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What about daycare’s and preschools, will they be included?
We are looking at that and that is been a discussion at national cabinet … We are looking at furloughed work staff at the moment. If childcare and early childhood education centres are closed, that adds an additional 5% of the workforce that will not be in a position to go to work.
As we have the health challenges, we have the economic challenges to balance.
We have seen over the last two years a high unemployment rate. We have a duty as a government to ensure that people remain in work, and talk about the economy and having a strong economy.
Perrottet has confirmed that RATs being distributed to schools will play a large part in the state’s plan to keep educational facilities operating throughout 2022.
We will see a rollout of rapid antigen tests and that’s why we procured here in New South Wales tens of millions of them. And we’ve already seen the first tranche arrive and many more will arrive over this period.
‘Our hope is to ensure schools are open’: Perrottet on school Covid plan
Perrottet has been asked about the government’s new plan to deal with Covid-19 outbreaks at school. The long and short of it seems to be – fewer total school shutdowns, but wait till Thursday to find out more.
Last year, if we had a case in the school … it was very likely that that school closed for cleaning, and many students were affected and had to learn from home during that period. As we move through this phase there will also be learning from home as we move through, but there is a comprehensive plan that we are working through.
We’ve agreed at the national cabinet level that we will provide those operational plans for every state and territory across the board, we will be doing that on Thursday and we will release it after that, but it will be different to last year.
To [combat] the different variant, there are different challenges facing the state, as you say a highly [infectious variant] but in addition to that one that is also less severe. So our hope is to ensure schools are open, kids are in the classroom with as least disruption as possible. But there will be issues as we move through but that is the better path to take than to simply not have schools open.
You don’t provide financial support before a business closes. You provide financial support following that period and you assess the situation. That is exactly what the New South Wales treasurer is doing.
You are asking people to stay home and limit their movements, work from home, the settings are similar to lockdown settings, why haven’t you reinstated some of the measures like job saver, the business grant?
In relation to the first point, there is no doubt that more of society is open than we had last year during lot down. That does not mean that there are no issues that businesses are facing with challenges with staff. We accept that. That is part of the transitional phase that we are moving through.
As we work through this there will be different challenges and difficulties that come our way but the worst case scenario is that if you have an across-the-board lock down at a time when we have a population that is highly vaccinated…
This is a very different situation to where we were last year when we had a highly unvaccinated population. We had, as a country, to make difficult decisions. We are in a different phase and that transition can be challenging for people, I’ll accept that. It’s a new message, it’s an approach that differs from when we had a highly unvaccinated population.
We have seen over the last two years a high unemployment rate. We have a duty as a government to ensure that people remain in work, and talk about the economy and having a strong economy.
‘It is moronic’: Hazzard condemns ‘prank’ RAT result reports
NSW health minister Brad Hazzard says there have been a number of false RAT reports made, including someone claiming Hazzard himself was Covid-19 positive.
He has slammed these pranks as irresponsible and illegal.
I am aware of some instances of some people thinking it’s a joke, perhaps maliciously, to put in false reports to NSW Health about somebody being positive.
I can now speak from personal experience. I received notification yesterday and again today from NSW Health that apparently somebody has put my name in there as being a positive rapid antigen test.
Can I just say, first of all, it is extremely irresponsible. You are undermining what the public health team is trying to do here to keep the entire community safe.
It is juvenile, it is moronic but it’s also so disappointing to think that you would actually undermine an incredibly hardworking public health team here in NSW.
And I want to remind those who do that there is a $5,000 fine for anybody who misrepresents any facts to the New South Wales Health people who are trying to keep us safe.
The police will come hunting and if you’re caught, you will [receive a] $5,000 fine. But worse still, when you’re telling your friends about that, they will probably tell you how stupid you are. It’s quite moronic.
Perrottet is back to chatting about schools resuming as scheduled:
There will be inconveniences, they will be challenges as we go through the reopening of schools. There is no doubt about that. But we are determined to make it as smooth as possible.
That will mean at times, teachers who are positive will need to isolated. It will mean at times at kids who are positive will need to isolate but that is a better issue to be dealing with than having our schools closed.
We need kids back in the classrooms. It’s best for them, it’s best for the educational outcomes, the mental health and the social outcomes. Particularly disadvantaged groups across the state. In NSW, we have seen certain students lose a quarter of their schooling because of lockdowns and because of not being able to access education.
Heads up – we will be getting a health update from the Tasmanian premier at 11.30am.
NSW health official Susan Pearce is giving an update on vaccination rates for primary school-aged children:
The vaccination rates for five- to 11-year-olds is going very well across our clinics.
Last week, we did have 20,000 five- to 11-year-olds in the New South Wales Health clinics. We have the capacity to do many more than that. And again yesterday over 3,000 children in that age group came forward so it’s very pleasing to see that going up.
Every single day, we are seeing people come forward for their first and second dose. And the adult population, is not too late. While obviously we are talking a lot about boosters at the moment, please don’t think that it’s too late for you to be vaccinated. We are ready, willing and able to assist you.
NSW health minister Brad Hazzard is using his time to drive home the health benefits of vaccination.
Unvaccinated people – total population, 5%. Total numbers in the ICU, between 50 and a 100%.
There is no question that getting vaccinated is a crucial step forward and I would ask the community, those remaining people who are still reluctant or have not got around to it, get around to it because it may save your life.
A bit more context on the movements of the HMAS Adelaide from the ABC:
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant has given some additional details on the 36 people who died in the latest Covid reporting period.
Today, sadly, we are reporting the deaths of 36 people – 22 men and 14 women and can I just pass on my condolences to those for the loss.
One person was aged in their 40s, two were aged in their 50s, one was in their 60s, 11 people aged in 70s, 12 people were in the 80s, nine people were in the 90s.
And of the 36 people, 33 were vaccinated against Covid. Generally, they had had two doses, three people were not vaccinated.
Of the three people who died, under 65, one was vaccinated against Covid and had two doses, and two people were not vaccinated. All three of those under 65 had underlying serious health conditions and of the older people only a handful had had the boosters.
I remember how jarring it was when the public messaging from politicians changed from “look how good Australia is doing” to “well everywhere else in the world is doing worse than us.”
Now it looks like we are going one step further, with Perrottet making the point that other countries around the world are also doing it equally as tough.
Lastly, I say, despite the challenges, they are not unique to the rest of the world. As a state, we will get through this. And stronger [on] the other side. We have done that over the last two years.
Many people have made extraordinary efforts, many people have made extraordinary sacrifices. But that effort, that sustained sacrifice, the patience in continuing to keep and treat people with kindness and respect.
Speaking of the school year, Perrottet has once again affirmed his intention to have all government schools begin the year on schedule, despite many primary school students still remaining unvaccinated.
The premier says the government can’t “let perfection be the enemy of the good”:
It’s incredibly important for our children, education outcomes for their health, for the social understanding, that we are able to get kids back as quickly as possible and that’s why we are committed [to] doing that on day one, term one.
As a parent, I appreciate that many parents across the state are anxious about kids going back to school. We are working day and night with our health teams, education teams here in NSW to ensure that we have a safe environment for parents, teachers and for students.
In saying that, I know, as you move to this period of time, just like we had last year, they will be further inconveniences, they will be bumps and hurdles along the way.
We can’t let perfection be the enemy of the good and our focus is to ensure that we have kids back at school on day one. It’s incredibly important, not just for their health but for their educational outcomes.
We will continue to work through that process … alongside other states. [We] are working very closely with the Victorian government to ensure that we provide this operational plans and national cabinet on Thursday and will release those plans following that.
A Hobart man has died in what police say was a targeted shooting.
Police were called to a home on Douglas Drive at Bridgewater shortly before 1am on Tuesday after receiving a report a man had been shot, reports AAP.
The man died a short time after they arrived.
“Police believe it to be a targeted incident between two people known to each other and an investigation is underway to locate the alleged offender,” police say.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Tasmania police or Crimestoppers.
Douglas Drive remains closed and people have been asked to avoid the area.
The NSW premier says the state has nearly reached 50% of the eligible population having received a booster shot of Covid-19 vaccine.
It’s very pleasing today that we nearly hit 50% of the eligible population here NSW receiving a booster shot.
The evidence is very clear – booster shots and vaccination makes a real difference in protecting you, your friends and your family.
We [have] close to … 70,000 booster shots available to be administered a week, just in our hubs alone.
Perrottet has heralded the arrival of “millions” of rapid antigen tests in the coming weeks in NSW.
We had over a million rapid antigen tests here in NSW by our government arrive yesterday, we will have millions more arrive over the course of this week.
They will be crucial, in ensuring that we provide support for our health workers at this time, to get schools open on the first day of term one this year.
Video: NSW records 16 deaths and 30,062 new cases (ABC NEWS)
NSW premier Dominic Perrottet is speaking now, starting the press conference by addressing the state’s record day of 36 Covid-19 deaths.
In the last 24 hours, 36 people have died of Covid-19 and can I extend … our condolences. And our thoughts and prayers and hearts go out to all those families who have lost a loved one at this time.
Often over the last two years we can get focused on reporting the numbers. We shouldn’t forget that behind every one of those numbers is a loved one who passed away … [or] somebody who is in hospital ICU and going through a very difficult time. I extend my gratitude and thanks to the people of NSW and to health workers.
Tasmania records 1,310 new Covid cases
Tasmania has recorded 1,310 new cases of Covid-19, and there are now two people in ICU with the virus in the state.
A distress signal has been detected in an isolated, low-lying group of Tongan islands after Saturday’s huge volcanic eruption, even as most external communications remain down, and diaspora families anxiously await news.
Reuters reports that the UN detected the distress signal on Monday, prompting particular concern for the inhabitants of Fonoi and Mango. According to the Tonga government, 36 people live on Mango and 69 on Fonoi.
The news comes as most communication between Tonga and the outside world is still cut off, after the Pacific nation’s main communication cable was broken by the eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano and subsequent tsunami.
Tongans around the world may be forced to wait weeks for regular contact to resume, after testing confirmed that the cable connecting the islands to the outside world was cut in at least one place.
You can read the full report below:
Red Cross cuts wait time for giving blood after Covid
Australians who recover from a bout of Covid-19 will only need to wait seven days to give blood under a new policy change amid the Omicron wave, reports AAP’s Callum Godde.
With more than 700,000 active cases isolating around the country – and many more close contacts and people awaiting PCR test results – Red Cross Lifeblood is slashing the recovery wait time to donate blood from 28 days.
The change will be implemented from Friday, while donors started being tipped off on Monday afternoon.
Lifeblood said the 28-day postponement was an important protective measure in the early phase of the pandemic when there was limited knowledge about Covid-19.
But with high appointment cancellation rates and no reports of Covid-19 transmission from blood transfusions after 300m confirmed cases globally, it has swung into action.
A Lifeblood spokesperson told AAP in a statement:
Following advice from our expert medical teams and with the approval of the Australian regulator, we will be reducing the 28-day postponement for donors who have fully recovered from COVID to seven days…
The seven-day postponement aligns with public health guidelines. A one-week recovery after mild respiratory illnesses such as a cold and runny nose is already our standard postponement.
There are 4,500 appointments going unattended each day at present and the Red Cross is urging more donors to come forward, with an additional 5,500 needed every week between now and Australia Day.
By the way, we are still waiting to hear from the federal treasurer this morning. I assume he will be starting his press conference soon.
NSW records 36 Covid deaths and 29,830 cases in state’s deadliest day
New South Wales has recorded 29,830 new cases of Covid-19 and sadly 36 deaths – the state’s deadliest day of the pandemic so far.
The health department has noted that this daily case tally may include duplicates where people have reported multiple RATs or a RAT and PCR result.
Victoria records 22 Covid deaths and 20,180 new cases
The Victorian numbers have just come through and sadly the state has recorded 22 Covid-19 deaths and 20,180 new cases.
This case number tally may also include RAT and PCR duplicates as states iron out their new reporting systems.
There are now 1,152 Covid positive people in hospital, including 127 in ICU and 43 requiring ventilation.
Economists are starting to polish their crystal balls and come up with their first guesses on what all this disruption to our lives might do to our economy.
The Commonwealth Bank, our biggest bank, is among the first out of the blocks to estimate the wider impact of absenteeism levels reaching as much as 60% in businesses such as hairdressing.
Gareth Aird, CBA’s head of Australian economics, reckons hours worked will drop 3-4% in January alone, and consumption will be hit by the significant economic disruption that “looks likely to be sustained over the next few months”.
As a result, CBA has slashed their forecast for first-quarter growth to 1% from the December quarter, compared with a 2.3% pace the bank had previously predicted.
That sounds bad but for now the damage is looking temporary with a “snapback” still predicted. Aird is leaving both the second half and fourth-quarter forecasts unchanged, provided Omicron comes and goes in a hurry and isn’t followed up by another nasty strain.
Aird tells Guardian Australia the first-quarter cut will lower the bank’s full-year GDP forecast to 4.8% from an earlier prediction of 5.1%. That’s “not a lot in the scheme of things”, he says.
As a result of the still strong momentum in the economy, the jobless rate will remain low and inflation pressures – probably made worse by these shortages – will continue to build.
The CBA still predicts the Reserve Bank of Australia to commence lifting rates by late 2022 or earlier than the central bank is so far fessing up to.
It’s worth noting that there are now 209 people infected with Covid in the ICU in NSW, with hospitalisation numbers sitting at 2,850.
Of course, we are fast approaching 9am, which means we are standing by for Victoria and NSW Covid-19 numbers. Stay tuned.
Protracted Covid outbreak could cripple Rio Tinto workforce, miner warns
Big miner Rio Tinto has warned that a protracted Covid-19 outbreak could cripple its workforce or supply chains and “severely constrain” output at its mines.
In a quarterly production update out this morning, the company, one of Australia’s biggest, said it was already suffering from labour shortages and fatigue in its workforce, heightening safety risks.
Chief executive Jakob Stausholm said operating conditions in 2021 “remained challenging, including due to prolonged Covid-19 disruptions”.
The amount of iron ore Rio dug up from its mines in the Pilbara fell by 4% last year to 322Mt. The company expects to dig up between 320Mt and 335Mt this year, it said.
Our guidance assumes development of the pandemic does not lead to government-imposed restrictions and widespread protracted cases related to new highly contagious variants with high severity, which could result in a significant number of our production critical workforce and contractor base being unable to work due to illness and/or isolation requirements …
This risk extends to prolonged interruption of service from a key partner or supplier which could lead to severely constrained operational activity of a key asset or project. This risk is exacerbated globally by tight labour markets and supply chain delays.
Meanwhile, the Australian Tourism Industry Council has called for the reintroduction of the federal government’s cash flow boost program after a 52% fall in business in the last three months of the year compared with the previous year – a fall that came before the current Omicron outbreak smashed many hospitality businesses.
“This is the worst it’s ever been for the tourism industry,” deputy chair Daniel Gschwind said.
The summer period is our peak season, providing revenue that takes businesses through the winter and they’re not seeing it come in. Too many businesses are staring at disaster.
Looks like we will be hearing from the NSW powers that be at 10am (Sydney and Melbourne time).
Fears Tonga disaster death toll will rise
Tongan officials have warned the death toll from the volcanic eruption and tsunami in the Pacific nation is only set to grow, as damage assessment begins.
As Australia prepares to send more aid to Tonga, authorities have confirmed the first casualty from the natural disaster, British charity worker Angela Glover.
The deputy head of mission at Tonga’s high commission in Australia, Curtis Tu’ihalangingie, told ABC radio it would still be weeks before communication was fully restored in the country.
Communication is on locally, so people can call one another in Tonga, but can’t all internationally, we still have limited access to Tonga …
We still don’t have a direct communication with our government.
All Australians have been accounted for in Tonga following the disaster.
There are normally about 300 Australians living in Tonga, but the number is estimated to be less due to Covid-19.
Tu’ihalangingie said there was still uncertainty about the level of damage to Tonga, but basic supplies were needed.
At this point [Tonga needs] water and also masks …
The county was covered with volcanic ash and this is very alarming and dangerous, not only for young children but for everyone.
Australia sent a P-8 plane to survey the damage on Monday, with further support on the way.
Now McManus mentioned businesses attempting to require Covid-19 positive workers to work. The highest-profile example of this in recent days has to be the Teys Australia abattoir in South Australia which was given state government approval to operate while some staff were Covid positive.
The ACTU said the exemption from the SA government was apparently unique in Australia and set a dangerous precedent given the risks of affecting other staff, but McManus has just confirmed that the workers of the plant have just secured a victory in this case.
Just with breaking news, that’s been resolved and those workers don’t have to go to work while they’re Covid positive. This is about being very clear with employers that this is unacceptable.
Unfortunately, the ACTU has been receiving a lot of pleas for help from workers, mainly in smaller organisations like hospitality and retail, where they’re casual workers and their employers have been saying “we know you’re positive, but come to work, you’re not infectious”.
Just because you don’t have symptoms doesn’t mean you’re not infectious. It’s dangerous not just for workers but customers as well. It’s a line in the sand for us. We can’t have a situation where people are put in harm’s way and putting the community in harm’s way.
Business needs to upgrade Covid safety to meet Omicron threat, ACTU says
Following a meeting of a number of major unions yesterday, Australian Council of Trade Union secretary, Sally McManus says businesses need to upgrade a raft of Covid-19 safety procedures to meet the new threat of Omicron.
She told ABC News Breakfast:
We are writing to all employers and we started that last night. We need to put in place upgraded safety protections for 2022. What cut it last year for Delta won’t work now.
That involves things like better masks, it involves RATs when they’re available. That has to be done under the law and in consultation with workers. Workers have a right to cease work if they’re not in a safe workplace.
At the moment, unfortunately, we’re seeing some employers trying to force Covid-positive people to go to work. That’s absolutely a red line. We must keep people safe during this pandemic, not just for them and their co-workers, but for the whole of the community.
A man who was forced to hand over his phone and passcode to Australian Border Force after returning to Sydney from holiday has labelled the tactic “an absolute gross violation of privacy”, as tech advocates call for transparency and stronger privacy protections for people’s devices as they enter the country.
Software developer James and his partner returned from a 10-day holiday in Fiji earlier this month and were stopped by border force officials at Sydney airport. They were taken aside, and after emptying their suitcases, an official asked them to write their phone passcodes on a piece of paper, before taking their phones into another room.
It was half an hour before their phones were returned, and they were allowed to leave. James initially posted about his ordeal on Reddit.
You can read the full report below:
Sam Kerr misses out on Fifa best award
Sam Kerr has been beaten to the Fifa best women’s player of the year award by Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas, reports AAP.
The Matildas captain came second to Putellas with another Spanish midfielder Jenni Hermoso, also of European Champions League winners Barcelona, in third.
Robert Lewandowski, of Bayern Munich and Poland, won the men’s award ahead of Lionel Messi and Mo Salah.
The awards were held in Zurich though most guests appeared by video link. The Australian captain was not on screen as she is preparing for the Matildas’ opening Asian Cup tie in India on Friday.
Kerr surprisingly did not make the FIFPRO Women’s World XI, but neither did Putellas or Hermoso in a very odd selection that did not include any players from either Barcelona or Tokyo Olympics gold medallists Canada.
Kerr’s boss at Chelsea, Emma Hayes, was women’s football manager of the year with Thomas Tuchel, also of Chelsea, taking the men’s award.
International captains, coaches and selected media vote. Kerr herself voted for Putellas, Barcelona and Norway’s Caroline Graham Hansen, and Hermoso in the players’ category.
As coach she voted for Hayes, Barcelona’s Lluis Cortes and Bev Priestman of Canada.
Tony Gustavsson, Matildas’ coach, voted for Kerr, Putellas and Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema.
Kerr polled 38 points, 14 behind Putellas, five ahead of Hermoso.
Novak Djokovic may not be allowed to defend his French Open title in May after the French government ruled that all athletes will have to be vaccinated in order to attend and compete in sporting events in France.
The French sports minister, Roxana Maracineanu, has announced that athletes would not be exempt from France’s Covid pass, which will soon come into effect for over 16s. “The vaccination pass has been adopted. As soon as the law is promulgated, it will become mandatory to enter public buildings already subject to the health pass (stadium, theatre or lounge) for all spectators, practitioners, French or foreign professionals,” she wrote on twitter.
Earlier in January, Maracineanu had suggested that athletes could be exempt from France’s vaccination requirements through a “bubble” system, but the government have now scrapped any such plans.
You can read the full report below:
Tonga’s deputy head of mission in Australia, Curtis Tu’ihalangingie, has told ABC radio that it could be weeks before communications are fully restored to the island.
Communication is on locally, so people can call one another in Tonga but can’t call internationally.
We still have limited access to Tonga. We still don’t have direct communication with our government.
The shortage of rapid antigen tests for consumers is being exacerbated by state and federal governments and large corporates placing mammoth orders for the kits, causing stock to be diverted from online retailers and pharmacies.
Australia is in the middle of a huge Omicron wave after state and federal governments pivoted from a policy of Covid suppression to one of “living with the virus”, causing a surge in demand for rapid antigen testing kits.
Prof Trent Twomey, the national president of the Pharmacy Guild, said his members were struggling to secure stock and many had had orders delayed by their suppliers.
You can read the full report below:
Good morning all, it’s Matilda Boseley here on the blog with you, ready to bring you all of Australia’s morning news. (Which actually mostly takes place outside of Australia this morning.)
Australia and New Zealand are standing by to offer additional support to Tonga following reconnaissance missions to assess damage in the crisis-struck Pacific nation. The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volanic eruption on Saturday – potentially the world’s most powerful blast for 30 years – caused a tsunami across the Pacific and blanketed the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa in thick ash.
While much of Tonga’s power has been restored, communication in and out of the remote Pacific nation remains limited.
Yesterday morning a New Zealand defence force Orion aircraft took off from Auckland’s Whenuapai base on a mission to investigate further, with an Australian P-8 Poseidon also leaving Brisbane on a similar mission.
New Zealand will follow the reconnaissance mission with flights from the heavy-duty Hercules C-130 to drop any needed provisions.
One fatality has also now been confirmed. The body of 50-year-old British woman Angela Glover, who ran the Tonga Animal Welfare, has now been found.
Heading across to Europe and the tennis star Novak Djokovic has touched down in his home country of Serbia after being deported from Australia after failing to meet vaccination requirements.
He was welcomed by a small but noisy band of supporters at the Belgrade airport before being whisked through passport control and customs and driven home by his brother.
However, it looks like the unvaccinated player isn’t out of the woods yet, after the French sports ministry made a point to confirm that a new law barring unvaccinated people from sports venues, restaurants and other public places will apply to sportsmen too.
That would prevent Djokovic from playing at the French Open in May though a spokesperson noted the pandemic situation “could change by then”.
There is certainly plenty to get through, so with that why don’t we jump right into the day.
Source: Thanks msn.com