The Duchess of Cornwall has tested positive for COVID-19, Clarence House has announced.
Camilla, 74, caught the virus for the first time just days after the Prince of Wales contracted the illness for a second time.
That’s the headline leading overseas coronavirus news.
Back in Australia, nurses are defying orders to call off a plan to walk off the job on Tuesday and disability workers will be in Canberra to beg the Morrison government for more support including more rapid tests.
In Victoria, Liberal MPs are preparing to pay thousands of dollars in fines for failing to wear masks as required.
There were 25 fatalities from COVID-19 reported on Monday across the country, and another 19,680 cases.
Of the deaths, 14 were in NSW, six in Queensland, three in South Australia and two in Victoria.
NSW had 6184 cases, while there were 7104 in Victoria, 3750 in Queensland and 1027 in South Australia.
ACT had 375, while Tasmania and the NT had 408 and 757 respectively, with WA registering 62 cases.
Here’s your coronavirus update for Tuesday morning.
Camilla tests positive
A Clarence House spokesman said: “Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall has tested positive for COVID-19 and is self-isolating.
“We continue to follow government guidelines.”
Camilla is triple vaccinated, sources said.
The duchess carried out a string of engagements last Thursday – the day Charles tested positive.
🧑🍳In the education space @wlondonwelcome, a local group who support refugees, were running a cookery session.
The Duchess added the finishing touches to Loobia Polo, an Iranian rice dish.
These sessions allow participants to bond over cooking and offer a taste of home. pic.twitter.com/UGXQ9gBdzy
— The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall (@ClarenceHouse) February 11, 2022
Camilla described herself as “luckily” negative the same day, saying of her testing regime during a visit to Thames Valley Partnership in Buckinghamshire: “I’ve taken it so many times”.
Concern for the Queen’s health mounted after the monarch was in direct contact with eldest son Charles two days before he tested positive.
Buckingham Palace said on Thursday that the Queen was not displaying any symptoms, but refused to confirm whether she had tested positive or negative, citing medical privacy.
The 95-year-old spent time with Charles last Tuesday when the prince was carrying out an investiture on her behalf at her Windsor Castle home.
Striking nurses ‘not cuddling babies’
Thousands of public hospital nurses are walking off the job in NSW, saying they are stretched too thin to give the care their patients deserve.
The planned industrial action on Tuesday by those at the front line of the pandemic is first of its kind in nearly a decade.
They are upset with the state government for not implementing minimum nurse-to-patient ratios, as per systems in Queensland and Victoria.
They are also seeking a pay rise above the government’s 2.5 per cent cap in recognition of their pandemic workloads, marked by increasing and more complex work.
“It’s inhumane what is expected of us,” said Nicole Richardson, a registered nurse and midwife who works at Gosford Hospital, north of Sydney.
“We are not cuddling babies. We are trained, professional nurses and midwives trying to work in a broken system.”
The length of the industrial action will vary across hospitals and skeleton staff will remain at work to meet urgent patient care. The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association expects the strike to impact 150 public hospitals.
Paramedics are also planning industrial action this week.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has said the patient ratios the union wants aren’t effective, and said that system hadn’t worked well in other states.
He has accused the nurses association of playing “old union games” and has called on their representatives to negotiate without taking industrial action.
Some hospital workers, like those at Byron Central Hospital, support the strike but won’t leave their nurses’ stations over concerns they already don’t have enough staff to provide the required care.
Liz McCall, a senior nurse at Byron Central and a union delegate, said the difficult work conditions had prompted many nurses to become politically active for the first time.
She said many senior nurses had resigned or retired early during the COVID-19 pandemic because of their workloads, leaving a major gap in nursing experience.
“We can’t provide the care we want to give – it’s really scary,” said Ms McCall, who has been a registered nurse for more than 40 years.
“The pandemic has exacerbated what was already happening in our service.”
The union was issued with an order to stop its strike action late on Monday, after NSW Health and the government sought assistance from the Industrial Relations Commission.
A spokesperson for NSW Health said the strike would “cause disruptions and delays to health services”.
However the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association said it would be going ahead with its industrial action and would not follow the orders.
“The NSWNMA Council supports the decision of our branches to take industrial action statewide,” general secretary Brett Holmes said.
“The strike and rallies will go ahead, as we are unable to comply with the orders.”
Disability workers need help
The Morrison government is under pressure to provide extra staff, protective equipment and rapid tests for the disability sector as it deals with the Omicron strain of COVID-19.
Disability sector workers, people with disabilities and union representatives will be in Canberra on Tuesday for talks with MPs.
The ACTU has written a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, calling for financial help and for him to meet with stakeholders to discuss a fit-for-purpose national plan of action.
ACTU president Michele O’Neil said the needs of some of the most vulnerable Australians were not being properly considered by the government.
“Disability workers are falling ill at an alarming rate and workplaces are becoming unsafe,” Ms O’Neil told AAP.
“The Morrison government must address this workforce crisis and provide immediate support to the disability sector.”
She said a national plan was needed to deal with COVID-19 outbreaks and to support and manage staff isolations.
Meanwhile, Mr Morrison has defended the government not ordering enough rapid antigen tests, as thousands called for them to be made free for everyone.
The prime minister claimed health officials did not advise him that RATs would need to be widely used before the outbreak of Omicron during summer.
“In fact, they were not even approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration until November of last year,” he said.
A petition of more than 150,000 signatures was tabled in parliament on Monday calling for rapid antigen tests to be made free for everyone.
While the government has made the tests free for concession card holders, with product limits in place, there have been growing calls for them to be made universally available.
Victorian Liberals fined
Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy and four of his colleagues have been fined for not wearing masks at an indoor event in the first week of parliament.
In photographs posted to social media, Mr Guy and other coalition MPs were pictured with former AFL coach Kevin Sheedy not wearing masks last Tuesday, the first sitting day of the year.
Mr Guy confirmed late on Monday that Victoria Police had issued fines to him and coalition MPs Peter Walsh, David Davis, Gary Blackwood and Melina Bath for failing to wear a face mask in an indoor setting.
Wearing a mask is required in all Victorian workplaces, including state parliament, unless rising to speak in either chamber or eating or drinking.
He claimed he had a coffee with him during the speech, as did several other MPs, while others took their mask off for the photos.
A Parliament of Victoria work health and safety memo sent on Tuesday reminded MPs and staff of “the continuing requirement for masks to be worn in the workplace”.
In a statement on Monday, Mr Guy said the Victorian Liberals and Nationals cooperated with Victoria Police in relation to this matter and accordingly the fines will be paid promptly.
“The Victorian Liberals and Nationals will continue to advocate for the removal of face mask mandates in low-risk settings so we can begin to recover, rebuild and move forward,” the statement said.
Premier Daniel Andrews, who was fined $400 in October last year after he was filmed arriving at parliament not wearing a mask on two occasions, denied the rules were confusing.
The premier also rejected the notion images of their unmasked political opponents were referred to Victoria Police by Labor after they were raised in the lower house during Tuesday’s heated Question Time.