2.15am GMT

And to begin, NSW Health has issued a new public health alert about a number of new venues of concern.

Anyone who has visited the following venues at the listed times should get tested immediately and self-isolate until you receive a negative result:

Haberfield, Australian Motor Traders, 2 Haberfield Rd, Haberfield, Tuesday 29 December, 4.30pm-5.00pm
Punchbowl, Officeworks Punchbowl, 1618 Canterbury Rd, Punchbowl, Tuesday 29 December, 3.45pm-4.45pm

Anyone who visited the following venues at the listed times should monitor for symptoms, and if they occur, get tested immediately and self-isolate until you receive a negative result:

Blacktown, Westpoint Blacktown, 17 Patrick St, Blacktown, Monday 28 December, 2.40pm-3.20pm
Blacktown, El Jannah, 44048 Flushcombe Rd, Blacktown, Monday 28 December, 3.20pm-4pm
Blacktown, Service NSW, Blacktown Service Centre, 14 St Martins Crescent, Blacktown, Wednesday 30 December, 12.15pm – 1pm
Blacktown, Hills Campus, Hillsong Church, 1/9 Solent Cct, Norwest, Tuesday 29 December 8-8.45pm

2.06am GMT

Good afternoon everyone, Mostafa Rachwani with you on this gloomy Saturday.

I’ll be taking over the blog after Melisssa expertly guided us through the morning. There’s still much to discuss, so lets dive in.

1.46am GMT

AMA welcomes NSW masks decision

The NSW branch of the Australian Medical Association has been calling on the state government to mandate masks. Following the announcement from the premier, Gladys Berejiklian, today that masks will be mandatory indoors, the AMA NSW president, Dr Danielle McMullen, issued this statement:

Making masks compulsory in indoor settings is a simple, yet effective means of reducing that risk. This is a crucial decision – particularly as more people will be returning to work after the holidays and trains and buses become increasingly crowded.

Masks create an effective barrier against aerosol droplets which transmit the disease. They protect you from other people and protect other people from you. But they are not failsafe.

We encourage all NSW residents to continue to practice good hand hygiene, maintain physical distance, and if you have any symptoms at all – please stay home.

The mandate will be implemented from midnight, but will not be enforced until Monday. Residents caught without a mask from Monday will face a $200 fine.

NSW health minister Brad Hazzard during a Covid-19 update press conference in Sydney, Saturday, 2 January, 2021. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

at 1.56am GMT

1.43am GMT

More venues added to NSW alert list

Anyone who visited Australian Motor Traders in Haberfield on 29 December between 4.30pm and 5pm, or Officeworks Punchbowl on 29 December between 3.45pm and 4.45pm should get tested immediately and self-isolate until receiving a negative result.

Anyone who visited the following venues at the listed times should monitor for symptoms and if they occur get tested immediately and self-isolate until you receive a negative result:

Westpoint Blacktown on Monday 28 December between 2.40pm and 3.20pm
El Jannah Blacktown on Monday 28 December between 3.20pm and 4pm
Service NSW, Blacktown Service Centre, on Wednesday 30 December between 12.15pm and 1pm
Hills Campus Hillsong Church on Tuesday 29 December between 8pm and 8.45pm

A number of testing clinics are open in western Sydney today, including the Merrylands Park drive-through clinic, cnr Burnett Street and Merrylands Rd, between 8am and 8pm. There are more than 350 Covid-19 testing locations across NSW, many of which are open seven days a week. To find your nearest clinic visit: https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/how-to-protect-yourself-and-others/clinics or contact your GP.

NSW Health has urged anyone in NSW with even the mildest symptoms, such as headache, fatigue, cough, sore throat or runny nose, to come forward immediately for testing, then isolate until they receive a negative result.

at 1.47am GMT

1.35am GMT

Thanks to one of our readers, Karen, who has emailed me to say: “I just drove past the Casey Fields testing centre [in Melbourne’s south-east] and the signs say it is closed due to high demand. Hopefully, people keep returning to try to get tested rather than doing nothing.”

In the press conference earlier today, the Victorian testing manager, Jeroen Weimar, said anyone with symptoms who could not get tested due to long lines or being turned away should isolate at home until they could get tested.

Melissa Meehan ??

And we are done!! Exactly 5 hours after arriving at #wantirna. I cannot express how amazing the kids were. Stuck in a hot car for that long…. and now to quarantine at home for 14 days. #COVID19Vic

January 2, 2021

IPC Health

Our Deer Park drive through testing site is open today Saturday 2 January 2021 from 12noon to 6pm to assist with the testing demand. 106 Station Road, Deer Park#IPCHealth #EveryTestHelps #COVID19Vic pic.twitter.com/A1zyHzpedZ

January 2, 2021

at 1.42am GMT

1.29am GMT

Queensland has confirmed one new case of Covid-19, but is yet to announce further border restrictions in response to outbreaks in NSW and Victoria. The case confirmed on Saturday was acquired overseas and the state has maintained its streak of no community transmission.

Yvette D’Ath MP


0 new locally acquired cases, with 1 new overseas acquired case, in hotel quarantine.

Keep up social distancing & good hand hygiene.

If you are unwell, stay home and immediately call your GP or 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84) to arrange a test. pic.twitter.com/ZeBPxpj5V8

January 2, 2021

AAP reports: On Friday, a second case of the South African variant of Covid-19 was confirmed in a recently returned overseas traveller. The chief health officer, Jeannette Young, said the man in his 50s had travelled from South Africa, the UK and Qatar, and was currently in hospital.

The diagnosis follows a Sunshine Coast woman testing positive to Australia’s first case of the South African variant earlier this week. Young is closely monitoring the NSW cluster and the new Victorian cases.

“While we are not changing any restrictions to New South Wales and Victoria at this stage, as we’ve seen, things can change really quickly with this virus, so I continue to urge Queenslanders travelling to these states to reassess their plans – if it is not necessary, then consider staying here,” she said in a statement on Friday.

“The situation in Victoria and NSW is still very concerning. Queensland is in a good position right now because we acted quickly to declare greater Sydney a hotspot.” The border is closed to anyone who has been in the Covid-declared hotspots of greater Sydney and surrounding areas in the past 14 days.

Border declaration passes are also needed for travellers who have visited NSW since 11 December. Victoria reported 10 new cases of Covid-19 community transmission on Saturday and NSW continues to try to stem outbreaks in Sydney’s west and the northern beaches.

at 1.45am GMT

1.24am GMT

The NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, gave no indication the third Test between Australia and India would be moved from the SCG during her daily press briefing on Saturday. “This is an example where the NSW government strategy is to keep jobs, to keep community morale and wellbeing while making sure we are Covid-safe,” Berejiklian said.

The five-day event is scheduled to begin on Thursday with attendance at no more than 50% capacity. Further Covid-safe compliance checks will be completed on Saturday afternoon.

You can read the full story by my colleagues over in sport here:

at 1.45am GMT

1.19am GMT

Blog reader Hugh is from Western Australia but is currently in Victoria, and said he is experiencing a delay in receiving his Covid-19 test result. He says:

It isn’t just about the wait to get a test – it’s also about the wait for results. I got tested on Thursday at lunch time at Tyabb by Peninsula Health, because I had developed cold symptoms. It’s been around 48 hours and no results, despite that day only having 13,000 tests. I’m travelling from Western Australia so I’m not sure if there are any issues with my details being a non-Victorian.

I’ve been trying to call up the results DOH testing results hotline to ask for either my results or to check my details if there is a delay. Not only is the helpline closed until Monday but it also says they will not have results until after five days! I’m isolating but I can’t apply for a G2G pass home until my results come back.

Thanks for doing the right thing Hugh, and here’s hoping you get results soon so you can begin the process of going home.

at 1.21am GMT

1.15am GMT

Opposition health spokesman Chris Bowen has again taken aim at the federal government for what he says is a far too slow vaccine rollout.

Chris Bowen

Scott Morrison said Australia was at the front of the queue for the COVID vaccine. It wasn’t true then and it’s not true now.

If the TGA approves the Pfizer vaccine this month, Australians should get access this month, not March.

Announcement vs Delivery. pic.twitter.com/5kH1K5Woxl

January 1, 2021

Meanwhile, an interesting point from Sydney epidemiologist Professor Mary-Louise McLaws:

Mary-Louise McLaws

Vaccinating 80% of Australia in 8 months means 170,000 injections per day every day; 4 times the average daily number Covid tests (Apr-Dec). Our health system will struggle to vaccinate while fighting outbreaks unless quarantine flaws are strengthened before March.

December 29, 2020

In the meantime, I have written a couple of vaccine explainers, which you can find here:


at 1.22am GMT

1.11am GMT

Reader Lisa has contacted me to say she is relieved masks are being made mandatory for greater Sydney including the NSW Central Coast. She says it will make life easier for those already regularly wearing them:

I’ve had a couple of not very comfortable encounters with people here. We were criticised by an older lady as we walked past her who muttered under her breath. My sister-in-law has been called a ‘sheeple’ by someone just for wearing a mask in the shops. The majority of people haven’t been critical to that extent, but we’ve had some very odd looks. There’s very little uptake of masks here, and it’s good to have a clearer rule in place now.

at 1.22am GMT

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