Australia news live update: Novavax vaccine to roll out February; Victoria records 17 Covid deaths, NSW 24; Hunt suggests reseller ‘hoarding' a factor in rapid test shortage

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LIVE – Updated at 23:40

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23:40

Lots of booster bookings in Victoria the CHO says (although I’m pretty sure that sweet deal where you get a free Golden Gaytime is no longer in place.)

Global Tech News Daily

22,000 bookings available at State sites for 5-11 year olds for COVID-19 vaccine in the next week. Please book in now! https://t.co/W8RQJYkACt

— Chief Health Officer, Victoria (@VictorianCHO) January 23, 2022

 

Global Tech News Daily

23:40

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning for heavy #rain has been issued for parts of the #UpperWestern district in #NSW. Details at https://t.co/Ss766eSCrL pic.twitter.com/9mFW0Xx0ND

— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) January 23, 2022

 

23:38

Perrottet:

We have a highly vaccinated population, and yes, as a parent as well I know that many parents across the state are anxious about sending it back to school, many teachers are anxious, I was speaking to a teacher on the weekend who was anxious about the return of school.

That is understandable in a pandemic, but it is really really important for our kids’ educational, mental health and social outcomes that they are back in the classroom. I accept it will not be perfect, there will be issues moving through this but this is the right approach, and I am very confident that by setting out this part, as we move to this next four weeks, and it’s pleasing to see the case numbers coming down.

 

23:38

Speaking of Victoria, we will be hearing from them at the same time as Queensland at 11am AEDT.

11.00am Premier to provide a COVID update. @abcnews @abcmelbourne

— Stephanie Ferrier (@FerrierSteph) January 23, 2022

 

23:36

The press conference paused as a helicopter took off and it seems during the break the premier was joking about teaching his small tribe of children how to take a RAT test.

And you might be saying, “Matilda! You can’t make fun of someone for having a small army’s worth of children!” To which I say, “it wasn’t me, it was Brad Hazzard”.

Here is what the health minister had to say:

The premier was saying that is going to be a fun game, making sure that the kids know about the testing. So good luck to him with his six and a half children.

 

23:33

Hazzard has advised parents to be patient with their kids as they adapt to having to take two (often nasal swab) rapid tests a week. This may be especially challenging to neurodivergent kids, such as those with autism or ADHD who are very sensitive to sensory stimuli.

I think as a parent, we all know and have those moments … we worry about our children.

I can remember worrying about issues when my kids were little and understand. What I would say is just quietly and calmly to them and make sure they understand that this is a very simple process, not going to have any negative effect on them …

I’m absolutely certain that the children will learn very quickly to accommodate to having the rapid antigen tests.

 

23:29

The NSW education secretary, Georgina Harrisson, has urged parents to be patient as rapid tests arrive at schools and staff prepare to hand them out to families.

We have 5m rapid antigen tests out on the road today and another million expected to be out on the road by the end of today.

They will be arriving at schools over the coming days and can I ask parents to be patient with your school, they will be in touch with you about when you can pick up your test …

 

23:27

Closing schools will be an “absolute last resort”. Premier thanks 1000 retired teachers and teaching students for providing “buffer” as part of return to school plan.

— Tamsin Rose (@tamsinroses) January 23, 2022

 

23:25

NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, says that only two of the 24 had received three doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

I want to say this, out of the 24 people, there were only two, only two that had three shots, in other words, only two people out of the 24 have had the booster shot.

That’s a very clear message to all of us that we need to listen to the advice of the premier and Doctor Kerry Chant, boosters are actually absolutely critical to keeping us safe.

The two people who did have the booster … sadly, had very serious preexisting medical conditions. Boosters are critical, boosters are what makes a difference. For adults, go and get boosters.

 

23:24

NSW chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, says two of the 24 people who died in the latest reporting period were in their 50’s.

And can I please induce a sense of urgency in the community to get their booster, we have appointments and it is despairing when I read out the tragic death numbers which I am now going to do. Some of these people have missed that opportunity afforded by the booster.

Sadly today New South Wales has reported 24 people who have died from Covid, 16 men and eight women, and again, can I express my sincere condolences to their families.

Of the 24 people had died, two people were in the 50s, one person was in the 60s, two people in the 70s, 12 were in the 80s, and seven people in the 90s.

And of the two people under 65, both were men who had serious underlying health conditions, one man had received two doses of the vaccine and one had received three doses.

 

23:22

Okay, jumping over to NSW and the state’s premier, Dominic Perrottet, is giving a Covid-19 update.

Today the state finally ticked over 95% first dose vaccination for those over 16.

Perrottet:

It is pleasing to see that we have 95% of people aged 16 plus who have had one dose of vaccine, and 93.9% aged 16 plus who have had two doses of the vaccine. In the 12- to 15-year-old age group we have 82.7% to have had their first dose, and it is pleasing to see that has increased but I would urge all parents to take their children to get vaccinated in that age group before school commences.

In the 5- to 11-year-old age group we have 28% of children who have had their first dose and we are really hopeful that will increase significantly this week ahead of school commencing.

Almost 40% of the eligible population have received a booster.

 

23:18

Guardian reporter Paul Karp has asked the health minister if the Commonwealth was doing anything to limit the types of businesses that are able to sell rapid antigen tests.

Karp:

Why are we in the situation at all where retail stores, rather than pharmacies are able to sell the tests if there is this concept of them stepping up to profiteer, and what should the Commonwealth have done to redirect orders towards priority people instead?

Hunt:

We have been in the market and supply since August and we have been able to provide a continuous supply of over 6.6m rapid antigen tests to aged care, so in relation to priority populations, that is one of the things that we have been able to do, to foresee, to acquire and supply throughout the course of not just Omicron, but before Omicron ever existed, we have been doing this since August and it has been a continuous Commonwealth process.

… And then in relation to private supply, what we have put in place with the supermarkets and the pharmacies was that anti-hoarding program in conjunction with price gouging, so that that meant anybody who was reselling was clearly on notice that the ACCC would come down on them like a ton of bricks.

If there are more outlets procuring TGA approved tests and bringing them in using additional supply lines, that simply means more tests for more Australians.

 

23:12

The health minister has also noted that the hoarding of rapid tests has played a part in Australia’s spluttering rollout, but unlike his Nationals colleague Barnaby Joyce, he seemed to focus the blame on bad-faith suppliers and re-sellers rather than individuals.

Hunt says anyone caught hoarding or price gouging RATs will face “the wrath” of the ACCC.

Hunt:

There were clear cases where there had been some hoarding. Unfortunately it does include people that were scooping up to resell at inflated prices and that’s why the anti-hoarding measures are in tandem with the price gouging measures which we have been pursuing, and what we have seen is that … there is increasing evidence that those who sought to do that are very quickly realising that they will face the wrath of the investigative body.

 

23:08

Hunt says that, as far as the federal government can tell, there will be an adequate supply of RATs going forward. (Famous last words perhaps?)

The advice we have from the pharmacies is that there will be adequate supply going forwards, and it’s been a global challenge, and I think I want to put this in context for a minute, and I will come back to the question in a second, but what we’re seeing is this will see very significant supplies coming in, and industry has said to me, the pharmacy sector, both at the Guild level, and the team leader level of pharmacies such as Chemist Warehouse, with whom I was speaking yesterday, that they are expecting very significant supplies.

 

23:07

When asked about the possibility of price gouging of RATs from suppliers, Hunt says that the pharmacy stores that are participating in the concession card RAT program have been putting stock aside for some time, which I mean isn’t really an answer to that question, but oh well.

Greg Hunt:

All the participating pharmacists are putting aside tests. I think that’s really important.

I spoke to one pharmacy chain CEO yesterday, they were prioritising for early on this week, where they were expecting to have 500 packs of five tests available in the vast majority of their pharmacies which, had been put aside specifically for pensioners, concession card holders, low income healthcare card holders and our veterans, and we’re seeing that across the system.

And so, they’re actually reserving spaces. That’s not to say that every pharmacy on day one is participating. It’s a phased program and importantly it’s a supplementary program.

 

23:01 Ben Doherty

Australia’s offshore processing regime on Nauru will cost taxpayers nearly $220m over the next six months as it holds 107 people on the Pacific island.

Brisbane firm Canstruct International has been awarded a new extension – its eighth non-competitive contract extension – for $218.5m to provide six months of “garrison and welfare services” on Nauru. The company’s total revenue from island contracts over the past five years now totals more than $1.8bn.

It currently costs Australian taxpayers more than $4m a year to hold one person within the Nauru offshore regime – a little over $11,000 per person per day.

The government’s latest figures, revealed in Senate estimates, stated 107 people – 81 refugees and 26 asylum seekers – were still held on Nauru.

The 81 refugees have had their claim for protection formally recognised. Australia is legally obliged to protect them and they cannot be returned to their home country because they face a “well-founded fear of being persecuted”.

The Canstruct group of companies, or entities associated with it, have made 11 donations to the Liberal National party in Queensland.

You can read more about this below:

Related: Nauru offshore regime to cost Australian taxpayers nearly $220m over next six months

 

23:00

But Hunt has urged people not to hold out for Novavax if they are able to get Pfizer, Moderna or even good old AstraZeneca today.

(Basically, Novavax is different because it’s a protein-based vaccine, which is an older, more well-understood vaccine technology. So therefore some who may be cautious about mRNA vaccines or AZ may be more inclined to roll up their sleeves.)

Hunt:

I do want to encourage everyone unless there’s a contrary indication, please continue to come forward and take the existing vaccines, the Pfizer, the Moderna, the AstraZeneca, depending upon your circumstances, but if you do have a contraindication, for those for whatever reason have not felt comfortable joining the program so far, this is your opportunity.

It can be taken by those who have had Covid on the advice of ATAGI, and for the severely immunocompromised, three doses are recommended, as is the case with the other vaccines.

 

23:00

Now the health minister has moved on to the start of the concession card holder RAT rollout, which starts today (in theory).

Hunt:

The second thing I want to mention is the concessional rapid antigen tests, which supports the health testing program, for pensioners, Commonwealth seniors, department of veterans gold, white, or orange cardholders and low-income healthcare cardholders commences this week.

We’ve had positive reports from the public and pharmacies that already led to supply this morning. This is a screening program, if you have symptoms, you’re a close contact, please continue to go through the principal health screening program, and health testing program, which has always been free and continues to be free, and has seen over 60 million tests delivered around Australia.

Hunt says that between 800 and 1,000 pharmacies will begin providing the free tests today, with more to be onboarded in the coming weeks.

This was a national cabinet decision, a 50/50 program in the same way the schools program is 50/50, this is a 50/50 program, with the states, and so we thank them and support them but also thank the Pharmacy Guild which has co-designed and engaged in the program.

 

22:57

Hunt says Novavax will start going into arms around Australia on 21 February:

To begin with, in terms of ATAGI, we have received a second green light in relation to the Novavax vaccine.

I have spoken with the company both last week and this morning among many conversations and we’ll be able to commence that program in the week of 21 February.

What happens from here is now that we’ve got the double green light in Australia, stocks will be released, provided to Australia, the TGA will go through a detailed batch testing process, as this will be the first such shipment we have received, and presuming that’s deemed to be safe and in line with all of the data and science that we have received to date, then that fourth vaccine will be made available from week of 21 February.

The specific advice of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation is that it will be a 2-dose course, with a minimum of three weeks between the first and the second doses.

It’s a protein-based vaccine, for some, who may have had contrary indications or reactions with regards to other vaccines, this will provide an additional opportunity for them, as well as those who for whatever reason have not taken up the program so far.

 

22:54

Along with the Novavax news, Hunt says that Australia is seeing a “clear decrease in cases”, as Omicron passes through the nation.

We are seeing two critical developments. The first is a clear decrease in cases, hospitalisations, and that in turn will have an impact on ICU and ventilation numbers and lives saved.

And secondly, continued enormous uptake of the vaccination program with 48m doses passed and almost 2m doses in the last week. The pensioners concessional scheme will also commence, the first phase today, this is supplementary to the health testing, the health testing through the clinics remains the principal avenue, but this is an additional avenue and it’s started with greater numbers earlier than anticipated. I’m very pleased with that.

 

22:52

Federal health minister, Greg Hunt, is speaking now, let’s listen in.

Novavax recommended for use in Australia

22:50 Paul Karp

The health minister, Greg Hunt, has announced that the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has recommended the use of the Novavax vaccine. The vaccine will be available in Australia from 21 February.

Novavax was already approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, but Australia has a “double green light” approach that requires a separate recommendation for use.

Hunt also declared there is a “clear decrease in cases, hospitalisations, and that in turn will have an impact on ICU and ventilation numbers”.

 

22:50

BTW we will be hearing from the Queensland leaders at 10am AEST (11am AEDT).

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Health Minister Yvette D’Ath will give a COVID-19 update at 10am (QST)

It’s expected they will release the government’s plan for children to return to school on February 7.

— @MartySilk (@MartySilkHack) January 23, 2022

 

22:39

Those on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia have been warned to prepare for flooding, the SES urging people to move valuables inside, and if it’s safe clear gutters and drains to try and mitigate damage to homes.

#FLOOD Advice MESSAGE issued for Yorke Peninsula. If you are in this area you should prepare for flooding. Move valuables to a safe place and, if safe to do so, clear drains and gutters. More info: https://t.co/FmA9UrL97Q ID:251/2

— SASES (@SA_SES) January 23, 2022

 

22:37

Police are investigating the suspicious death of a man at a property in a small town in Tasmania’s northwest, reports AAP.

The man’s body was found by emergency services at Sprent on Sunday night.

Tasmania police said in a statement:

The death is being treated as suspicious and an investigation is under way.

Police are asking anyone with CCTV footage of roads in the Sprent area to come forward, as well as people who saw people or cars at Sprent Forest on Sunday afternoon.

 

22:35 Michael McGowan

The New South Wales government could be forced to spend another $4.1bn over the next decade to address “significant uncertainties” surrounding a controversial $40bn rail corporation it set up to inflate the state’s budget bottom line.

The auditor general, Margaret Crawford, has given the long-awaited signoff on the state’s finances after a three-month delay caused by concerns surrounding the establishment of the Transport Asset Holding Entity, or TAHE, which holds $40bn in NSW rail assets.

In 2021 Crawford delayed the release of the state’s audited finances as a result of “significant accounting issues” with TAHE – a move that forced the state to inject $1.1bn into the transport system to meet the auditor’s concerns.

While she has now signed off on the state’s finances, the auditor has flagged that significant uncertainties remain surrounding the financial assumptions underpinning TAHE.

You can read the full report below:

Related: ‘Accounting sham’: transport body set up to improve NSW’s budget bottom line could need $4.1bn injection

 

22:12

However, in NSW hospitalisation numbers have gone back up.

There are currently 2,816 people in hospital with Covid-19, up from 2,712 on Sunday.

There are now 196 Covid-positive people in ICU in the state, compared to 189 yesterday.

 

22:10

Now that we have the case numbers out of the way, let’s talk about hospitalisations.

Victoria recorded a slight decrease in hospitalisations, with 998 today, down four from Sunday.

The state’s ICU number also dropped by one to 119.

 

22:08 Paul Karp

Senator James Paterson, the chair of the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security, has called for a boycott of WeChat over the takeover of Scott Morrison’s account.

Paterson revealed on Sky News that Morrison, who uses an agent to post to the account, lost access to it in the middle of 2021 and “repeatedly tried to regain access” but failed to do so.

“It’s clear WeChat has no intention of allowing him [the PM] to post,” he said.

Paterson said this happened about six months ago, as Morrison attended the G7 and cited China’s 14 demands of Australia as evidence of the “dangers of being over-exposed” to China.

It wouldn’t be at all surprising if those two events connected.

Paterson said the account takeover amounted to China making a “partisan intervention” in Australian politics by blocking one side from posting.

He called on all politicians to boycott WeChat, arguing that Anthony Albanese “shouldn’t allow a foreign power to dictate” the terms of who and how political leaders can speak to the people.

NSW records 24 Covid deaths and 15,091 new cases

22:03

The New South Wales Covid figures are out and the state has recorded 15,091 new cases and sadly 24 deaths.

NSW COVID-19 update – Monday 24 January 2022

In the 24-hour reporting period to 8pm last night:

– 95.3% of people aged 16+ have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

– 93.9% of people aged 16+ have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine pic.twitter.com/qwPkAfdWyt

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) January 23, 2022

Victoria records 17 Covid deaths and 11,695 new cases

22:03

Victoria has recorded 11,695 new Covid-19 cases and sadly 17 deaths.

We thank everyone who got vaccinated and tested yesterday.

Our thoughts are with those in hospital, and the families of people who have lost their lives.

More data soon: https://t.co/OCCFTAcOZP#COVID19Vic #COVID19VicData pic.twitter.com/z63CermfYe

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) January 23, 2022

EU and US issue Covid travel warnings about Australia

21:51 Calla Wahlquist

Australians may not be able to travel without quarantine to Europe even if they are fully vaccinated, with both the European Council and the United States issuing warnings about the severity of the Omicron wave down under.

On 17 January, the European Council removed Australia, Canada and Argentina from the “white list”, the list of countries for which restrictions on non-essential travel should be listed.

One day later, on 18 January, the United States updated its travel advice for Australia to “do not travel” after the Centre for Disease Control issued a level four travel health notice for Australia due to “a very high level of COVID-19 in the country”.

That was about a week after reported case numbers peaked at more than 100,000 on 8 January.

The European Council list is reviewed every two weeks, so if Australia’s case numbers continue to fall it could be reinstated as early as next week.

The recommendation is not legally binding, and countries can set their own border restrictions. Italy, Greece and Cyprus have already ignored the ruling. Many European countries are also experiencing a large number of Covid cases, including France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Denmark.

The European Council recommended that states gradually lift their travel restrictions for people coming from New Zealand, Indonesia, South Korea, Bahrain, Chile, Colombia, Kuwait, Peru, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Uruguay, and China, subject to confirmation of reciprocity

 

21:42 Paul Karp

Google has warned of a “devastating” impact on the internet if a court ruling that the search giant is liable for defamatory material contained in hyperlinked pages is not overturned.

Google warned in a submission to the high court it will be forced to “censor” its search results if a $40,000 defamation damages award to George Defteros, a solicitor who represented Melbourne gangland figures, is allowed to stand.

Defteros successfully sued Google, arguing its publication of search results that included a 2004 article in the Age about his arrest on conspiracy to murder charges – which were later dropped – defamed him.

In 2020, the Victorian supreme court justice Melinda Richards ruled the article had implied that Defteros crossed a line from professional lawyer to confidant and friend to criminal elements. Victoria’s court of appeal rejected a bid from Google to overturn the result.

You can read the full report below:

Related: Google warns of ‘devastating’ impact if court ruling on defamatory hyperlinks not overturned

 

21:38

Severe Thunderstorm Warning for HEAVY RAINFALL for people in Kangaroo Island and parts of Yorke Peninsula and North East Pastoral. Refer districts.https://t.co/NLwJV1daDo pic.twitter.com/2RHGlcOvec

— Country Fire Service (@CFSAlerts) January 23, 2022

 

21:37

OK, this has nothing to do with Australia or Covid but I just have to share this with you, as a little morning treat.

Please enjoy the woman in the background of this snow report FIGHTING FOR HER LIFE on those stairs.

❄️ 1 inch of natural snow overnight

🌨 16 inches of snow this week

🎿 21 slopes and trails

🏂 3 terrain parks

🚡 9 am – 9 pm

Snow Report: https://t.co/rw4pGi01Tx pic.twitter.com/gNAT7Q99Ct

— Seven Springs (@7SpringsPA) January 20, 2022

 

21:36 Christopher Knaus

On New Year’s Eve, on the other side of the world, Ash Fadian’s brother-in-law died of Covid-19.

Devastated by the news, Fadian’s thoughts quickly turned to getting from her home in Sydney to the funeral in London.

Fadian is on a bridging visa, one of the only visa types still subject to harsh Covid travel bans preventing her from re-entering Australia without an exemption.

Six times Fadian applied for an exemption on compassionate grounds. She showed authorities her brother-in-law’s death certificate and the funeral notice.

You can read the full report below:

Related: ‘I’m beyond devastated’: Sydney woman on bridging visa denied exemption to travel to UK funeral

 

21:36 Paul Karp

The Daily Telegraph is reporting that Scott Morrison’s WeChat account (which has 76,000 followers) has been hijacked and was renamed “Australian Chinese new life” earlier in January in a change made without the government’s knowledge.

Morrison’s profile photo was reportedly deleted and the account description changed to “provide life information for overseas Chinese in Australia”, according to a translation.

The alleged “foreign interference” has prompted the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security chair, Senator James Paterson, to call on all Australian politicians to “voluntarily boycott” the hugely popular platform.

WeChat is a popular Chinese social media app, which has been used to run viral negative campaigns targeting Chinese Australian voters in past elections.

On Friday Morrison blasted China for alleged foreign interference and malicious cyber activity in a speech to the Davos World Economic Forum.

Joyce apologises for saying ‘people aren’t dying’ from Covid

21:19

Barnaby Joyce was forced to quickly correct himself during a radio interview with ABC RN after stating that “people aren’t dying” from Covid-19 in Australia.

He was asked if the government can “really say that we are the envy of the world?”, given the European Council has now identified Australia as a Covid-19 danger zone, and the US is now warning against travel down under,

Barnaby Joyce:

Well, people aren’t dying.

Host Patricia Karvelas:

People are dying. People are dying every day.

Joyce:

Sorry, sorry sorry. Yes, you are correct, I shouldn’t have said that. But the number in which – the fatality rate is very low.

Obviously, that is a tragic thing for anybody … [to die] for any reason – for catching the flu. But the fatality rate of Omicron is remarkably low and Australia has done a remarkable job.

Australia news live update: Novavax vaccine to roll out February; Victoria records 17 Covid deaths, NSW 24; Hunt suggests reseller ‘hoarding’ a factor in rapid test shortage
© Provided by The Guardian Barnaby Joyce has apologised after saying ‘people aren’t dying’ from Covid. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

‘It is easier to catch Covid than it is to catch a RAT’: Albanese

21:17

Albanese:

Whether you are a pharmacist or a medical centre what they have been doing is getting phone call after phone call as people search desperately for a test.

In so many communities around Australia, it is easier to catch Covid than it is to catch a RAT.

The lesson of the pandemic is that if you don’t get the health outcomes right, the cost to the economy will be more and we are seeing that play out … People are unable to go to work and that has an economic consequence.

 

21:15

Jumping back to Anthony Albanese – the opposition leader has slammed Barnaby Joyce for his “people aren’t dying” slip up.

What we heard from Barnaby Joyce was blaming the Australian people for the unavailability of RATs.

He said people aren’t dying when they’re dying in record numbers and he criticised the WA government for its economic and health performance.

The truth is that if you look at WA’s performance … they’re leading the country.

 

21:05

Speaking of ABC Radio National, the opposition leader Anthony Albanese is speaking now.

He has a fairly pessimistic outlook of how the first day of free RATs for concession card holders will go.

For so many pensioners it will confirm [the problems with the RAT roll out] because they will rock up to their local chemist and there won’t be a rapid antigen test available.

It’s quite extraordinary that on the day on which pensioners are eligible to receive a RAT … what we heard from Barnaby Joyce then was blaming the Australian people for the unavailability of rapid antigen tests here in Australia.

We all knew that once we opened up the increased number of infections, elimination tests would be an important part of the response to keep people safe, and the government simply didn’t do anything about it.

Individuals ‘hoarding’ RATs is a big problem, Barnaby Joyce says

21:04

While speaking to ABC Radio National, deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has placed a significant portion of the blame for the RAT shortage across Australia on individuals hoarding tests.

When questioned about this by host Patricia Karvelas, Joyce stated that he needed to be realistic and this was the reality.

I’m blaming the fact that we have a virus out there, that people have been buying not what they require but more than they need.

I’ll try to bring you the exact quotes as soon as I can, but in the meantime here is some more of what the deputy prime minister has been saying.

We have 16mn [tests] turning up by the end of the month … We have 70m on order.

It is not as if the tests aren’t there. The problems that Australia is experiencing is being experienced around the world.

We don’t manufacture RATs like other countries do. That’s an issue that you can’t, years ago, predict RATs are going to be the things you need. But what we are doing is making sure we deal with issues as they come along. That is what a competent government does.

 

20:48

Barnaby Joyce tells @RNBreakfast hoarding of rapid tests is a problem in Australia

— Tom McIlroy (@TomMcIlroy) January 23, 2022

Good morning

20:44

Good morning everyone and welcome to the new week!

It’s Matilda Boseley here with you and why don’t we start the day with some rapid antigen test news?

From today, more than six million Australians will notionally have access to free RATs at pharmacies. But I say “notionally” because pharmacists say that the widespread supply shortages mean that it could be borderline impossible to meet demand.

Basically, earlier this month, when everyone was begging the federal government to make rapid antigen tests free for all Australians, Scott Morrison met them halfway (a quarter way?) and announced concession card holders would be able to access up to 10 free tests from their local pharmacies.

The treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, has been out and about this morning, including on ABC News Breakfast, attempting to quell fears about the RAT supply chain strain, reminding people that they are (notionally) available at state testing clinics as well.

The people who need them right now, who are either symptomatic or are a designated close contact, can go to a state clinic.

With respect to those who want to purchase them through the pharmacy, some pharmacies will be making them available as part of this initial program, which then gets expanded.

As you know, there’s great demand for these rapid antigen tests right around the country and here in Australia we’ve got more than 200m on offer. The federal government has provided more than 6m through the aged care sector. We’re providing more than 10m through the states to be used in their clinics. In Victoria, just over 7m have arrived in the last two weeks alone. There’s more supply coming online.

I guess we will have to wait and see today if that explanation really cut the mustard with the Australian public.

So, without further ado, why don’t we jump into the day.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Jose Altuve homered on the first pitch of the game, Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel also went deep and the Houston Astros extended their winning streak to ... Read more »

Kreider scores late, Rangers edge Pens 5-3 to force Game 7

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Chris Kreider’s long slap shot bounced over Louis Domingue and into the net with 1:28 left and the New York Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 on ... Read more »

Astros push winning streak to 11, roll past Nationals 6-1

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jose Altuve homered on the first pitch of the game, and Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel also went deep to help the Houston Astros extend their winning ... Read more »

Moustakas, Drury power Reds to 8-2 victory over Pirates

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Moustakas homered twice and Brandon Drury drove in four runs to break out of a slump and lead the resurgent Cincinnati Reds to an 8-2 victory ... Read more »

Peterson's bases-loaded walk lifts Brewers over Marlins 2-1

MIAMI (AP) — Jace Peterson walked against Anthony Bender with the bases loaded in the ninth inning and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Miami Marlins 2-1 Friday night. After starters ... Read more »

Padres: No cancer found during manager Bob Melvin's prostate surgery

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres say no cancer was found when manager Bob Melvin had prostate surgery on Wednesday. Melvin, 60, was recovering at home Friday after ... Read more »

Ogunbowale, Gray help Wings rally past Mystics, 94-86

WASHINGTON (AP) — Arike Ogunbowale scored 27 points, Allisha Gray had 21 and the Dallas Wings overcame a 15-point second-quarter deficit to beat the Washington Mystics 94-86 on Friday night. ... Read more »

Resigning North Dakota senator led lawmakers in travel costs

The Associated PressFILE – North Dakota Sen. Ray Holmberg listens during a joint House and Senate Appropriations Committee meeting at the Capitol in Bismarck, N.D., on Jan. 7, 2009. Holmberg, ... Read more »

Residents in picturesque California county hit with gas prices topping $7 a gallon

A California county known for its spectacular mountains and proximity to Yosemite National Park has been paying the nation’s highest gas prices. Read more »

Boudreau to return as coach of Canucks next season

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Bruce Boudreau will return as coach of the Vancouver Canucks next season after helping to turn the struggling NHL club around as a midyear replacement. ... Read more »

New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern tests positive for COVID

On Location: May 13, 2022 Catch up on the developing stories making headlines.The Associated Press WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has tested positive for COVID-19 ... Read more »

Today in History for May 14th

Highlights of this day in history: Colonists go ashore in Virginia to set up Jamestown; Lewis and Clark begin to explore Louisiana Territory; Israel founded; Skylab launched; Movie producer George ... Read more »

Twitter CEO expects Elon Musk acquisition to close, addresses spending cuts

Musk is awaiting details supporting calculations that spam, fake accounts represent less than 5% of Twitter's users Read more »

Padres: No cancer found during Bob Melvin's prostate surgery

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres say no cancer was found when manager Bob Melvin had prostate surgery on Wednesday. Melvin, 60, was recovering at home Friday after ... Read more »

Renovated NYC museum shows indigenous perspectives

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City recently finished a major renovation of its exhibition on the native peoples of the northwest coast of North America. Curators ... Read more »

Police release 911 calls in Gilgo Beach case

A woman who disappeared in a beach community on New York’s Long Island more than a decade ago, sparking an investigation into a possible serial killer, said “there’s somebody after ... Read more »

Academy Awards set 2023 Oscars for March 12

The Associated PressFILE – Oscar statue on the red carpet at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Next year’s Academy Awards will ... Read more »

Actor Fred Ward, of 'Tremors,' 'The Right Stuff' fame, dies

The Associated PressFILE – Fred Ward, a cast member in “30 Minutes or Less,” poses at the premiere of the film in Los Angeles on Aug. 8, 2011. Ward, a ... Read more »

Judge refuses to drop elections suit against Trump, media

NEW YORK — A Colorado judge on Friday denied motions to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by an election systems worker against former President Donald Trump’s campaign, two of its ... Read more »

Q&A: Becky G unveils every side of herself in latest album

The Associated PressFILE – Becky G appears at the Oscars in Los Angeles on March 27, 2022. Beck G’s latest album is “Esquemas.” (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File) NEW YORK ... Read more »

North Korea reports 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19 outbreak

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea reports 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19 outbreak. Read more »

North Korea confirms 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea says 21 people died and 174,440 people were newly found with fever symptoms on Friday alone as the country scrambles to slow the spread ... Read more »

White Sox place Giolito on COVID list, activate Vaughn

The Chicago White Sox placed ace Lucas Giolito on the COVID-19 injured list and activated outfielder Andrew Vaughn following a rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte on Friday. Giolito began experiencing ... Read more »

Traded back and forth, Ford learns to live out of suitcase

NEW YORK (AP) — Mike Ford has learned to travel light — and quickly. Since the start of the season, the 29-year-old first baseman has played for Tacoma, San Francisco ... Read more »

Falcon 9 rocket launches Starlink satellites

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched 53 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit from California on Friday. (May 13) Read more »

Celtics' Robert Williams remains out for Game 6 vs. Bucks

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Boston forward/center Robert Williams missed his third straight game with an injured left knee as the Celtics tried to keep their season alive Friday night in Game ... Read more »

Padres sign Robinson Canó, plan to use him off the bench

ATLANTA (AP) — The San Diego Padres have signed veteran second baseman Robinson Canó to a major league contract and plan to use him as a left-handed bat off the ... Read more »

WNBA star's Russia detention extended by 1 month

The lawyer for WNBA star Brittney Griner says her pre-trial detention in Russia has been extended by one month. Alexander Boykov told The Associated Press the relatively short extension indicated ... Read more »

Louisiana justices toss COVID-related charges against pastor

Hundreds of thousands of Americans fighting long-haul symptoms from COVID-19 Dr. David Putrino from Mount Sinai Health System and COVID long-hauler Joel Fram discuss the long-term effects of the disease.The ... Read more »

Sandy Hook lawsuits against Alex Jones on track to resume

The Associated PressFILE – This Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, photo shows radio show host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones at Capitol Hill in Washington. The Sandy Hook families’ lawsuits against ... Read more »

Rockies' Bryant closer to return after cortisone shot

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Rockies outfielder Kris Bryant took swings in the cage Friday for the first time since he was sidelined with a sore back nearly three weeks ago ... Read more »

Mariners demote Jarred Kelenic to minors after poor start

NEW YORK (AP) — Rather than make his Citi Field debut against the team that traded him, Jarred Kelenic was demoted to Triple-A Tacoma by the Seattle Mariners on Friday ... Read more »

Biden: ASEAN partnership 'critical' in this moment

Looking to strengthen ties, President Joe Biden welcomes leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to Washington for the first time. “We’re launching a new era in U.S.-ASEAN relations,” ... Read more »

Phil Mickelson will not defend his title at next week's PGA Championship

Phil Mickelson caught lightning in a bottle last year at Kiawah Island, winning a major championship at 50 years of age. The fairways flooded, and the golf world stood and ... Read more »

Tennessee Titans' Malik Willis on Ryan Tannehill's mentorship comments: 'Everything is cool'

The Tennessee Titans didn’t take issue with Ryan Tannehill’s comments about mentoring third-round rookie Malik Willis. Willis and coach Mike Vrabel were asked about Tannehill’s scrutinized remarks following the first ... Read more »

Lawyers plan suit against Lufthansa over Jewish passengers

Lawyers for 26 passengers said Friday they told Lufthansa that they will sue the German airline for refusing to let members of a large group of Orthodox Jewish passengers board ... Read more »

Wild face offseason after yet another early ouster

While the Minnesota Wild were stacking up franchise records and securing the extra home game for the first round, general manager Bill Guerin carefully acknowledged a “great year” for the ... Read more »