Tasmania registers 137 new COVID cases, one more in hospital

Tasmania has registered another daily jump in COVID-19 cases, with 137 new cases in the state and one more being treated at the hospital.

That is an increase from the 92 cases discovered yesterday and 55 the day before. 2,075 tests were performed yesterday.

The state now has four positive cases being treated at the hospital without anyone being in the intensive care unit.

There are now 520 active cases in the island state with nine new exposure sites listed over the past 24 hours – all either inbound flights or Spirit of Tasmania travel.

A total of 200 cases are being processed through the COVID @ home program, 86 are in community caseworking facilities, and the rest are either still being assessed for these programs or have been denied help managing their symptoms and isolation.

The new cases come a day after Prime Minister Peter Gutwein announced that the state would ease PCR testing requirements for incoming travelers from January 1st.

Tasmania opened its borders to vaccinated travelers from interstate hotspots earlier this month, but required proof of a negative PCR COVID test within 72 hours of arriving in the state.

Sir. Gutwein said arrivals from tomorrow only needed to return a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) within 24 hours before traveling to Tasmania.

During a trial over the next two weeks, arrivals to the state will be given a rapid antigen test at the border. They will only be asked to use it if they develop symptoms or become a close contact of a case.

Following agreement on the definition of close contact in the national cabinet between states and territories yesterday, the Tasmanian government is reducing the scope of who can get a PCR nose graft test at its state-run test clinics.

The move is expected to ease the pressure on clinics after the only test site without an agreement in Hobart – at the exhibition site – closed yesterday only several hours after opening in the middle of long queues.

Under Tasmania’s new rules, PCR tests are given priority to people who have symptoms or who already have a positive result of rapid tests.

A bird's eye view of cars queuing at an exhibition space waiting for a COVID-19 test.
The test site at Hobart Showgrounds was closed yesterday after long queues.(ABC News: Scott Ross)

People who were at a meeting place with positive cases but who have no symptoms no longer need to go to a test clinic for a PCR test.

State Health Secretary Kathrine Morgan-Wicks said yesterday that more than two-thirds of the reservations for a test had come from asymptomatic people.

Rift on new close contact definition

The National Cabinet redefined close contact as someone who has spent more than four hours in a home or home-like setting with a positive COVID case.

It is a departure from the previous definition of 15 minutes of contact with a confirmed case in a nearby environment, such as a cafe or in an office.

This is despite data showing that the Omicron variant is more contagious than previous variants.

SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier at a media conference.
SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier rejects the definition of four hours of close contact.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

The state and territorial premieres, including Mr Gutwein, agreed on the new definition yesterday either directly or in principle, but a rift with South Australia has emerged a day later.

SA’s Chief Public Health Officer, Nicola Spurrier, has told ABC that the state will keep the 15-minute definition as the new rule had not been approved by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).

SA Health took to social media to clarify the definition.

“In South Australia, we will continue to include ‘close contacts’ such as those who have been in an environment with significant COVID-19 transmission and there has been more than 15 minutes of face-to-face contact,” it said. in the post.

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