25% of assessed properties in Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley are uninhabitable; 16 Covid deaths

The National Cabinet is set to end quarantine requirements for close contacts of Covid-19, as the Omicron wave of the virus nears its peak in Western Australia, the AAP reports.

WA, which recorded 4,300 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, is expected to have around 10,000 new cases a day by next week, with hospitalizations expected to peak towards the end of March.

Meanwhile, Scott Morrison said on Saturday that quarantine requirements are depriving businesses of staff, and that removing the need to self-isolate for long periods will help the country’s economic recovery.

Rather than a specified time frame, healthy people with mild respiratory illnesses will instead be encouraged to self-isolate only when they show symptoms.

The national cabinet is also studying measures to reduce the use of PCR tests for the diagnosis of Covid-19.

Australia’s main health protection committee is looking at both changes urgently.

In WA, anyone who contracts the virus, as well as their close contacts, must currently self-isolate for seven days.

The state closed its borders to the rest of the country at the start of the pandemic, and while those restrictions were lifted, density limits and mask requirements are still in effect.

Morrison predicted a tough winter, with cases of Covid-19 and the flu likely to have an effect.

“Now that we’re living with the virus, that means we’re living with everything again,” he said.

The government has set aside $2.1 billion to prepare for winter, including $1.2 billion to help protect the elderly care and disability sectors, $356 million to protect vulnerable population groups and an additional $571 million for vaccines.

The government is also deciding on plans to handle a new, potentially more transmissible subvariant of Omicron.

NSW recorded 12,850 new infections on Saturday, Victoria recorded 6,075 and Queensland 4,029.

There were 1,130 in Tasmania, 259 in the Northern Territory, 704 in the ACT and 2,374 in South Australia.

There have been 22 other virus-related deaths across the country, including 11 in Victoria, four in New South Wales, six in Queensland and one in South Australia.

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