NSW reports 92,264 cases, 22 deaths

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
More than 92,000 new Covid-19 infections have been reported in New South Wales after residents rushed to post positive results from rapid antigen tests since the start of the year.

The dramatic rise in case numbers to at least 92,264 comes on top of another grim milestone as the state reported a record 22 lives lost in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday.

NSW Health cautioned on Thursday that some of the daily case total included people reporting positive rapid antigen tests (RATs) on multiple days and possible follow-up positive PCR tests.

The number includes 61,387 positive RAT results covering the period since January 1, including 50,729 in the last seven days, as well as 30,877 PCR tests.

Earlier on Thursday, Customer Service and Digital Minister Victor Dominello said 82,000 positive RAT results from tests taken since January 1 had been uploaded to the Service NSW app or website.

The reporting system for positive RAT results went live on Wednesday morning and, while the requirement only became mandatory on the day, NSW residents were asked to add tests taken since the start of the year.

From January 19, the government will begin imposing a $A1000 ($NZ1063) fine on anyone who does not report a positive RAT result.

Mr Dominello admits that will be very difficult to do but the government had to send a message that reporting a positive result was important.

"It's almost going to be impossible in many ways to enforce," he told Nine Network.

"But the majority of the states and territories in the country have gone down the path of issuing a fine or putting a fine in place - Tasmania, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT - and some have chosen the other path of just saying please do it."

Mr Dominello said registering a test result was mainly about connecting infected people with any health care need they might need or federal government financial assistance.

Prior to the new RAT reporting regime, the state opposition had warned authorities were "flying blind" without an accurate picture of the spread of the virus in the community.

But actually finding a RAT remains a challenge for many, until more supply gets into the system.

Premier Dominic Perrottet has said the government is considering a voucher-style system to distribute the tests.

Some 21.6% of people aged 16 and over have received their third dose of a Covid vaccine, while 93.7% have received their second jab.

Six deaths as Queensland to open border

Six people have died from Covid in Queensland as the state records another 14,914 new virus cases and prepares to dump all domestic border controls.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Thursday it was the largest number of people to die from the coronavirus in a day in the state since the pandemic began in early 2020.

The dead were all aged between their 70s, 80s and 90s, and had significant underlying health conditions.

"During the whole two years of the pandemic, we've lost seven people. To lose six in one day is a big shock, and our thoughts are with the people at the moment," she said. "It's quite upsetting."

The premier said the state would drop all domestic border controls, with the Omicron variant already widespread in the community and 90% of eligible Queenslanders to be fully vaccinated at some point next week.

At least 91.33 per cent of people have had at least one dose and 88.18 are now double dosed with the premier urging people to have their booster shots as soon as possible.

She said road border checkpoints will be removed and travellers will no longer have to show proof of a negative Covid test from 1am on Saturday.

"They do not have to show that they've had the border pass, they don't have to show that they have to state that they've had a RAT test, rapid antigen test," Ms Palaszczuk added.

"But this is the time and the time it's now right as we head towards hitting that 90 per cent."

However, Ms Palaszczuk said international restrictions will be maintained until Queensland hits the vaccination target. She admitted that opening the borders was a big decision but said it was the correct choice as the state moved forward.

New pandemic orders in Victoria 

In neighbouring Victoria,  there were 37,169 new Covid cases and 25 deaths, as new pandemic orders come into effect across the state.

The new infections include 16,843 from rapid antigen tests and 20,326 from PCR tests, the Health Department said on Thursday.

There are 953 patients in hospital, including 111 in intensive care of which 29 require ventilators. The state is managing 221,726 active cases.

The number of Victorians over 18 who have received a booster vaccine has risen by 2% to 20%.

New rules requiring hospitality and entertainment venues to close indoor dancefloors came into effect on Thursday. Dancefloors at weddings will be permitted as guests can be easily tracked down.

Mandatory booster arrangements have also kicked in, requiring key workers currently eligible for a third dose to get it before February 12.

The rules apply to disability, health and aged care workers, as well as those working in emergency services, corrections, quarantine and food distribution.





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