Further breakthrough Covid cases have been detected in the Frozen The Musical company at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne.
As a result, all performances are cancelled up to and including 2 January. The show is expected to return on 5 January.
All ticket holders will receive an automatic refund.
Coronavirus cases have been recorded on remote King and Flinders Islands off Tasmania as the state registers another record daily infection tally.
The state registered 137 new cases on Friday, bringing its number of active infections to 520.
“Confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been identified on King and Flinders Islands,” acting public health director Julie Graham said.
“Both cases are interstate travellers who received positive test results after arriving. They are both in isolation.”
The two islands, which are situated in Bass Strait, have a combined population of about 2,500 people.
Public Health is conducting tracing and will notify anyone who has been a close contact.
Dr Graham said it was an important reminder that people should check-in at locations and wear a mask indoors as part of public health orders.
In facts that just hit you in the face, one of our data journalists Josh Nicholas just sent me this tweet.
He added a note: “NSW is less than double the NZ pop.”
Cool cool cool.
The New Year’s Eve matinee of Moulin Rouge! The Musical came to an abrupt mid-show halt today when one member of the company received a positive test result for Covid during the show.
The curtain was rung down in Act II. An announcement was made to the audience that the show could not proceed and that everyone should leave the theatre immediately.
Contacted for clarification, a spokesperson for Global Creatures, the show’s producer said: “Due to an abundance of caution, we made the decision to discontinue this afternoon’s performance of Moulin Rouge! The Musical after a positive Covid-19 test result within the wider company was made known to us.”
Moulin Rouge cast and crew are tested regularly. There will be an update regarding future performances as soon as possible, the statement said.
Cast member Ryan Gonzalez, who plays Santiago, has also posted on Instagram that he is at home isolating.
NSW health authorities are working to contain the outbreak of Covid in aged care facilities. Of about 70 such centres in western Sydney alone, almost 50 have reported positive cases or have staff who have tested positive, a senior health official tells the Guardian Australia.
Some are easier to contain where there is no transmission. A committee convenes to decide which centres will be locked down to limit the spread.
The state’s residual contact tracing operations are targeted at high-risk places such as aged and disability care and Indigenous communities, as we reported earlier this week.
Prior to 5pm, authorities had already counted more than 11,400 cases since midnight in NSW, and will likely exceed 20,000 today, the official said. The total may double that to 40,000 before peaking.
(The midnight to midnight rate was more than 22,000 compared with the 21,151 number reported by NSW Health today that counts 8pm to 8pm.)
Eastern suburbs of Sydney were among the biggest clusters of new cases. In recent days, though, the highest rate of positives to tests has been in the Hunter Valley of the state, reaching as much as 40% of those being tested.
How much of an impact on the health system will follow this surge remains unclear, of course, with authorities hoping the lower severity of Omicron compared with the Delta variant will limit the numbers requiring intensive care or ventilators.
The AFP has announced it will lead a joint investigation with ACT to identify who was responsible for the protest at Old Parliament House yesterday.
Those who break the law will be arrested and charged.
The taskforce will use the AFP’s world-leading forensics and technological capability to identify and locate those responsible for damaging commonwealth property, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years’ imprisonment.
The statement says they have interviewed a number of people and will have an increased presence there in the coming weeks.
Sending my thoughts to the good people of Avalon – you do a lot of good in this country and you do not need this NYE nightmare.
Work colleagues of confirmed cases, not just people who live together, may be classed as close contacts if a significant transmission event occurs, according to expert health advice cited by Scott Morrison to overhaul Covid-19 rules in Australia.
Newly published advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee also went beyond health factors to justify the “pragmatic” changes to testing and isolation rules. It said it was a response to fast-increasing case numbers and “the living with Covid policy approach”.
The expert advisory panel – which brings together all state and territory chief health officers and is chaired by Australia’s chief medical officer, Prof Paul Kelly – said the changes would support “public health sustainability, social cohesion and economic recovery”.
Yesterday someone was telling me how Australians are obsessed with the weather.
But when you have a cyclone (about to hit) at one end and a total fire ban at the other, I think that obsession is more than warranted.
Australian Christian minister Bill Crews tweeted this earlier.
It’s a toasty end to 2021 for many parts of southern and inland regions of Australia.
So far, the hottest place in Australia on 31 January is in Jervois, about 350km north-east of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. The mercury there topped 42.2 degrees.
The populations bearing the brunt of the heat are mostly in Victoria, with Melbourne reaching 37.4C and the state’s top temperature so far touching 40 degrees at Avalon, to the city’s west.
South Australia also nudged 42 degrees, with the state capital Adelaide exceeding 38C.
Sydney was a mild 28.1 degrees at its top while Brisbane’s top so far of 25.8 degrees came soon after 8.20am, local time.
WA, which has a bit more of the day to go, recently reached 41.1C at the attractively named Mount Magnet.
While 2021’s year-end warmth is impressive, much of the country was relatively damp over the year and that typically meant temperatures on the cool side.
Here are some of the year’s highlights:
Anthony Albanese wishes all a ‘much easier’ 2022
The federal opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, has issued the following New Year message:
2021 has been a really tough year where people have been isolated, often for long periods of time, from their loved ones and their friends.
So let’s hope 2022 brings health and happiness for all and a much easier time.
Have a happy new year and I wish you all the best for 2022.
‘There’s a lot to do in 2022’: PM’s New Year message
Scott Morrison has issued the following message for the New Year:
Happy New Year, Australia!
Despite the tough times we’ve been through these past few years, we can always be thankful in Australia that we live in what we know is the best country in the world.
And it’s not just the physical beauty of Australia, it’s who we are as a people.
It’s the care we show for each other that has been so richly on display during the many trials we have been through this past year.
It’s our freedom and our preparedness to stand up for that freedom when it counts.
It’s our unique sense of the fair go and the responsibility and obligations we know we have to each other and our country, that’s part of the fair go. We’re a quietly confident people with an optimistic spirit.
That is why, despite the pandemic, despite the floods, the fires, continuing drought in some areas, the cyclones, the lockdowns, even mice plagues, Australia is stronger today than we were a year ago. And we’re safer.
We have one of the lowest death rates and the highest vaccination rates from Covid anywhere in the world. And we have one of the strongest advanced economies in the world to come through Covid – there’s more people in work, more apprentices in training, a secure credit rating and businesses investing in their future with confidence.
That gives us confidence to face what lies ahead. Our work in 2022 is to continue to keep our economy strong, to keep Australians safe, to care for our country and work even harder to keep Australians together. Our plans are to ensure Australians grow together, not apart. To ensure that especially rural and regional parts of our country share in the same benefits and opportunities as in our cities.
This summer you can play your part in keeping Australians safe by going out there and getting your booster shot and ensuring that children aged five to 11 go and get their vaccinations as well.
In 2022 we are looking forward. It’s like the kangaroo and the emu on our Coat of Arms – they never take a backwards step.
Now as we keep supporting each other, Australia, we will be even stronger, even safer and always together. There’s a lot to do in 2022. Happy New Year, Australia!