As it happened: Novak Djokovic to play in 2022 Australian Open after visa cancellation overturned; COVID-19 cases continue to grow across the nation

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Key posts

  • The day’s headlines at a glance
  • Court overturns decision to cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa
  • SA reports 4024 new COVID cases and two deaths
  • Four per cent of Victorians could have COVID right now, acting CHO says
  • Qld records at least 9581 new cases, 21 in ICU
  • Booster jabs mandated for critical Victorian workers
  • Changes to close contact rules on the cards for ‘critical supply chains’: PM
  • Djokovic warned of ‘re-detention’ if court ruling goes against government
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The day’s headlines at a glance

Good evening and thanks for reading our live coverage.

If you’re just joining us, here’s a quick recap of the day’s events.

  • NSW recorded 20,293 new cases of COVID-19 and 18 deaths, marking the state’s deadliest day of the pandemic. There are 2030 coronavirus patients in the state’s hospitals and of those, 159 are in intensive care. The reported deaths included a child under five, who NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said died at home and had significant underlying health conditions, and a man in his 30s who was unvaccinated. The option to report positive rapid antigen test (RAT) results is expected to go live on the Service NSW app later this week.
  • Victoria reported 34,808 new cases of COVID-19 – 17,618 from positive PCR tests and 17,190 from RATs – and two deaths. There are 818 people in Victorian hospitals due to the virus. Of those, 118 cases are in intensive care. From 11.59pm Wednesday, there are new isolation rules for critical workers deemed close contacts of positive cases. Dance floors at hospitality venues will also close, excluding weddings.
  • There were 9581 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Queensland today, but authorities said that number was not final, with four private pathology labs yet to record their results due to what was believed to be a software issue. There are 440 people in the state’s hospitals being treated for the virus, including 21 in ICU. Meanwhile, rescue crews are still searching for a 14-year-old girl who went missing in the early hours of Saturday morning near Booubyjan, about 90 kilometres north-west of Gympie, after the car in which she was travelling was swept away by floods.
  • South Australia reported 4024 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths – a man in his 90s and a woman in her 80s. Premier Steven Marshall said the state’s case numbers had stabilised, but there had been an increase in those hospitalised and the peak was yet to come. There are 188 COVID-19 patients in South Australian hospitals. There are 21 people in intensive care and four of those require ventilators.
  • Tasmania reported 1218 new cases of COVID-19 including 821 positive results from RATs. The state distributed 15,374 of the kits yesterday. There are 11 coronavirus patients in hospital.
  • In the ACT, 938 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded and there are 25 people in hospital, including four in ICU.
  • The Northern Territory reported 404 new cases of COVID-19. NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said 26 hospital patients were receiving care for COVID-19. Of those, two were in intensive care (but one of those is in ICU for non-COVID reasons).
  • Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan announced three new local COVID-19 cases and five travel-related cases. He urged residents to get vaccinated ahead of border rules easing on February 5.
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged the Omicron strain of the coronavirus has spread more quickly than he and his officials first expected, as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout began for five- to 11-year-olds. Mr Morrison confirmed today that he would take proposals to state and territory leaders to fix supply chain problems by allowing more essential workers to return to work even if they were close contacts of someone with the virus, while he also wants an agreement at national cabinet on Thursday to resume in-class teaching at schools.
  • There were also major developments as Novak Djokovic’s case was heard in the Federal Circuit Court. Judge Anthony Kelly ordered the immediate release of the tennis world no.1 from immigration detention after overturning the federal government’s decision to cancel his visa.

The national blog will be back tomorrow morning. This is Sarah McPhee signing off. Thank you again and good night.

Victorian, NSW premiers chat about COVID over Zoom

While South Australian Premier Steven Marshall delivers daily coronavirus updates from close contact isolation, his counterparts from NSW and Victoria have been catching up over Zoom.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who returned to work today after taking leave, posted a screenshot of his conversation with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet to Twitter just a moment ago.

The pair will meet again this week for national cabinet.

Leaders, except from Western Australia, met last week and decided on major COVID-19 changes including the distribution of rapid antigen tests (RATs) to concession cardholders and allowing people to report positive RAT results without the need for a confirmation PCR test.

Immigration minister to decide on using ‘personal power’ for Djokovic visa cancellation

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is considering whether to use his personal power under the Migration Act to cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa after a court ruled that he needs to released and is allowed to play in the Australian Open.

Federal Circuit Court judge Anthony Kelly has ordered the immediate release of the tennis world no.1 from immigration detention after overturning the federal government’s decision to cancel his visa.

But in the dying minutes of the hearing, the lawyer acting for the government, Christopher Tan, told the court that Mr Hawke will now consider whether to exercise his “personal power of cancellation” under section 133C(3).

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Sources confirmed that Mr Hawke now has four hours to decide whether to use the power, and it is under consideration.

If Mr Hawke uses the power, Djokovic could contest the cancellation.

However, the power is extremely broad and discretionary, and it would be more difficult to argue against it.

Djokovic could be banned from re-entering Australia for three years if the personal power of the minister is used.

Court overturns decision to cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa

Federal Circuit Court judge Anthony Kelly has ordered the immediate release of tennis world no.1 Novak Djokovic from immigration detention after overturning the federal government’s decision to cancel his visa.

Supporters of Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic protest against his detention on Monday.Credit:Jason South

Judge Kelly told the hearing a short time ago the decision to cancel the temporary visa was to be quashed and the respondent, being the Minister for Home Affairs, to pay his costs and to take “all necessary to steps to release the applicant immediately”.

Djokovic’s lawyer Nicholas Wood, SC, confirmed the tennis star was currently physically with the legal team at a location that is still unconfirmed.

You can read the full story here and our live blog of the hearing here.

Families travel across Sydney for vaccines

Young Sydneysiders travelled across town on Monday for the opportunity to receive their first vaccine against COVID-19, after widespread delivery delays and staff shortages saw many appointments cancelled.

Alan Martin, pharmacist at Priceline Penrith Southlands, said among the 27 children he vaccinated were residents of Little Bay and Randwick, in the city’s east.

Pharmacist Alan Martin at Priceline Pharmacy Southlands on Monday.Credit:Flavio Brancaleone

“People were willing to come a long way for it,” he said, noting most of the children were well behaved and not upset at their appointment.

“If you sit down and you talk to them, and ask them about things first, that settles them down a bit.”

Read the full story here.

Virgin cuts a quarter of flights as Omicron hits crew and travel demand

Virgin Australia has cancelled almost one-in-four of its flights scheduled for January and February as the Omicron COVID-19 outbreak disrupts crew availability and dents travel demand.

The airline said it would operate reduced frequency on busy routes and temporarily suspend 10 routes from late January, as it continues to lose staff who are forced into isolation due to COVID-19 rules.

“Virgin Australia is dedicated to the communities that we serve and will resume these flights as soon as possible,” Virgin chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka said in a statement.

“Although we don’t know when this wave will pass, we do know that as we make the shift to living with COVID-19 there will continue to be changes in all our lives.

“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to any guest impacted by the changes to our flight schedule during this time.”

Read the full story here.

SA reports 4024 new COVID cases and two deaths

South Australia has reported 4024 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths.

Premier Steven Marshall, speaking from his close contact isolation, said a man in his 90s and a woman in her 80s had died.

He said the state’s case numbers had stabilised, but there had been an increase in those hospitalised and the peak was yet to come.

“The restrictions that were put in place on December 26 are now clearly showing that we’ve been able to stop that massive escalation that other states around the country are currently experiencing,” Mr Marshall said.

There are 188 COVID-19 patients in South Australian hospitals. There are 21 people in intensive care and four of those are on ventilators.

WA provides some GPs with childhood COVID vaccines due to Commonwealth ‘supply issue’

Western Australia has recorded three new local cases of COVID-19, all in quarantine and not believed to have been infectious in the community, as the state prepares to expand its proof of vaccination policy.

The state reported eight new cases in total, including five considered travel-related. Two are recent travellers from Tasmania, one is a recent traveller from the ACT, one is an international traveller and the fifth is an interstate flight crew member.

Of the three local cases, one is a close contact linked to the Delta variant backpacker cluster and the other two are household contacts of a traveller from Queensland.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the state government had supplied some GPs with paediatric Pfizer vaccine doses as the rollout began today for five- to 11-year-olds, after they “disappointingly” did not receive their supply from the federal government despite the “assurances” that were made.

“I’m advised that it’s a supply issue from the Commonwealth,” he said.

He said 13,399 bookings had been made for the childhood vaccines between tomorrow and January 24, but there were more than 5000 appointments available at state-run clinics.

Mr McGowan said the state had received about 33,000 doses, and expects this amount weekly.

He is also seeking a “fair share” of the federal government’s rapid antigen tests, which he estimates is over 1 million kits.

The state government is finalising a longer-term policy for proof of vaccination as Western Australia moves closer to easing its strict border controls, with Mr McGowan confirming “February 5 is the date”.

“I just urge everyone, please go and get vaccinated in the lead-up to that date,” he said.

“You don’t want to be in the line on February 4.”

He also said a new proof of vaccination mobile phone application would be launched tomorrow.

Cyclone Tiffany makes landfall in Queensland

Severe Tropical Cyclone Tiffany has made landfall in far north Queensland.

“A cyclone warning is current for large parts of the peninsula district between Weipa and Kowanyama, and also Lockhart River, down to the north of Cooktown,” Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Dean Narramore said earlier today.

Cyclone Tiffany, which strengthened into a category 2 system this morning, had been expected to cross in the early to mid-afternoon, bringing damaging to destructive winds and very heavy rainfall.

“It will then quickly move across the peninsula district and then out into the Gulf of Carpentaria as we move into Tuesday, as a category 1 system,” Mr Narramore said.

“The environment is conducive to intensification on Tuesday and Wednesday.”

A cyclone watch is current for Nhulunbuy to the Northern Territory and Queensland border, including Groote Eylandt.

Watch: WA’s COVID-19 update

WA Premier Mark McGowan provided a coronavirus update shortly after 3pm AEDT (noon AWST).

We will have a playback version of that press conference available for you to watch below soon.

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