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New close contact definition & isolation period REDUCED for COVID-19 cases, PM announces

The announcement from Scott Morrison came after a National Cabinet meeting.

A number of significant COVID-19 developments have happened across the country today, with close contacts redefined & and the isolation period for confirmed cases following a National Cabinet meeting.

"A close contact is a household contact, or household like, of a confirmed case only," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a press conference in Canberra.

"A household contact is someone who lives with a case or hasn't spent more than four hours with them in our house, accommodation or care facility setting."

A close contact who is asymptomatic must take a rapid antigen test (RAT), while a close contact who shows symptoms or who returns a positive RAT test must then have a PCR test.

The changes come into effect at midnight tonight for 5 jurisdictions - NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT.

Tasmania will introduce the definition from January 1, while WA & the NT will make an announcement in the next few days.

For confirmed COVID-19 cases, the isolation period has also been reduced.

"On the sixth day, you have a rapid antigen test and if that is (negative) after 7 days, you can go back into the community," the PM said.

"There is evidence of reduced severity of the Omicron variant."

"With Omicron, we cannot have hundreds of thousands of Australians or more taken out of circulation based on rules that were set for the Delta variant."

"We need rules for the Omicron variant."

Today, NSW reported a new record of 12,226 total cases, with 746 people in hospital & 63 people in ICU, along with 1 death.

It came just 24 hours after the state became the first Australian jurisdiction to record a 5-digit daily infection total.

Watch the full press conference here.


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