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Covid-19 News Updates

Australia orders 25 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from Moderna

Australia orders 25 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from Moderna

Biotechnology company Moderna (Nasdaq: MRNA) has entered into a new supply agreement with the Australian government for 25 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, serving as the foundation of the nation's booster and variant strategy.

The order includes 10 million doses of the original jab against the ancestral strain (mRNA-1273) to be delivered in 2021, and 15 million doses of Moderna's updated variant booster vaccine candidate to be delivered in 2022.

Purchase of the 25 million doses is subject to Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approval, and Moderna says it will submit an application to the regulator shortly.

The deal comes after the US-based biotech announced plans to scale its commercial network and open a subsidiary in Australia this year where it would manufacture messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines.

"We appreciate the partnership and support from the government of Australia with this first supply agreement for doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and our variant booster candidates," Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said.

"As we seek to protect people around the world with our COVID-19 vaccine and potentially our variant booster candidates, we look forward to continuing discussions with Australia about establishing potential local manufacturing opportunities."

Moderna's COVID-19 jab is an mRNA vaccine co-developed by the biotech and investigators for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' (NIAID) Vaccine Research Centre.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says securing the 25 million doses serves two purposes for Australia.

"Firstly, as a reserve supply for this year if other elements of the supply chain were to run into any challenges," says Hunt.

"Secondly, they are our foundation of a booster and variants strategy. Moderna is, on the advice that we have, the most advanced of the vaccine products with relation to the capacity to adapt to booster or variant requirements.

"So today is the next stage of future proofing and preparing for the future."

Department of Health secretary Professor Brendan Murphy says the supply agreement gives Australia additional redundancy.

"Whilst we know we have more than enough vaccine already ordered to cover our primary vaccination program this year this provides some additional redundancy which we've always sought and also provides the capacity now for us to develop a strategy for following years where boosters and varying cover may be required," says Professor Murphy.

"The evidence, as you all well know, is that this virus has shown some variance over the course of the last year, and whilst we think all of the vaccines are likely to be highly effective at preventing severe disease, even with variants, even with the vaccines we're rolling out now, we do need to be prepared and be in a position where if we need boosters against variants or different strains of the virus we're in a position to have those orders in place.

"This is a highly effective vaccine in clinical trials, highly effective in preventing severe disease and likely to be very effective at preventing transmission, so this is an exciting development."

The government remains in discussions with Moderna in relation to establishing a manufacturing facility in Australia for mRNA vaccines, noting onshore manufacturing would ensure a secure and long-term supply of the biotech's inoculations including booster jabs.

The Morderna shot is the second mRNA vaccine to be purchased by the government after the Pfizer jab.

To date, the Moderna vaccine has shown overall efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 of 94.1 per cent, and 100 per cent efficacy against severe COVID-19. It has also shown strong protection of 90 per cent efficacy against COVID-19 for at least six months after the second dose.

It has been approved by leading regulatory authorities across the world and is being used successfully in the United Kingdom, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Singapore.

A complete course of Moderna's vaccination is likely to be two doses given 28 days apart.

Updated at 9.38am AEST on 13 May 2021.

The pressure is on for Australia to accept the coronavirus really can spread in the air we breathe

The pressure is on for Australia to accept the coronavirus really can spread in the air we breathe

More than a year into the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) and US Centers for Disease Control finallychanged their guidance to acknowledge SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can be transmitted through the air we breathe.

In Australia, we've just had the latest leak from hotel quarantine, this time in South Australia. Investigations are under way to find out whether a man may have caught the virus from someone in the hotel room next to his, before travelling to Victoria, and whether airborne transmission played a role.

These examples are further fuelling calls for Australia to officially recognise the role of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Such recognition would have widespread implications for how health-care workers are protected, how hotel quarantine is managed, not to mention public health advice more broadly.

Indeed, we're waiting to hear whether official Australian guidelines will acknowledge the latest evidence on airborne transmission, and amend its advice about how best to protect front-line workers.

The evidence has changed and so must our advice

At the beginning of the pandemic, in the absence of any scientific studies, the WHO said the virus was spread by "large droplets" and promoted handwashing. Authorities around the world even discouraged us from wearing masks.

A false narrative dominated public discussion for over a year. This resulted in hygiene theatre scrubbing of hands and surfaces for little gain while the pandemic wreaked mass destruction on the world.

But handwashing did not mitigate the most catastrophic pandemic of our lifetime. And the airborne deniers have continually shifted the goalposts of the burden of proof of airborne spread as the evidence has accrued.

What does the evidence say?

SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory virus that multiplies in the respiratory tract. So it is spread by the respiratory route via breathing, speaking, singing, coughing or sneezing.

Two other coronaviruses the ones that cause MERS (Middle Eastern respiratory sydrome) and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) are also spread this way. Both are accepted as being airborne.

In fact, experimental studies show SARS-CoV-2 is as airborne as these other coronaviruses, if not more so, and can be found in the air 16 hours after being aerosolised.

Several hospital studies have also found viable virus in the air on a COVID-19 ward.

Established criteria for whether a pathogen is airborne scores SARS-CoV-2 highly for airborne spread, in the same range as tuberculosis, which is universally accepted as airborne.

A group of experts has also recently outlined the top ten reasons why SARS-CoV-2 is airborne.

So why has airborne denialism persisted for so long?

The role of airborne transmission has been denied for so long partly because expert groups that advise government have not included engineers, aerosol scientists, occupational hygienists and multidisciplinary environmental health experts.

Partly it is because the role of airborne transmission for other respiratory viruses has been denied for decades, accompanied by a long history of denial of adequate respiratory protection for health workers. For example, during the SARS outbreak in Canada in 2003, denial of protection against airborne spread for health workers in Toronto resulted in a fatal outbreak.

Even influenza is airborne, but this has been denied by infection control committees.

What's the difference between aerosols and droplets?

The distinction between aerosols and droplets is largely artificial and driven by infection control dogma, not science.

This dogma says large droplets (defined by WHO as larger than 5 micrometres across) settle to the ground and are emitted within 2 metres of an infected person. Meanwhile, fine particles under 5 micrometres across can become airborne and exist further away.

There is in fact no scientific basis for this belief. Most studies that looked at how far large droplets travelled found the horizontal distance is greater than 2 metres. And the size threshold that dictates whether droplets fall or float is actually 100 micrometres, not 5 micrometres. In other words, larger droplets travel further than what we've been led to believe.

Leading aerosol scientists explain the historical basis of these false beliefs, which go back nearly a century.

And in further evidence the droplet theory is false, we showed that even for infections believed to be spread by droplets, a N95 respirator protects better than a surgical mask. In fact airborne precautions are needed for most respiratory infections.

Why does this difference matter?

Accepting how SARS-CoV-2 spreads means we can better prevent transmission and protect people, using the right types of masks and better ventilation.

Breathing and speaking generate aerosols. So an infected person in a closed indoor space without good ventilation will generate an accumulation of aerosols over time, just like cigarette smoke accumulates.

A church outbreak in Australia saw spread indoors up to 15 metres from the sick person, without any close contact.

Masks work, both by preventing sick people from emitting infected aerosols, and by preventing well people from getting infected. A study in Hong Kong found most transmission occurred when masks weren't worn inside, such as at home and in restaurants.

Coughing generates more aerosols

The old dogma of droplet infection includes a belief that only "aerosol generating procedures" such as inserting a tube into someone's throat and windpipe to help them breathe pose a risk of airborne transmission. But research shows a coughing patient generates more aerosols than one of these procedures.

Yet we do not provide health workers treating coughing COVID-19 patients with N95 respirators under current guidelines.

At the Royal Melbourne Hospital, where many health worker infections occurred in 2020, understanding airflow in the COVID ward helped explain how health workers got infected.

Think about it. Airborne deniers tell us infection occurs after a ballistic strike by a single large droplet hitting the eye, nose or mouth. The statistical probability of this is much lower than simply breathing in accumulated, contaminated air.

The ballistic strike theory has driven an industry in plastic barriers and face shields, which offer no protection against airborne spread. In Switzerland, only hospitality workers using just a face shield got infected and those wearing masks were protected.

In hotel quarantine, denial of airborne transmission stops us from fixing repeated breaches, which are likely due to airborne transmission.

We need to select quarantine venues based on adequacy of ventilation, test ventilation and mitigate areas of poor ventilation. Opening a window, drawing in fresh air or using air purifiers dramatically reduce virus in the air.

We need to provide N95 respirators to health, aged-care and quarantine workers who are at risk of high-dose exposure, and not place them in poorly ventilated areas.

It's time to accept the evidence and tighten protection accordingly, to keep Australia safe from SARS-CoV-2 and more dangerous variants of concern, some of which are vaccine resistant.The Conversation

C Raina MacIntyre, Professor of Global Biosecurity, NHMRC Principal Research Fellow, Head, Biosecurity Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Qantas delays planned resumption of international flights to late December

Qantas delays planned resumption of international flights to late December

With the exception of flights to and from New Zealand, Australians will not be hopping onto regular Qantas (ASX: QAN) flight services overseas until at least late December 2021 after the airline delayed its planned resumption of international travel today.

The update comes after the Federal Government last night revised its anticipated timeline for the completion of Australia's vaccine rollout to end-2021 and its timeline for significantly reopening our international borders to mid-2022.

As such, Qantas has scrapped an end-October 2021 goal to get international flights back up in the air.

"We remain optimistic that additional bubbles will open once Australia's vaccine rollout is complete to countries who, by then, are in a similar position, but it's difficult to predict which ones at this stage," says Qantas.

"This planning assumption will allow the Qantas Group and Australia to be ready to take advantage of pockets of tourism and trade opportunity as they emerge in a post-COVID world.

"We will keep reviewing these plans as we move towards December and circumstances evolve."

Any customers with a booking between 31 October 2021 and 19 December 2021 will be contacted by the airline.

"In the meantime, the Qantas Group will continue to provide critical repatriation and freight flights overseas, and support the recovery of travel at home," says Qantas.

"The resurgence of domestic travel remains the most important element of the Group's recovery."

Shares in Qantas are down 3.43 per cent to $4.50 per share at 3.27pm AEST.

Updated at 3.50pm AEST on 12 May 2021.

Melbourne COVID-19 exposure sites include CBD restaurant, three Epping locations

Melbourne COVID-19 exposure sites include CBD restaurant, three Epping locations

Update: since this story was published Victorian authorities have clarified the Woolworths exposure site was in Epping North, rathern than Epping as previously reported.

Melbourne's first local case of COVID-19 in months visited one CBD restaurant and two stores in Epping while infectious, according to a list of exposure sites published by Victorian health authorities this afternoon.

A second test has confirmed the man in his 30s - who returned to Victoria from hotel quarantine in Adelaide on 4 May - does indeed have the virus, but tests for his three primary household contacts have all come back negative.

Officials have released four tier 1 exposure sites, and anyone who visited these locations at the times mentioned will need to get tested and quarantine for 14 days from the exposure:

  • Pact Retail Accessories (until recently called TIC Group) front office in Altona North on 6 May, 12:01am-11:59pm
  • Indiagate Spices and Groceries, Epping on 6 May, 5-6pm
  • Curry Vault Indian Restaurant & Bar in the CBD on 7 May, 6:30-9:30pm
  • Woolworths Epping North on 8 May, 5:40-6:38pm

The following venues have been listed as tier 2, meaning anyone who visited at the indicated time will need to get tested urgently and isolate until they receive a negative result.

  • Pact Retail Accessories (until recently called TIC Group) warehouse section in Altona North on 6 May, 12:01am-11:59pm
  • 7-Eleven Epping on 6 May, 6:30-7pm
  • 7-Eleven Epping on 8 May, 11:10-11:40am

Updated at 3:58pm AEST on 11 May 2021.

Victorian resident tests positive to COVID-19 a week after leaving hotel quarantine in SA

Victorian resident tests positive to COVID-19 a week after leaving hotel quarantine in SA

UPDATE (4.02pm AEST, 11 May 2021): Victorian health authorities have since published a list of exposure sites visited by the latest COVID-19 case. Click here to read more.

A returned traveller who undertook hotel quarantine in South Australia has today tested positive to COVID-19, a week after getting back home to the Melbourne suburb of Wollert.

The man in his 30s arrived in Melbourne on 4 May, developed symptoms four days later and got tested yesterday, returning a positive result this morning.

Contact tracing is underway along with the verification of exposure sites, which will be published once they are confirmed.

"The individual who was tested positive is isolating at home. His household primary close contacts are also isolating, being interviewed, and will be urgently tested," the Victorian Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS) said in an update today.

"The Department is working with interstate counterparts to determine the likely source of this infection.

"If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 - such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, chills or sweats, or change in sense of smell or taste - get a test immediately."

South Australia's Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier has confirmed an interjurisdictional outbreak investigation is underway, noting the individual concerned tested negative to COVID-19 on days 1, 5, 9 and 13 during his stay.

As the infectious period tends to be two days before symptoms develop, Spurrier says it does not look as if the man was symptomatic while in the Adelaide community.

"What we do know is this man, this new case in Victoria, was at the Playford Medihotel alongside another traveller who was one of our cases," she says.

That person who tested positive in hotel quarantine was then transferred to the dedicated COVID-positive facility Tom's Court Hotel.

"It is possible that after that man was released that there was some form of transmission of the virus," she says.

"It's very evident now that COVID can be transferred through aerosols and that these droplets may hang around in the air for a period of time."

South Australian authorities are now investigating the potential for transmission via hotel room ventilation as well as passageways, and will compare genomic testing results between the two COVID-positive cases.

"Be as that may, this is at this point in time a hypothesis," she says, noting it is also possible that the person was exposed to the coronavirus before arriving in Australia.

She added CCTV footage showed no evidence of breaches of protocol.

Updated at 2:15pm AEST on 11 May 2021.

IHME estimates COVID deaths more than double official reports

IHME estimates COVID deaths more than double official reports

It is widely known that COVID-19 deaths worldwide are likely vastly underreported due to reasons such as health system limitations, but now a highly regarded research institute at the University of Washington School of Medicine has sought to quantify how great the difference really is.

New analysis released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has found COVID-19 deaths are significantly underreported in almost every country, estimating the pandemic has caused 6.9 million deaths.

This compares to 3.27 million reported deaths from the virus since the outbreak began.

The IHME reached its conclusion based on its long-standing methodology for measuring the burden of diseases on a global scale, which it has been running to calculate the total human cost of diseases since 1990.

The process starts with a benchmark of what death rates would have looked like if there were no pandemic, comparing the actual number of all-cause deaths with anticipated deaths from all causes based on pre-pandemic trends.

This subtraction gives an "excess mortality" figure, which is then adjusted to remove deaths that are indirectly attributable to the pandemic such as people with non-COVID conditions avoiding health care facilities.

The resulting number is then followed by an adjustment for an estimated number of deaths averted by the pandemic itself, for example traffic death declines due to lower mobility.

The institute's researchers believe this method yields a better reflection of how many deaths are directly due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19.

"As terrible as the COVID-19 pandemic appears, this analysis shows that the actual toll is significantly worse," said IHME's director Dr Chris Murray.

"Understanding the true number of COVID-19 deaths not only helps us appreciate the magnitude of this global crisis, but also provides valuable information to policymakers developing response and recovery plans."

The updated analysis shows the US has had more COVID-19 deaths to-date than any other country, with a total of more than 950,000.

Among the world's worst-hit nations, the IHME estimates real death numbers are close to triple the reported levels for India, Mexico and South Africa, and more than five times greater for Russia. 

Many deaths from COVID-19 go unreported because countries only report deaths that occur in hospitals or in patients with a confirmed infection. In many places, weak health reporting systems and low access to health care magnify this challenge.

IHME's analysis found that the largest number of unreported deaths occurred in countries that have had the largest epidemics to-date. However, some countries with relatively smaller epidemics saw a large increase in the death rate when accounting for unreported deaths. This analysis shows that they may be at greater risk for a wider epidemic than previously thought.

"Many countries have devoted exceptional effort to measuring the pandemic's toll, but our analysis shows how difficult it is to accurately track a new and rapidly spreading infectious disease," Murray said.

"We hope that today's report will encourage governments to identify and address gaps in their COVID-19 mortality reporting, so that they can more accurately direct pandemic resources."

The institute is forecasting more than 5 million reported deaths from COVID-19 by 1 August, although through its burden of disease analysis trend line the death toll could reach more than 9 million by then.

Updated at 4:46pm AEST on 7 May 2021.

Victoria to ease density limits for SME venues

Victoria to ease density limits for SME venues

Victoria's live music venues, restaurants, bars and nightclubs will be able to welcome more patrons from 28 May as the one person per two square metres rule is lifted for small-to-medium sized venues across the state.

Provided people continue to check in at locations through the Service Victoria app with COVID marshals in place to ensure the rules are followed, these venues will be able to have up to 200 people per space without any density limit.

The app and electronic record keeping will be mandatory for all venues and businesses from the same date, with the relaxation applying for spaces that are 400 square metres or smaller. Density limits will remain for anything larger.

Density quotients will also be removed for outdoor non-seated venues such as recreation facilities, community sport, pools, tourism services and non-seated outdoor entertainment such as zoos.

While many Victorians are doing the right thing, public health officials remain concerned about low rates of check-ins. All Victorians are encouraged to download the Service Victoria app to make checking in as fast and easy as possible.

A recent survey showed only 41 per cent of visitors to hospitality venues checked in every time, while 24 per cent of sites visited by Authorised Officers between 30 April and 2 May were warned or received notices due to lack of compliance with electronic record keeping.

The Victorian Government will communicate with third party providers who engaged with the Visitation API process and ensuring continued strong management of any check-in data held during a three-week transition and implementation period.

"This change means checking in will be quick and easy and ensure the data is high-quality and easily available to our contract tracers, should any venue be listed as an exposure site," says the state's Minister for Health Martin Foley.

"This is great news for many live music venues, restaurants and nightclubs who can open the doors to up to 200 people per space - but getting every Victorian to check in using the QR code service is the goal."

Meanwhile, in NSW contact tracers continue to scramble to find the mystery link behind two community transmission cases that have emerged in Sydney, but at least in the 24 hours to 8pm last night there were no new locally acquired cases.

Indian repatriation flights announced 

Following a backlash against its harsh measures threatening imprisonment for Australian citizens who return from India during the travel suspension with the South Asian country, the Federal Government has today announced repatriation flights will resume on May 15.

These flights from India will take returning Australians to the Northern Territory, where they will be placed in quarantine at the Centre for National Resilience at Howard Springs.

The National Security Committee of Cabinet was advised yesterday that the pause was working and that this would allow the repatriation flights to resume after May 15.

The temporary ban will remain in place until that time, as intended.

The number of COVID-19 positive cases in the Howard Springs has fallen to 21, from more than 50 cases a week ago, and positive cases associated with previous facilitated flights from India are on track to reach zero by 14 May.

Repatriation flights into the Howard Springs will resume on May 15 with one flight per 7-9 days, with an estimated 1,000 Australians returning by the end of June. Vulnerable Australians will be prioritised on these flights.

An initial repatriation flight to Darwin will leave India on May 15. Two further repatriation flights to the Northern Territory from India will be scheduled during May.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the flight pause has given the quarantine system space to operate safely and to protect Australians from the COVID-19 pandemic, with the travel pause remaining in place until May 15 with no changes.

"The global COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage outside Australia's borders and the temporary pause on flights continues to give our quarantine facilities time to reduce infection rates and reduce the risk of COVID escaping into the community," the Prime Minister said.

"Closing our international borders and the use of quarantine for returning Australians has protected the health of all Australians during the pandemic and given us a way of life that is the envy of the world.

"I have written to state and territory leaders to invite their participation in receiving direct repatriation flights from India over the coming weeks to further assist the efforts in Howard Springs.

"I want to thank the Gunner Government, NT Health and our AUSMAT teams for continuing to provide safe and effective quarantine facilities at Howard Springs that is the best facility in the world."

New measures will be in place for all resuming flights from India into the Northern Territory, which will require passengers to return both a negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test and a negative rapid antigen test before boarding.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said these measures ensure the Commonwealth and Territory Governments can continue to get Australians home from India safely, while ensuring the case load at Howard Springs remains manageable.

"The Territory always stands ready to help our fellow Australians and we were there to help those first Aussies home from Wuhan at the start of this pandemic," Chief Minister Gunner said.

"There is a humanitarian crisis in India and we have the gold standard facility with the health care heroes the country needs at our Centre for National Resilience to help get Australians home safely.

"We are pleased with the drop in the active COVID-19 case load we have seen at Howard Springs since the temporary pause on re-entry from India, and our clinical advice is that it is now safe to resume flights."

Commonwealth and Northern Territory health experts will assess the effectiveness of new pre-flight testing and isolation measures on infectivity rates in returning Australians on these May repatriation flights from India.

Updated at 12:44pm AEST on 7 May 2021.

NZ puts travel bubble with NSW on hold due to Sydney outbreak

NZ puts travel bubble with NSW on hold due to Sydney outbreak

The latest cases of community transmission in Sydney have led New Zealand to pause quarantine-free travel from New South Wales while authorities search for the missing link of infection.

From day one of the trans-Tasman bubble scheme the New Zealand Government emphasised a "flyer beware approach" whereby arrangements could be suspended in the event of an outbreak, with no compensation provided should hotel quarantine suddenly be required. However, measures announced today don't appear to be that drastic.

New Zealand's COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says anyone who was at one of the locations of interest in New South Wales at the relevant time should isolate and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on getting tested for COVID-19.

"Anyone who is in Australia who has been at one of the locations of interest is subject to the requirements of the New South Wales Government and should not travel to New Zealand," he says.

"The Government is aware this will cause some disruption to travellers but strongly believes a cautious approach is the best course of action while investigations continue."

Hipkins notes whole genome sequencing has linked the case yesterday to a recent returnee who arrived in Australia from the United States, and a household contact of yesterday's case has also returned a positive test.

"An epidemiological link is yet to be determined between yesterday's case and the recent returnee," he says.

"While the new case announced today is not unexpected as a household contact of yesterday's case, officials have assessed that with several outstanding unknowns in the situation in Sydney it is safest to pause QFT for any flights leaving New South Wales after 11.59pm tonight. This will be under constant review."

Updated at 4:36pm AEST on 6 May 2021.

New restrictions for Greater Sydney in effect from 5pm today as second COVID case discovered

New restrictions for Greater Sydney in effect from 5pm today as second COVID case discovered

New "precautionary" restrictions will come into force from 5pm today until midnight on Monday 10 May in Greater Sydney after a household contact of yesterday's community transmission case of COVID-19 also tested positive overnight.

The restrictions will see masks once again mandatory in indoor settings, a 20 person limit for household gatherings, singing and dancing banned in venues, and consumption of alcohol must be done while seated.

The news comes as NSW Health published an updated list of venues of concern visited by the two confirmed cases of COVID-19 overnight, which expanded to include The Royal Sydney Golf Club in Rose Bay and a Woolworths in Double Bay.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the new restrictions, in effect for just three days, are a proportionate response to this latest COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney and will give health officials the opportunity to discover a missing link in the chain of transmission.

"What we're doing is a very proportionate response over the next three days," says Premier Berejiklian.

"We know that at least one person with the virus has been going around their business and we haven't found them yet. We don't know where they've been. We don't know if they've been to major events. We don't know who they've sat next to.

"We're not shutting down the city. We're not changing the two square metre rule quite the contrary. We're saying to everybody: business as usual, but just do a few things extra."

NSW Health officials today announced two new locally acquired cases of COVID-19: the man in his 50s who was revealed as positive yesterday afternoon and a household contact of his.

The man in his 50s had 10 close contacts, all of which have been tested. Excluding the household contact, the remaining nine all tested negative for COVID-19.

In the past 24 hours health officials also identified nine positive infections in hotel quarantine, and 11,579 COVID-19 tests were conducted.

In response to the outbreak Queensland has issued new advice for arrivals into the state from Greater Sydney. As of 1am on Friday 7 May anyone who has been to any of the venues of concern at the specified times must go into hotel quarantine for 14 days.

QLD Minister for Health Yvette D'Ath has called on those who have been to Sydney recently to continue checking venue additions in NSW.

NSW Health looking for the "missing link"

Health authorities are currently on the lookout for a "missing link" that would explain how the man from Sydney's eastern suburbs became infected with COVID-19.

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said genomic sequencing of the man's infection matched with an overseas case who travelled from the US and stayed at the Park Royal hotel in Darling Harbour.

The traveller tested positive for COVID-19 on his first day in quarantine and was then moved to a specialised facility on 28 April.

Dr Chant says the man from Sydney's eastern suburbs has had no contact with any hotel quarantine workers or medical staff before becoming infected, so contact tracers and health officials are trying to determine how the infection managed to reach the man.

"What we're concerned about is that there's a missing link," says Dr Chant.

"We can't find any direct link between our case, so what we're concerned about is that there is another person that is yet unidentified that infected our case. And then, the hypothesis is that our case then passed it onto the household."

NSW Health is reviewing CCTV footage to find out how the transmission occurred.

Dr Chant says because the overseas traveller arrived on 26 April health officials can narrow down how and when the man from the eastern suburbs was exposed.

"Usually we have to go back 14 days, but because of the link to the geonomics we now know that he was most likely, taking those sequence of infections, around that end of April," says Dr Chant.

Dr Chant says that has allowed contact tracers to identify another list of venues that the man in his 50s attended before he was infectious and where he was most likely exposed to the virus.

As such, anyone who attended the following venues at the specified times has been asked to get tested and isolate:

  • Fratelli Fresh in the Sydney CBD on Tuesday 27 April between 1.15-2.15pm
  • Bondi Trattoria in Bondi Beach on Thursday 29 April between 12.45-1.30pm

Updated at 11:41am AEST on 6 May 2021.

NSW Health identifies more venues of concern visited by latest COVID-19 community case

NSW Health identifies more venues of concern visited by latest COVID-19 community case

A number of additional venues of concern have been identified by NSW Health overnight as part of an ongoing investigation into a case of COVID-19 community transmission reported yesterday.

The update comes as all Australian states and territories have asked those who were at the venues at the same time as the infected man to get tested for COVID-19 and isolate for 14 days.

Anyone who attended the following venues at the times specified has been asked to get tested and isolate until NSW Health provides further advice including those who have been partially or fully vaccinated:

  • The Stadium Club in Moore Park on Monday 3 May between 11.30am-12.30pm
  • Azure Café in Moore Park on Monday 3 May between 12.30-1pm
  • The Royal Sydney Golf Club in Rose Bay on Monday 3 May between 5.30-9pm
  • Rug Cleaning Repairs Hand Rug Wash Sydney in Brookvale on Tuesday 4 May between 1-1.30pm
  • Alfresco Emporium in Collaroy on Tuesday 4 May between 1-1.30pm
  • SMITH MADE in Balgowlah on Tuesday 4 May between 2.30-2.45pm
  • Chemist Warehouse in Double Bay on Tuesday 4 May between 3.45-4pm
  • Woolworths in Double Bay on Tuesday 4 May between 4.05-4.15pm

The addition of these venues sees the total list of locations of concern to NSW Health grow to 19, joining the following venues announced yesterday:

  • A screening of The Courier at Event Cinemas in Westfield Bondi Junction on Friday 30 April between 6-8pm
  • Figo Restaurant in Rushcutters Bay on Friday 30 April between 8.45-11pm
  • Joe's Barbeques & Heating in Silverwater on Saturday 1 May between 1-1.45pm
  • Tuckers Barbeques in Silverwater on Saturday 1 May between 1-1.45pm
  • Barbeques Galore in Annandale on Saturday 1 May between 2-3pm
  • Barbeques Galore in Casula on Saturday 1 May between 4-5pm
  • BP Mascot in Mascot on Saturday 1 May between 4.30-5pm
  • The Meat Store in Bondi Junction on Sunday 2 May between 3-4pm
  • District Brasserie in Sydney CBD on Friday 30 April between 11-11.45am
  • HineSight Optometrist in Sydney CBD on Friday 30 April between 12-1pm
  • Barbetta in Paddington on Friday 30 April between 1.30-2.30pm

NSW Health was notified overnight that fragments of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been detected in the Marrickville Sewage Network.

This catchment includes about 42,000 people and takes sewage from the following suburbs: Dulwich Hill, Marrickville, Summer Hill, Lewisham, Ashfield, Haberfield, Petersham, Lilyfield and Leichhardt.

NSW Health is asking everyone in these areas to be especially vigilant in monitoring for symptoms, and if they appear get tested and isolate immediately until a negative result is received.

Updated at 9.50am AEST on 6 May 2021.