Saturday 22nd of January 2022

helping omicron...


It's been described by an expert as a lockdown in NSW without public health orders.

Although the country's most populous state has few COVID-19 restrictions in place, businesses around NSW have been forced to close due to virus-induced staff absences.

Spending data analysed by ANZ last week indicated economic activity plummeting to levels lower than any other time during the pandemic.

"We're now facing economic situations that are worse than if we'd had an actual lockdown," said economist Jim Stanford, director of the Centre for Future Work.

The Centre for Future Work is part of the Australia Institute, an independent think-tank funded by donations.

With cases expected to peak in mid-January, analysts from Mr Stanford's team have predicted up to a third of workers in NSW could be in isolation in the weeks ahead.

This is how the Omicron outbreak is affecting industries across the state.

Catch up on the main COVID-19 news from January 11 with a look back at our blog.

NSW's 'world class' health system under pressure


At the centre of the COVID-19 crisis is NSW's health system.

Staff have complained of burnout amid surging COVID hospitalisations.

There are almost 2,200 people with the virus in hospital, including 170 in ICU.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet yesterday stood by his assessment of the state's health system as being "the best in the world" and in a "very strong position" to deal with the crisis.

Over 4,000 health workers have been furloughed due to COVID or isolation requirements, leading to critical staff shortages across Sydney's largest hospitals.

The state government has attempted to rectify this by altering isolation rules for asymptomatic health workers who are close contacts.

It's also shifting some patients to beds at private hospitals.

NSW Ambulance said it had been dealing with "unprecedented demand", with a record 5,120 triple-0 calls made on New Year's Day.


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diverted RATs...


When Canberra retailer Gen Sparkle received an email this week informing her that her order of 450 rapid antigen tests (RATs) would be delayed due to a government mandate, she was frustrated and disappointed.

Key points:
  • Gen Sparkle ordered and paid for 450 rapid antigen tests, but was told they would be diverted to the federal government as a priority
  • Stockbroker Chris Burrell was told his company would not receive its order by the anticipated time for the same reason
  • The federal government is in the midst of acquiring rapid antigen tests, which are expected to be allocated to the states and territories in the coming week

Ms Sparkle runs a health food store located in the city's south and said there had been huge demand for the tests among her customers.

She said she had already paid $4,000 for the tests and now was uncertain as to when they would arrive.

Australians are desperately searching for (RATs), but retail supplies are limited and unlikely to improve significantly for several weeks.

The tests have been recommended by state and federal health authorities as a preferable alternative to PCR COVID-19 tests, with testing centres and laboratories overwhelmed by the surge in Omicron cases.

Last week, national cabinet also agreed to provide up to 10 free rapid antigen tests for concession card holders over the next three months, after concerns were raised over the cost of the testing kits.

The announcements mean the federal government is in the midst of acquiring a stockpile of the tests, which would then be allocated to the states and territories for use at testing centres and other public clinics.


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