Australia live news updates: Victoria reports five Covid deaths and 1,166 cases as protests expected to escalate; William Tyrrell search in sixth day

Good morning, I’m Stephanie Convery and I will be taking you through the news of the day for those of you up bright and early to read about it.

We’re expecting protests outside Victoria’s state parliament to escalate today as anti-fascist activists vow to counter-rally against another wave of planned “freedom rallies” they claim have been infiltrated by far-right groups. The protesters have been campaigning for days against the Labor state government’s pandemic bill.

A series of protests against vaccine mandates and Covid-19 restrictions has been flagged for Saturday in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Hobart, as well as other regional centres, with details circulated via an encrypted social media platform.

The protests in Victoria sparked a heated back and forth between the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, and the prime minister, Scott Morrison, yesterday. Meanwhile, Victorians embraced the lifting of a whole swathe of Covid restrictions.

Elsewhere, NSW is in for some wild weather this weekend – the state is bracing for more flooding, with heavy rainfall expected to lash much of the east coast and possible thunderstorms predicted to hit Sydney.

We’ll keep an eye on the developments in the renewed William Tyrell investigation; yesterday detectives drained a creek and found a light-blue piece of fabric which has been sent for forensic testing.

There are fears a week-long Covid-19 outbreak in the Northern Territory that’s grown to 21 cases has spread to two more Indigenous communities.

Authorities have detected viral fragments in wastewater from Binjari, a community on the outskirts of the town of Katherine, 320km south of Darwin. Three close contacts have been identified in the remote community of Yuendumu, 1,600km south of Darwin.

Greater Katherine and Robinson River are currently under a seven-day lockdown order, which is scheduled to end late Monday.

And we will of course bring you all the latest Covid stats as they’re released around the country.

Got your coffee? Good. Let’s get cracking.

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