Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has told the ABC he is confident about Australia’s economic recovery despite the “new set of challenges” posed by the Omicron variant.
New treasury analysis of a bunch of economic indicators show Australia is doing better than many countries. Frydenberg said:
(There) is reason to be confident but there is also reason to follow the health advice and to not be complacent. And so using common sense and compassion as opposed to fear and panic is the way to go forward.
Asked if the federal government would act to ease Covid testing queues and waiting times for results, he said they were encouraging states to adopt rapid antigen tests instead of PCR tests ahead of travel.
And the federal government is doing the “bulk of the heavy lifting” in terms of paying for testing, he said.
The Covid positive test rate in New South Wales has risen to 6.5%, the highest since the pandemic began.
The positivity rate is up from 1.73% a week ago and 0.71% a fortnight ago, a figure some epidemiologists say is likely to mean a proportion of cases are going undetected. Read more here:
Good morning! Tory Shepherd here, suppressing some envy of all those who are lounging around at the beach, or reading, or still sleeping.
It’s set to be another big day of Covid news as the Omicron variant continues to wreak havoc. Australia hit the grim milestone yesterday of 10,000 new cases in a day.
We’ll let you know today’s results as they come in.
Testing stations have been overwhelmed – AAP reports that in New South Wales alone, the number of tests processed each day has plummeted by more than 60,000 while the number of new infections stays high.
Around the nation healthcare systems are coming under pressure – if not from infected patients, then from staff who have potentially been exposed.
About 2,000 NSW healthcare workers have been furloughed, prompting NSW Health to reduce the staff period of isolation from 14 days to seven:
Healthcare workers essential to service delivery, who are close contacts of a Covid-19 case in the household, will now be able to leave isolation and safely return to work after seven days.
They’ll have to have a negative PCR test on day six and an assessment plan in place.
Still in NSW, Sydney’s St Vincent’s hospital yesterday had to admit to a second error. First, its pathology department mistakenly told 400 people their Covid test was negative, when it was positive.
Then a further 995 negative test results were sent out, when the actual result was not yet known. Human error, apparently.
NSW health minister Brad Hazzard blames Queensland. He said their requirement that travellers get tested before they travel (“simply for tourism”) was putting pressure on the system:
The focus should be only on clinical testing. The energy and capacity of pathology is being sucked out of NSW.
I haven’t forgotten the other states and territories! I’ll keep you posted throughout the day.