Australia's leaders have tried to add some Christmas cheer following a week dominated by record COVID-19 numbers.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australians had fought hard to be reunited at Christmas and deserved to be able to come together with their families, friends and communities ahead of the new year.
"This pandemic continues to buffet us ... but together, always together and only together, do we keep pushing through," he said in his Christmas message to the nation.
"Christmas is a time of hope and we are an optimistic people. I want no greater gift than the spirit of the Australian people that's been on display, that's inspired and endured and cared and shown great courage."
Mr Morrison thanked Australians who would be working over Christmas and the holidays to keep the country running.
"So many selfless Australians are out there caring for others this Christmas, working and volunteering to keep Australians safe and showing their fellow Australians that they matter, that they are valued and that they are cared for," he said.
"I want to say thank you to all of those selfless Australians. May God especially bless you and your families this Christmas, especially if you're apart."
He also extended his thoughts to the families of the children killed in a jumping castle incident at Hillcrest primary school in Devonport, Tasmania.
"This Christmas we'll shed a tear and raise up prayers for them right across the country," the prime minister said.
"Everything they cherished in life was taken from them in a terrible instant. It's unimaginable, and so our hearts break for them."
In his Christmas message to the country, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said Australians deserved to have a happy Christmas after a tough two years.
"Now, with our borders opening up again, we're getting back together," he said.
"Off the Zoom and actually back in the room with family, friends and loved ones."
Mr Albanese also thanked Australians for standing together during the pandemic.
"Thanks to everyone for taking care of each other," he said.
"May the festive season bring you joy and may it be a sign of better times to come."
Australian Associated Press
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