Australia’s leaders have agreed on a new national definition for a COVID-19 close contact marking a major shift in handling the pandemic as cases continue to surge across the country.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement after an emergency cabinet meeting was held today.
He says a close contact is now:
A household contact or household like of a confirmed case
A household contact is someone who lives with a case or has spent more than four hours with them in a house, accomodation or care facility
A close contact will need to isolate for seven days from the date of exposure, and take a rapid antigen test on day six.
A confirmed case must isolate for seven days from the date they took the test then have a rapid antigen test on day six
“Omicron is a game changer,” Mr Morrison says.
"I am confident that this is the best way to manage the Omicron pandemic.”
Australia’s Chief Health Officer Dr Paul Kelly says he expects cases will continue to rise.
"Omicron, though, is less severe. I think that is becoming very clear now,” he says.
The new definition comes into effect from midnight tonight in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT.
Tasmania will follow on January 1 with Northern Territory and Western Australia to outline their timeline soon.
IMAGE: AAP/LUKAS COCH