March 22, 2023

Australia records 77 deaths on deadliest day of pandemic; national medical stockpile activated – as it happened

Private hospital staff diverted to public system as national medical stockpile activated; Victoria declares ‘code...

Private hospital staff diverted to public system as national medical stockpile activated; Victoria declares ‘code brown’ emergency for hospitals; NSW records 36 deaths and 29,830 new cases. This blog is now closed

  • Australia records highest daily Covid death toll since beginning of pandemic
  • On deadliest day of Covid pandemic, experts say we don’t know enough about who is dying
  • January consumer confidence sinks to three-decade low over Omicron
  • Tonga volcano: first pictures after eruption show islands blanketed in ash, as two deaths confirmed
  • Download the free Guardian app; get our morning email briefing

Now McManus mentioned businesses attempting to require Covid-19 positive workers to work. The highest-profile example of this in recent days has to be the Teys Australia abattoir in South Australia which was given state government approval to operate while some staff were Covid positive.

The ACTU said the exemption from the SA government was apparently unique in Australia and set a dangerous precedent given the risks of affecting other staff, but McManus has just confirmed that the workers of the plant have just secured a victory in this case.

Just with breaking news, that’s been resolved and those workers don’t have to go to work while they’re Covid positive. This is about being very clear with employers that this is unacceptable.

Unfortunately, the ACTU has been receiving a lot of pleas for help from workers, mainly in smaller organisations like hospitality and retail, where they’re casual workers and their employers have been saying “we know you’re positive, but come to work, you’re not infectious”.

We are writing to all employers and we started that last night. We need to put in place upgraded safety protections for 2022. What cut it last year for Delta won’t work now.

That involves things like better masks, it involves RATs when they’re available. That has to be done under the law and in consultation with workers. Workers have a right to cease work if they’re not in a safe workplace.

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