Pandemic panel to ‘urgently’ review national cabinet’s latest easing of COVID restrictions


As Australia’s governments seek to wind back isolation requirements and reduce the reliance on PCR testing, the coronavirus continues to claim lives and infect thousands every day.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee is urgently reviewing both changes following the decisions made at last Friday’s national cabinet meeting.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison believes quarantine requirements are starving businesses of staff and that scrapping the need to isolate for extended periods will boost economic recovery.

Rather than a specified time frame, otherwise healthy people with mild respiratory illnesses will instead be encouraged to undertake voluntary self-isolation.

But in a break with previous protocols they will only be required to avoid contact while symptomatic.

The national death toll in the two years since the pandemic began is 5582.

Mr Morrison predicted a challenging winter, with COVID-19 cases and influenza likely to have an effect.

The government has set aside $2.1 billion to prepare for winter, including $1.2 billion to help protect residential aged care and disability care sectors, $356 million to protect vulnerable population groups and a further $571 million for vaccines.

The government is also deciding on plans to handle a new and potentially more transmissible sub-variant of Omicron.

NSW reported a further 13,093 new infections along on Sunday, with a further seven virus-related deaths. In Victoria there were 5192 new cases and four deaths, while the ACT had 649 infections.

-with AAP

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