After a quiet morning, SA and Queensland decided to hold their press conferences at the same time, so that was a bit of juggling and a bit of a Covid lockdown flashback, but I think I picked up most of the important bits.
D’Ath said the government would have “more to say” about the planned opening of the border to NSW and Victoria on Monday, not ruling out a further delay beyond when the state reaches the 80% double dose vaccination rate for the eligible population, in light of the omicron variant spreading in NSW.
We will have more to say on Monday. We are working with the police and the logistics of that but we will have more to say about when we think we will hit the 80% and what that transition is going to be like and hopefully getting more information.
D’Ath says the government had been warning cases would arrive in Queensland as the borders opened up, but it has happened earlier than expected.
We should prepare for this. This is exactly what’s going to happen when our borders open in a matter of days. We know that no later than 17 December, the borders will open up to NSW, Victoria and now the Greater Adelaide, who will have to be fully vaccinated and have a negative PCR test once we get that 80% while we declare hot spots. Everyone should be prepared and we do know is, whether it’s delta, whether it’s omicron, the factors that vaccinations appear in all of the evidence to be safer and to certainly reduce the risk of someone ending up as seriously ill. Please, go and get vaccinated. We’re so close to those borders opening and we’re seeing it transmitting to other states now anyway.
Queensland to quarantine Adelaide travellers
Queensland health minister Yvette D’Ath announces that anyone who has been in Greater Adelaide since 1am on 28 November and arrives in Queensland after 1am tomorrow will be required to go into 14 days of home or hotel quarantine.
They are required to be fully vaccinated.
Anyone arriving after 1am Monday 6 December will also need to have received a negative Covid PCR test in the previous 72 hours prior to arrival.
Anyone who arrives before 1am tomorrow will need to get tested and isolate until a negative result is returned.
Queensland reports three locally acquired Covid-19 cases
Queensland health minister Yvette D’ath has announced Queensland has recorded seven new Covid-19 cases overnight. Two overseas acquired in hotel quarantine, two interstate acquired, and three locally acquired.
Of the seven, four have been infectious in the community. A couple from the Gold Coast who tested positive have been infectious in the community for up to 13 days. One of them works in a private aged care facility, however all of the staff are vaccinated and over 90% of the residents are fully vaccinated.
Everyone at the facility is being tested.
There’s a case in Calabar, from someone who travelled to Adelaide for a school reunion.
at 7.12pm EST
South Australian chief health officer Nicola Spurrier says she had to provide the range of options to the government on responding to the omicron variant, including the most risk-averse option of a hard closure of borders, but also the options of keeping it open due to the higher vaccination rates and the shift to living with Covid.
She wouldn’t say directly whether it had been her recommendation to shut the borders in South Australia.
She said there will be more Covid-19 cases to report in SA, but that will be announced later today.
at 7.15pm EST
On whether border closures had been recommended, Marshall said a range of options had been considered, and if border restrictions are put in place, people will be given between 24 and 48 hours’ notice.
He says he would only close the SA borders if the Omicron variant could potentially disrupt Christmas in South Australia, and more needs to be known about the variant:
Look, we would only do that if we wanted to make sure we still enjoyed a Christmas here in South Australia. This is a balancing act. We just don’t know how this Omicron variant is going to go in South Australia.
We’re hopeful that the severity of the symptoms will be much lower. I’m an optimistic person but I’m also a cautious person for our state. We have the fastest growing economy in the nation. We have more people employed now than before the coronavirus raised its ugly head and we’ve got a lot to lose if we don’t get this right.
Now, we’ve had borders open since the 23rd. That’s been fantastic for family reunion and business activity. They’re open at the moment but we’re putting more speed bumps in the way until we get more information.
at 6.51pm EST
No change to South Australian borders despite ‘extraordinary concern’
The South Australian premier, Steven Marshall, says there is no change to the borders, despite “extraordinary concern” about the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
He says people coming to SA from Victoria, ACT and New South Wales will need to have a test on arrival, and isolate until it returns, and then have a further test on day six.
International arrivals will need to isolate for 14 days.
We don’t know enough about the Omicron variant at this stage, so we are being very cautious. We have increased our requirement for quarantine for international arrivals from seven days up to 14 days and today we put two additional speed bumps in the path of the Omicron variant coming into South Australia. Firstly, we will require all people coming from NSW, Victoria and the ACT to have a test on arrival and to isolate before that result is received.
Now, in South Australia, those results are being through in a matter of hours. Four to five hours at the moment is the average, and we certainly have significant capacity and availability into SA pathology and our private pathology labs in South Australia. The second speed bump for people coming in from NSW, Victoria and the ACT, they will be required, if they’re staying in South Australia, to have a further test on day six.
He says it is all about concern over the Omicron variant, not the Delta variant, noting SA has had 40 new cases of Covid-19 since opening the borders to NSW, ACT and Victoria.
Worth noting there has been no recorded cases of the Omicron variant in Victoria yet, but obviously Victoria’s borders are open to NSW and the ACT.
at 6.43pm EST
Just noting we are still waiting on the SA press conference to begin.
There’s a press conference with the South Australian premier, Steven Marshall, and CHO Nicola Spurrier at 9.45am SA time (so roughly half an hour from now).
at 5.50pm EST
So just a bit more on the story we reported last night that former Liberal turned United Australia party MP Craig Kelly was appointed to the parliament’s inquiry into social media and online safety.
As we reported, the makeup of the committee is that the government gets five of the eight MPs, with the remainder being made up of Labor and the crossbench.
Labor had two members, and the crossbench has one. Everyone is confused as to who actually put him on there. It wasn’t the government. Labor did put his name forward, but it was just because one of the crossbench was also allow onto the committee, and his name was provided to them.
I’m told Craig Kelly wanted the role and he put his hand up for it, but he wasn’t put forward by the other crossbench members. Indeed some have since expressed surprise at his appointment, too.
at 5.46pm EST
NSW records one Covid-19 death and 325 new cases
New South Wales has reported 325 new cases of Covid-19 and one additional death.
Victoria records nine deaths and 1,365 new Covid-19 cases
at 5.19pm EST
Residents in the town of Goondiwindi in Queensland’s south-west are anxiously awaiting their biggest flood in a decade as waters threaten levee banks, AAP reports.
The Macintyre River was at 10.33m on Friday afternoon, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting the flood to peak at 10.7m.
That’s above the 2011 record of 10.64m, but below the town’s 11m flood levee.
As local business owners described an atmosphere of unease and concern within the town, mayor Lawrence Springborg said his staff were working around the clock to provide updates.
“We have quite a good level of confidence that levee will again protect our town, and we’ve got council staff that ride that levy on a regular basis,” he told AAP.
Residents have left their gates open for council to ride through on quad bikes and assess the levels of rising water along the Macintyre river, with all of the towns catchments at capacity.
On Friday, 10 patients were airlifted from Goondiwindi Hospital ahead of Saturday’s forecast peak.
The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, also confirmed on Friday that more than 70 aged care residents would be evacuated if the river level hit 10.6m.
The bureau has forecast further rain in the coming week for Goondiwindi, but Springborg said if falls are not widespread the town should be safe.
“From our perspective, delayed rainfall is fine. It gives us time for our rivers to start to drop and build some more capacity,” he said.
“But of course we don’t have much freeboard at the moment because our rivers and streams are full.
“If it’s widespread heavy rainfall, that’s what can cause further issues.”
at 5.20pm EST
In case you missed this last night from my colleague Stephanie Convery.
The Fair Work Commission has ruled a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for all workers at BHP’s Mount Arthur coalmine was unlawful because the company did not consult adequately with its workers.
at 4.38pm EST
A man who absconded from Covid-19 quarantine in the Northern Territory has been taken into custody after less than five hours on the run, AAP reports.
Police said the 36-year-old man was seen scaling a fence at the Howard Springs Centre for National Resilience about 10pm on Friday.
Authorities are still searching for another man who escaped an Alice Springs quarantine facility.
Jeremy MacDonald, 27, is alleged to have escaped over his room’s balcony about 1pm on Friday.
He returned a negative test on Wednesday, after being ordered to quarantine four days earlier for failing to declare he had visited a hotspot before travelling to the NT.
Six people have escaped quarantine facilities in the NT since 26 November.
at 4.16pm EST
Good morning, I’m Josh Taylor and I will be bringing you all the latest news this morning.
A concerning cluster of Covid-19 cases at Regents Park Christian School in western Sydney has grown to 13, with three already confirmed positive for Omicron. Testing results are still to come for the other 10.
The ACT has also recorded its first case of the Omicron variant in a person who has not travel overseas.
There have been 15 cases of Omicron detected in Australia, 13 of them in NSW, one in the Northern Territory and one in the ACT.
A woman in her 70s from the Binjari community, just outside Katherine, has become the first person to die of Covid in the Northern Territory.
Both NT and WA closed their borders to South Australia after an outbreak of Covid-19 in the state, and four new cases in the state recorded on Friday.
Yesterday the prime minister, Scott Morrison, denied misleading Australians about the vaccination status of SA senator Alex Antic, after he was moved into an SA medi-hotel reserved for those with Covid-19 or those returning travellers who are unvaccinated.
We are likely to hear a lot more on emissions reduction after Labor announced its 2030 target of 43% on Friday.
And towns on the border of NSW and Queensland are also on alert for rising floodwaters.