COVID-19 death toll heads towards 10,000
More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia is likely to record its 10,000th death from the virus within days.
NSW and Victoria recorded 40 more deaths in the latest 24-hour period, with 23 in NSW and 17 in Victoria.
The national death toll from the virus stood at 9879 according to figures released on Thursday, with the 10,000 milestone likely to be reached on the weekend.
There is sometimes a delay between a COVID-19 death occurring and authorities being notified.
Meanwhile, vaccinations are no longer mandatory in Queensland for visitors to hospitals, aged care facilities, disability accommodation and jails.
Workers in high-risk settings such as early childhood, primary and secondary education, prisons, youth detention centres and airports are also exempt unless required to be vaccinated by employers.
Testing on arrival for international visitors to Queensland has also been scrapped.
Meanwhile, the Northern Territory's Howard Springs quarantine facility, which opened in February 2020, will close on Thursday.
The facility will remain intact in case it is ever needed again.
More than 60,000 people were quarantined at the facility during the past two years.
It also provided a pathway for thousands of Australians stuck overseas to return home.
At the centre's busiest, staff cared for up to 2000 people per fortnight.
LATEST 24-HOUR COVID-19 DATA:
NSW: 11,504 cases, 23 deaths, 1534 in hospital, 37 in ICU.
Victoria: 9926 cases, 17 deaths, 465 in hospital, 21 in ICU.
Tasmania: 1268 cases, two deaths, 44 in hospital, three in ICU.