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Covid-19 News Updates


NSW reports 10 new locally acquired COVID cases as exposure site list grows

NSW reports 10 new locally acquired COVID cases as exposure site list grows

New South Wales has reported 10 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the total connected to the Bondi cluster to 21.

It comes as the list of exposure sites in Sydney continues to grow, with a Chemist Warehouse and an ANZ branch in the city's CBD now included as venues of concern.

In addition, the state government is extending the mandatory mask wearing provisions for another week and for the entirety of Sydney, meaning anyone in the city must wear a mask on public transport and in indoor settings until 12.01am next Thursday 1 July.

Of the 10 new cases, three were reported in the 24 hours to 8pm yesterday, while seven additional cases were discovered after that cut-off time. Those seven will be included formally in tomorrow's numbers.

No new overseas-acquired cases were recorded in the same period, bringing the total number of cases in NSW since the beginning of the pandemic to 5,465.

Of the three infections reported to 8pm last night two are close contacts of previously reported cases and have been in isolation.

The third is a woman in her 20s from Sydney's eastern suburbs and is linked to the Bondi cluster. Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant says the woman was probably exposed to the virus through fleeting contact at Bondi Junction where she works. 

As such, NSW Health is now asking anyone who was in Westfield Bondi Junction (including the car park) at any time between 12 June and 18 June to get tested for COVID-19.

Of the seven notified to NSW Health since 8pm yesterday, six are household contacts of previous cases who have been in isolation, and one is a child who attends a primary school in the eastern suburbs of the state's capital.

The student attends St Charles' Catholic Primary School Waverley, but Dr Chant says authorities do not have any preliminary information for a source of the child's exposure.

"The school is working with health officials to develop a plan for the children to be discharged home to their parents," says Dr Chant.

"We also want to provide advice and a mechanism to get testing because we want to find out how this child was exposed because cases where we don't understand the acquisition means we've missed cases."

Venues of concern are being identified as investigations continue, and the list of exposure sites is being regularly updated here.

Updated at 11.28am AEST on 22 June 2021.

New community case for Brisbane, QLD will open doors to all of Victoria

New community case for Brisbane, QLD will open doors to all of Victoria

A gentleman in his 60s who attended a Portuguese restaurant in Brisbane's southwest on Saturday night is the latest community-transmitted COVID-19 case for Queensland, as the state gears up to open its borders to anyone from Victoria at 1am this Friday.

The latest case attended the Brisbane Portuguese Family Centre in Ellen Grove at the same time as a woman who was unknowingly positive to the virus, having completed 14 days of quarantine that same day but her test result was not revealed until later.

She had also been to the Cotton On at the Brisbane Airport DFO and the lobby of the Park Regis Hotel at North Quay on Saturday afternoon, as well as the CBD around the Queen Street Mall. However, because she has the alpha variant - previously known as the UK strain - her walk in the open air is not being treated as a serious transmission risk. 

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young confirmed the 36 people who attended the restaurant while the COVID-positive individual was present are now all in home quarantine and will be assessed and tested over the coming fortnight. 

Health authorities are now in the process of confirming whether the man in his 60s was out and about in the community on the Sunday morning.

More details have also been revealed about how the transmission of COVID-19 came about for the woman who had travelled from Portugal on an Emirates flight, most likely during her stay in the quarantine hotel in Hamilton due to the genomic match with another positive case from Mongolia.

Dr Young - who in November will become Queensland's new Governor - explained a staff member had escorted one of the positive cases from Mongolia from the room to the ambulance so they could be transported to the hospital. Both individuals had been fully vaccinated.

"Then the staf member who was fully vaccinated...went up to a higher level in the building and swabbed the lady who came from Portugal, and the lady from Portugal has ended up with exactly the same virus as the gentleman from Mongolia," Dr Young said.

"So we are thinking that we really need to do further investigation that through a fomite transmission process that staff member has transferred the virus from the gentleman up to that lady from Portugal.

"This is very, very preliminary and we do need to look further into it before we confirm that that is what has occurred."

Fomite transmission refers to indirect transmission via contact of a susceptible host with a contaminated object or surface.

In more positive news, the chief health officer explained as Melbourne had "got on top of their outbreak", Queensland would be opening to all of Victoria including Greater Melbourne on 25 June at 1am.

"But there have been some more exposure venues in New South Wales," she added, noting there had also been an exposure site update in Canberra as well over night.

"So people really need to look before they travel anywhere in New South Wales that there might be an exposure venue and should reconsider if they really need to travel."

 

Sydney COVID cluster grows, Queensland's latest case details revealed

Sydney COVID cluster grows, Queensland's latest case details revealed

UPDATE: 11.45am AEST 21 June 2021: NSW Health has since been notified of two new locally acquired cases overnight, bringing the latest cluster to 11 cases. The two new cases will be included in tomorrow's numbers.

A cluster of locally acquired COVID-19 infections in Sydney has grown to 11 cases over the weekend while Queensland is on alert after a confirmed case was active in the community following two weeks of hotel quarantine.

NSW Health formally reported two new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 yesterday, plus two more confirmed infections that were discovered after 8pm on 19 June and will be included in today's numbers.

Of the locally acquired cases, one is a man in his 30s who lives in Sydney and attended Westfield Bondi Junction and spent time in Wollongong, and the second is a household contact of the man.

The two cases which were notified to NSW Health after 8pm on Saturday 19 June are both close contacts of previously reported cases and have been in isolation.

As such, NSW Health has upgraded advice for anyone who was in Westfield Bondi Junction (including the car park) on June 12 and June 13. Now, anyone who was in that location at any stage on those days must get tested for COVID-19.

NSW Health has also expanded the list of venues of concern to include a number of stores at the Birkenhead Point Brand Outlet in Drummoyne and a fitness centre in Castle Hill. The total list of venues with public health alerts can be found here.

Mandatory mask wearing requirements in Greater Sydney have also been extended to Wollongong, and those in Sydney must now wear a mask indoors in retail settings, entertainment facilities, places of worship and residential aged care facilities.

Movement of latest QLD case disclosed

Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young today explained the movements of a COVID-19 case who was in the community whilst infectious after completing two weeks of hotel quarantine.

The case, who arrived in Australia on an Emirates flight from Portugal, tested positive for COVID-19 on day 14 of quarantine but had already left the facility before the test result came through.

In that period of time the case went shopping at the DFO next to Brisbane Airport for 30 minutes and specifically visited the Cotton On store on 19 June.

After that she went into the Brisbane CBD for about an hour from 5pm, before visiting the Brisbane Portuguese Family Centre in the southwestern suburbs of Brisbane from 7pm.

Dr Young says she is not concerned about the time the infected person spent in the community as she has the Alpha variant of COVID-19 (previously known as the UK variant), rather than the more infectious Delta variant.

"The good thing out of all of this though is that we know that the lady who came from Portugal has the B117, or the Alpha variant," says Dr Young.

"It is contagious, but it is not as contagious as the Delta variant that we're not seeing circulate in parts of Sydney.

Dr Young confirmed the latest case must have been infected either in hotel quarantine or on the way from the airport, as the individual they caught COVID-19 from was not on the same flight into Brisbane.

Updated at 9.55am AEST on 21 June 2021.

Premier puts Sydney's eastern suburbs on "very high alert" with new mask guidance

Premier puts Sydney's eastern suburbs on "very high alert" with new mask guidance

Update (1:32pm AEST): In response to the unfolding situation in eastern Sydney, the Queensland Government has declared the local government area (LGA) of Waverley as a hotspot, coming into effect from 1am tomorrow. Anyone who has been in the area within the last 14 days will not be allowed into Queensland, unless they are approved for an exemption in which case they will need to go into hotel quarantine. Also from 1am tomorrow, the Sunshine State will require online forms to be filled prior to entry.

People in Greater Sydney will be required to wear masks on public transport for at least the next five days as the state reports one new locally acquired case of COVID-19 today.

In addition, New South Wales health authorities are strongly recommending masks to be worn in indoor venues like cinemas and shopping centres, but the direction is not mandatory.

Unlike in previous outbreaks, the state government is considering Greater Sydney to be a literal definition that excludes the Central Coast, Illawarra and Wollongong from the mandate.

The latest case was detected by NSW Health after 8pm last night and is a man in his 50s living in the Bondi area.

The man attended Myer in Bondi Junction Westfield and could have contracted the virus from "very fleeting contact", according to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

"For this reason we want everyone in the eastern suburbs to remain on very high alert," the Premier said.

"Our strong preference is that you do not engage in any activity unless you absolutely have to, especially in those eastern suburbs communities, especially in proximity to the venues that have already been identified," she said.

All of the man's household contacts have tested negative to COVID-19 and are in isolation.

It comes as NSW Health added a number of locations to its list of venues of concern including a Harris Farm in Leichhardt and a Lorna Jane in Zetland.

Anyone who attended the following venues at the times listed is a close contact and must immediately get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result:

  • The Twisted Olive, Redfern on Sunday 13 June from 12.20-1.30pm
  • Lorna Jane, East Village Shopping Centre, Zetland on Monday 14 June from 11am-1pm

If you were at the following venues at the time listed, you must immediately call NSW Health on 1800 943 553, get tested and self-isolate until you receive information from NSW Health:

  • Northmead Bowling Club, Northmead on Sunday 13 June from 3.30-10pm
  • Adora Handmade Chocolates, Newtown on Sunday 13 June from 2-3.30pm
  • Harris Farm, Leichhardt on Tuesday 15 June from 9.50-10.05am
  • The Alkalizer, Campbelltown on Tuesday 15 June from 9-10am

Anyone who has attended any of the following venues at the times listed is a casual contact and must immediately get tested and isolate until a negative result is received:

  • East Village Shopping Centre, Zetland on Monday 14 June from 11am-1pm
  • The Health Emporium, Bondi on Tuesday 15 June from 12.15-12.45pm
  • Greenwood Grocer, North Sydney on Tuesday 15 June from 5-5.20pm

"[NSW] Health is currently going through all of their venues - they may deem a casual contact to become a close contact, so please make sure that if you've attended any of those venues that you look at the [NSW] Health website consistently," Berejiklian said.

"If [NSW] Health updates the venue from a casual contact to a close contact you'll immediately isolate for 14 days."

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant has also confirmed genome sequencing found one of yesterday's announced cases from the Belle Cafe in Vaucluse was an exact match to the initial case for the latest outbreak.

"Now that's expected, but this indicates that the initial case was highly infectious as transmission must have occurred through fleeting exposure, noting that the woman who caught the infection at the cafe was actually seated outside and there was no known contact with the initial case," Dr Chant said.

"Obviously we can't rule out that there was some crossover when they were ordering or other things, but again we're just highlighting that we have observed these transmissions in settings where we would normally see outdoor dining as a lower risk setting, and we would normally see shopping centres as a lower risk setting where you're unlikely to have contact.

Updated at 11.22am AEST on 18 June 2021.

Australia lifts minimum age on AstraZeneca vaccine recommendations

Australia lifts minimum age on AstraZeneca vaccine recommendations

Australians aged under 60 are now being advised to receive the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 rather than AstraZeneca following changes to advice from the country's immunisation body.

The Australian Government is now recommending a minimum age of 60 to get the AstraZeneca shot, and to adapt to the new settings will be making Pfizer available to the 50-59 age bracket.

The latest advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is in response to analysis of case rates and demographics for a rare blood clot condition that to date has led to the deaths of two people out of more than three million people who were given the jab.

"This remains a very rare but sometimes serious event. We're picking it up much more commonly than other countries because we're looking more fully," says Chief Medical Officer Dr Paul Kelly.

"We've got good diagnostic algorithms and very good treatment, modalities and understanding in the clinical community about the correct treatment, which has been given properly. 

"Our results really reflect that, so we've got 55 per cent of those 60 cases now have left hospital already - some remain in hospital and some are in ICU. We've had, unfortunately and very tragically, two deaths in that group."

However, Dr Kelly noted most people with the condition had been diagnosed early, and a large proportion have had a less severe form of the severe syndrome.

Secretary of the Department of Health Professor Brendan Murphy said he hoped the changes would mean more Australians will come forward to receive the jab.

"There are a number of people in the 50 to 59 year old age group who have been very hesitant and were probably not going to turn up for AstraZeneca, no matter how much we reassured them," Murphy said.

"This now gives some of those 2.1 million people an opportunity to get vaccinated earlier."

Updated at 1:40pm AEST on 17 June 2021.

QLD reinstates travel declaration form requirements

QLD reinstates travel declaration form requirements

Australians and New Zealanders wishing to enter Queensland will once again need to fill out online travel declarations before they arrive, although a cross-border zone will be re-established so certain residents in the Sunshine State and northern NSW won't need to complete multiple forms.

The new rules will come into effect from 1am this Saturday, 19 June, and have been made to support contact tracing efforts.

"It's vital that if an interstate exposure site or hotspot is declared, our health experts can quickly contact anyone who has travelled into Queensland from that area," Queensland Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D'Ath said.

"This is the next line of defence for Queensland - if we're able to reach people quickly, it will reduce the risk of COVID-19 in Queensland and manage outbreaks right from the get-go.

"The declaration is made online and is quick and easy, taking only a few minutes to complete, and operates in a similar fashion to the Victorian system."

Following Victoria's lead, Queensland will introduce green, amber and red areas, where green means no travel restrictions, amber signifies interstate exposure venues, and red alerts to a hotspot.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the declaration would need to be made up to 72 hours prior to travelling to Queensland.

"The travel declaration needs to be made close to your travel, to ensure it reflects the most up-to-date advice," she said.

"Things can change quickly with COVID-19 we've seen it time and time again, especially with the evolving situation in Victoria, so travellers will need to check the latest restrictions before travelling.

"We know there are a number of people living close to the Queensland border who either work or access important services regularly in Queensland or in northern New South Wales.

"We want to ensure they can continue to do that without making a declaration each time they cross the border, so we've established a border zone to cater for those situations."

The news comes as Queensland health authorities opt to maintain their hotspot declaration for Greater Melbourne for an extra week, while recent cases in Sydney have led Queensland's Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to call on residents to reconsider any planned travel to the NSW capital.

Updated at 12:40pm AEST on 17 June 2021.

New Zealand reopening to Victoria from next Wednesday

New Zealand reopening to Victoria from next Wednesday

With Victoria recording zero new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 today, New Zealand has made the call to lift its travel bubble pause with the state from next Wednesday.

As such, from 11.59pm on Tuesday 22 June, the requirement for those from Victoria to complete two weeks of quarantine on arrival in NZ will be removed.

"It has been determined that the risk to public health in New Zealand continues to decrease and, at this time, public health officials consider it unlikely there is further widespread community transmission in the state," says the New Zealand Government.

"However, in line with our precautionary approach we consider this short extension to be prudent.

"New Zealand health officials will keep a close watch on developments in the state but at this point their advice is that we would expect to be in a position to lift the pause at the end of the five-day extension. This will be reviewed if the situation changes."

Everyone who is eligible can already return on "green flights", meaning they are not required to isolate when they arrive home. However, they must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.

Globally the COVID-19 situation is certainly different, with Brazil reporting more than 80,000 new infections and India recording 62,226 new cases yesterday.

The United States has recently surpassed more than 600,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 the most of any country in the world.

In comparison, Australia has only recorded 910 deaths from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

Updated at 10.06am AEST on 17 June 2021.

Bondi on alert after confirmed COVID case visited a number of venues

Bondi on alert after confirmed COVID case visited a number of venues

A new COVID-19 case who resides in Sydney's eastern suburbs has sparked a number of public health alerts for venues in Bondi, Vaucluse and Redfern that he visited while infectious.

Announced yesterday by New South Wales Health, the new confirmed case is a man in his 60s who works as a driver and has been transporting international flight crews.

Urgent investigations into the source of infection and contact tracing are underway, but a number of venues of concern have already been identified by authorities with attendees at specific times urged to get tested for the virus.

The following venue is a close contact venue. Anyone who attended the following venue at the time listed must immediately call NSW Health on 1800 943 553, get tested and self-isolate for 14 days from the date they were at the venue, regardless of the result:

  • Screening of The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard, Cinema 1, Events Cinema, Bondi Junction on Sunday 13 June from 1.30-4pm (1.45pm screening)

If you were at any of the following venues of concern at the times listed, you must immediately call NSW Health on 1800 943 553, get tested and self-isolate until you receive further information from NSW Health:

  • Belle Café, Vaucluse on Friday 11 June from 9.15-9.50am
  • Sourdough Bakery, Bondi Junction on Friday 11 June from 12.40-1.10pm
  • Belle Café, Vaucluse on Saturday 12 June from 10.20-10.45am
  • David Jones, Bondi Junction on Saturday 12 June from 11-11.40am
  • Myer Bondi, Bondi Junction on Saturday 12 June from 11.40am-12.15pm
  • Washoku Vaucluse, Vaucluse on Saturday 12 June from 11.40am-12.15pm
  • Belle Café, Vaucluse on Saturday 12 June from 12-1.30pm
  • Belle Café, Vaucluse on Sunday 13 June from 11.30am-12pm
  • Events Cinema (all screening other than The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard, Bondi Junction on Sunday 13 June from 1.30-4pm
  • Rocco's, Vaucluse on Monday 14 June from 10.55-11.30am
  • Coles, East Village Shopping Centre in Zetland on Monday 14 June from 11am-1pm
  • Taste Growers, East Village Shopping Centre, Zetland on Monday 14 June from 11am-1pm
  • Wax Car Wash Café, Redfern on Monday 14 June from 12-3pm
  • Belle Café, Vaucluse on Tuesday 15 June from 9.50-10.25am
  • Celeste Catering Macquarie Park Cemetery Café, North Ryde on Tuesday 15 June from 1-1.20pm
  • Harry's Coffee and Kitchen, Bondi Junction on Tuesday 15 June 3-3.40pm
  • NAB in Westfield, Bondi Junction on Tuesday 15 June from 2.45-3.10pm
  • David Jones in Westfield, Bondi Junction on Tuesday 15 June from 3.30-4.15pm
  • Field to Fork, Vaucluse on Friday 11 June from 12-4pm

Anyone on the following public transport service is a close contact and must immediately call NSW Health on 1800 943 553, get tested and self-isolate for 14 days from the date they were on the bus, regardless of the result:

  • 200 Bus, Bondi Junction to North Sydney on Tuesday 15 June, departed approx. 4.25pm arrived approx. 5pm

Anyone who attended the following venue at the listed time is a casual contact and must immediately get tested and self-isolate until a negative result is received. Please continue to monitor for symptoms and immediately isolate and get tested if they develop:

  • Fruitologist, Bondi on Tuesday 15 June from 1-2pm

A new pop-up testing clinic has opened today at the Albion Street Centre Laverty Pathology, 150 Albion Street (Crown Street entrance), Surry Hills, and will be open 8am to 6pm, seven days a week.

New Zealand has also chimed in on the update from NSW, with health authorities reviewing details of the case which "appears to have a clear link to the border".

It is expected that further information from NZ will be provided on the NSW cases later today.

Updated at 9.39am AEST on 17 June 2021.

COVID restrictions to ease in Melbourne from midnight tomorrow

COVID restrictions to ease in Melbourne from midnight tomorrow

Melburnians will once again be able to travel into Victorian regional areas when the intra-state border comes down from 11.59pm tomorrow.

In addition, a raft of restrictions in both Greater Melbourne and the state's regions will be eased tomorrow night, allowing larger public gatherings, increased capacities for hospitality businesses, and the reopening of gyms.

It comes after the state recorded five new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, including two announced yesterday afternoon and a further three linked to current outbreaks.

This latest outbreak led to an apartment complex in Southbank being placed into lockdown yesterday after an Arcare worker who lived at the complex tested positive and transmitted the virus to another resident.

Concurrently, South Australian health officials announced yesterday the state's border would soon reopen to those living in regional Victoria.

Once that change is in place, people entering SA from regional Victoria will still need to be tested for COVID-19 upon entry, but the conditions will be more relaxed on the border.

Further, with the snow season rapidly approaching, those intending on travelling to Victorian resorts must get tested at least 72 hours before departure and receive a negative result.

Restrictions to ease

From 11.59pm tomorrow several restrictions in Victoria will ease, with the rules differing for Greater Melbourne and the state's regions.

For Melbourne the following restrictions will ease:

  • The 25km travel limit will be removed
  • Public gatherings will be allowed for up to 20 people
  • Gatherings in the home will be allowed with up to two visitors per day plus their dependants
  • A number of businesses will reopen including gyms, indoor entertainment and electronic gaming with density limits and a COVIDsafe plan in place
  • Hospitality venues can welcome 25 patrons before applying a density quotient
  • Melburnians are still encouraged to work from home, but office sites can accommodate up to 50 per cent or 20 people, whichever is greater
  • Community sport competitions will resume
  • Masks are still recommended outdoors but remain mandatory for indoor settings

For regional Victoria the following restrictions will ease:

  • Public gatherings will increase to up to 50 people
  • Restaurants and cafes will have a maximum of 300 patrons for seated dining
  • Smaller hospitality venues will have up to 25 people before any density quotient applies
  • Religious ceremonies will have a maximum of 300 people in attendance
  • Funerals will have 100 people in attendance
  • Weddings will have 50 people in attendance
  • Office sites will have up to 75 per cent of capacity on site, or 30 people whichever is greater
  • Up to five adults will be allowed to visit another home per day plus their dependants

In addition, the state government is permitting a crowd of 7,000 people at the Geelong AFL game this weekend, provided all attendees are local and members of the two clubs playing.

These settings will be in place for the next seven days.

Updated at 12.47pm AEST on 16 June 2021.

Victoria pledges $20 million in grants for lockdown-hit events sector

Victoria pledges $20 million in grants for lockdown-hit events sector

The Victorian Government has stepped up to provide $20 million in support to events businesses in the state that were impacted by the May-June 2021 COVID-19 restrictions on the sector.

New support grants are up for grabs as part of the Victorian Events Support Package, designed to support the industry that was suddenly closed down due to the state's most recent lockdown.

The package delivers grants in five areas and is part of more than $500 million allocated by the state government to businesses over the past two weeks.

The Sustainable Events Business Program provides payments of up to $250,000 to major event organisers, hosts and suppliers who have had the ongoing viability of their event or business significantly affected during the restrictions that began in late May.

Successful applicants must have most of their operations in Victoria and have experienced a minimum 50 per cent decline in annual turnover in the three months prior to 27 May 2021 compared with the same period in 2019.

They will also have a payroll of more than $3 million in metropolitan Melbourne or $500,000 in regional Victoria.

The Impacted Public Events Support Program will deliver grants of $25,000 to event organisers and $10,000 to suppliers of Tier 1 and Tier 2 events - events with crowds above 1,001 people - that have incurred costs as a direct result of the recent public health restrictions.

Victoria's cinemas will benefit from the Independent Cinemas Support Program, which provides eligible independent operators required to close due to restrictions with a payment of $12,000 per cinema venue.

Producers of live performance events are eligible for up to $7,000 under the Live Performance Support Program - Presenters. Suppliers to live performance events are eligible for up to $500 per event, with a maximum of four events, under the Live Performance Support Program - Suppliers.

Promoters, venues, producers and artists who promote their own shows are eligible to apply for the Live Performance Support Programs, along with contracted suppliers such as artists, performers, technicians and other crew members.

Applications for the grants will open shortly at business.vic.gov.au/events-support.

Updated at 12.06pm AEST on 15 June 2021.

 

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