LATEST COVID-19 DEVELOPMENTS:
* Tens of thousands of Sydneysiders will have to isolate, with “major concerns” over the transmission of COVID-19 during brief interactions at a western suburbs bottle shop.
* NSW Health has ramped up its alert for patrons of BWS at Berala. Most who called in across the Christmas period are now considered close contacts and need to isolate for 14 days even if they visited the bottle-o for a short time.
* The Berala cluster now numbers 13 cases, with five recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm.
* There were eight locally-acquired NSW cases in total in that period, from 18,923 tests.
* Masks are now mandatory in Sydney shopping centres, on public transport, in places of worship, hair and beauty premises, entertainment venues such as cinemas and at other indoor venues like post offices and banks. All hospitality staff are also required to wear one.
* Victoria recorded three new locally-acquired infections for an active-case total of 32, while the number linked to Melbourne’s Black Rock cluster seeded by NSW’s northern beaches outbreak jumps to 21.
* The Garden State conducted 22,477 tests as people endured long lines at processing sites. Some were turned away and sent to nearby locations.
* A total of 1500 people have applied for an exemption to return to Victoria since it closed its northern border in Friday. Only 117 permits have been granted.
* The federal government has applauded NSW and Victoria’s responses to fresh outbreaks, while urging Victoria to allow residents back home.
* Health Minister Greg Hunt said with seedings at multiple Sydney venues, a “potentially enormous event” could have occurred but for the extent and speed of NSW’s response and contact-tracing capacity.
* Queensland has recorded zero new cases, with residents returning from visits to Victoria queuing to be tested after authorities advised them to do so straight away.
* The earliest Queensland will review its border restrictions for Greater Sydney is January 8, 28 days since the first case of community transmission.
South Australians are being advised to reconsider any travel to Victoria in response to the COVID-19 cluster in Melbourne.
* Health chief Nicola Spurrier says extensive contact tracing has been done by Victoria but she wants SA residents planning a trip in the next few days to be flexible. Otherwise, it’s not necessary to close the border.
* It’s been revealed five guards at SA medi-hotels were sacked for breaches of their duties while another 94 were suspended.
AUSTRALIAN CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS
* There were 15 new virus cases recorded in Australia, including 11 in Sydney (8 local), three in Victoria and one in WA.
* The national death toll is 909: Victoria 820, NSW 56, Tasmania 13, WA 9, Queensland 6, SA 4, ACT 3. (Two Queensland residents who died in NSW have been included in the official tolls of both states).
GLOBAL CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS:
* Cases: at least 84,978,286
* Deaths: at least 1,843,366
* Recovered: at least 60,095,816.