Australia news live update: NSW and Victoria each record 21 Covid deaths; cases in hospital top 3,700; $1,000 fines in NSW for not reporting positive RATs

LIVE – Updated at 01:27

Follow all the day’s news.


The press conference has wrapped up in Queensland, which today reported a record 22,069 new Covid cases, and an increase in patients in hospital and in ICU.


Dr John Gerrard, the Queensland CHO, says he is concerned about vaccination rates in some First Nations communities.

The state is actively pursuing measures to increase the rates, he says. No detail about what these measures are, or which specific communities are of concern.


Thank you for the graft this morning Caitlin.

I’m still bringing you bits and pieces from the Queensland Covid update. The health minister, Yvette D’Ath, is repeating her calls for the federal government to supply more RATs. She says:

Is there ready supply out there, that anyone who wants one can get one? No.

If the commonwealth can do anything more, to get more in the hands of Queenslanders, they have to do it, because businesses are suffering.


D’Ath says she’s not sure what the federal government’s plan is to staff aged care centres once the Omicron waves hits its peak (Gerrard mentioned earlier this week this was expected in Queensland in late January or early February, with the peak of hospitalisations to occur a week later).

She says she will raise this with the federal government later this week.


Queensland’s chief health officer, Dr John Gerrard, is speaking now.

He says triple-vaccinated people are nine times less likely to end up in hospital than the unvaccinated:

We now have enough data from around 500 patients to see some real trends in who’s ending up in Queensland hospitals and the importance of boosted vaccination is very clear.

If you are unvaccinated, you are nine times more likely to end up in hospital than if you have received a boosted vaccination – three doses of a vaccine.


With that, I will pass you briefly to the highly capable Nino Bucci.

Queensland records 22,069 new Covid cases

Queensland health minister Yvette D’Ath is up.

The state has recorded 22,069 new Covid cases, from 57,604 tests.

There are 30 people being treated in ICU including eight who are ventilated, up from 27 yesterday, and 525 Covid positive patients in wards. That’s up from 502 yesterday.

She says what is seen in hospitals and ICU reflects Queensland’s vaccination rates.


Some 5,558 five-to-11 year olds received a booster shot yesterday, D’Ath says.

Thanks to all the mums and dads who are lining up with the kids.

Some 748,053 boosters have been administered across the state.


Have a peruse of Labor’s plan for disaster readiness, released today, here. It lays out up to $200m per year on disaster prevention and resilience. If matched by state, territory or local governments, that would equate to $400m annually.

It comes as opposition leader Anthony Albanese continues his seventh day of his tour-de-Queensland (he isn’t calling it that). He is currently in Mackay, and due to have lunch with the Country Women’s Association imminently.

© Provided by The Guardian
Anthony Albanese has released Labor’s disaster readiness plan. Photograph: Darren Pateman/AAP


ACTU secretary Sally McManus has weighed in on tomorrow’s national cabinet meeting, which will discuss, among other things, new health advice relating to isolation requirements for Covid-affected workers.

Unions are prioritising making rapid antigen tests free and accessible.


The Australian Republic Movement has unveiled its plan for the country to find a new head of state, which would involve a national ballot, AAP’s Alex Mitchell reports.

The group says federal, state and territory parliaments should nominate a shortlist of candidates for head of state, which would then be put to a national ballot of voters. The federal parliament would be able to nominate up to three people while states and territories would nominate one person each.

The ballot winner would get a five-year term and would be responsible for appointing a prime minister with majority support in the House of Representatives, or calling an election if that support does not exist.

But the head of state would have no authority in day-to-day governance or passing laws. The model was developed across a two-year period, with more than 10,000 Australians consulted through surveys, polls and meetings.

ARM chair Peter FitzSimons said the “Australian Choice” model brought responsibility to citizens to elect their own leaders:

This will give all Australian voters a merit-based choice about who speaks for them as head of state. The decision will be in their hands, unlike now, where it is luck of the draw who we get from the British Royal Family.

© Provided by The Guardian
Peter FitzSimons, chair of the Australian Republican Movement. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian



Perrottet says he sees PCR testing being “complementary” and continuing alongside rapid antigen tests as supply scales up. RATs are costing around $25 a pop at the moment, if you can get your hands on them.

The advice that we have received is very clear and that has come through the national cabinet. It is important as we move forward that the private supply chains remain in place.

I certainly and from the government perspective are looking at ways in which we can help the broader community in terms of the cost of those rapid antigen tests as we move forward in a way that maintains those private supply chains.

One of those options that we are certainly looking at is a voucher system that would be supportive alongside the provision of those tests through a pharmacist or a supermarket, but we are working on that now and looking at the feasibility of doing that. In the interim what we’re doing is making sure we procure rapid antigen tests to ensure the continuation of service delivery here in our state and they are in the key areas of schooling, transport and health services that we make sure that the workforce has access to those tests when they need them.



00:05 Elias Visontay

Schools in New South Wales will open from the first day of term one, premier Dominic Perrottet has vowed, however some activities like sports may be limited.

Perrottet said:

We are completely committed that schools will be open on day one term one.

I accept that there is a lot of people right across NSW who are anxious at this time and people will make their own decisions, in relation to sport particularly. But when we announce our school plans there are areas within those plans that we focus on in terms of activities within schools that we may limit early on as we move through. But for every parent across the state our commitment as a government is to open schools on day one, term one in a way that is safe for teachers and for kids.

Perrottet was then asked follow up questions about schools and risk, and took an even stronger tone:

Kids being at school is one of the most things we can have happen in NSW…The impact of not having kids in the classroom will be substantial in terms of impact on the child’s educational outcomes in the future.

He said that “I completely disagree with the doctors union” in relation to the Covid risk of schools returning. He went as far as saying that in his “list of things that we’re working on every single day”, that managing hospitalisations was his first priority, and that ensuring classrooms return from the first day of term one was his second highest priority.


We have more details on the 21 deaths reported in NSW today.


It’s 2022, and we’re back to Hunger Games analogies – this time regarding rapid antigen tests in NSW. I really think there could be a better metaphor for the present situation, although I haven’t read the Hunger Games since my teen years. Feedback is welcome.


It is like the Hunger Games out there at the moment with people desperately trying to buy RATs. In December you said they would be given for free. When will the distribution start?


Obviously it is very clear across the state that there is a shortage of rapid antigen tests and as I have said, my expectation would be nationally as the states and the federal government roll out their procurement program that we will see greater access to rapid antigen tests across the board.

We have already started to see the commencement of arrivals of our rapid antigen test orders that we have put in … and we will work through the provision of those tests in areas where we see appropriate … to make sure our frontline workers here in New South Wales have access to those tests.

But it may not just be simply frontline workers. We will provide those tests in circumstances that support service delivery across the board and once that has been determined, as the tests come in, we will make the announcements.

Related: Brad Hazzard compared the vaccine rollout to the Hunger Games. Has he actually read it or has he lost the plot? | Matilda Boseley


11 Jan 2022 23:59 Sarah Martin

Just a bit more on the supply chain meetings that were happening last night and continue today between government, industry groups and unions.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, is convening a meeting with the National Coordinating Mechanism that will consider the new health advice relating to isolation requirements for Covid-affected workers.

The new guidelines were signed off by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee earlier this week.

Today’s meeting will consider the requirements for essential workers to keep working, including booster shots, social distancing measures and hygiene standards, and also discuss which business should be defined as essential services for the purposes of relaxed isolation requirements.

This means that workers may continue to work even if registered as a close contact, provided they produce a negative RAT on day one after exposure and regular RAT testing after that (if they have access to the tests – assume this will be discussed at length today also).

Some of the services under consideration to be deemed “essential”, (in addition to what’s already been announced) include teachers and childcare workers, transport workers, mental health and physiotherapy services, and civic services such as rubbish collection and water and energy services.

Also today, the attorney general Michaelia Cash will hold meetings with the Australian Council of Trade Unions and employer groups, who are discussing the issues surrounding testing for safe workplaces, and business obligations to meet occupational health and safety laws.

© Provided by The Guardian
Empty shelves at Ashfield Coles in Sydney’s inner west at the weekend. Australia’s supply chains have been crippled by staff shortages amid Omicron. Photograph: Richard Milnes/REX/Shutterstock

Seven of NSW’s latest Covid deaths are historical, Chant says

11 Jan 2022 23:52

Back in NSW, and Chant has provided a breakdown of the 21 Covid deaths reported today.

Seventeen men and four women lost their lives, including one person in their 30s, one in their 40s, two in their 50s, four in their 60s, six in their 70s, four in their 80s, two in their 90s and one person just over 100.

She says seven of the deaths are historical:

Four were reported since 23 December, one relates to a death in September and the second in October. And just to go through the reasons for that … We work closely with the coroner, deaths reported to the coroner are unusual … or a clinician is uncertain of the cause of death.

As you know, the virus can be in people’s nose and throat for a long time, particularly when we use sensitive PCR testing, and the coroner has been routinely swapping all people admitted to their facilities and in those cases where there is a positive case the coroner will determine where it is clear cut. And … where it is not clear cut we wait for the coroner to indicate whether it is linked at all to the Covid infection and hence we update our case numbers – and that will be a feature going forward.

I want to thank the forensic pathologists in the coroner for their cooperation in updating those statistics.


11 Jan 2022 23:49

Victoria’s press conference has wrapped up, in a cool 30 minutes.

No additional supports will be announced today for the hospitality sector or other industries hit by the Omicron wave, Merlino says.

We need to be cognisant of what activities are risky right now … Omicron is incredibly virulent and a dance floor is an easy place where you can catch this variant.

NSW’s rapid antigen test reporting system explained

11 Jan 2022 23:48 Elias Visontay

New South Wales health authorities will use a new system to require residents to report positive rapid antigen test results to survey Covid cases about their health and deliver further care if required.

People in New South Wales who test positive to Covid with a rapid antigen test – who are legally required to report their result via the Service NSW app – will be asked to fill out an initial survey.

This initial survey will seek to understand if a Covid case has significant health problems, such as those related to the heart, lungs, kidney and immune system, as well as cancer status.

Health authorities will make a “risk assessment” on that person’s ability to isolate at home.

If needed, they will be sent advice to care for themselves at home. Dr Amith Shetty, clinical director of Covid-19 Care in the Community in NSW, believes the majority of Covid cases in NSW will fall into this category.

However those deemed higher risk will receive follow up communications from NSW Health.

At this point, NSW Health may determine someone requires a greater level of care – whether that be via general practice or hospital. NSW Health may also recommend Covid treatment options for patients at this stage.

The plan is designed to provide care for those isolating at home, and to reduce the number of those whose Covid illness escalates to the point they need to go into hospital.

As has been pointed out by readers, while you register through the Service NSW App, you technically click on a link in the app that takes you to an external webform.


11 Jan 2022 23:47

Victoria will “absolutely” be delivering the school year on time, Merlino says, though he cannot predict what will happen in six months’ time.

Schools will “not be immune” from the impact of staff shortages, which may require additional teaching staff and casual relief teachers.

Get your kids vaccinated and we can move beyond remote learning, beyond lockdowns … We support the national framework for getting students back to school for the start of term one, day one, term one.

The commitment is we get 51,000 air purifiers delivered to schools by the start of term and we will do that.

We’re having [staff shortages] with transport companies, truck drivers, we will get this delivered because it’s an important part of our mitigation strategy … even if I need to get in a truck and deliver them myself, we will get them delivered.

More than 20,000 air purifiers have been delivered so far, Merlino says.

Tasmania records 1,583 new Covid cases

11 Jan 2022 23:43

Tasmania’s Covid numbers are in. There have been 1,583 Covid cases reported overnight.

There are 22 people being treated in hospital, an increase of four on yesterday, and no people currently in ICU.


11 Jan 2022 23:40

Health and emergency staffing is going to be a “massive issue” in 2022, Merlino says.

He also urged Victorians not to call triple zero unless it was an emergency as this system was also under strain.

These pressures are having an impact across the board and we’re seeing that with 000. We’ve got a system under enormous stress and a massive surge in demand.

One in five calls to 000 are not emergency calls. We’ve all got a role to play … if it is not an emergency please do not call 000. In terms of what we’re doing for the service itself, there’s 43 additional full-time equivalent staff, additional funding, a significant review by the inspector general of emergency services as well as offering additional overtime for existing staff.

Positive rapid antigen test reporting mandatory in NSW

11 Jan 2022 23:37

The NSW premier Dominic Perrottet is up. He says from 9am today, people across the state must register positive rapid antigen tests through the Service NSW App or they can be fined $1,000.

He says “unlike other states” the reason for reporting RATs is to connect people with care.

A reminder that RATs still aren’t included as part of daily case numbers in NSW.

We made a decision as a government that the registration of that test is mandatory and you will need to register your positive rapid antigen test from 1 January.

So if you received a positive test from the 1 January you can do that through the Service NSW App. This health order has been signed off this morning and in terms of enforcement if someone fails to register a positive rapid antigen test there will be a $1,000 fine and there will be a grace period.

It will only take a couple of minutes. Simple questions in terms of registering details if you are registering a positive test for yourself or for somebody else, those details need to be provided.

Importantly, also the provision of information in relation to whether you have any underlying health conditions, whether you are pregnant. That medical information we ask you for because, unlike other states, what we do here in New South Wales and the importance of this … is connecting people with care.

© Provided by The Guardian
From today it is mandatory to report positive rapid antigen test results in NSW. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Victoria to recruit 1,000 vaccinators

11 Jan 2022 23:35

Merlino says in response to “extreme demand” on the health system, Victoria is seeking to recruit some 1,000 Victorians with appropriate knowledge and experience to come on board with the vaccination rollout.

He is calling on health students, retired nurses and people with experience in health settings to be trained and deployed across state run vaccination clinics. Applications open next week. They will be called “limit scope vaccinators”, with training “absolutely key” to be qualified to vaccinate.

We have the capacity to deliver up to 300,000 doses per week alongside more than 600,000 doses through our primary care network.

There are over one million Victorians currently eligible for their third dose and thousands of appointments available…however very soon, that number of eligible people is going to increase dramatically as they get to that four month mark.

Victoria, to deal with that demand is recruiting a new pool of vaccinators to help with that effort.

© Provided by The Guardian
James Merlino received his Covid-19 booster at the Royal Exhibition Building vaccine hub in Melbourne. Photograph: David Crosling/AAP


11 Jan 2022 23:33

From tonight, high risk workers in Victoria will be required to have three vaccination doses – if they are eligible – in order to return to work.

The sectors include healthcare, aged care, disability workers, emergency services, correctional facilities, hotel quarantine, food distribution and processing.

If workers are eligible for a third dose today, they will have until 12 February to get their third shot.

If they are not yet eligible, they will be required to receive their third vaccine at a date to be decided upon in March.

More than 6,600 Victorian health workers furloughed, Merlino says

11 Jan 2022 23:32

Merlino says the 21 deaths reported in today’s Covid update are not all from today, but “over the last day or so”, and the health system is under increased pressure.

There are a record number of people hospitalised with Covid in Victoria today. Merlino said more than 6,600 health workers were also unable to work.

It is a health system under considerable strain … it’s more than 6,600 health service workforce who are unavailable to work right now. This is a system under strain.

As we came down from lockdown last year, it’s a race between people getting vaccinated … whilst we try and support the health system during a period under which it’s under extreme strain.


11 Jan 2022 23:26

Some 53,000 children are booked to get a vaccine in the coming weeks, Merlino says.


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11 Jan 2022 23:25

Victoria’s acting premier James Merlino is up.

He says thoughts and prayers are with the families of the 21 people who died in the latest Covid reporting period.

There are 209,715 active cases in the state.

More than half of those who reported a positive rapid antigen test yesterday actually took the test yesterday. Positive RATs accounted for around half of today’s new cases.


11 Jan 2022 23:23 Elias Visontay

More on the RAT result mandates in NSW:

Anyone in New South Wales who tests positive to Covid with a rapid antigen test will face a $1,000 fine if they do not register their Covid status with the state government.

On Wednesday, premier Dominic Perrottet announced the function to register positive RAT results has been incorporated into the Service NSW smartphone application, which is already used for QR code check ins across the state.

Perrottet also confirmed that registering positive status would be mandatory, after a public health order was signed off on this morning.

Anyone who has received a positive result to a rapid antigen test since 1 January must register their result.

If someone fails to register their positive RAT result, they will face a $1,000 fine. Enforcement of the fine will come into effect from 19 January.


11 Jan 2022 23:23 Elias Visontay

New South Wales chief health officer Kerry Chant has provided a breakdown of the changing nature of Covid patients in intensive care in the state.

In early December, Delta was the dominant strain in ICUs in the state, with 90% of Covid patients found to have that variant, while 10% had Omicron.

However that has changed as Omicron spread rapidly throughout the state over the end of the year.

By the week of 29 December to 4 January, Omicron had become the dominant strain in ICUs in NSW, with 67% of patients having the newer strain while 33% had Delta.


11 Jan 2022 23:13

Perrottet acknowledges it is “a difficult time” for the state. There were 21 Covid-19 deaths reported today.

I know that many people are anxious, we will get through this. We will get to the other side and we will come out stronger as a state. We have done that twice before with the Alpha outbreak and the Delta outbreak and we will do it once again. We are seeing Omicron spread not just around the country but around the world and our health system is strong – we have the best health workers anywhere in the country and we will get through this and come out the other side stronger than we came through.


11 Jan 2022 23:13

Some 20.2% of the eligible population in NSW have received a booster shot.

Perrottet says of the people in ICU, more than 50% are unvaccinated:

We have a 95% vaccination rate here in New South Wales yet over 50% of people in ICU are unvaccinated. So, please, if you have not done so, if you have not received the first dose, please go and do so. If you are eligible for a second dose please do as well.

But there are many people across the state who are now eligible for a booster shot and you can have a booster shot administered either at 40 of our clinics across New South Wales but also through your pharmacy and your GP. Once again as I have said in the past, if you received a vaccination through a GP you can still come to one of our centres and receive that booster shot here in any of our 40 clinics across our state. Please make an appointment today.


11 Jan 2022 22:56

Queensland health minister Yvette D’Ath and chief health officer Dr John Gerrard will hold a press conference at 11am local time.


11 Jan 2022 22:43

A bushfire in Western Australia’s south-west that forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents and tourists has been downgraded after firefighters managed to contain the blaze, AAP’s Michael Ramsey reports.

People were evacuated from the tourist hotspot of Eagle Bay in the city of Busselton on Tuesday afternoon. But hours later firefighters contained the fire raging around Eagle Bay, Naturaliste and Dunsborough.

The emergency has now been downgraded to ‘watch and act’ although people are being warned to remain on alert in case conditions change today.

The cause of the fire, which started near Curtis Bay Beach in Dunsborough, is being investigated. The blaze has burned through more than 220 hectares but it’s believed no homes have been lost.

On Tuesday more than 150 firefighters were working to contain the blaze, which left the Eagle Bay and Bunker Bay communities isolated.

Assisted evacuation convoys left the Eagle Bay community hall and Pullman Bunker Bay resort at 4pm.

The blaze was first reported on Monday night with firefighters initially unable to access the scene.

© Provided by The Guardian
A bushfire near the Wise Winery at Eagle Bay, near Dunsborough in WA, on Tuesday. Photograph: Wise Winery


11 Jan 2022 22:42

We’re back to the good old days when premiers announce Covid updates at the same time.


11 Jan 2022 22:40

Deputy ambassador of Israel to Australia Ron Gerstenfeld just appeared on RN Breakfast suggesting the Sydney festival approached the Israeli embassy about the sponsorship deal that has led to the boycott of more than 20 acts.

Gerstenfeld lamented the “aggressive” social media campaign that he said came to the detriment of artists hit by two years of a pandemic.

© Provided by The Guardian
Ron Gerstenfeld, the deputy chief of mission at the embassy of Israel in Canberra. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

The latest statement from Sydney festival chair David Kirk said:

The Board is also conscious of the calls for artists and audiences to boycott the Festival in relation to the Israeli Embassy’s financial support of a performance by the Sydney Dance Company of a work, Decadance, by world renowned Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. The Sydney Festival Board wishes collectively to affirm its respect for the right of all groups to protest and raise concerns.

We spent time with a number of groups who have concerns about this funding and welcomed the opportunity to engage with them. All funding agreements for the current Festival – including for Decadance – will be honoured, and the performances will proceed. At the same time, the Board has also determined it will review its practices in relation to funding from foreign governments or related parties.

He will be appearing on the program tomorrow.

Related: Sydney festival boycott: more than 20 acts withdraw over Israeli funding


11 Jan 2022 22:37

Turning to Covid test positivity rates, and 35.20% of tests in Victoria returned a positive result.

Some 25.86% of tests in NSW came back positive.


11 Jan 2022 22:35

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese is up and about in Mackay, set to announce Labor’s plan for disaster readiness today.

Amid floods, cyclones and pandemics, god knows we need one!


11 Jan 2022 22:34

The Border Force workers’ union is calling on an urgent industrial intervention after Australian Border Force marine officers have been forced to isolate onboard ABF vessels.

The Community and Public Sector Union says the commonwealth failed to heed warnings from workers about “wholly inadequate” Covid-19 safety plans, and is seeking intervention from the federal regulator ComCare.

As reported today, for over two years the Australian Border Force Marine Unit workers and their union the CPSU, have been calling on the Department of Home Affairs and the federal government to ensure safe working conditions and adequate testing for vessels.

More than six officers on two Cape-class vessels and one large hull vessel have contracted Covid-19 onboard, or boarded vessels while positive and asymptomatic.

The CPSU says officers affected have been made to isolate in the detainee transportation accommodation and, in some instances, kept at sea despite being in close quarters with other officers. The transportation quarters do not have appropriate air-conditioning, basic amenities, power points, electricity or reliable wifi to contact family or medical professionals, it says.

Brooke Muscat, CPSU deputy national president, said:

The Department of Home Affairs has failed to adequately prepare for Covid on Marine Unit vessels. At every turn they have rebuffed or ignored workers’ calls for common sense protections when it comes to vaccination leave, crew testing, screening, and onboard logistics.

For two years the CPSU members in the Marine Unit have been raising these risks, but due to inaction we have been left with no alternative but to seek a resolution through the regulator, Comcare.

Marine Unit officers do a dangerous and tough job, while being separated from their families for six months of the year. These officers need to be supported not left out to dry by a Departmental Secretary more concerned with his own ego than worker safety.


11 Jan 2022 22:31 Josh Nicholas

The federal government’s official Covid statistics have been overstating the number of Covid patients admitted to hospital by several thousand.

On Monday prime minister Scott Morrison gave an update on hospitalisation figures, saying: “There are 5,097 patients in hospital who have Covid.”

This figure of 5,097 was in part due to the inclusion of 2,170 people hospitalised in the Northern Territory, as listed on the federal Department of Health coronavirus statistics page.

However, the Department of Health confirmed on Tuesday that the figure of 2,170 people hospitalised in the Northern Territory was incorrect, and that the correct number was 32, as per the NT government’s coronavirus page.

This means the correct number of national hospitalisations was just over 3,000 as of Tuesday.

A Guardian Australia analysis suggests that the federal statistics have been overstating the number of hospitalisations due to the error for at least several days, if not weeks.


11 Jan 2022 22:29

From fires to floods – police are investigating a suspicious fire at an auto-wreckers in Maryborough, Queensland last night.

Emergency services attended an abandoned Kent Street address at 7.15pm to find the business well alight.

A 46-year-old woman located at the scene is currently assisting police with inquiries. Investigations into the cause of the fire is ongoing.

A media conference will be held at 10.30am local time.

At the same time in Redbank Plains, police will address the media in relation to police dog Quizz, who went missing yesterday during a high-speed chase. I’m not sure I can bring it to you live but I’ll hope to keep the updates rolling in.


11 Jan 2022 22:27

This is a confronting number, and so far we only have the figures for NSW and Victoria.

NSW records 34,759 new Covid cases and 21 deaths

11 Jan 2022 22:13

The NSW Covid cases are in, and they’ve jumped significantly since yesterday. These numbers are just from PCR tests, so including RATs the real figure is likely to be much higher. There were more than 134,000 tests – a big jump on yesterday’s figure.

Sadly, there have been a record 21 deaths overnight.

There are 2,242 people being treated in hospital, including 175 in ICU – an increase of five in ICU since yesterday.

Hospitalisations have jumped by 56 overnight.

A reminder that the peak isn’t expected until at least the end of the month.


11 Jan 2022 22:13

Meanwhile, health minister Greg Hunt is tweeting about the booster program.

Victoria records 40,127 new Covid cases and 21 deaths

11 Jan 2022 22:12

Victoria’s numbers are also in and there have been 40,127 new Covid cases reported overnight. Roughly half are from RATs and half are from PCR tests.

There are a record 946 people being treated in hospital, including 112 in ICU. While ICU numbers have dipped somewhat since yesterday, hospitalisations have jumped by 85 overnight.

There were 21 lives lost – meaning at least 42 people have died in the past 24 hours. Condolences to their families.


11 Jan 2022 22:00

People are getting very angry at today’s Wordle on social media, which is timely as the Guardian has a lovely piece on the creator of the game today:

The game has become an unexpected grassroots hit for Josh Wardle, who developed it for his puzzle-loving partner. The pair played it for fun on their sofa, and other users slowly began to join them …

He takes comfort in the knowledge that his game has brought joy to people at a difficult time. “I get emails from people who say things like ‘hey, we can’t see our parents due to Covid at the moment but we share our Wordle results each day’. During this weird situation it’s a way for people to connect in a low effort, low friction way.”

I made today’s in six, but it was touch and go.

Wordle 207 6/6







Related: Wordle creator overwhelmed by global success of hit puzzle


11 Jan 2022 21:46

Still in NSW, premier Dominic Perrottet will be up for a Covid update at 10am.


11 Jan 2022 21:37

Australia’s former deputy chief medical officer has put his name on a letter to national cabinet calling for leaders to not delay the start of the school year, AAP reports.

Dr Nick Coatsworth, along with other medical experts, told Nine this morning children going back to school will not have an impact on the trajectory of Covid-19 Omicron cases:

Many kids have already had it so there is no cause to delay schools going back. It is not correct to delay it. I put my name on a letter to national cabinet indicating we do not feel as medical experts that is right.

Federal, state and territory leaders will meet tomorrow to consider a nationally consistent approach to getting kids back to school safely.

Meanwhile, urgent talks are continuing on which business sectors will have Covid-19 isolation rules relaxed for their workers, after a rapid rise in infections led to widespread supply chain issues. The talks between the government and industry took place overnight and will pick up again today to help address coronavirus-induced staff shortages.

The discussions include acting small business minister Anne Ruston and industry groups.


11 Jan 2022 21:35

In New South Wales, four people have been rescued after a ute was swept into a flooded creek in the Hunter Valley last night.

Emergency services were called to Wells Gully Road at McCulleys Gap late last night, after the ute was swept off the spillway into Sandy Creek. A 49-year-old man, a 16-year-old boy, and two girls aged 14 were forced to climb on to the roof of the car after it began to sink in strongly flowing flood waters.

A multi-agency rescue operation was coordinated by officers and members from NSW Rural Fire Service and SES, with all four retrieved safely. There were no injuries.


11 Jan 2022 21:16


11 Jan 2022 21:08

Dijana Djokovic is asked whether she supports her son’s views against receiving Covid vaccinations:

He has his own philosophy if he thinks like that … he’s the most healthiest guy, he takes care of his life … he’s playing tennis and he wants to stay. And I know that he’s doing everything to stay healthy to take care of his body, so … if he’s not, he doesn’t want to, that’s his choice.

So, what’s the problem? You know, the vaccination – the vaccination, it’s not that I’m against it of course I’m not … it’s not the point. If he’s healthy, his PCR is negative, why he cannot play?

Asked about controversy’s over Djokovic’s visa application, she says:

I cannot say the … all issues I don’t know exactly I’m reading in the newspapers. I didn’t talk to Novak about that. So I really cannot say anything. What I can say, that Judge Kelly [has] decided that Novak is free. So for me, this is closed book.

And as to whether the tennis star was out in the community a day after his positive test:

He didn’t know. Probably he didn’t know it, because when he realised [about] isolation, then he go to isolate … because he didn’t know anything about that, He … I really cannot say but it’s maybe the best is to ask him.

‘He’s not a murderer’: Dijana Djokovi pleads for her son to be allowed to play

11 Jan 2022 20:59

Back to Novak Djokovic: his mother Dijana Djokovic,= is speaking to Sunrise at the moment from Belgrade. She says her son isn’t a murderer or a politician, he’s just a tennis player:

I have to say, for us, even in my worst dreams, because we never have thought that is going to happen. Something like this, this court case like when I was watching and I was sitting and watching that, I said, some movie or something, something like that, because I cannot even accept that they are judging my son.

For a few days, we are not even sleeping … this is not over yet, I’m very worried, so I realise he will stay and he will play. And we are all praying that … don’t throw him out. He’s not politician, he’s a tennis player, he is not a criminal, he’s not murderer. He’s just a tennis player. The best in the world. Just let him play.


11 Jan 2022 20:54

Member for Hotham and shadow minister for aged care Clare O’Neil is not mincing her words on Radio National today:

A little bit of frankness and honesty and acknowledging the problem is the first thing we should be asking of the prime minister.

She suggests some aged care residents have been locked in their rooms for up to seven days waiting for the results of PCR tests.

The consequences in aged care are people are sick and they are suffering.


11 Jan 2022 20:53

CEO with the Council of Small Business Organisations Alexi Boyd has been in talks with the government over worker shortages hitting businesses across the country. She appeared on ABC News Breakfast this morning, suggesting some small businesses are closing their doors altogether:

We’re hearing 20 to 40% furloughing of workers. That’s for a variety of reasons. It might be because the worker is sick and has Covid or because they’re symptomatic or because there’s a little bit of confusion as whether or not that worker should come to work.

Cosboa has been calling for a national standardised approach for most of these for about a year now but what we heard from lots of industry groups was that the problem was across the board and that lots of industries were being heavily hit. The notion of an essential business, now, small businesses have been down this road before. It’s been determined by government what is an essential business and our concern is that after obviously the critical industry, such as food security, etc, and logistics are worked out, that we’re going to see a prioritisation of businesses and what’s considered essential.

Now, to, I think a lot of communities out there, every small business is essential right now being the largest employer collectively of Australians. We need to see all small businesses given, I guess, equality when it comes to different circumstances in which they operate and that will alleviate confusion as well.


11 Jan 2022 20:44

Labor leader Anthony Albanese was just up on Sunrise chatting Novak Djokovic.

He wouldn’t say whether the tennis player’s visa should be re-cancelled, just that if visa requirements weren’t met, it shouldn’t have been granted in the first place:

It is just a mess, isn’t it? Everyone can see that. The federal government is the body that issues visas to Australia and it is yet to explain how it is that a visa was granted if the conditions had not been met and what we see here is just another failure, a problem becoming a crisis before the government actually acts and when you look at the issues, the vaccines, testing, tracing, and when it comes to quarantine, that is a grand slam of failures that this Morrison government has presided over. It is a very embarrassing situation for Australia. Given this story has been the biggest story in sport for months.

What I would have done was make sure that if the visa requirements weren’t met, the visa would not have been issued and that is what should have occurred here. Now we have a circumstance whereby we have an intervention which is one of the biggest stories in the world at the moment and it is all of the government’s own making.


11 Jan 2022 20:43

Matt Canavan says if Novak Djokovic did fill out his form incorrectly, he wouldn’t be “the first person to tick the wrong box”:

I read through the transcript of the interview with Novak. While I’ve never been a massive Novak fan, I thought he was honest and open through the interview process which started at 1am and went through to 6, 6.30am or so. And so I think he just has to be treated like anyone else.

Now, yes, he may have lied or made a mistake on the form. I just hope – we’ve just got to apply the same rules as we would to anyone else because I am sure he is not the first person to tick the wrong box. I don’t want to live in a world of strict bureaucracy when if we make a mistake on a form we are hauled off to jail. If there’s been an error or a lie, he needs to be questioned again and see how or why that happened. English is not his first language so that could come into play. We have to have sensible rules, that’s the main lesson out of this.

Catch up on the latest here:

Related: Australian Border Force investigating whether Novak Djokovic made false travel claim


11 Jan 2022 20:31

Nationals senator Matt Canavan appeared on the Today show this morning agreeing the situation with Djokovic is “a mess” and we should simply stop talking about it, as he continues to talk about it:

I think it’s long enough talking about a tennis player. We have more serious issues in the country. Look, I’ve been a long time on this program saying I thought we should have just let Novak in. He’s got Covid, he has natural immunity and is a low health risk but the decision was made and the court overturned it: I think we have to move on now and de-escalate it as much as possible.

If he has said something wrong on his form, OK, the law needs to apply there. I don’t know enough about that … this shows why it’s important to base our decisions on what the science says. You know, I know there’s a lot of concern here and maybe we should keep all unvaccinated people out of work but if you’ve had Covid, you’ve got immunity, you have better protection against getting or spreading Covid than someone with just a vaccine. So that’s what all the science says. We should have relied it on that. That’s what the medical board said last week and now we are where we are. Hopefully the tennis starts next Monday and we enjoy that.


11 Jan 2022 20:30

United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants Felipe González Morales appeared on Radio National this morning, discussing the worldwide attention the Novak Djokovic case has brought to Australia’s immigration system.

He said the case brought visibility to the fact that most people who apply for asylum or migrate to other countries don’t have the money or contacts to call attention to their plight.

Good morning

11 Jan 2022 20:27

Good morning,

It’s hump day, Novak Djokovic is still in the country and Omicron has now reached KFC.

Caitlin Cassidy here to take you through this morning’s news, starting with Scott Morrison meeting senior ministers and chief medical officer Paul Kelly today to discuss the potential relaxation of isolation requirements for a range of industries.

Health guidelines allow workers in essential industries including critical food and grocery production, logistics and distribution to return to work despite being a close contact if they are asymptomatic. Some of the services being considered include vets and childcare, education, rail and air.

Immigration minister Alex Hawke is yet to confirm whether he will recancel Djokovic’s visa less than a week out from the Australian Open. The world No 1 hit the courts yesterday afternoon as the saga continues.

Australian Border Force is now investigating whether Djokovic incorrectly declared he had not travelled and would not do so for two weeks before his flight to Australia, as images emerge of the tennis player that seemingly showing him in in Belgrade on Christmas Day.

Further north, Tropical Cyclone Tiffany has reintensified today along the Gulf of Carpentaria after being downgraded to a tropical low as it crossed Cape York in far north Queensland on Monday evening. The cyclone is expected to reach the mainland near Port Roper in the NT about midday.

And meat has been the latest victim of supply shortages amid the Omicron wave. Staff shortages have significantly cut sales at major chicken supplier Ingham’s and made some products unavailable at one of its big customers, KFC.

Source: Thanks