Australia news live update: 50 Covid deaths and 4,000 in hospital nationally; NSW cases expected to ‘plateau’ next week; Djokovic visa decision looms

LIVE – Updated at 01:18

Follow all the day’s news.


Returning to the announcement of two medi-hotels to be established in Victoria, Merlino says it responds to growing case numbers in the community, that is seeing a rise in hospital admissions and emergency department presentations:

This is placing enormous pressure on our hard-working doctors and nurses and the entire hospital workforce. We have been preparing for some time to manage an increase in Covid cases. We always knew that as we move away from lockdowns, there would be a significant increase in pressure on our hospital system. So we created extra capacity in the system, ensuring we have enough beds, equipment, PPE and staff to manage that surge in patients. What we have done previously to today’s announcement, we have hired more than 700 additional ambulance Victoria staff. We have brought on more capacity via our hospital in the home…we have made changes to the testing system, we have put in place sensible isolation exemptions for healthcare workers and we have created 1,000 vaccination jobs that I announced earlier in the week.


Some 21.2% of Victorians 18 and over have had three doses of a booster shot, equating to more than 1 million people.


24,071 people were vaccinated yesterday through our state clinics. In terms of kids vaccinations, 5,147 kids aged five to 11 received a vaccine yesterday. But I would encourage anyone who hasn’t booked yet to get online and call and make that booking. More than 28,000 children are booked in to receive their first dose over the next seven days with almost 40,000 available for the next 30 days.


Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein says businesses impacted by the pandemic will be eligible for extra support funding, dating back to 15 December.

Businesses that experienced an unavoidable loss, including spoilage, will be eligible for up to $5,000.

The business impact support program has been designed to help those Tasmanian small businesses which have had a reduction in business turnover due to Covid cases and isolation requirements. It will cover initially the period from the 15th of December when we opened through to the 14th of January.

The downturn for those businesses may have been caused by loss of staff due to exposure that has affected the business’s ability to operate, or loss of business due to significantly lower than usual customer demand. Funding of up to $5,000 will be available to eligible businesses depending on their business size and support of up to $5,000 will also be available for those businesses that experienced and unavoidable loss due to spoilage.



While we wait for the Victorian press conference, feast your eyes on this zebra foal.

From AAP:

A Victorian zoo has welcomed its first male zebra foal in four years, and the aptly-named youngster has wasted no time showing his stripes.

The long-legged colt is up and walking under the watchful gaze of mum Zaide after being born at Werribee Open Range Zoo on Sunday.

He has been named Zintlanu, which translates to the number five in South Africa and Zimbabwe’s officially recognised Xhosa language, as the fifth baby born to Zaide and father Melako.

Victoria to establish two medi-hotels for Covid patients

Victoria’s press conference has begun.

Two medi-hotels will be set up in the state to increase capacity for Covid care in the hospital system. The hospitals will take more than 300 Covid patients who require “lower level care”.

Tasmania records 1,201 new Covid cases

Tasmania has recorded 1,201 new coronavirus cases.

Of the new cases, the vast majority, 852, were from self-reported rapid antigen tests.

There are 10 people being treated in hospital specifically for Covid symptoms.

Today’s Covid numbers

Here is a summary of Friday’s Covid numbers. We’ll continue to update it throughout the day.

  • New South Wales has reported 63,018 new Covid cases and 29 deaths, on the second day rapid antigen tests were included in the state’s total figures. There are 2,525 people being treated in hospital including 184 people in ICU.
  • Victoria has reported 34,836 new Covid cases and 18 deaths from PCR tests and RATs. There are 976 people being treated in hospital including 112 in ICU.
  • Queensland has reported 23,630 new Covid cases and three deaths, also from PCR tests and RATs. There are 589 people being treated in hospital, including 41 in ICU and 15 requiring ventilation.


Wowee, some accusations flying from Gerrard. Asked how Queensland is going with rapid antigen tests, the chief health officer says he talked to minister Mark Bailey yesterday afternoon who confirmed they’d “been given reason by the supplier that the stock was taken by the commonwealth instead. That is disappointing”.


The commonwealth denies it.


Well, minister Bailey says that he’s got proof of that. So I’ll leave it to minister Bailey to provide that information. But look, we know that there’s a shortage across the board. But I would hope that the commonwealth is working with industries, that if there is a time where government agencies have to turn to suppliers and say – we need for emergency reasons to acquire your stock – that they’re looking at where that stock is going. Because imagine if we’re pulling back stock only to find that we’re doing so to give it to the same people that we took it off in the first place.

© Provided by The Guardian
Queensland chief health officer Dr John Gerrard. Photograph: Jono Searle/AAP


Over in the ACT, sovereign citizens involved with the Old Parliament House fire on 30 December are in the magistrates court today.


Posting this solely because I only just realised her official title is “Queensland Premier and Minister for the Olympics”.


A reporter asks Gerrard if Townsville has enough ambulances after reports from the opposition of the deaths of two patients.

Gerrard says it is too early to make any clinical determinations while the deaths are still under investigation.

Look, I’m aware of those deaths. They’re under investigation at the moment. I think that it is certainly … completely inappropriate for the opposition to draw links to any availability of ambulances to deaths when they are under investigation. Internal investigation, QPS and the coroner. So let’s leave it to the experts to determine whether there were any contributing factors. But you know, it was irresponsible of the opposition to be trying to make a clinical decision and findings without those experts still completing their investigations.


Gerrard estimates Queensland is about two weeks from reaching its peak. New South Wales believes it is approaching its peak now.

Different areas will be reaching their peak at different times in Queensland because we’re a more decentralised state. So presumably, and this is a bit speculative – Gold Coast, which was the first region to seem to get its growth, presumably, will reach its peak earlier than other parts of Queensland.

The most useful things to look at will be hospitalisation rates rather than the numbers of cases. And we’re looking at those closely every day. And it’s when the hospitalisation rates start to steady. And Gold Coast has been relatively steady for a day or two, but you can’t read too much into a day or two’s worth of data. So I don’t want to overstate that. But I think that the Gold Coast will be the first to peak and then others will follow. But I really must emphasise, it’s too early to try to speculate from the data that we have.


Back in Brisbane, Gerrard is asked if he is concerned there are deaths occurring at home. When asked whether the majority of deaths were occurring in aged care, hospitals or at home, he said it was “a mixture of both”.

It does concern us when there are deaths at home. From the few reports that I’ve been seeing, we’re seeing reports of people having an illness for a short period and then sudden deaths. And we’ve reported about those earlier on. That’s been reported elsewhere in Australia and around the world … which I think I’ve referred to on a previous occasion. But we are certainly keeping a close eye on that, particularly when there are deaths.


Queensland’s vaccine coordinator Shane Chelepy takes to the podium. Some 52% of eligible people in Queensland have received their booster.

But that also means is 40% of people out there who are eligible now, to get their booster. We are seeing really good numbers of people getting vaccinated right across the system.

Queensland health has done over 70,000 vaccinations in the past few days which is terrific. My message is clear … those that are able to walk into our Queensland sites can get boosted.


Queensland’s health minister Yvette D’Ath says 5.96% of five- to 11-year-olds in Queensland have received a vaccine.

I have to say, I think it is great our five- to 11-year-old vaccination rates, the first three days, we have had 5.96% of all five- to 11-year-olds in Queensland vaccinated. Almost 6% in just three days. We know the numbers going to grow as our pharmacies and GPs are able to come online as they get the vaccine supplies delivered to us. We have over 40,000 young people five to 11 booked in for appointments today at state clinics. That is great.

Queensland 23,630 new Covid cases, three deaths

Chief health officer Dr John Gerrard is up in Queensland. There are 23,630 new Covid cases in the state, including 10,182 that were logged from rapid antigen tests.

Sadly, there have been three more deaths overnight.

There are 589 people being treated in hospital, including 41 in ICU and 15 requiring ventilation. While hospitalisations remain relatively steady, ICU numbers have jumped from 26 yesterday.

There is a steady increase in the number of patients in hospital. Not an explosive increase, a steady increase. It is across Queensland, the increases are across Queensland in all regions. There seems to be particular growth in … Brisbane south of the river. That is where most of the growth is occurring at the moment. Not explosive growth but steady growth across the state.

Perrottet ‘shocked’ by Hillsong church camp

Perrottet is asked about the Hillsong church camp doing the rounds on social media, that saw revellers singing and dancing in close proximity indoors. He says he was “extremely shocked” and “disappointed” by the images.

He says even if it was within the rules, “it wasn’t in the spirit of the rules”, a possibly unintentional pun:

I was completely shocked last night to see that and NSW Health is dealing with that last night, and I echo the frustration and anger that people right across the state has felt. What has got us through the last two years has been the efforts and sacrifices that many have made to keep people safe. That means that many businesses have had to tailor the way that they operate. Many people have had to change their behaviour to keep people safe. Now, we made those rules and even if, technically, it was within the rules, it certainly wasn’t in the spirit of the rules.

Now, I understand that Hillsong are ensuring that that doesn’t occur again. But I was incredibly disappointed. These rules aren’t there for the sake of it. These rules are in place to keep people safe and for the 99.95% of people who are doing the right thing, I think everyone would feel completely frustrated and shocked by what they saw last night. And you know, we don’t want to see that happen again. We’ve made it very clear, as Dr Chant has just pointed out, in those settings, there is to be no singing and dancing and there are many hospitality venues that have had curb their operations in order to keep people safe as we move through this next period of time. So to see that last night, I was incredibly disappointed.

© Provided by The Guardian
NSW premier Dominic Perrottet speaks to the media on Friday. Photograph: Brendon Thorne/AAP

Related: Hillsong church camp ordered to stop singing and dancing by NSW Health


In the ACT, there are reports people are getting aggressive towards health staff at a testing site that is providing free rapid antigen tests to eligible people.


00:07 Paul Karp

Labor’s Deborah O’Neil has asked witnesses at the religious discrimination inquiry about the deal between four Liberal moderates to protect LGBTQ+ students at the same time as the religious discrimination bill.

The deal is highly contentious – because Christian groups including the Australian Christian Lobby and Christian Schools Australia threatened to remove support for the whole package as a result.

The attorney general, Michaelia Cash, has since appeared to renege on the deal, revealing broad protections for LGBTQ+ students will have to wait for 12 months.

On Friday, Mark Sneddon, the executive director of the Institute for Civil Society, a legal social policy thinktank told the human rights committee inquiry he had no “personal knowledge” of the deal.

But he noted that Cash has since spoken to a Christian group “denying the existence of a deal”. So stakeholders clearly interpret Cash’s comments to mean that Liberal MPs Katie Allen, Fiona Martin, Angie Bell and Dave Sharma have not won a guarantee to amend the Sex Discrimination Act at the same time as the religious discrimination bill.


Good question from a reporter, to conclude today’s presser.

They asked if, when Perrottet saw the number of deaths this morning and given the “awful week” the state has had, his resolve about the path NSW was on was shaken. Ie, at what point do we reconsider bringing in more restrictions, to prevent further hospitalisations and deaths?

I believe we’re completely on the right path. The only way out of this is to push through. And that’s exactly what our people are doing. When we’ve talked about, over the last two years, learning to live alongside the virus, there’s all going to be challenges through this transition. We have to live in the world as it is – not as we want it to be.

Chris – you know, it is confronting. It’s always confronting to see those figures of people who have died. Behind every one of those numbers is a person. Is a family that’s lost a loved one. And we’ve gone through this over the last two years where people have not been able to say goodbye to their loved ones because of restrictions we’ve had in place on funerals. People have had restricted weddings and haven’t been able to celebrate such a momentous day in the way that they would have liked. And we’ve done everything that we can to try to have society operating and open as much as possible – to return as much of society to normal. And we will do that … we are going to get through this.


13 Jan 2022 23:57

Interrupting the NSW press conference for a moment with a reminder on behalf of our community moderation team to our valued commenters.

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We welcome robust debate, but comments should only relate to topics that have been introduced in today’s liveblog by today’s bloggers. Off-topic comments (or those which break any other community standards) will be deleted.

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13 Jan 2022 23:57

Perrottet is asked about Covid parties, a frankly bizarre occurrence whereby people gather with the intention of getting Covid (please, don’t try this at home). He says “they should not be doing that”.

We have made it very clear here in our state to minimise large household gatherings. In addition to that, as the prime minister clearly pointed out yesterday, there can be rates of re-infection. So anyone thinking that is a good idea is completely wrong … now, from time to time, people do the wrong thing. But I say if you’re thinking about having one of those parties – don’t have one. Follow the guidance that we have provided and even outside of those parties, we’ve asked people to minimise household visitations, to minimise large household gatherings. And that’s clearly the position that we’ve taken and in the main, I want to thank everybody for making the effort. And particularly at a time when it’s summer. Many people are on holidays right across the state at a difficult time and many people – almost everyone is adhering to those rules.

Rapid antigen tests a ‘key part’ of return to school in NSW

13 Jan 2022 23:42

Back in NSW, and Perrottet says there is a “strong possibility” rapid antigen tests will be used in classrooms as part of the return to school plan, with a 50/50 cost sharing arrangement between the state and federal government:

The agreement that we have with the federal government in relation to the cost-sharing arrangements with respect of rapid antigen tests, if they’re used for a public health purpose, that there will be a 50/50 funding arrangement. That has been confirmed by the prime minister. We’ll work through those plans and finalise them. Present them to national cabinet next week.

My expectation is that you will see rapid antigen tests as a key part of it. In terms of supply – you know, I think that our state has certainly led the way when it comes to supply of rapid antigen tests. We have procured already 50 million. We are procuring an additional radio million … A number of those tests have already arrived and we have complete confidence that we will have enough supply to provide for the plan once it’s finalised next week.


13 Jan 2022 23:35

Turning to vaccinations, and they’re picking up in every state and territory, as the booster interval is reduced and five to 11 year-olds join the rollout.


13 Jan 2022 23:35

Dr Chant is asked how many deaths have been reported with the Omicron variant compared to Delta.

She says at the moment, the focus is on understanding admissions to ICU, where everyone is being tested, and in some instances it is difficult to tell the cause of the death itself:

Sometimes we won’t be able to in some of the circumstances get sufficient sample from the cases to sequence but we will work on improving you know, getting as much data as we can so to inform the community … whether you test someone particularly the PCR testing it’s very, very sensitive. So you may well have cleared Covid and got over Covid for a period of time, and recovered, and then if you subsequently die it still may be found in your nose and throat … it does mean that we are reporting cases and we are not trying to say they were directly caused by Covid, and we are doing some further work to look at the underlying reasons and give the community more information about that. But it is important, the question for us to understand the Delta versus Omicron deaths. So we will follow it up with the team.


13 Jan 2022 23:34

Dr Chant says is have become clear the risk of hospitalisation is “substantially lower” with Omicron than Delta – and the hospitalisation numbers “speak for themselves in that regard”. The length of stay in hospital is also lower.

Emergency department attendances have also been down over the past week.


For people who need to come to the emergency department, please keep coming. For those of you who have more minor illnesses, please consider what other healthcare you could access, including Health Direct and of course your doctor or your pharmacy. With respect to vaccinations … whilst we are continuing to see our community adhere to social distancing and mask wearing that is assisting us in this, all the while we are getting those boosters into the arms of our community.

NSW expects number of new Covid cases to ‘plateau’ next week: Chant

13 Jan 2022 23:34

Dr Chant turns to the modelling Perrottet mentioned earlier, which shows NSW projecting relatively well in terms of hospitalisations and ICU admissions. She makes an excellent point that can be easy to forget – that behind all the modelling and graphs and Covid updates there are people.

It’s obviously very pleasing for us to see the actuals on that modelling graph track below the most optimistic prediction that we presented to you last week. I want to be clear though about that. Please don’t read that as meaning that our health system is not under pressure. And modelling ultimately is modelling. Behind every line and every dot on that page are people. And whether it’s Covid patients in our hospitals, people caring for themselves with Covid in had the community, and of course our staff who are managing this day in day out, at all fronts of the health system, we expect that pressure on our hospitals to continue for at least the next few weeks.

Although what we are starting to become increasingly confident of is that we will see a plateauing next week and that is pleasing but that plateauing is obviously still at a relatively high level of Covid patients in this our hospitals and in our ICUs. The relationship between the hospitalisations, the cases, and what we are projecting in terms of those recent cases is holding up quite well. And does give us a degree of confidence about where we are headed as I said into the next couple of weeks.


13 Jan 2022 23:32

OK, this is interesting. Dr Chant clarifies that if you have tested positive for Covid and quarantined for seven days, you do not have to self-isolate if you are deemed a close contact for a full month after your exposure to the virus.

She says the terminology of “close contacts” is moving towards degrees of risk.

I think we are moving away from the terminology close contacts or casual contacts because they meant certain things at certain times. What we are trying to do is inform the community about their level of risk following an exposure to Covid … so if you spent a long time indoors with a person, in close proximity without masks, that increases your risk. If it was a fleeting outdoor exposure it’s a low risk or if you have got a Service NSW ping that says you have been in the presence, you have probably been in an indoor environment where both of you have been masked, you have been socially distanced, low risk.

It is also important this hasn’t been probably very clear and I apologise with everything moving very rapidly, but given we have got so many people exposed to Covid, we had many people with Covid … so people with recent Covid who have had a high risk exposure like a household contact … within four weeks of when they have been released from isolation they are not considered at risk of reinfection and therefore don’t have to isolate. So that may not have been clear. So for instance if you’ve had Covid you have gone in and done your seven days isolation, for the next four weeks even if you get exposed to Covid or someone else in your household gets Covid, that hadn’t had it before, you do not need to isolate. You are considered pragmatically at not to be considered at risk of reinfection for that – for that period.


13 Jan 2022 23:31

Dr Chant turns to the changed definition of close contacts. She says the state is moving away from the term more broadly and focusing efforts on those most at risk – household exposures. She also points out that while Covid-positive people are allowed to leave isolation after seven days, the risk does extend for a full 14 days.

The premier just wanted me to cover off the issue of close contacts. Under the requirements close contacts – we are moving away from the term … so we are focusing our efforts on those most at risk. Everyone probably can understand that household contacts are the group that’s most at risk if you have got an infectious case in that setting. We know the close proximity in households. We know that Omicron and other variants have spread very rapidly in households. So we are asking – there is a requirement when you are notified as a case you let your household know and your household is under an obligation to stay at home for those seven days – to do a RAT test immediately and to do one at day six.

We are letting people know that whilst you’re most likely to acquire your infection in the first seven days after exposed to a case we need people to be aware that the risk really extends for the full 14 days. So whilst 75% of cases will arise in that first seven days after you have been exposed, there will be a smaller number that can arise in that second seven days.


13 Jan 2022 23:30

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant is up, providing a breakdown of today’s 29 deaths. Fifteen men and 14 women have lost their lives, aged between their 40s and their 90s.

Sadly we are announcing the deaths of 29 people with Covid. The deaths of 15 men and 14 women. And can I also echo the premier’s condolences for those who have lost their loved ones.

Three are in their 40s. Five in their 60s. Five are in their 70s. Eleven are in their 80s. And five are in their 90s. In terms of the people in their 40s, two were vaccinated with two doses of vaccine, one had no record of vaccination and we know that that strain was Delta. And in one of the cases they had significant underlying health conditions … in terms of the 60s, four out of five were not vaccinated and the one vaccinated individual had had three doses but again had very significant underlying health issues.


13 Jan 2022 23:29


Dominic Perrottet press conference begins

13 Jan 2022 23:16

The NSW premier, Dominic Perrottet, is appearing before the media in Sydney. He starts by sending his condolences to the families and loved ones of those who have died with Covid. The figure has reached 772 in the state after 29 deaths were reported today:

On behalf of the government and people of NSW can I extend my thoughts, my prayers and our hearts go out to all families right across NSW who have lost a loved one at this time. Can I also acknowledge today the great work, the fantastic work of every – of all our frontline health workers right across NSW for the efforts that they are making, day in day out.


13 Jan 2022 23:15

Turning to schools, Perrottet says plans to get students back to face-to-face learning on “day one, term one” will be submitted at national cabinet next week and will be publicly released following the meeting on Thursday:

I would also like to acknowledge the decisions that we made yesterday in the national cabinet. We agreed to six principles in relation to schools. As we have said here in NSW, we are completely committed to getting schools open day one, term one, in a way that is safe for students and for teachers. And we are – as we agreed yesterday we will be finalising those plans with the Department of Education and NSW Health, we are working very closely with the Victorian government where we are obviously in a very similar situation in relation to the virus to have those plans submitted at national cabinet next week and by submitting those plans we will release those publicly following national cabinet on Thursday.


13 Jan 2022 23:15

The NSW government released modelling last week in relation to the health system’s hospitalisations and ICU presentations. Perrottet says new modelling will be released today on where the state is tracking – which is “better than the best case scenario” released last week:

On a worse case scenario last week as we set out we have the capacity within our health system … early signs that was very encouraging given what we were facing into. Today we are releasing where we are tracking against that modelling and whilst the health system is under pressure and our health teams are doing an amazing job, we are currently tracking at both an ICU and hospitalisation rate here in NSW better than the best case scenario we released last week. So that is encouraging, reassuring and pleasing. The health system is under pressure in this state, just like right around the country and right around the world as we move through this pandemic. It is going to be a difficult few weeks ahead but the tracking that we are releasing today is very reassuring and encouraging given where we sit today in in the pandemic.


13 Jan 2022 23:14

More than 40% of the eligible population in NSW have received their booster shot, Perrottet says. Nationwide, that figure is around 50%.

Vaccination is key. It has been the key to keeping people safe during this difficult time. It is why here in NSW and right around the country we have one of the lowest death rates and hospitalisation rates anywhere in the world. That’s because we have a vaccination rate of around 95%. And we can see in our hospitals today, in our ICUs close to 50%, which has always been around that point, around 50% of people who will be in ICU are unvaccinated … so I often say, the numbers don’t lie but the facts speak for themselves … Despite the challenges of the last two years, despite the challenges that we are facing into today, we will get through this together.


13 Jan 2022 23:08

Perrottet turns to changes agreed to in national cabinet to close contact definitions for critical workers, and the tightened condition of close contacts that excludes venues (supermarkets, bars etc).

Nationally we had already worked through this approach here in NSW in respect of critical workers who are deemed to be close contacts. And some of those changes that we’ve made for those close contact exemptions include health, emergency services, safety law enforcement, justice and correctional services, energy resources, water, waste management, food, beverage and other critical goods. And you will all be happy to know the media as well.

I would also like to reiterate the point the prime minister made yesterday in relation to the definition of close contacts. And just to confirm this a close contact definition is legally someone who is a household contact of a Covid positive case. I think it is incredibly importantt hat we realise that simply because you may get a notification through your Service NSW app you might have been at the grocery store or you might have been at a restaurant, that does not constitute a close contact. A close contact legally is someone who is a household contact of someone who is positive with Covid-19.


13 Jan 2022 22:59

In Victoria, detective inspector Dean Thomas will front the media at 11am following a double homicide in Mill Park and a double homicide in Mordialloc overnight.

Homicide squad detectives are investigating after a stabbing attack at a home in Mill Park resulted in the death of a woman and a six-year-old girl.

In Mordialloc, a man has been arrested following a suspected fatal double shooting. Two people died at the scene.


13 Jan 2022 22:47

There has been a fatal car crash on the New England Highway.


13 Jan 2022 22:22

Over in Queensland, Gold Coast district acting chief superintendent Rhys Wildman will front the media at 11am, local time, to discuss the removal of border restrictions in the state from 1am Saturday.


13 Jan 2022 22:18

Cleansing the blog for a moment with this absolutely lovely pig. Look at this pig!

Victoria reports 18 new Covid deaths

13 Jan 2022 22:15

Victoria’s numbers are in, and there were 34,836 new Covid cases detected in the past 24 hours. Some 31.06% of today’s tests returned a positive result.

There are 976 people being treated in hospital including 112 in ICU, which is staying relatively stable with an increase of 23 hospitalised overnight.

Sadly, 18 lives have been lost.


13 Jan 2022 22:13

There have been 218 Covid deaths in Victoria and NSW in the past seven days.


13 Jan 2022 22:11

Health minister Greg Hunt has provided a vaccination update.

Yesterday was a record day for boosters, with 50.7% of those eligible now having received their dose.

NSW reports 29 new Covid deaths

13 Jan 2022 22:09

NSW numbers are in, and 63,018 new Covid cases have been detected on the second day rapid antigen tests are included in the daily case count.

Just over 61,000 rapid antigen tests were reported in Thursday’s case numbers – dating back to 1 January.

Sadly, there have been 29 lives lost overnight – another record number up from yesterday’s 22 deaths.

Hospitalisations are up by 6%, but ICU is up by just 1%. There are 2,525 people being treated in hospital, up from yesterday’s 2,383. ICU numbers, though, remain relatively stable – there are 184 people being treated in intensive care.


13 Jan 2022 22:08

NSW Health say of the 37,938 positive rapid antigen tests that form part of today’s daily figure, 24,329 were from the past seven days.


13 Jan 2022 21:48

Finance minister Simon Birmingham also appeared on ABC News Breakfast this morning, again forced to justify the national shortage of rapid antigen tests.


The ABC has a story this morning about rapid antigen tests, of the 22 or so that are in Australia, only one is locally made. The rest are coming in from overseas. That’s part of the reason why they aren’t freely available in shops right now. What’s the hold-up? There are two locally made waiting approval at least, why aren’t we making more of these here? What’s the hold-up?


We do have to realise there is a global shortage of rapid antigen tests. They are in short supply in the United Kingdom and United States, in Canada, right around the world. Because Omicron has resulted in this huge additional demand. Now, Australia still has one of the highest testing rates for population, per capita in the world. So we have, despite all of the pressures of Omicron, managed to maintain some of the highest rates of testing of any country in the world. We are, as I said before, procuring additional kits to support that additional capacity.

But amongst a global supply shortage there are pressures there. In terms of approvals for other kits to come on to the market, they are matters that the health authorities, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, work through carefully and obviously any kit that is going to be used needs to meet sufficiently high standards in term of its accuracy and efficacy to come on to the market and that testing of those kits is important in the first place.


13 Jan 2022 21:36

For all the Helen Garner fans out there – she is up on Radio National now recommending books and talking chooks (she is currently taking care of chooks).

I’m sort’ve puzzled by the whole idea of summer reading, I don’t get that, I just read whatever’s before me but I must say I have been reading the newspapers about sport, I don’t care about cricket … but I’ve been fascinated by the Novak Djokovic thing … that’s my idea of summer reading, things that you look at them and just burst out laughing.

Garner recommends a book called The Dancer – “a big, fat brick of a book” that portrays the life of Philippa Cullen.


13 Jan 2022 21:22

Imagine having a single rapid antigen test “Down Under”:


13 Jan 2022 21:20

South Australia’s premier, Steven Marshall, was just up on FIVEaa. He is still negative to the virus after his daughter tested positive to Omicron.


13 Jan 2022 21:20

The Transport Workers’ Union national secretary, Michael Kaine, was on ABC News Breakfast this morning discussing the fallout from national cabinet yesterday. He says “there is no plan” to address supply and staff shortages in the sector:

This is the disappointment out of that national cabinet announcement from Scott Morrison yesterday. There is no plan to rebuild a healthy work force, to have road transport supply chains that do the brilliant job they have done over the two years of this pandemic, they need to be healthy. We wrote to Scott Morrison in September with a follow-up in October last year, saying it was critical, amongst other things, that road transport supply chains were flooded with rapid antigen tests because we could see in the context of the Delta outbreak that if we intended to reopen, we needed to ensure that workers were testing negative and we were maximising the number of healthy people in supply chains or we would have a problem.

That was dismissed by the Morrison government. They don’t listen to the voices of workers and the results we are seeing today, and we saw them yesterday, reflect inaction from Morrison which is building on compounding the mistakes of the past. His approach here is to send back into the work force those people that we have deemed for the last two years close contacts, are most likely to be carrying the virus without knowing it. That means that we could actually be making matters worse.


13 Jan 2022 21:19

This is quite a neat little pic from the Bureau of Meteorology. Be safe on the roads, morning commuters!


13 Jan 2022 21:18

NSW premier Dominic Perrottet will be up at 10am.


13 Jan 2022 21:00


13 Jan 2022 20:49

Labor senator Kristina Keneally is having fun on social media this morning:


13 Jan 2022 20:46

The shadow treasurer, Jim Chalmers, was just up on the Today show alongside the finance minister, Simon Birmingham, who was sporting quite a holiday beard.

Birmingham said a decision on Djokovic’s fate was a “matter for the immigration minister” but the federal government’s policy remained the same – “that non-Australian citizens entering Australia should be double-vaccinated. We’ve been very clear about that all along.”

Chalmers replied:

Look, our position has been clear from the beginning. If he doesn’t meet the visa requirements, he shouldn’t have been given a visa in the first place. But there is two issues now, I think, as this debacle drags on for another day. First of all, make a decision. Our international reputation is being trashed more each day that the government delays.

Secondly, when Scott Morrison thought there was a political opportunity in this, he was all over it, and, now that it’s gone so badly, he wants to pretend it has nothing to do with him and it’s all Alex Hawke’s job and all of his fault. Unfortunately, there’s a pattern of behaviour here. When things are easy, there’s a photo or political opportunity, there’s Scott Morrison all over it. But when things get difficult, as they have with this Novak Djokovic case, he’s nowhere to be found.


13 Jan 2022 20:46

Birmingham is up on Radio National now, pushing back against calls to make rapid antigen tests free. He says the Omicron variant has been a curveball, necessitating the move towards RATs from PCR tests due to heightened testing demand.


13 Jan 2022 20:37

The Australian Council of Social Services chief executive, Cassandra Goldie, appeared on Sunrise earlier discussing the supply chain crisis after yesterday’s national cabinet meeting. She said making rapid antigen tests free would be a “crucial tool” to keep people safe.

The opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, has echoed unions in calling for the free and wide distribution of the tests.


The government was advised many months ago about what was needed to deal with this crisis, national cabinet again yesterday failed to deliver. People out there, we know, are very distressed and anxious and trying to get their hands on these rapid tests. It is clear that we need these to be free for everyone, business and unions and the community sector, we have all agreed on this. We did not get that yesterday, we got what we think will be a messy system that will create a lot of confusion for people. We are worried that we have not got what we need. This is a deep public health crisis and these tests are crucial tool for people to know that you’re looking after yourself and your loved ones. And it is safe for you to go back to work. That is what we need.


13 Jan 2022 20:36

Senator Jacqui Lambie was also up on the Today show this morning providing her views on the Djokovic saga. In true Lambie fashion, she compared the situation to sending kids home when they play up at school:

Why does this keep dripping out of the tap? Why hasn’t the minister done anything about this? If he’s going to do him on character, because they believe that his submission has been lied in, then, you know, this is what we do when our kids play up at school. They get sent home.

So maybe it’s about time to stop this debacle, finish it once and for all without the tap keep dripping and make up your mind, Alex Hawke, and where are you, missing in action? Make a decision. If you can’t make a decision on Novak Djokovic, goodness me, how are you guys running the country? This is an absolute shambles. Let alone what it’s making us look like in the face of the rest of the world. It’s absolutely a shocker.

Good morning

13 Jan 2022 20:18

Good morning,

We’ve nearly reached the end of the week, and what a week it’s been.

Sports journalists around the world were left disappointed yesterday afternoon after it became clear no decision on tennis star Novak Djokovic’s fate would be announced during prime minister Scott Morrison’s press conference.

The immigration minister, Alex Hawke, is yet to reveal whether he will revoke Djokovic’s visa. It comes as ticket sales will be capped at 50% due to the ongoing Omicron wave.

Meanwhile, the Australian Council of Trade Unions has called an emergency meeting of unions for this coming Monday due to the supply chain crisis hitting Australian shelves.

Morrison failed to respond to a letter sent by the council’s secretary, Sally McManus, at the beginning of the week. Under new rules announced after a national cabinet meeting on Thursday, workers in a swathe of industries will be allowed to go straight back to work after recording a negative rapid antigen test.

Unions say this isn’t a solution to the crisis because of increased transmission, and have been calling for free and widely available rapid antigen tests as a priority.

And travellers entering Queensland will be able to do so at their leisure with the state’s border rules to be scrapped from 1am Saturday. It comes as Queensland heads towards 90% vaccination targets.

I’m crossing my fingers for a decision on Djokovic today so we can all move on with our lives, so let’s dive in.


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