NSW Health has released a detailed list of critical workers who bosses can deem exempt from isolating even if they are household close contacts of a positive Covid case.
Workers who show no symptoms and are employers believe are ‘critical’ will not have to go into quarantine under a raft of new rules agreed to by national cabinet this week.
In NSW, nurses, correctional officers, retail staff, electricity, gas and liquid fuel services workers, water suppliers, sewerage, sanitation and drainage workers will each be allowed to return to work.
So will workers in information and telecommunications, social assistance and welfare services, funeral, crematorium and cemetery services, seaport operations, air and sea freight and logistics – as the country faces a worker crisis amid a widespread Covid outbreak.
The changes come as Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant revealed plans to eventually phase out the term ‘close contact’ and shift the sole focus to high risk residents.
New modelling has also revealed hospitals are coping better than expected with the surge of Covid-19 patients – as the state reported 63,018 new cases and 2,525 hospitalisations on Friday.
NSW Health released on Friday a list of workers that would be able to return to the worksite if they showed no symptoms and their boss determined they are ‘critical’ to the workplace
The changes come as chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant revealed plans to eventually phase out the term ‘close contact’ and shift the sole focus to high risk residents
New modelling has also revealed hospitals are coping better than expected with the surge of Covid-19 patients
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, premier Dominic Perrottet revealed ‘close contacts’ would no longer refer to residents who had visited the same sites as a positive case.
‘A close contact definition is legally someone who is a household contact of a COVID positive case,’ he said.
‘I think it is incredibly important that we realise that simply because you may get a notification through your Service NSW app you might have been at the grocery store or you might have been at a restaurant. That does not constitute a close contact.’
Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said health authorities were moving away from the term ‘close contact’ to focus on high risk groups.
‘Everyone probably can understand that household contacts are the group that’s most at risk if you have got an infectious case in that setting,’ she said.
NSW recorded a dip in Covid-19 cases with 63,018 new infections and a record 29 deaths.
The new figures announced in NSW on Friday mark a significant drop from the 92,264 reported on Thursday. The 29 deaths also marks a new pandemic record.
Hospitalisation rates have increased to 2,525 – up from 2,383 – with ICU jumping to 184 – up from 182.
Australia’s medical chief says Covid-19 may have already peaked in NSW after the state notched a record daily high in new cases with the addition of rapid antigen test results.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, premier Dominic Perrottet revealed ‘close contacts’ would no longer refer to residents who had visited the same sites as a positive case
Australia’s medical chief says COVID-19 may have already peaked in NSW after the state notched a record daily high in new cases with the addition of rapid antigen test results
Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly says coronavirus case numbers in the state are close to peaking
Critical workers isolation changes
NSW workers who show no symptoms and are employers believe are ‘critical’ will not have to go into quarantine under a raft of new rules agreed to by national cabinet this week.
Below is a list of industries where workers are eligible for the isolation exemption:
– Utilities which include electricity services, operation of energy systems, gas services, liquid fuels, water supply, sewerage, sanitation and drainage services and waste and resource recovery services (including collection, treatment and disposal services)
– Information and telecommunications
– Social assistance and welfare services
– Funeral, crematorium and cemetery services
– Seaport operations
– Air and sea freight and logistics
– The operation of correctional centres and community corrections
– A person employed by Resilience NSW, a member of Surf Life Saving New South Wales, Volunteer Marine Rescue NSW, or New South Wales Volunteer Rescue Association Inc.
The list adds to the below industries that were already exempt:
– Agriculture (biosecurity and food safety personnel undertaking critical duties)
– Manufacturing (production and manufacturing of food, beverages, groceries, cleaning and sanitary products)
– Transport, postal and warehousing (road and rail freight, logistics, delivery and grocery fulfilment)
– Emergency services workers and healthcare workers who are necessary for the delivery of critical services and who cannot work from home
Source: NSW Health
Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly says coronavirus case numbers in the state are close to peaking.
‘New South Wales is a bit ahead of the other states and that’s not surprising, they started earlier, but they are close to peaking if not already,’ he said.
‘The other states are a little bit further behind that but I think end of January, early February is probably where we will see a change.’
Prof Kelly said other places around the world have seen huge surges in cases from the Omicron variant, before reaching their peak and starting to come down in a short period of time.
The state reported 22 deaths and 91,928 new cases on Thursday, including 61,387 positive rapid antigen tests taken since January 1 that were only able to be reported to authorities from Wednesday.
NSW Health cautioned some of those cases were the same positive cases reported numerous times from multiple rapid antigen tests and PCR tests.
Prior to the ability to register positive rapid antigen tests with the government, the department had warned it was not getting an accurate picture of the virus’ presence and spread in the community from PCR tests alone.
Customer Service and Digital Minister Victor Dominello said on Thursday the rapid antigen test reporting capabilities added to the ServiceNSW app and website coped well with the demand, as more than 82,000 people reported positive tests in the first 24 hours they were allowed to.
Prof Kelly said other places around the world have seen huge surges in cases from the Omicron variant, before reaching their peak and starting to come down in a short period of time
The government has threatened $1000 fines it concedes will be difficult to enforce if people don’t report positive results from a rapid antigen test from January 19, a week after the capabilities first went live.
While PCR queues have receded from the long lines seen at the end of 2021, attention has now turned to an often fruitless search for rapid antigen tests.
A large queue formed near a convenience store in the inner-Sydney suburb of Redfern on Thursday afternoon as word spread it had tests for sale, days after selling out the entirety of an earlier shipment in less than half an hour.
Store owner Hazem Sedda told Nine News he ‘couldn’t believe’ how popular the tests had proven ‘but everyone wants them’.
The number of people in hospital continues to rise, with 2383 people admitted and 182 in intensive care on Thursday.