Free rapid antigen tests available for six million Aussies.
From today, six million Australians will have access to free rapid antigen tests, but pharmacists fear widespread supply shortages mean they will struggle to meet the demand.
Earlier this month it was announced concession card holders would be able to pick up up to 10 free tests in a three-month period, with a maximum of five tests in a month.
That includes pensioners, veterans and low-income earners.
Chris Freeman, president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) told the ABC, pharmacies have had to put more staff on to cope with calls in relation to rapid antigen tests.
"They're reporting that they're receiving at least four calls per minute," he said.
- With AAP.
NSW/Vic school COVID plans revealed.
Australia's COVID-19 death toll continues to climb, as the two biggest states laid out plans for the upcoming first week of school with rapid antigen tests playing a major role in their similar schemes.
There were 58 deaths reported across the country on Sunday.
NSW added 20,324 new virus infections along with 34 virus-related deaths, while in Victoria the case load rose by a further 13,091, and there were 14 deaths.
As part of NSW's long awaited back-to-school plan, teachers and pupils will get two rapid antigen tests per week when they return to classrooms next week.
The scheme will run for four weeks, covering the states 3000 primary and secondary schools. Early education and childcare centres will also be included.
Premier Dominic Perrottet says it's the right decision for students to return to face-to-face learning amid the Omicron wave.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a similar strategy, saying 6.6 million RATs will be delivered to schools and early childhood centres across the state before primary and secondary students resume classes on January 31.
Not your ordinary delivery from the postie.— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) January 20, 2022
4.5 million more RATs have landed in Victoria this week - and we're ordering 166 million more. pic.twitter.com/NSreDuMO3t
In all, 14 million will be distributed during the state's surveillance testing regime, which will be reviewed after four weeks.
However, Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath has ruled out following this plan, saying there was no national health advice to do so and it was "not a comfortable test at the best of times".
- With AAP.
Scott Morrison's social media hacked.
Scott Morrison's WeChat profile has been hacked and re-branded to push Chinese propaganda in what intelligence chiefs are calling a "blatant" act of censorship.
Morrison has 76,000 followers on China's largest social media website, but The Daily Telegraph reports his team have been locked out of it since July 2021.
The account has since seen Morrison's picture deleted and become a profile to "provide live information for overseas Chinese in Australia," according to a translation.
Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security chairman Senator James Paterson is asking all Australian politicians to boycott the platform in response.
"(The CCP are) targeting our Prime Minister by seeking to shut down his ability to communicate with the Chinese Australians by banning him from the most widely used channel of communication in that community," he said.
- With AAP.
Jacinda Ardern's wedding called off.
The arrival of Omicron in New Zealand and the subsequent restrictions imposed by Jacinda Ardern have come at a personal cost: her own wedding.
The prime minister was due to marry long-term partner Clarke Gayford later this month in a ceremony near Gisborne, on the North Island's eastern coast.
However, on Sunday, when announcing New Zealand's first confirmed community spread of the infectious COVID-19 variant, she confirmed the nuptials were off.
"My wedding will not be going ahead ... such is life," she said.
"I am no different to - dare I say it - thousands of other New Zealanders who have had much more devastating impacts felt by the pandemic."
As of midnight on Sunday, New Zealand shifted from "orange" to the stricter "red" settings on its traffic light-style system for COVID-19 management.
Red settings require additional mask use in public settings, require hospitality venues to cap indoor patrons at 100 and seat them all, a cap that also applies to events and gatherings.
- With AAP.
Ash Barty celebrates another tennis first.
Ash Barty has moved through to the Australian Open quarter-finals in Melbourne, after dropping serve for the first time all tournament before seeing off US prodigy Amanda Anisimova 6-4 6-3 in one hour and 14 minutes on Sunday night.
The 25-year-old Wimbledon champion is the first home hope to reach at least the last eight of the Open for four consecutive years since Wendy Turnbull in 1984.
Meantime, retiring wheelchair tennis champion Dylan Alcott has pledged to enjoy every last second he has remaining on the court after coming back from a set down against Dutch teen Niels Vink to claim a spot in the semi-finals with a 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 6-2 win, with the marathon match taking close to three hours.
Alcott paid tribute to a large contingent of family members and friends he had in the stands.
"I hated myself growing up and the reason I don't [anymore] is them. So I'm very thankful."
Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis think they can go all the way after storming into the doubles quarter-finals.
- With AAP.
Feature image: Andy Cheung/Getty/Mark Mitchell-Pool.