Australia Covid news live: NSW reimposes mask mandate; SA records 484 cases; fires at Melbourne hotel housing refugees

Australia Covid news live: NSW reimposes mask mandate; SA records 484 cases; fires at Melbourne hotel housing refugees

3.00am EST


What we learned today, Thursday 23 December

We are going to put the blog to bed now – thank you so much for spending the second half of Thursday with me.

Here were the big stories:

A man died after a triple stabbing in Sydney.
20 Victorian Covid-19 testing centres closed due to huge lines.
Victoria recorded 2,005 cases, NSW 5,715 and one death, Tasmania 26, Queensland 369, the ACT 85, the NT 10, SA 484 and WA had one new local Covid case.
All Victorian frontline police to be equipped with Tasers.
Indoor mask mandates to return in Victoria.
Hunt says Omicron is not creating a serious increase of cases in ICU.
NSW to mandate masks.
Chant says roughly 80% of NSW Covid cases are Omicron variant.
There were fires at Melbourne hotel housing refugees.
And WA to introduce a mask mandate after a community case.

And I’ll see you all again tomorrow!

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2.52am EST


Luke Henriques-Gomes

The Morrison government has told a tribunal there is “strong public interest” in preserving the secrecy of “business case” documents that may outline the nucleus of the unlawful robodebt scheme.

IT expert Justin Warren won access to documents connected to the since-scrapped welfare debt recovery program under freedom of information laws in 2019, but he is yet to receive them after the government appealed against the decision.

2.45am EST


I suspect many separated families will be asking similar questions.

Nicole Asher
The justification for keeping WA’s borders closed for Christmas was because McGowan didn’t want to impose restrictions like mask wearing. Given he’s now done that anyway… can I go home?

December 23, 2021

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Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne has announced Australia will provide $5m in emergency relief to help the people of the Philippines recover from the devastation caused by Super Typhoon Rai.

As many as 2.6 million people have been affected by the typhoon, with thousands sheltering in evacuation centres and many still without access to fresh food and water, power, and basic services.

“Australia will continue to partner with the Philippines Government and humanitarian organisations to respond to this disaster,” Payne said in a statement.

“Our assistance will include:

funding for the Philippines Red Cross and UN Population Fund to distribute relief supplies (including sleeping, shelter and water and hygiene kits) and essential child and maternal health services (including sexual and reproductive health kits)
funding for the World Food Programme, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Organization for Migration to provide critical transportation and communications support to the Philippines Government for delivery of relief supplies
funding for Australian NGOs already operating in the Philippines to deliver immediate lifesaving assistance (including food and non-food items, shelter and water and hygiene kits), protection and livelihood recovery activities
funding for local NGOs to respond to the needs of particularly vulnerable groups in remote areas.

“I would like to convey Australia’s condolences and heartfelt thoughts to those families in the Philippines who have lost loved ones or whose lives have been affected by this disaster.”

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Earlier today, the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) put out a statement on Omicron, calling for a system-wide approach to preparing for more Covid cases. ACEM president, Dr Clare Skinner, said:

Emergency physicians, nurses and other acute healthcare workers must be included in the conversations and planning for Covid-19 increases.

Covid-19 surges have significant impacts on ED demand and workload, which are not reflected in reported numbers of patients admitted to hospital or ICU.

Skinner said many of Australia’s emergency clinicians are anxious about Omicron.

We experienced this anxiety when Covid-19 first appeared, and then again with Delta. The first waves were challenging, but we worked together, adapted our processes, and worst-case scenarios were avoided.

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So there are quite a few exposure sites:

On 22 December: Aldi and Kmart at The Square Mirrabooka shopping centre and Vinnies Mirrabooka.
On 19 December: McDonald’s Girrawheen, Perth Mess Hall, Connections Nightclub, and Geisha Nightclub.
On 18 December: Dan Murphy’s Joondalup.
On 17 December: the Bloody French restaurant in Subiaco and Palace Cinema Raine Square.
On 16 December: the Galway Hooker pub, Scarborough Sunset Markets and WA Museum Boola Bardip.

WA Health
New exposure sites have just been added to the HealthyWA website.

View the dates, times, locations and health advice:

December 23, 2021

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And that’s it for the WA presser, but sit tight and I will get the full list of current exposure sites.

2.17am EST


Sanderson says the backpacker and his girlfriend are being kept in hotel quarantine.

They are in hotel quarantine, and at the moment the department is attempting to find a hotel quarantine for the four campers.

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Sanderson has been asked if WA’s hospitals and ICU departments are ready.

We have made a significant investment in putting online a number of beds, and more than 200 will be online by the end of this year.

We have the ability of 300 ICU beds and ventilators and have them staffed. If we put in place sensible public health measures and higher rates of vaccination, we think that will serve us well.

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The WA health minister, Amber-Jade Sanderson, is asked how long it will take for people to get results.

We have increased testing capacity. [It should take] the same amount of time as it has previously. For some people it is a matter of hours, for others a couple of days, but generally, we are not expecting … that to blow out at all.

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Dawson reiterates that anyone who has been in the Perth/Peel region from 16 December who has travelled out of the area will have to wear a mask inside unless in a private residence.

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Dawson says it is a $50,000 fine for nightclubs that open.

“We have had actually good cooperation through the licensed premises,” he says.

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Dawson says there are no restrictions on the number of people in a home, but people should use common sense.

In a private home, there is no restriction in terms of the numbers of people but, again, common sense has to prevail here, so we’re just asking people to use common sense in a private setting.

But if you’re going shopping, if you’re going to do last-minute buying drinks etcetera, you will have to wear a mask. While it [comes into effect at] 6pm, it is an arbitrary rule to give businesses and people a chance.

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Dawson says people need to go and get tested if they have been to those venues or are feeling symptomatic.

You do not know who you have been in contact with. The virus does not respect any venue, any road, it will go wherever it goes.

Check on the website where those venues are and if you have been, if you are in contact with others that have been to any of these venues, then use your common sense, go and get tested.

Clearly, get vaccinated if you have not been vaccinated.

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2.05am EST


Commissioner of police Chris Dawson is up now.

100,000 people have now had the third dose, I know from our statistics, 165,000 others who have had five months lapsed and have not taken the booster. So have it.

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