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Covid-19 News Updates


Victoria to enter five-day lockdown from midnight tonight

Victoria to enter five-day lockdown from midnight tonight

All of Victoria will enter a strict five-day lockdown from 11.59pm tonight in order to slow the spread of the Holiday Inn COVID-19 outbreak that has since grown to 19 cases.

According to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, the Stage 4 lockdown is necessary to allow contact tracers to manage this outbreak of the UK variant of COVID-19, described as "the fastest moving, most infectious strain of coronavirus we have seen".

In response, Queensland has announced it will be closing its border to all people who have been in Greater Melbourne from 1am on Saturday with the measures to be in force for 14 days at which point a review will be made.

New South Wales is requiring any Victorian that entered the state on or after 29 January 2021 to remain at home or place of residence until midnight on Wednesday, while Western Australia has implemented a hard border with VIC. 

As such, from 11.59pm AEDT today, Victorians will be required to stay at home for five days until 11.59pm on Wednesday.

Exceptions have been made for Victorians to leave the house for four reasons:

  • Shopping for necessary goods,
  • Caregiving and compassionate reasons,
  • Essential work or permitted education,
  • And exercise for two hours per day with household members, an intimate partner, or one other person who is not from the same household.

However, Victorians must stay within 5km of their homes if leaving.

In addition, masks must be worn everywhere other than in the home

Private and public gatherings will not be permitted, and all Victorians have been encouraged to work from home where possible.

Schools will close but will remain available on Monday to Wednesday next week for vulnerable children and children of frontline health workers.

Places of worship will be closed other than for broadcasting of services, funerals can have a maximum of 10 people in attendance, and all weddings are not permitted.

Most non-essential businesses and places of gathering will close too including:

  • Hairdressing and beauty services
  • Real estate auctions
  • Indoor physical recreation and sport venues
  • Outdoor recreation and community sport
  • Swimming pools
  • Community facilities including libraries
  • Creative studios
  • Entertainment venues
  • Non-essential retail

Hospitality venues will move to takeaway only and outdoor playgrounds will stay open.

Andrews also indicated that flight cancellations are likely during the five-day period, except for those already on their way.

As reported by the Associated Press, the Australian Open tennis tournament will continue but no crowds will be permitted to spectate. 

In addition, Victoria's Department of Health has updated its earlier public health alert about a café in Melbourne Airport to include all of Terminal 4.

As such, anyone who was in Terminal 4 of Melbourne Airport on Tuesday 9 February between 4.45am to 2pm must isolate for 14 days and get tested for COVID-19.

 

Outbreak moving "at light speed"

According to Premier Andrews, the five-day lockdown is warranted because of the way positive infections are presenting to Victorian health officials.

He said onces cases test positive, they have already infected all of their close contacts making it difficult to conduct contact tracing.

As such, this "circuit-breaker" lockdown will give contact tracers the room required to get on top of this fast-moving variant of COVID-19.

"It's not moving quickly. It's at light speed," Andrews said.

"We must assume there are further cases in the community than we have positive tests for and that it is moving at a velocity that has not been seen in our country.

"If we wait for that theory to be proven correct, it will be too late. Then we face the prospect of being locked down until a vaccine is rolled out...that's months."

This five-day lockdown is similar to successful circuit-breaker lockdowns done in SA, QLD and WA.

"This is a short, sharp blast the same as we've seen in Queensland and WA that will give us the what we need to get ahead of this faster moving virus," Andrews said.

"Right now, we are reaching close contacts well within the 48-hour benchmark. But the time between exposure, incubation, symptoms and testing positive is rapidly shortening. So much so, that even secondary close contacts are potentially infectious within that 48-hour window.

"It shows just how incredibly infectious this virus is. And our public health team tell us it's only getting faster."

Andrews has also called upon the Federal Government to consider changing the rules around repatriation of Australian citizens and oter international travellers.

"It's a different virus and we should have a mature discussion about just how many people are coming back (to Australia) and the circumstances in which they're coming back and why they are given the opportunity this way," he said.

States implement border restrictions

In response to Andrews' announcement, Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles has announced the border will be closed to people who have been in greater Melbourne for a period of 14 days, starting 1am saturday.

QLD will review the new border arrangement with Melburnians in 14 days.

South Australia, which closed its border to Greater Melbourne earlier this week, has now shut its borders to the entire state of VIC.

Further, anyone in SA who has been through Tullamarine Airport from 7 February is required to get tested and isolate until a negative result is received.

Western Australia has now implemented a hard border to VIC.

In New South Wales, anyone who has been in VIC at any time on or after Friday 29 January 2021 remains at their home or place of residence for the five-day period lockdown period.

Tasmania has declared all of VIC a high-risk state, meaning all travellers to Tasmania will have to self-isolate for two weeks at their home or in hotel quarantine.

Victorians will also be blocked from entering the Australian Capital Territory from midnight tonight, and any returning residents will be required to isolate at home until the five-day period is over.

Finally, any Melburnian entering the Northern Territory will be required to isolate for two weeks at the Howard Springs quarantine facility.

Updated at 1.35pm AEDT on 12 February 2021.

WA sets hard border for VIC, but doors to open for NSW travellers

WA sets hard border for VIC, but doors to open for NSW travellers

As Victoria enters a five-day lockdown to contain COVID-19 with much of the country soon closing borders to travellers from Greater Melbourne, Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan (pictured) has announced a drop of good news.

Whilst WA will be implementing a hard border with Victoria in response to recent developments, McGowan has announced safe travel will be permitted from NSW to the state from 12:01am on Tuesday, 16 February.

McGowan highlighted NSW had not recorded a community case of COVID-19 since 15 January.

"As a result, we can safely move NSW from low risk to very low risk. A decision was taken for this to occur from 12:01 on Tuesday, February 16; that is Tuesday morning, pending no further outbreaks," he said.

He said safe travel was permitted from NSW but on certain conditions, including the completion of a G2G pass declaration stipulating the person does not have COVID-19 symptoms and which jurisdictions the traveller has been in over the previous 14 days.

For airport arrivals, people coming from NSW will need to undergo a health screening and temperature test.

McGowan expressed his support of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews putting a circuit-breaker lockdown in place.

"As we know in WA it is just so important to reduce the risk and prevent community transmission," he said.

"Currently under our border controls, arrivals from Victoria are required to return a negative COVID test result and complete 14 days of self-isolation.

"This border control puts us in a very strong position to be able to handle any outbreak...however, given the concerning ongoing situation in Victoria, the Chief Health Officer has recommended Victoria be reclassified as medium risk for a short period until the situation is resolved.

This means that travellers arriving in Perth Airport from Victoria today will be tested before going into a fortnight of self-isolation, before a 72-hour hard border is put in place at 6pm with only some exemptions permitted such as senior government officials, active military personnel and certain workers in transport and logistics.

In terms of local rules in Western Australia, where 10 months have passed without community transmission, current transitional restrictions that followed Perth's snap lockdown earlier this month will be lifted from midnight on Saturday night.

"We will revert back to where we were on the 30 January. Only a few restrictions will apply - the standing capacity rules, restrictions on remote Aboriginal communities, mandatory contact registration, and of course our controlled interstate border," he said.

"The wearing of masks will no longer be compulsory as of Sunday morning.

"Please keep up your COVID safe practices, wash your hands, keep a distance where possible, get tested when unwell, and keep using SafeWA."

Updated at 11:23 AWST on 12 February 2021.

Melbourne Airport café named latest COVID-19 exposure site

Melbourne Airport café named latest COVID-19 exposure site

Melbourne Airport's Brunetti café is the latest COVID-19 exposure site named by Victoria's Department of Health as the state records five new locally acquired cases of the coronavirus.

Health authorities added the location overnight, and anyone who visited the Brunetti café between 4.45am and 1.15pm on Tuesday 9 February must isolate for two weeks and get tested.

It comes as Victoria reports five new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the total number of active cases in the state to 19.

The new cases are all linked to the Holiday Inn outbreak, meaning there are still no cases unlinked to any active outbreaks in the state.

VIC Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to front the press today in response to the growing COVID-19 cluster.

As reported by the Herald Sun, a snap lockdown of Melbourne to come into effect as early as tonight is on the table, though a final decision on new restrictions has not yet been reached.

So far, South Australia has implemented a hard border to all travellers from Greater Melbourne in response to the outbreak.

Queensland has banned entry to all travellers if they have been to any of Melbourne's exposure sites, while Western Australia has extended its hard border to VIC for an extra week.

New South Wales currently remains open to all Victorians, but incoming passengers are being screened on arrival.

Updated at 9.39am AEDT on 12 February 2021.

New Victorian exposure sites revealed as SA locks Melburnians out

New Victorian exposure sites revealed as SA locks Melburnians out

Victoria's Department of Health has announced new exposure sites in the south-eastern Melbourne suburb of Glen Waverley after two new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 were discovered.

It comes as South Australia imposed a hard border to all travellers from Greater Melbourne overnight in response to an outbreak connected to the now-closed Holiday Inn quarantine facility.

The two new locally acquired COVID-19 cases are both linked to the Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn outbreak, bringing the total number of cases reported in VIC to 20,458.

As such, the VIC Department of Health has updated its list of exposure sites to include:

  • Commonwealth Bank, Glen Waverley Tuesday 9 February, 1.30pm-2.45pm
  • HSBC Bank, Glen Waverley Tuesday 9 February, 2.15pm-3.30pm

South Australian health officials imposed a hard border to travellers from Greater Melbourne at midnight, after new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 were detected in the Victorian capital.

However, those who made it in before the deadline and test negative will then be allowed to leave isolation.

Travellers from regional Victoria will not be impacted by this change to the border restrictions.

Updated at 10.56am AEDT on 11 February 2021.

 

SA locks out Melburnians from entry

SA locks out Melburnians from entry

South Australian health officials imposed a hard border to travellers from Greater Melbourne at midnight, after new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 were detected in the Victorian capital.

Yesterday the government announced its intention to enforce the strict measures, allowing travellers from Melbourne into the state until midnight last night on the condition they isolate on arrival and get tested on the first day in SA.

Those who made it in before the deadline and test negative will then be allowed to leave isolation.

Yesterday SA's Police Commissioner Grant Stevens (pictured) said he was waiting for more specific details about the latest outbreak in Melbourne from VIC's Department of Health.

"We're looking for the indicators that those jurisdictions are getting on top of whatever issues they have, and that their contact tracing and quarantine processes are effective, and the community testing for COVID-19 is also at the level we believe is satisfactory to identify any community transmission," Stevens said.

"It's a very dynamic and moving situation. Our steps in South Australia are taken with an abundance of caution to make sure that we are minimising the risk."

Travellers from regional Victoria will not be impacted by this change to the border restrictions.

Updated at 10:05am AEDT on 11 February 2021.

Melbourne Holiday Inn quarantine facility to close

Melbourne Holiday Inn quarantine facility to close

The Holiday Inn quarantine facility at Melbourne Airport will close after two staffers at the hotel contracted COVID-19 while on the job.

The accommodation facility will be closed for an indefinite period for a "terminal clean" - the highest of cleaning standards.

As such, all guests currently accommodated at the Holiday Inn will be moved to alternative hotels while the clean is completed.

In addition, anyone who has spent more than 15 minutes inside the hotel, be that residents, workers, or visitors, is now considered a primary close contact of the outbreak and will be required to isolate for two weeks.

"That will be very challenging for those people, but we simply cannot run the risk of this hyper infectious strain of COVID-19 getting out into the community," Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.

"An abundance of caution is required in this case."

Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton explained the Department of Health's working hypothesis about the outbreak within the facility.

He said it occurred due to a medical device called a nebuliser.

"It vaporises medication or liquid into a very fine mist, and it that's breathed in, especially when it's used as medication, and someone is infectious or later tests positive, then that picks up the virus and that mist can then be suspended in the air with very fine aerosolised particles," Sutton said.

"So we think that the exposures are all to that event, the use of a nebuliser, which meant that the virus was carried out into the corridor and exposed the authorised officer, the food and beverage service worker, and also the other resident."

Victoria reported two new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 yesterday: a worker at the Holiday Inn, and a resident of the facility who had left quarantine and tested positive two days later.

Globally there are now more than 107 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, and more than 2.3 million deaths attributed to the coronavirus.

Updated at 11.05am AEDT on 10 February 2021.

Public health alerts issued after Victorian quarantine worker tests positive for COVID-19

Public health alerts issued after Victorian quarantine worker tests positive for COVID-19

A number of public health alerts in Sunbury, north of Melbourne, have been issued overnight after a Victorian hotel quarantine worker tested positive for COVID-19.

The worker from the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport was one of two new COVID-19 cases uncovered in Victoria yesterday, with the other being a resident of the same facility who tested positive after completing the 14-day quarantine period.

While the resident poses no threat to the public as they did not leave their home post-release from quarantine, the Holiday Inn worker visited a number of places over the weekend.

As such, a list of exposure sites has been published by the Victorian Department of Health, and anyone who has been at any of these sites must immediately isolate, get tested, and remain isolated for 14 days.

Friday, 5 February 2021:

  • PJ's Pet Warehouse, Sunbury 3.37pm-4.10pm
  • Bakers Delight Sunbury Square Shopping Centre, Sunbury 3.40pm-4.15pm
  • Aldente Deli Sunbury Square Shopping Centre, Sunbury 3.45pm-4.23pm
  • Sushi Sushi Sunbury Square Shopping Centre, Sunbury 3.53pm-4.28pm
  • Asian Star Sunbury Square Shopping Centre, Sunbury 3.57pm-4.30pm

Saturday, 6 February 2021:

  • Sunny Life Massage Sunbury Square Shopping Centre, Sunbury 4.30pm-6.30pm
  • Cellarbrations, Sunbury 6.17pm-7.02pm

Sunday, 7 February 2021:

  • Cellarbrations, Sunbury 5.44pm-6.19pm

Updated at 9.24am AEDT on 10 February 2021.

New South Wales and Victoria on alert after new locally acquired COVID-19 cases discovered

New South Wales and Victoria on alert after new locally acquired COVID-19 cases discovered

Two states are on high alert after locally acquired cases of COVID-19 were detected in New South Wales and Victoria overnight.

In NSW, state health authorities are carrying out precautionary contact tracing in relation to a returned overseas traveller who tested positive to COVID-19 two days after leaving hotel quarantine.

The person, based in the Wollongong area, did not test positive for the coronavirus during their quarantine period, but underwent testing as part of the recently enhanced day-16 follow-up.

Test results indicate the person has a low level of infection and their household contacts have returned negative results to date.

NSW Health says investigations to date suggest the infection was likely acquired overseas and there is no indication at this stage that there was transmission in the hotel setting.

Close contacts of the case not associated with venues have been identified and are already in self isolation.

The case visited a number of venues in Wollongong and surrounding areas.

Anyone who attended the following venues at the times listed below should immediately get tested and self-isolate until further advice from NSW Health:

  • Headlands Hotel, Austinmer Tuesday 2 February, 1pm-3pm
  • Bulli Beach Café, Bulli Saturday 6 February, 1.30pm-4pm

Anyone who attended the following venues at the times listed below is a casual contact who must get tested immediately and self-isolate until you receive a negative result. If any symptoms appear, get tested again:

  • Mootch & Me, Brighton Le Sands Tuesday 2 February, 10.54am-12pm
  • Optus, North Wollongong Thursday 4 February, 1pm-1.15pm
  • Officeworks, Fairy Meadow Thursday 4 February, 3.45pm-4.05pm and Friday 5 February 3pm-3.25pm

Anyone who attended the following venues at the times listed below should monitor for symptoms. If symptoms appear, please get tested:

  • Woolworths, Bulli Wednesday 3 February, 9.15am-10am
  • Corrimal Memorial Park, Corrimal Wednesday 3 February, 12pm-1pm
  • Thirroul Beach, Thirroul Wednesday 3 February, 3pm-4.30pm
  • Sublime Point Walking Track, Madden Plains - Thursday 4 February, 8.30am-10am
  • Figtree Grove Shopping Centre (Australia Post, Kmart, Blooms The Chemist, Subway), Figtree Thursday 4 February, 2pm-3.30pm
  • Fedora Pasta Factor, Fairy Meadow Friday 5 February, 3.30pm-3.35pm.

Melbourne quarantine worker tests positive

Victoria's Department of Health has also issued a number of public health alerts after a hotel quarantine worker at Melbourne Airport's Holiday Inn tested positive for COVID-19.

The individual was tested on 4 February and returned a negative result.

They returned to work on 7 February, developed symptoms, were tested and then returned a positive result.

VIC Health has contacted Holiday Inn Airport workers and others considered primary close contacts. They are required to immediately isolate, get tested, and remain isolated for 14 days.

As such, public health alerts have been issued for the following venues:

  • Marciano's Cakes, Maidstone Friday 5 February, 9.45am-10.25am
  • Dan Murphy's, Sunshine Friday, 5 February, 5.50pm-6.30pm and Saturday 6 February, 6.50pm-7.30pm
  • Off Ya Tree Watergardens, Taylors Lakes Saturday 6 February, 1.17pm-1.52pm

VIC Health says those who have been in one of those exposure sites in the specified times are required to immediately isolate, get tested, and remain isolated for 14 days.

Updated 9.29am AEDT on 8 February 2021.

South Australia removes hard border with Western Australia

South Australia removes hard border with Western Australia

With Perth coming out of lockdown this evening, South Australian health officials have decided to remove a hard border with Western Australia immediately.

However, travellers from WA will still be required to get tested on days one, five and 12 from arrival, and isolate until the first negative test result is received.

Further, anyone who is currently in quarantine after arriving from WA can leave immediately, excluding those who were at the Four Points Hotel.

Since WA went into lockdown on Sunday after a hotel quarantine worker tested positive for COVID-19, the state has not recorded any more locally transmitted cases of the coronavirus.

This has given SA Health the confidence to reopen the state's borders to travellers from WA.

In addition, SA Premier Steven Marshall said his state will be accepting more international travellers through February.

While SA won't return to accepting 600 returning travellers per week anytime soon, the number will be increasing to hit approximately 530 per week by mid-February.

"We're not in a position to go right back to where we were," Marshall said.

"We do want to play our role in the repatriation of Australian citizens, but we've looked very carefully at the acceptable capacity that we can have here in South Australia so that it will provide us with that capacity if we do need to isolate people that are coming in from another state or if we do have anything that develops in here in our state."

SA reported one new case of COVID-19 today a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

SA Health says this case is an "old" case but it will be added to the state's numbers from today.

Interstate, no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 were recorded today.

In particular, NSW recorded no new locally acquired cases and no new cases in hotel quarantine for the first time since 25 November 2020.

Updated at 1.33pm AEDT on 5 February 2021.

Western Australia outlines post-lockdown plan

Western Australia outlines post-lockdown plan

Pending no further locally acquired COVID-19 cases in Western Australia, the state will emerge from its five-day lockdown period at 6pm (AWST) tonight, but some restrictions will stay in place.

The South-West region will return immediately to pre-lockdown conditions from 6pm, in line with the rest of regional WA.

However, the Perth and Peel regions will be subject to transitional restrictions until 12.01am, Sunday, 14 February.

The post lockdown transitional measures for the Perth and Peel regions, include:

  • Everyone must continue to wear a mask in public and while at work, unless exempt or for outdoor vigorous exercise;
  • All business and venues can re-open, except for the casino and nightclubs;
  • 4 square metre capacity rule and 150-person capacity at hospitality, entertainment, fitness venues and events including weddings, funerals (excluding staff);
  • community sport can involve up to 150 people including players, officials and spectators;
  • Seated service only at hospitality venues;
  • Dancing only permitted at weddings and dance studios;
  • 20-person limit for private indoor and outdoor gatherings;
  • Visits to aged care and disability care facilities restricted to compassionate grounds and advocates;
  • Residential school and boarding facilities can resume with a COVID Safety Plan; and
  • Only essential travel, including work, is permitted in and out of the Perth and Peel regions to other parts of WA.

Under the post-lockdown transition measures, Perth and Peel schools will start from Monday, February 8, with the mandatory mask rule applying to all school staff and secondary students. Masks are not required for primary school students.

Masks are also mandatory for staff at childcare facilities as well as students and staff in higher education, including TAFEs and universities.

Elective surgery at WA public hospitals will resume and people will be contacted directly to re-schedule and re-book their appointments which were suspended due to the five-day lockdown.

FIFO workers will once again be able to leave the Perth and Peel regions, but documentation will be required, and they must follow strict health protocols.

Pre-lockdown requirements for the entire State still remain in place, and include:

  • Mandatory contact registers for most WA businesses and venues;
  • Capacity restrictions for major venues;
  • Restrictions on travel to remote Aboriginal communities; and
  • WA's controlled interstate border arrangements.

WA Premier Mack McGowan has thanked West Australians for their cooperation during the lockdown period.

"It's been a simply remarkable achievement and the credit goes to each and every Western Australian who made sacrifices this week to keep the community safe and get our State back to normal as soon as possible," he said.

"While the lockdown will end tomorrow and people in Perth, Peel and the South-West regions will be able to leave their homes, a number of restrictions will remain in place and particularly for Perth and Peel, a new transitional arrangement will be in place until next Sunday.

"As always, we'll continue to monitor the situation closely, and if we need to make any changes, we will."

WA recorded no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 yesterday.

Updated at 9.56am AEDT on 5 February 2021.

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