Hunt is speaking about the fact that children aged 5 to 11 will become eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine tomorrow.
He said that there are approximately 2.3 million children in this age group who will become eligible, and that there are 3 million doses of the vaccine available to them over January.
Hunt then turned to boosters. He says that 141,000 boosters were administered yesterday, which forms part of 164,000 vaccine doses given out in total. Hunt says this is Australia’s “highest Saturday since October”.
He added that around 1.25 million vaccines were delivered this last week, and thanked the “incredible work by our GPs, our pharmacists, and the state clinics are no coming back online… as well as our Indigenous medical clinics”.
“At a national level, we have surpassed 94.7% first doses. We are within sight of 95% which has always been seen as the full vaccination level, but we want to keep pushing. Our over 50 population are almost 99%, and we have passed the 92% figure for second doses,” Hunt said.
He said that, despite the significant number of cases, it is “very heartening that there are only 76 patents on ventilation for Covid around the country”.
Federal health minister Greg Hunt is speaking live from Canberra.
Parts of Queensland are experiencing major flooding, with the aftermath of ex-tropical cyclone Seth causing “unexpected” prolonged heavy rain and storms that have claimed the life of a man trapped in a submerged vehicle north of Brisbane.
Up to 15 others, including a teenage girl, are missing.
AAP have the full story:
Police and emergency rescue teams were called after reports of a utility being swept into floodwaters on Cherry Tree Road near the Bruce Highway, at Kanigan, about 7.30pm on Friday.
An extensive response involving swift water crews ended when the body of the driver, a 22-year-old Sunshine Coast resident, was found inside the ute on Saturday morning.
A 40-year-old man was rescued after a car was swept away in the early hours of Saturday at Booubyjan near Gympie in the state’s southeast.
It’s believed he and a 14-year-old girl managed to get out of the car before it was swept away in floodwaters near the Burnett Highway and Murgon Gayndah Road.
Police said the man was found clinging to a tree but the girl remains missing.
More than 650mm of rain fell across the area overnight. State Emergency Service officials received more than 700 calls for help, while 31 swift water rescues were launched.
Meanwhile a tropical cyclone may be brewing further north in the wake of Seth.
The Bureau of Meteorology is keeping an eye on a monsoon trough in the Coral Sea that is threatening to develop into a tropical cyclone by Monday.
Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid has called for efforts to help flatten the curve to “give hospitals a chance”, warning that the number of Omicron cases won’t peak for weeks.
NSW, Queensland, Victoria have suspended non-urgent elective surgery due to rising Covid-19 hospitalisations.
Khorshid went on to tweet that “the system is leaning on individuals (esp HCW) without providing the necessary support. Surely it’s worth a try to flatten the curve (many people doing right thing anyway) to give hospitals a chance and get boosters into arms.”
He also called for greater support to GPs and private doctors.
One of Victoria’s largest public hospitals, the Alfred, predicts as many as 15% of its staff may be unavailable because of Covid with the Omicron wave expected to last for up to another eight weeks.
Staff at the hospital, which includes Australia’s largest intensive care unit, were told in an email on Friday from the chief executive, Andrew Way, to prepare for rising demand just as the available workforce was decreasing. The Alfred now has more than 50 patients in ICU, or about twice the next largest hospital in Victoria.
Read the full story from Guardian Australia’s economics correspondent Peter Hannam here:
Victoria records 44,155 new Covid-19 cases, four deaths
NSW records 30,062 new Covid-19 cases, 16 deaths
This figure is just cases confirmed by PCR tests, not including rapid antigen tests.
There are now 1,927 people in hospital with the virus, 151 of whom are in the ICU.
It’s Justine Landis-Hanley here, back on the blog for 2022. Let’s dive straight in.
Novak Djokovic’s visa cancellation battle continues. The tennis star is detained in an immigration hotel in Melbourne while he waits to appeal his visa cancellation at a high-stakes federal circuit court hearing on Monday.
In a court submission, Djokovic’s lawyers claimed that he had been advised by home affairs his travel declaration met the requirements for “quarantine-free arrival”. They claimed that Tennis Australia granted him a medical exemption to play at the Australian Open despite not being vaccinated against Covid-19, on the grounds that he tested positive for the virus in mid-December.
The federal government is expected to file its response to Djokovic’s submission today.
But the tennis star is now facing fresh criticism after pictures on social media showed he appeared at public events after his positive Covid test.
Meanwhile, parts of Queensland’s south-east are experiencing major flooding following heavy rain. A 14-year-old girl is missing near Gympie and a 22-year-old Sunshine Coast man was found dead yesterday.
Covid-19 cases are also continuing to rise across the country.
NSW recorded 45,098 cases yesterday from PCR tests, acknowledging that the real number was likely much larger. Victoria reported 51,356 cases, which included results from rapid antigen tests logged online over the past six days.
Queensland reported 11,174 cases and announced the suspension of non-urgent elective surgery for eight weeks.