Queensland is bracing for its COVID-19 cases to continue to rise as records tumble across Australia.
Some 12,226 new cases were reported in NSW on Thursday, up from 11,201 on Wednesday, while in Victoria case numbers jumped to 5137 from 3767 the day before. Victoria reported 13 deaths while NSW reported one.
Queensland’s health authorities will be providing a COVID-19 update at 11.30am (AEST) on Thursday. You can watch the press conference LIVE in the video player ABOVE as soon as it’s available.
On Wednesday there were 1589 cases in Queensland, 1472 in South Australia, 138 in the ACT, 55 in Tasmania, 19 in the Northern Territory and two in Western Australia.
Queensland COVID update
Queensland has caved to mounting political pressure and will allow interstate hotspot travellers to enter with a negative COVID-19 result from a rapid antigen test.
“From January 1 travellers into Qld from interstate hotspots can use a negative rapid antigen test to satisfy border pass requirements,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk tweeted on Wednesday.
“A PCR test will no longer be required.”
See major changes to Queensland’s COVID protocol in the video player below
The rule change came shortly before the state recorded another uptick in COVID cases, reporting 1589 new cases from 35,002 tests in the latest 24-hour period.
The state has 6368 active cases, but no patients are being treated in ICU.
Omicron continues to be the more dominant strain of COVID, accounting for almost 80 per cent of the state’s identified cases.
Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said the move to rapid antigen testing was appropriate.
“I advised the premier that rapid antigen testing was an appropriate form of testing in the current environment for interstate travellers from hotspots like NSW,” Dr Gerrard said.
He deflected concerns that the supply and availability of the test was an issue.
“Rapid antigen tests in Queensland at the moment are difficult to obtain … we are led to believe they are available in NSW,” Dr Gerrard said.
“The value of rapid antigen tests … is in the context of widescale transmission of the virus.
“They are not as sensitive as PCR, so they can miss a proportion of positive cases, but in the context of widescale transmission, that’s where they start to become useful – and we’re entering that phase.”
Travellers will have to declare the results of their RAT in border applications.
Queensland on Wednesday stayed at 90.5 per cent of people having received one dose of a vaccine, according to federal government data.
The number of fully vaccinated eligible Queensland residents aged over 16, raised slightly to 86.2 per cent.
– with AAP