COVID live updates: Calls to expand definition of ‘essential’ workers as coronavirus causes staff shortages – ABC News

Cases, hospitalisations and deaths

If you don’t see your state or territory yet, don’t worry — these figures will be updated throughout the day as they become available.

Can’t get enough of the data? Check out the ABC’s Charting the Spread

Victoria: 40,127 new cases (PCR: 21,693, RAT: 18,434) and 21 deaths; 946 in hospital, 112 in ICU including 31 ventilated

New South Wales: 34,759 new cases (RAT results not included) and 21 deaths (7 historical); 2,242 in hospital, 175 in ICU including 54 ventilated

Tasmania: 1,583 new cases, 22 in hospital, none in ICU

Queensland: 22,069 new cases (RAT: 3,985), 525 in hospital, 30 in ICU, 8 ventilated

South Australia: 3,715 new case (PCR: 2,978, RAT: 737) and 7 deaths (were from recent days); 190 in hospital, 27 in ICU, 6 ventilated

ACT: 1,078 new cases (PCR results); 23 in hospital, 3 in ICU with 2 ventilated

Australia*: 103,331 new cases, 49 deaths, 3,948 in hospital, 347 in ICU

*(running total, will be updated as jurisdictions report their official results. CHOs and health authorities have warned case numbers are likely an underestimation due to changes in testing and no capacity to report RAT results in some stats)

By Liam Butterworth

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Key Event

ACT reports 23 in hospital, 3 in ICU along with 1,078 new cases

23 people are in hospital as a result of COVID-19 in Canberra, including three people in intensive care, two of whom require ventilation.

Through PCR tests, the territory recorded 1,078 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm yesterday.

25.6 per cent of Canberrans aged 18 and older have received their booster and 98.6 per cent of Canberrans aged 12 and older have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

By Liam Butterworth

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SA also making it mandatory to report positive RAT result

Steven Marshall says there are some changes happening from tomorrow:

  • Close contacts can register on SA Health website and can organise to pick up free RAT from supersite in Southern Parklands (this is for close contacts identified from today, not backdated). People will be sent a receipt. Says there will be capacity for 13,000 tomorrow. Is talk to open other sites around the state
  • Mandatory for a positive result to be reported on SA Health. Not required to report a negative test
  • Once have a positive RAT, no longer required to get a corroborative PCR result

By Liam Butterworth

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Key Event

SA reports 7 deaths, 190 in hospital, 27 in ICU along 3,715 new cases

Steven Marshall is speaking in Adelaide.

He says there have been 7 new COVID deaths in the reporting period.

The deaths are six women aged between 60 and 100, and a man aged in his 90s.

Premier Steven Marshall says some of the deaths have occurred in recent days, but have only been reported now because there is not a requirement to report deaths to SA Health within a specific timeframe.

He says the number of hospitalisations have dropped to 190 but there are 27 in ICU with 6 on ventilators.

He says there are 3,715 new cases, including 2,978 from PCR tests and 737 from RATs.

By Liam Butterworth

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How to watch the SA press conference

By Liam Butterworth

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Frequently asked questions

Boosters for 12-17-year-olds

Good afternoon Liam. Please investigate and report back on what is happening with boosters for 12-17yo.


The latest information (from January 6) I could find from ATAGI noted no change to boosters for 12-17-year-olds.

“Booster doses are not recommended for people aged

When do the South Australia figures come out? When is the press conference?

When will the SA press conference be today?


Any word from SA yet?


What is happening in South Australia. Very difficult to get up to date information. They are still part of Aus?.

-Jackie finlay

We generally get asked this dozens of times each day. The details are frequently released in the afternoon.

We bring you the details as soon as we have them.

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By Liam Butterworth

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Comments from our readers

I thought it was interesting the the Queensland Health Minister was bemoaning the lack of RAT when they still require visitors to the state to have a negative result with one before they come. We does she think they are going to get them from

-RAT for holidays

There’s already long lines to get tested without adding to the mix.


So frustrating!!! My partner’s boss tested positive for COVID, we can’t find a rapid test anywhere. In desperation (as we have older parents who we have seen recently) he went to a few places for a PCR test and they were all closing early. What does the government expect people to do?! We had more testing places open when we were in lockdown!


Point of care tests yes will take time and need input up front, if you don’t have the staff what’s the point of them maybe ok in some settings but not others.


By Liam Butterworth

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How to report a positive RAT test in NSW without a login or smartphone

How do you report a positive RAT test if you aren’t prepared to create a service nsw login?


 Hi Me,

You can report the details as a guest.

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So how do those of us in NSW without smart phones, and thus without the Service NSW App, register a positive RAT?

-technological Dinosaur

Hi TD,

You can report the results on the Service NSW website or the NSW Premier said you can also call them. The number is 13 77 88.

By Liam Butterworth

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Vaccination after testing positive for COVID-19


Thanks for the great blog. Is there any recommendation on when you should get vaccinated after catching the virus? My husband and children need to get their booster/first jab and we are one of the many who had covid knock on our door before this could happen. Any suggestions are welcome!!

-Best timing of vaccination after catching COVID-19

Hi Best,

The following is taken verbatim from the Federal Department of Health website.

People who have had COVID-19 can be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccination can be deferred for up to 6 months as past infection reduces the chance of reinfection for at least this amount of time.

There is no requirement to delay vaccination.

People might choose to be vaccinated if they:

are significantly immunocompromised and may be at greater risk of getting COVID-19 again

have a job that requires them to be vaccinated

have a job that puts them at greater risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

People should delay vaccination until they have recovered from the acute illness.

If a patient tests positive for COVID-19 between their first and second doses, or between their second and booster dose, the patient should delay next dose until they have recovered from the acute illness.

People with prolonged symptoms from COVID-19 beyond 6 months should be vaccinated on a case by case basis.

By Liam Butterworth

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Queensland Health Minister makes plea for help to get more RATs to people

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath acknowledges that it’s impossible for people to get hold of rapid antigen tests, and says it’s taking a toll on businesses.

She calls for the federal government to do whatever it can to improve the supply of the tests.

“I know a lot of people are ordering them online at the moment and I know a lot of sites say out of stock,” she says.

“The moment they come on our shelves in pharmacies, [they] are going again. Is there ready supply out there than anyone who wants one can get one? No.

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

“We would like more testing for staff that have to go back to work. I’ll be absolutely clear. Our preference is more testing of those close contacts who have to go back to work.

“We’ve seen the AHPCC guidance on that [allowing asymptomatic close contacts in food, transport and manufacturing to return to work] but how do you do that when the tests are just not available?”

By Liam Butterworth

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Yvette D’Ath says nation’s health ministers will discuss distribution of point-of-care tests rather than RAT

The Queensland Health Minister says she will be meeting with her counterparts this afternoon and they will discuss the government’s distribution of point-of-care tests.

She says of the 1 million tests Queensland will receive next week, approximately half will be point-of-care.

While they return a result within 15-30 minutes, they are different from rapid antigen tests. They need to be administered by a health professional.

“This is a concern because these will not only not alleviate the lines at testing clinics, it will actually add to the length of time that staff need to be inputting data and spending time with individuals coming forward for tests,” she says.

“Those people will need to wait around, they need to be told what their results are, all of those results will need to be added into the system at the front end, rather than the back end that normally occurs. That will take time away.

“If we want to keep those lines moving at the same rate they are now, which we know is still leading to delays and long waits, we would have to put on extra staff.

“That makes no sense. These tests were supposed to alleviate pressures, not add pressures.”

By Liam Butterworth

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Queensland Health Minister questions NSW mandating reporting of positive RAT result

After Dominic Perrottet’s announcement this morning that New South Wales will be mandating the reporting of positive RAT results or risk a $1,000 fine, Queensland doesn’t look like it’s going to go the same way.

“I think the question for NSW is how are they going to monitor that?” Yvette D’Ath says.

“How are you going to know that someone’s got a positive test in a home kit at home and haven’t reported it?

“Are you going to start asking people in the household to start dobbing them in?

“I just don’t know how they’re going to monitor it, and is that the best use of resources right now?”

By Liam Butterworth

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Queensland not yet mandating third shot, Health Minister says

“We’re not mandating the third doses at the moment. People are coming out and getting their third doses as soon as possible. I’m making sure that any staff who are eligible for their third doses can get easy access,” she says.

By Liam Butterworth

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Unvaccinated person 9 times more likely to end up in hospital than boosted person, QLD CHO says

Queensland Chief Health Officer John Gerrard is also speaking.

“The importance of boosted vaccination is very clear,” he says.

“If you are unvaccinated, you are nine times more likely to end up in a Queensland hospital than if you are triple-vaxxed.”

By Liam Butterworth

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Key Event

Queensland reports 525 patients in hosptial, 30 people in ICU along with 22,069 cases

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath is speaking in Brisbane.

Hospitalisations have risen to 525, with 30 in ICU, eight of whom are ventilated

She says there are 22,069 new cases (3,985 are from RATs) to report.

By Liam Butterworth

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How to watch the Queensland press conference

By Liam Butterworth

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WA can expect ‘significant public health measures’ to remain after state reopens

WA’s Health Minister says while officials are still waiting for final modelling on the Omicron strain of COVID-19, West Australians can expect significant public health measures to be in force when the border reopens on February 5.

Amber-Jade Sanderson says high third-dose vaccination rates and public health measures are both needed to manage the virus.

She’s told ABC Radio Perth a range of measures will be in place once COVID is in the community.

“There will be significant public health social measures like mask-wearing, potentially the square-metre limit and capacity limits. We’ve seen that that, combined with vaccination, are one of the best ways to slow and manage the transmission of the virus,” she says.

By Liam Butterworth

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Yuendumu elder says NT’s response to COVID outbreak has been too slow

An Aboriginal elder in the Central Australian community of Yuendumu says the Northern Territory government’s response to a COVID outbreak has been too slow.

Yuendumu and nearby Yuelamu, north-west of Alice Springs, are in a lockout until Friday, with government concerned over a double-dose vaccination rate of just 41 per cent.

The government sent additional nurses and police to assist in Yuendumu and Yuelamu after a series of new cases were reported on Monday, including eight extra health staff.

Warlpiri elder Wendy Brown said positive cases should have been removed sooner.

“They’ve been tested positive, they should have been sent away quickly, but they kept them,” she says.

By Liam Butterworth

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Rapid antigen test shortage shows little sign of ending soon

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AAP: Bianca Di Marchi

Australians are desperately searching for rapid antigen tests (RATs), but retail supplies remain limited and are unlikely to improve significantly for several weeks.

The tests have been recommended by state and federal health authorities as a preferable alternative to PCR COVID-19 tests, with testing centres and laboratories overwhelmed by the surge in Omicron cases.

Aside from individual peace of mind, negative RAT or PCR results are required by some people to go to work or, in some states, to leave isolation after being a COVID-19 close contact.

Melbourne-based Melanie Sawyer has been in isolation for about a week, along with her 18-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son, after her 20-year-old daughter tested positive to COVID-19.

She told ABC News she had now been waiting seven days for the results of her initial PCR test.

After testing negative using a rapid antigen test on day one, Melanie and her family had been unable to obtain further RATs.

Family members tried to obtain a test for her from various Melbourne pharmacies without success.

In one case, she was told, a pharmacy shut early after seemingly being rushed following a report of availability on the Find a RAT website.

In another instance, Ms Sawyer said her boss managed to purchase a RAT, but by the time the boss’s daughter came to the store 10 minutes later they were sold out.

“How are you supposed to get them?” she said.

“Everywhere online is a back order, so you’ll get them when they get them.

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