NSW posts national record of 92,264 new COVID cases as RATs recorded for first time

NSW also marked its deadliest day of the pandemic so far on Thursday after 22 people with the virus lost their lives.

There’s an increase in the number of hospitalisations, too, with 2,383 people in hospital, up from 2,242 on Wednesday. 

There are currently 182 patients in ICU. 

Earlier on Thursday, NSW Customer Service and Digital Minister Victor Dominello said 82,000 positive RAT results from tests taken since January 1 had been uploaded to the Service NSW app or website.

The reporting system for positive RAT results went live on Wednesday morning and while the requirement only became mandatory on the day, NSW residents were asked to add tests taken since the start of the year.

From 19 January, anyone who does not report a positive RAT result can be fined $1000.

Mr Dominello admits that will be very difficult to do but the government had to send a message that reporting a positive result was important.

“It’s almost going to be impossible in many ways to enforce,” he told the Nine Network.

“But the majority of the states and territories in the country have gone down the path of issuing a fine or putting a fine in place – Tasmania, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT – and some have chosen the other path of just saying please do it.”

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Mr Dominello said registering a test result was mainly about connecting infected people with any health care or federal government financial assistance they might need.

Before the new RAT reporting regime, the state opposition had warned authorities were “flying blind”, without an accurate picture of the spread of the virus in the community.

But actually finding a RAT remains a challenge for many, until more supply gets into the system.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has said the government is considering a voucher-style system to distribute the tests.

Some 21.6 per cent of people aged 16 and over have received their third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 93.7 per cent have received their second jab.

Cases in Victoria grow

Victoria has recorded 37,169 new COVID-19 cases and 25 deaths, as new pandemic orders come into effect across the state.

The new infections include 16,843 from rapid antigen tests and 20,326 from PCR tests, the Health Department said on Thursday.

There are 953 patients in hospital, including 111 in intensive care of which 29 require ventilators.

The state is managing 221,726 active cases.

The number of Victorians over 18 who have received a booster vaccine has risen by two per cent, to 20 per cent.

New rules requiring hospitality and entertainment venues to close indoor dancefloors came into effect on Thursday.

Dancefloors at weddings will be permitted as guests can be easily tracked down.

Mandatory booster arrangements have also kicked in, requiring key workers currently eligible for a third dose to get it before 12 February.

The rules apply to disability, health and aged care workers, as well as those working in emergency services, corrections, quarantine and food distribution.

Isolation rules have changed for supermarket retail workers and those who work in the manufacturing, distribution or packaging of food.

These workers are now exempt from isolating if they become a COVID-19 close contact, however they must be asymptomatic, undertake daily rapid antigen tests for five days and return a negative test before working.

Meanwhile, new rules in Victorian hospitals mean anyone visiting must be fully vaccinated or return a negative RAT before entering, and wear an N95 mask.

Aged care residents can only have five visitors per day, who must also return a negative RAT.

– Additional reporting by SBS News.

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