Health authorities in NSW have asked people to attend a coronavirus testing clinic if they have respiratory symptoms, rather than self-administering a rapid antigen test.
“If you have any symptoms at all that may be COVID, please have a PCR test at one of our many clinics across the state,” NSW Health’s Dr Jeremy McAnulty said during today’s update.
“The rapid antigen test … isn’t suitable for testing people with symptoms.”
People who test positive using a rapid antigen test – available for purchase at supermarkets and pharmacies – are required to confirm their result with a PCR test.
Dr McAnulty added that, although there were a number of new treatments for COVID-19 being used in hospitals that were resulting in better patient outcomes, these tests worked best when used early, so it was still important to get tested at the first sign of symptoms.
NSW reported just over 52,300 coronavirus tests on Tuesday. Although testing figures can be lower on Mondays and Tuesdays as they reflect swabs taken on the weekend, PCR testing rates have declined since the start of the month.
The state also reported 173 new cases. While the bulk of cases for the past few weeks have been in regional areas, more than two-thirds of the day’s cases were within metropolitan Sydney.
There were two new COVID-19 deaths reported in NSW today: a second death at Ashfield’s Presbyterian Aged Care facility – an unvaccinated woman in her 80s – and a man in his 80s from south-west Sydney who was also not vaccinated.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says the case of campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay, who vanished in Victoria’s high country in March last year, brings home the reality that what matters most is people’s safety.
Following police confirming an arrest in the case a little more than an hour ago, Mr Andrews said while he was sure it was a significant development, it wasn’t for him to comment on a “live and ongoing matter”.
However, he added: “It’s been a very difficult couple of years for all of us.
“[When] some of these tragedies happen – what may well be a tragedy – it just brings home all that we’ve done, all that we’ve given, and the things that matter most, and it’s safety.
“That’s so, so important. Nothing else matters if you’re not safe.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is due to provide a coronavirus update shortly.
She will be joined by Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace to officially open Gainsborough State School on the Gold Coast.
Watch live below.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has hit out at federal backbenchers calling on the Morrison government to overrule his state’s COVID-19 vaccination mandates.
Mr Andrews said if his government had taken that advice, the state wouldn’t be at 89 per cent of the population fully vaccinated (according to the latest state data).
“We wouldn’t have a couple of 100 people in hospital and I wouldn’t say I’d be reporting that 19 people have died,” he said.
“I’d be reporting many, many more, and that’s just a fact.
“Again, we’ve made some tough calls and that’s meant that nine in 10 Victorians have gone and got the jab. That’s great news for them and great news for all of us because we’re open and we’ve essentially got no rules.”
Mr Andrews said the age range of the 19 people who most recently died with COVID-19 in Victoria was 52 to 105.
He said it may be the case that not all the 19 people died yesterday or on Sunday, but authorities would clarify that later today.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has insisted that her threat to vote down government legislation is valid despite not being in Canberra to actually cast her vote.
She has also predicted that the Morrison government’s proposed religious freedom reforms will not be passed this sitting fortnight.
The rules of the Senate allow members to participate remotely, but they cannot actually vote on bills – which means Senator Hanson and her colleague Malcolm Roberts did not have their votes formally recorded yesterday on their own unsuccessful attempt to have federal Parliament effectively override state vaccine mandates.
Senator Hanson said her threat still had weight because the government was asking for her support on bills.
“Although I’m not on the floor of Parliament, they’re constantly asking me … for the support on their bills and legislation because they can’t get their bills through without me,” Senator Hanson said on Sky News.
And Senator Hanson pointed out that dozens of other senators were not in the chamber when her bill was voted on, so their position was not counted either.
On the government’s long-promised religious freedom laws, Senator Hanson said she would not support the legislation, (which has not been publicly revealed) as it stands and said it would be sent to an inquiry after it is introduced to Parliament.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says he can’t say one way or another whether the state will mandate vaccinations for children.
“Essentially, we don’t have public health advice on those issues yet, so I can’t say one one way or the other,” he said a few moments ago.
“And I would just remind you that we have no jab, no play in literally hundreds and hundreds of early childhood settings right across our state.
“That’s not new. It’s not new or new at all. But we don’t even know when the pediatric vaccines [are] coming. We don’t know who’s going to be eligible, [and in] what circumstances they’ll be eligible.”
The Premier said media reporting of some comments Health Minister Martin Foley made yesterday about childhood vaccinations was “interesting”.
“So I think all the minister was basically saying is it’s too early for us to say,” Mr Andrews said.“We’re not looking to do anything that makes it harder for kids to attend school.”
Labor is honing its attack on Prime Minister Scott Morrison over his handling of a rebellion on the backbench over vaccine mandates.
The PM has insisted that while businesses have a right to decide on requirements for their workers, the government does not support mandates outside of some key workers such as aged care staff.
Here’s former opposition leader Bill Shorten on Nine’s Today Show earlier:
This Prime Minister, he is MIA. The guy doesn’t turn up. Like, at some point he may think he’s a clever marketing guru and you know, he’s talking out of both sides of his mouth, and he wants to dog whistle to the people who don’t want to be told what to do. But the nation needs a leader. And he is not a leader.
And here’s the current Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese on the ABC:
The Prime Minister is all over the shop. He is trying to give different messages to different constituencies. And that’s why there is confusion out there. What we need in this country is leadership, is clarity, is direction. And that’s what we’ve seen, Australians take up, Australians have been magnificent in their response to this pandemic. They have made sacrifices. And they deserve better than a Prime Minister who urges people to have the right to go into a coffee shop in Brisbane and get a cup of coffee without showing a vaccination certificate, as required by the health orders, and pretends that in his hometown of Sydney, that’s not the case also.
On whether Labor actually wants vaccine mandates, the party has adopted a positive tone but its MPs have not endorsed them outright when asked this morning – instead deferring to the states.
Labor’s housing spokesman Jason Clare, for example, said rules in NSW that require a vaccination certificate to enter businesses such as pubs had helped to keep Australians safe.
“It’s helped us, to use the Prime Minister’s words, helped us to open and then to stay open,” Mr Clare said.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has maintained the Berejiklian government got the balance right when it enforced tighter restrictions on west and south-west Sydney compared to the rest of the city, amid revelations Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant advised that the rules should be implemented consistently across Greater Sydney.
Emails sent between health officials and Health Minister Brad Hazzard in mid-August show Dr Chant recommended that “consistent measures” be implemented across all of Sydney.
Labor says it shows some of the most disadvantaged communities in the state were unfairly targeted and that the government “split Sydney in two”.
Mr Perrottet this morning said the government didn’t make a mistake in choosing to impose harsher restrictions on 12 local government areas.
“We seek to get the balance right and I believe that we did,” he told reporters.
“I said at the time I didn’t want to see a tale of two cities, and we have not. I see one NSW and not two cities
“I’m very proud of the fact that the government has had to make decisions to keep people safe.”
NSW Jobs Minister Stuart Ayres said the government made the decision to “attack the virus where the virus was” based on health advice.
“This whole idea that we should shut down parts of Sydney because they didn’t have any virus in them, to make other people feel better … it’s complete rubbish,” he said.
“We took the decision based on all the information that came to us from health, that information told us to aggressively target where the virus was.”
In news just in, detectives have made an arrest over the disappearance of campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay, who vanished in Victoria’s high country in March last year.
A man was arrested overnight in relation to the disappearance of the pair and is expected to be interviewed by police today.
Mr Hill and Ms Clay, aged in their 70s, disappeared in Victoria’s high country in March last year.
It took days for their burnt-out campsite to be reported to police.
We’ll have more details as they come to hand here.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has just finished speaking to the media.
He was joined by Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio.
We’ll have the playback version with you soon.