Australia news LIVE: Changes to testing requirements as COVID-19 cases in NSW, Victoria and Queensland continue to rise; Novak Djokovic’s visa rejected

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Key posts

  • Australian Border Force says overseas arrivals must ‘comply with our laws and entry requirements’
  • ‘Harassment’ of world’s best tennis player needs to stop: Serbian President
  • Novak Djokovic’s entry into Australia rejected
  • Elective surgery halted in Victoria as health system strains under pressure
  • COVID-19 cases climb in Sydney’s aged care facilities
  • This morning’s headlines at a glance
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Reader poll: What do you think of Novak Djokovic’s visa being rejected?

As Paul Sakkal has reported, Novak Djokovic’s lawyers are in the process of challenging the Australian Border Force decision to reject the tennis star’s visa.

We’d like to here from you.

Australian Border Force says overseas arrivals must ‘comply with our laws and entry requirements’

Australian Border Force has just issued a statement.

Here’s what they had to say about Novak Djokovic’s situation:

The Australian Border Force will continue to ensure that those who arrive at our border comply with our laws and entry requirements.

The ABF can confirm that Mr Djokovic failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia, and his visa has been subsequently cancelled.

Non-citizens who do not hold a valid visa on entry or who have had their visa cancelled will be detained and removed from Australia.

The ABF can confirm Mr Djokovic had access to his phone.​

‘Harassment’ of world’s best tennis player needs to stop: Serbian President

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic says “the whole of Serbia” is with Djokvic.

“Our authorities are taking all measures to stop the harassment of the best tennis player in the world in the shortest possible period,” Vucic posted to his Instagram account.

He said he had spoken to the tennis player on the phone this morning (AEDT).

“In accordance with the norms of international public law, Serbia will fight for Novak Djokivic, for justice and truth. Otherwise, Novak is strong, as we all know him.”

Novak Djokovic’s entry into Australia rejected

Novak Djokovic has been told his visa has been rejected and that he will be flown out of Australia later today.

Djokovic’s lawyers are in the process of challenging the decision, two sources familiar with the situation confirmed to this masthead.

World No.1 Novak Djokovic.Credit:AP

The world No.1’s entry into Australia was put into limbo during the early hours of this morning due to concerns over evidence supporting his vaccine exemption, as well as a potentially erroneous visa application.

The Victorian government claimed it rejected a late-night request to sponsor the world No. 1’s visa hours before he landed in Melbourne about 11.30pm.

The 20-time grand slam winner, who was granted an exemption to play in this month’s Australian Open, was being quizzed by Australian Border Force officials in a room at Melbourne Airport until at least 5am.

A federal government source familiar with the episode said there were question marks about whether Djokovic had adequate documentation to prove the reason for his exemption. This evidence is required to be presented at the border by unvaccinated people.

The source said it was not clear whether a COVID-19 infection in the past six months – which is suspected to be the justification for the player’s exemption – was sufficient to secure entry into Australia under federal guidelines.

Read the full story here.

Elective surgery halted in Victoria as health system strains under pressure

The Victorian government will enforce a major suspension of elective surgery from today in a bid to alleviate pressure on hospitals, ambulances and testing systems amid escalating COVID-19 infections.

The government announced the decision via press release before 6pm yesterday, following questions from this masthead and a briefing with healthcare services across the state, as hospitalisations for coronavirus reach 591 and 17,636 new infections were recorded.

Elective surgery will be halted again as increasing pressure mounts on Victoria’s hospitals, ambulances and testing systems amid escalating Omicron infections.Credit:Nic Walker

Under the changes, category two and three elective surgery will be halted again at public and private hospitals in Melbourne and major regional cities to help manage a projected surge in coronavirus patients.

Read more about the situation in Victoria here.

COVID-19 cases climb in Sydney’s aged care facilities

COVID-19 cases are climbing in NSW aged care facilities, with concerns about infection control, staffing shortages and the mental health of locked-down residents as the sector struggles to provide care in the Omicron surge.

There were 652 active COVID-19 cases in residents of NSW aged care facilities by Tuesday, an increase of nearly 100 in four days.

Aged care facilities in Sydney are continuing to lock down in response to virus outbreaks.Credit:Alamy

Although the federal government has not released its weekly report on the number of cases in aged care facilities since December 23, information from families and providers indicate significant outbreaks have developed as facilities face the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Read the full story here.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and thanks for reading our live coverage.

I’m Broede Carmody and I’ll bring you some of today’s biggest stories as they unfold.

Here’s everything you need to know in the meantime.

  • COVID-19 cases are climbing in NSW aged care facilities. As Mary Ward and Lucy Carroll report, there are concerns about infection control, staffing shortages and the mental health of locked-down residents. NSW recorded 35,054 cases of COVID-19 yesterday and eight deaths.
  • In Victoria, there has been a major suspension of elective surgery due to the Omicron wave. As Melissa Cunningham writes, authorities are hoping to alleviate pressure on the state’s hospitals, ambulances and testing systems. Victoria yesterday recorded 17,636 cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths.
  • National cabinet met yesterday and it was agreed that concession cardholders, or about 6.6 million Australians, would receive 10 free rapid antigen tests over three months. Prime Minister Scott Morrison says universal free access to rapid tests is “not … the right policy response”. The PM also said Australians who test positive to COVID-19 with a rapid antigen test will no longer need to confirm their diagnosis with a PCR test, in a move to ease pressure on testing lines.
  • In Australian Open news, Paul Sakkal reports that world No. 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic’s entry into Australia has been rejected. He is expected to be flown out of Australia later today.
  • Queensland recorded 6781 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the state government has negotiated with private pathology clinics to open more testing sites. As with other states, Queensland has been experiencing long queues at testing sites.
  • Elsewhere in Australia, and South Australia recorded 3493 COVID-19 cases yesterday, Tasmania 867 cases and the ACT 810 cases. The Northern Territory reported 117 cases and there were 16 cases in Western Australia (five of them local cases).
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