Australia news live update: NSW records 29 Covid deaths and 63,018 cases; Victoria reports 18 deaths and 34,836 cases; 3,500 in hospital

LIVE – Updated at 22:18

Follow all the day’s news live.


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

Victoria reports 18 new Covid deaths

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.


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


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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


NSW premier Dominic Perrottet will be up at 10am.


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


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.


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.


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.


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

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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