New South Wales recorded 6,324 new Covid cases with 1,999 in Victoria after a temporary dip in testing rates leading up to Christmas saw fewer diagnoses on Boxing Day.
Authorities have been warning of a post-Christmas spike – particularly after St Vincent’s Hospital revealed on Sunday it accidentally told more than 400 people they had tested negative to the virus when they had in fact tested positive.
The hospital notified those who had received the wrong results, but concerns remain over people who would have been infectious in the community after being reassured by their initial negative test.
It’s understood all 400 false negatives have been recorded in Monday’s daily total in NSW.
Australia dodged the unwanted milestone of 10,000 new daily cases again on Monday after a significant drop in cases in Victoria compared to Christmas Eve.
Queues for Covid testing have been extraordinarily long across Sydney, prompting calls from the Premier to only get tested if absolutely necessary
Testing temporarily dipped in the lead up to Christmas but cases were still rising in NSW. Pictured: Byron Bay locals enjoying Christmas celebrations
Just 57,818 people got tested in Victoria on Boxing Day – down significantly from the 83,000 who turned out for testing on Christmas Eve.
In NSW, 97,241 got tested overnight.
Authorities in both states are still urging citizens not to panic at the sight of rising cases. Hospitalisations are still relatively low and fewer people are getting sick from the Omicron variant.
There are 521 people in NSW hospitals with Covid and 55 in the intensive care unit.
Meanwhile, 368 people require hospital treatment in Victoria, with 80 in ICU, three more than Sunday.
As cases continue to soar nationwide, ACT health authorities on Sunday night said two of its centres would prioritise COVID-19 testing for people with the highest need.
‘Unfortunately the high demand caused by pre-travel testing requirements from other jurisdictions, has caused long waits at our testing centres,’ ACT Health said in a statement on Sunday night.
Some 400 people were told on Boxing Day they received false negative test results and they were actually positive to Covid – after many had enjoyed Christmas with family. Pictured: Boxing Day sales in Melbourne
Frontline workers at Royal Prince Alfred pictured ahead of a busy day treating Covid patients
From 11am to 3pm on Monday the centres at Garran and Mitchell will only test people with symptoms, fully vaccinated close contacts and those who have returned from overseas.
South Australia is now asking interstate visitors to take a rapid antigen test upon arrival instead of a PCR test.
SA has implemented density limits and reductions of the number of people allowed at family gatherings from Monday to curb the spread of the virus.
On Sunday, there were 714 cases in Queensland, 71 in the ACT, 44 in Tasmania – a new daily record for the island state – and 12 in the Northern Territory.
There was also one case in Western Australia which will be included in Monday’s numbers.
Mr Perrottet urged Australians to refrain from getting a PCR test unless advised by officials, were symptomatic, or travelling amid hours-long queues, like the one pictured in Bondi on Boxing Day, December 26
Shoppers line up outside Louis Vuitton at Chadstone during Boxing Day sales in Victoria despite soaring cases
Queensland Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said he expected numbers to increase after Christmas as more people come forward to be tested.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard suggested everyone in Australia would contract Omicron at some stage, noting symptoms appear milder and the current approach to isolation may change.
Mr Perrottet echoed this sentiment, also saying ‘we’re all going to get Omicron’, and asked residents for help in reducing the strain on testing clinics.
He said to only get a PCR test for Covid if they are symptomatic and to otherwise opt for a home rapid antigen test.
Mr Perrottet urged Australians to refrain from getting a PCR test unless advised by officials, were symptomatic, or travelling.
St Vincent’s Hospital revealed on Sunday it accidentally told more than 400 people they had tested negative to the virus when they had in fact tested positive
‘If you do not feel unwell, if you are not required to be tested and have not been directed so by NSW Health, or you are not travelling interstate and that is a requirement, there is no need to be tested,’ he said.
‘We can’t have are people sitting in testing queues which takes away from people who are unwell and who need that test because we want to get those tests back as quickly as possible.’
From midnight, masks were again required indoors after the government last week reintroduced rules for a month in light of soaring cases.
Hospitality venues will also return to the one person per two-square metre rule and QR codes will be compulsory again.
However, customers only need to check in once upon entering shopping centres, rather than individual stores. Mr Hazzard says the new method will reduce Service NSW messages.