Australia live news updates: Omicron Covid cases climb; Victoria records 13 deaths and NSW three; Sydney pub and club at centre of scare | Australia news

7.20pm EST


Frydenberg is talking about government advice they’ve got on Omicron.
“The medical advice is still coming in, in terms of the Omicron variant but we have heard from the medical professionals and the Chief medical officer that it looks encouraging and that some of the early signs are more positive than initially thought.
“The virus is certainly highly transmissible but perhaps not as severe as other variants.
“We have not seen the mass hospitalisations in South Africa, for example, the vaccination rates are lower than a country like Australia and there is no evidence, as yet, that the vaccine is not a defence against Omicron.”

7.18pm EST


Frydenberg is asked if all Australians could be together at Christmas – which leads, of course to discussing Western Australia:

Obviously WA is taking its own decision and it needs to explain to its own public. But as the vaccination rates have lifted we have seen states be more confident that they can reopen in a Covid-safe way.
I am looking forward to this Christmas. I am not getting ahead of ourselves.
We have a lot of work still to do to maintain this momentum in the economic recovery, to ensure that Australians are kept safe from Covid, and next year there is an election to be won as well.

at 7.21pm EST

7.16pm EST


Frydenberg says the pandemic is not over.

The Omicron variant is a reminder of the challenges that we face. But states need to keep calm and carry on. And not overreact to the Omicron variant.
Our economic recovery depends upon it. We have the vaccination rates now at record highs and that has proven to be a vital defence against Covid.
So Australians can go into Christmas confident about the future, looking forward to being reunited with friends and with family, enjoying a well-deserved break after what has been a pretty trying two years.

at 7.19pm EST

7.14pm EST


Frydenberg said with lockdowns lifting, the economy has grown strongly.
“Business investment is up 16% over this year and next and that is the strongest business investment since the mining boom more than one decade ago. Non-mining investment will reach its highest level on record at $200bn.
“Non-mining investment, I say that again, non-mining investment will reach its record level at more than $200bn.
“This is a sign of growing confidence in our economy by businesses began small and by households who are going out and spending.”

at 7.16pm EST

7.12pm EST


Frydenberg is speaking about the Australian economy, arguing government policies saved jobs and helped the economy rebound.
“Jobkeeper, which saved more than 700,000 jobs, the cash flow boost, $750 pensioners’ payments and others on income support. It was a team Australia moment.
“And what we saw was that Australia, ahead of any major advanced economy in the world, had employment levels and growth levels coming back to where they were pre-pandemic. This was a strong sign of the recovery in the Australian economy.
“And then we were hit by Delta. And 13 million of our fellow Australians went into an extended lockdown period. And that hurt the economy.
“And we saw that reflected in the September quarter of the national accounts.”

at 7.17pm EST

7.09pm EST


Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is speaking now in Melbourne.

at 7.18pm EST

7.08pm EST


Three new Omicron cases in NSW

There were three new cases confirmed with the Omicron variant of concern overnight, and more are expected as the results of genomic testing is confirmed.
It brings the total number of Omicron cases to 45 in NSW. To date, no Omicron cases have been admitted to hospital in NSW for treatment of Covid-19.
NSW recorded 560 new cases of Covid-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
Sadly, NSW Health is today reporting three deaths.
A man in his 80s from south-western Sydney died at Liverpool Hospital. He was a resident of the Gillawarna Village Aged Care facility, where he acquired his infection. He had received three doses of a Covid-19 vaccine and had underlying health conditions. This is the second death linked to this facility.
A man in his 80s from eastern Sydney died at St Vincents Hospital. He had received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine and had underlying health conditions.
A woman in her 70s from the Riverina region died at Albury Base Hospital. She had received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine and had underlying health condition.
There are currently 150 Covid-19 cases admitted to hospital, with 25 people in intensive care, eight of whom require ventilation.
There were 82,517 Covid-19 tests reported to 8pm last night, compared with the previous day’s total of 90,223.

at 7.18pm EST

7.00pm EST


ACT records 11 Covid cases

And we’ve got a breakdown of Covid numbers from the ACT:
In the last 24 hours to 8pm, the territory recorded 11 new cases, meaning there are 76 now active.
There are five people in hospital, two are in intensive care but none are ventilated.
A whopping 98.2% of the population aged 12 and over are now fully vaccinated. That’s actually incredible.

at 7.05pm EST

6.35pm EST


Details of the shock decision to close Circus Oz are emerging as circus company members meet to try to save the revolutionary 44-year-old troupe, which started as an artist collective and put Australia’s larrikin spirit on the world stage.
On Friday, the board of Circus Oz released a statement saying the members of the company had voted to reject reforms proposed by its funding partners – choosing instead to wind up its operations.

at 6.44pm EST

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