron, Australians are adjusting to growing hospitalisations, workforce disruptions and an increasing onus on managing the pandemic themselves by recording rapid antigen test results.

NSW reported its deadliest day since the start of the pandemic on Sunday with 16 deaths in the preceding 24 hours – eclipsing the highest daily totals of the Delta wave. Eight men and eight women in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s died.

You can read the full report below:

Related: NSW and Queensland allow close contacts of Covid cases to work as states face food shortages


09 Jan 2022 21:07


09 Jan 2022 21:02 Peter Hannam

In many parts of the country hospitals are under stress, as more patients turn up for treatment and many staff are required to be absent because of Covid.

As we reported, these hospitals range from the very large – such as Melbourne’s Alfred hospital or the much smaller, including Byron Central hospital in northern NSW.

The rise in cases means hospitals are nearing capacity. One concern worrying health officials is there will be an unexpected event, such as a train or bus crash, that will suddenly present a lot of people needing urgent care but with no beds spare.

Another issue looming in the near future is the resignation of exhausted medical or other staff, tired of the demand for long overtime or even bullying or abuse from patients unhappy at the attention they are receiving.

At Byron, which is without its two top executives because of resignations, three more senior emergency department staff have quit, according to a nurse from the Nurses and Midwives Association. The trio includes the ED’s nursing unit manager.

According to one Facebook post from the region, “currently four doctors and eight nurses who work in Byron hospital are off sick with Covid. My friend says that none of this is due to poor practices, they are just being swamped with cases. Instead of being offered sick pay or worker’s compensation, they have been told to use their leave entitlements/holidays.”

Similar issues are popping up across the country.

Feel free to contact me on [email protected] to let us know your concerns.

© Provided by The Guardian
An emergency department sign at the Alfred hospital in Melbourne. Photograph: Julian Smith/AAP


09 Jan 2022 21:00 Paul Karp

Lawyers for Australia’s Department of Home Affairs have insisted Novak Djokovic was never given any assurances his medical exemption would allow him to enter Australia.

While also confirming that the world No 1 is unvaccinated, the legal team from the Australian government said ahead of Monday’s appeal hearing that there is no valid reason for Djokovic to be granted access to Australia for the tournament which begins on 17 January.

Djokovic had his visa cancelled after arriving in Melbourne last week, and his lawyers have submitted a lengthy document arguing the 34-year-old fulfilled the criteria for a vaccine exemption certificate because of a recent Covid infection.

You can read the full report below:

Related: Australian government lawyers say Novak Djokovic was never assured of entry to Australia


09 Jan 2022 20:57

NSW opposition leader Chris Minns has told Sydney radio station 2GB that children in the state should still return to school come February despite their northern neighbour issuing a two-week delay.


09 Jan 2022 20:48

By the way, we will be hearing from NSW Health officials at 10am today.

‘Absolutely more than enough’ vaccines for kids, Frewen says

09 Jan 2022 20:43

Jumping back to the Covid vaccine and Lieutenant General John Frewen is out and about this morning defending the rollout of vaccines for five-to-11-year-olds, stating there is “absolutely more than enough” jabs for children.

There is more than 10,000 places where vaccines are being administered across the country. The majority of those will also be doing kids. So what I would say to people is there is absolutely more than enough of the paediatric dosage to get everybody their first dose before they get back to school.

The real challenge here is just lining people up with where the capacity is at any given time. What I say to parents is if they can’t get an appointment with their primary health provider or their GP, then they should try around the pharmacies.

They should try some of the state and territory clinics but there is enough vaccine and there are enough points of distribution, it is just about a little bit of patience.


09 Jan 2022 20:42

Speaking of the Maryborough situation, the Queensland fire and emergency services assistant commissioner, Stephen Smith, told ABC that the peak of the flood waters has now passed.

So the peak has occurred overnight and is expected to stay for a little period of time and then slowly drop away.

There has been significant inundation and impacts through the area but that has been lessened overnight working very closely with Fraser Coast regional council in reducing the impacts in the CBD and the temporary levy in place there.

So a lot of work was done by crews with council overnight to minimise the impact and as a result, the businesses impacted will be greatly reduced.

© Provided by The Guardian
A women takes a photo of the flood waters from the Mary River in Gympie, 147km north of Brisbane, on Sunday. Photograph: Darren England/AAP


09 Jan 2022 20:41


09 Jan 2022 20:31

Back up to Queensland and the city of Maryborough is still under water this morning.


09 Jan 2022 20:29

According to Nine News, another man has been detained by police outside the Park Hotel in Melbourne where unvaccinated tennis star Novak Djokovic is being held alongside a number of refugees.

NSW deputy premier tests positive for Covid-19

09 Jan 2022 20:27

NSW deputy premier Paul Toole has tested positive for Covid-19 but says he is only experiencing very minor symptoms.

In a social media post last night the politician said he was already in isolation after a number of family members tested positive.

It’s been a long week in our house, with my oldest daughter getting Covid-19 at the start of the week, followed by my wife and youngest daughter, and then my son …

Today my results have come back and I have tested positive too.

Fortunately I have very minor symptoms including a sore throat and a little bit of a temperature from time to time.

Let’s remember to respect our health workers out there who are working around the clock to keep us all safe …

At least the dog’s still happy to see me whilst we’re working together in the backyard.

© Provided by The Guardian
NSW deputy premier Paul Toole. Photograph: Richard Milnes/Rex/Shutterstock


09 Jan 2022 20:20

Good morning everyone!

It’s Matilda Boseley back on deck for the first time in 2022, and I come to you today from Queensland (not by choice – I’m in close-contact isolation), which is why I reckon we should start today by talking about the deadly floods that are affecting the state.

According to a spokesperson for the Bureau of Meteorology, tropical Cyclone Tiffany has strengthened to a category 2 storm and is just hours from making landfall in far-north Queensland.

People between Cape Tribulation and Coen, including Cooktown, should complete preparations quickly and be prepared to shelter in a safe place.

The cyclone (which formed in the Coral Sea) is expected to cross into Queensland between Cooktown and the Lockhart River sometime on Monday night, and communities have been told to expect wind gusts of up to 130km/h as the centre of the cyclone makes landfall.

After moving through far-north Queensland it’s expected to move into the Gulf of Carpentaria on Tuesday and intensify as it moves towards the Northern Territory coast.

Of course, we also need to chat about Novak Djokovic, whose visa case will be heard in federal court this morning, his lawyers challenging the rejection of his visa by Australian border force officials.

In their appeal document sent to the court, they say the 34-year-old tested positive for Covid-19 in December, and it was on those grounds that they sought a medical exemption that would allow him to defend his Australian Open crown.

But lawyers for the federal government will argue in a hearing that it had not given Djokovic any assurance that his medical exemption would be accepted.

The Serbian has to await the outcome of this hearing which will determine if he’s allowed to play for a 10th Australian title or whether he will be deported.

And of course, finally, today is the day that children aged between five and 11 will finally be eligible for the Pfizer jab, with federal health minister Greg Hunt insisting there will be sufficient supply.

He insists there will be 3m vaccine doses available over January for the 2.3 million children who will be eligible for a jab, but opposition leader Anthony Albanese said parents are anxious because they can’t get appointments for their children.

Hunt conceded that as there are 8,000 vaccination points around the country, each will have a limited number of doses a day, and therefore not every child will be able to get the jab right out of the gate. This is to make sure people in rural and regional areas, non-English-speaking areas and lower socioeconomic areas have the same access.

OK! What a morning, so why don’t we jump right into the day.

Source: Thanks