Australia news live update: national cabinet meets to discuss severe staff shortages; NSW Covid cases to spike as rapid tests counted

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NSW minister admits RAT fines ‘almost impossible’ to enforce

New South Wales residents have rushed to post positive results from rapid antigen tests since the start of the year, as the state government admits it will be “almost impossible” to apply fines for non-compliance, reports AAP’s Jack Gramenz.

By Thursday morning, more than 78,000 people had uploaded positive results from tests taken since January 1, customer service and digital minister Victor Dominello said.

This is a jump of about 25,000 from the 53,000 results posted by Wednesday afternoon.

The reporting system for positive RAT results went live on Wednesday morning and while the requirement only became mandatory on the day, NSW residents have been asked to add tests taken since the start of the year.

From January 19, the government will begin imposing a $1000 fine on anyone who does not report their positive RAT result.

Dominello admitted to the Nine Network that will be very difficult to do but the government had to send a message that reporting a positive result was important.

It’s almost going to be impossible in many ways to enforce…

But the majority of the states and territories in the country have gone down the path of issuing a fine or putting a fine in place – Tasmania, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT – and some have chosen the other path of just saying please do it.

© Provided by The Guardian
NSW minister for customer service and digital Victor Dominello. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Dominello said registering a test result was mainly about connecting infected people with any health care need they might need or federal government financial assistance.

The number of Covid-19 cases in NSW is expected to spike as the government begins adding RAT results to standard PCR test results.

NSW Health will provide an update on infection numbers at 9am on Thursday.


20:55 Jon Henley

Novak Djokovic could face a fine or even prison in Serbia after his admission that he broke isolation while he had Covid last month, lawyers have said, as the Serbian prime minister warned his behaviour appeared to be “a clear breach” of the rules.

The 34-year-old Belgrade-born tennis player is chasing a record-breaking 21st grand slam victory at the Australian Open beginning on Monday, but could yet be deported by the government which is unhappy with his medical exemption from inoculation.

Djokovic on Wednesday acknowledged that he knew he had tested positive when he attended a newspaper interview and photoshoot in the Serbian capital on 18 December, saying in a statement on social media he had made an “error of judgment”.

You can read the full report from Jon Henley and Milivoje Pantovic below:

Related: Novak Djokovic faces fine or prison for breaking isolation while Covid positive



Well, scratch that, Victor Dominello has just told Sunrise that the number of positive antigen tests registered with the NSW government is now up to 82,000.

As it goes, it is 82,000, but that is 82,000 over 12 days…

We expect to get a high number given that we have provided for people to put their data from 1 January. This is not just people putting in data from yesterday, it is people having rapid antigen tests on the second and third and fourth of January, putting that information in and getting it together. They are high numbers.

Good morning

Good morning everyone, it’s Matilda Boseley here on the blog with you, ready to bring you all the day’s news (as well as milking the fact that I currently have Covid-19 for sympathy as much as humanly possible).

Now we are all bracing for a tidal wave of cases from New South Wales this morning as today is the first day rapid antigen tests will be included in the daily numbers. It’s expected that the sizeable backlog of positive results will result in a record high.

In the afternoon we also have a national cabinet meeting to look forward to. The main things on the agenda: students’ return to school for the 2022 year, and food supply chain security.

Leaders will also hear from Treasury officials on the economic reasons to keep schools open.

It’s expected the list of sectors classified as essential will also expand following the national cabinet meeting, in order to keep supply chains moving.

This all comes after Australia’s leading medical advisory group recommended earlier this week that food and grocery workers be able to return to work after being a close contact of a positive Covid case, provided they then return a negative rapid test.

A similar proposal could be laid out for other sectors classified as essential, which could include road, rail and air transport, mental health, education and energy supply.

It’s expected transport and logistics workers will be prioritised.

Meanwhile, ministers have flagged the possibility jobseeker recipients could be deployed into workforces that are facing staff shortages.

A plan to increase the hours international students are able to work to 40 hours a fortnight is also being considered as a way to alleviate pressure on sectors hardest hit by the virus.

National cabinet will also settle on a date for when concession cardholders can access free rapid tests from pharmacies.

So as you can see there is plenty to get through! So why don’t we get cracking!


20:33 Ben Butler

Hash Tayeh has been back behind the counter at the burger chain he founded, Burgertory, for the first time in three years as he struggles to keep the business going in the face of the Omicron wave.

He has been doing night shifts at his outlet on Chapel Street in Melbourne, a fashionable shopping and entertainment strip which local traders say has been overwhelmed by Covid-related staff shortages.

The pandemic taught him to “just never get too comfortable and always be humble,” he said.

“So I was helping them take orders, take out the rubbish, mop the floors, do the dishes – wherever they needed me.”

Two hundred and sixty of Burgertory’s 400 staff have had Covid.

You can read the full report below:

Related: ‘Code red’: Melbourne businesses say Omicron wave more damaging than lockdown

Source: Thanks