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Rapid test registers expand and isolation changes

Waziri Mkuu wa Australia Scott Morrison apokea amri ya kufutwa viza Novak Djokovic. Source: AAP Images

National Cabinet has decided to extend the list of industries exempt from close contact isolation rules and to keep schools open in a bid to keep the economy running.

Federal and state and territory leaders have held a National Cabinet meeting to discuss isolation rules and the safe return of students to schools amid the latest COVID-19 Omicron wave.

It comes as critical sectors such as healthcare and food supply chains experience growing staff shortages.

Speaking after National Cabinet, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says it is critical to manage hospitalisations whilst keeping the economy going.

"The key point we wanted to stress today, and I want to stress today, is this is a constantly moving target. We know what we have to hit, keep our hospitals going, keeping our health system strong and keeping as many people at work. The less restrictions you put on people to get them to work, the more pressure that could potentially put on your hospital system. And vice versa."


Highlights

  • Mr Morrison says schools, shops, and essential services must remain safely open to prevent work absenteeism.
  • National Cabinet has also made the decision to change isolation rules for close contacts.
  • Queensland, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says that from 1am Saturday, 15 JAN, all state border requirements will be scrapped.

 

The list of industries in which close contacts can now return to work if they have produced a negative rapid antigen test has been extended to include sectors such as transport, healthcare, food and beverage distribution, broadcasting and media, and education.

Staff shortages continue to grip the healthcare sector, with another approximately 5000 workers furloughed in Victoria.

Dr Stephen Parnis, emergency physician and former Vice President of the Australian Medical Association, told SBS News that medical staff are preparing for the worst.

Meantime, Opposition leader Anthony Albanese says the staffing crisis could be helped by making rapid antigen tests free.

The ACT health department on Wednesday night,12 JAN announced it was shutting down roughly half of its PCR testing centres due to what it described as “unavoidable supply issues”.

Similarly in New South Wales, testing sites around Sydney have had to reduce their operating hours due to a lack of PCR tests.

In the Northern Territory, all positive RAT results must be reported through the Territory's COVID-19 website. Chief Minister Michael Gunner says failing to do so will result in a $5,000 fine.

And in South Australia, close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case are now eligible to receive two free rapid antigen test kits from the health department.

A collection point site has opened in the southern parklands, which can cater to 13,000 people a day. This comes as the state mandates the reporting of positive RAT results to SA Health.

 

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