Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that new close contact definitions and rapid antigen testing will be addressed when the national cabinet meet tomorrow, as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to skyrocket cases within NSW and the country.
The cabinet will discuss adopting a national definition of close contacts, which was recommended by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee to be amended to only to include household contacts of positive COVID-19 cases. It comes as NSW recorded 11,201 daily cases on Wednesday, which easily shattered the previous one-day Australian COVID-19 daily case record. Over 18,000 cases had been confirmed across the country for Wednesday.
COVID-19 testing requirements will also be on Thursday’s meeting agenda, as reliance on PCR testing for interstate travel has exhausted the health system. It’s believed that the cabinet will agree to shift their focus to greater rapid antigen test use, after the Victorian government bought 34 million kits, while NSW secured 20 million of their own.
Earlier on Wednesday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk scrapped the controversial PCR testing rule needed to satisfy border crossing requirements, one day after NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard slammed Ms Palaszczuk for an “outright refusal so far to let common sense rule”. From January 1, travellers into Queensland will only need to submit a negative rapid antigen test to meet border crossing requirements.
After South Australia recorded 1,471 new cases of COVID-19, Premier Steven Marshall announced that the state would no longer be providing pre-departure PCR tests for any interstate travel. On Boxing Day, South Australia abandoned their pre-arrival PCR testing requirement for interstate travellers, asking instead for a rapid antigen test to be undertaken.