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Covid-19 News Updates


Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown to contain contagious UK COVID strain

Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown to contain contagious UK COVID strain

The Queensland Government is taking a leaf out of South Australia's playbook in a bid to stamp out a potential COVID-19 outbreak, with a three-day lockdown to start from 6pm today in Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Ipswich, Redlands and Logan.

The announcement follows yesterday's confirmation that a confirmed case of a hotel quarantine cleaner from Brisbane's south has the highly contagious UK strain of the virus.

People in the affected local government areas (LGAs) will be required to stay at home except:

  • for education, or work if they can't work from home;
  • to buy essentials like groceries and medicine within their local area;
  • look after the vulnerable; and
  • exercise within their neighbourhood with no more than one person from their household.

Masks will also need to be worn everywhere in those local government areas except if people are at home.

Cafes, pubs and restaurants will be open only for take-away service, and there will be closures for cinemas, entertainment and recreation venues, gyms, and places of worship.

Funerals will be restricted to 20 guests and weddings restricted to 10 guests.

People in Greater Brisbane have been advised not to leave the area during the period, including non-residents. People can choose to enter Brisbane during this period but are bound by the same restrictions and are urged to delay travel, although they can enter Greater Brisbane to attain health care. 

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was asking people to have a long weekend at home, as "there are no second chances with this pandemic".

"We have learned from Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales that a short, sharp lockdown is better than a long one and this a more contagious strain," she said.

"Three days is better than 30."

The Premier said she once again called on Queenslanders to protect each other.

"All we can do is stay home and stay safe and please get tested," the Premier said.

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said extra testing clinics with more staff had been opened.

"We want to see as many people tested as possible and people stay home and stay safe," the Minister said.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said it was essential to stop people moving through the community.

"We know that to stop the spread of the virus we have to stop the movement of people and test, test, test," Dr Young said.

"Queenslanders have done a tremendous job of containing this virus for so long- we just have to keep it up."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison praised the Queensland Premier on Twitter for her decision, describing it as a "wise call" to have a brief lockdown while authorities get on top of the recent case.

"This will buy much needed time," the Prime Minister said.

New strain's spread "out of control" in the UK

The Independent Sage, a group of scientists in the UK, issued a statement last week concluded the new strain of COVID-19 that seems to have emerged in the southeast of England is between 40-80 per cent more transmissible than earlier variants.

The scientists said COVID-19 was "out of control" in the UK with current Tier 4 stay-at-home restrictions now unable to contain its spread, even with closure of schools and universities.

"The pandemic is now out of control, and the NHS is struggling, with some hospitals having to stop non-COVID activities. The NHS (National Health Service) is no longer being protected," the Independent Sage commented.

"For these reasons, there is a strong argument for maximising the coverage of the population with at least one dose of vaccine, even though this requires a change to the dosage schedule.

"The urgency of concerted and effective action to supress the new variant cannot be overstated."

The Independent Sage also called for restricted movement from and to Great Britain with the rest of the world. There are currently at least 40 nations worldwide that have closed their borders to UK arrivals, including Singapore, Spain, Canada and India.

Updated at 8:51am AEST on 8 January 2021.

Australia plans vaccine roll-out in February

Australia plans vaccine roll-out in February

The Federal Government aims to have four million Australians vaccinated for COVID-19 by the end of March, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing plans to get the process underway in mid-to-late February for high priority populations.

After emphasising the sombre statistic that many countries - such as the UK, Germany, Brazil and Mexico - are recording daily COVID-19 death rates equivalent to Australia's total fatalities from the virus, the PM set an indicative vaccination timetable today but warned it would not be a "silver bullet".

Authorities expect the necessary data on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be ready by mid-January and if all conditions are met, a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approval by the end of the month.

But Pfizer's global protocols indicate a two-week delivery time post-approval, followed by around a week that is required for batch processing. 

The data gathering for another vaccine from AstraZeneca is due for the end of February, and health authorities are unable to give a more precise timeline around that roll-out.

"We anticipate optimistically that we would hope to start the vaccination with around 80,000 vaccinations a week - that's what we are targeting, and then seeing that build up over the next four to six weeks," the Prime Minister said.

"We hope by the end of March to have reached some four million population."

Distribution timeline

Five phases of priority population vaccinations have been planned.

"Today we are going to talk about the process of those first two phases that will provide the most necessary ring of containment and protection to the Australian population," he said.

"Those populations in that first phase are quarantine and border workers, frontline health officials as well as those working in aged care and disability care, and those in aged care and disability care residents."

These populations represent Phase 1a, while Phase 1b covers elderly adults aged 70 and over, Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders aged over 55, younger adults with underlying medical conditions, and critical and high-risk workers in industries such as defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing.

Phase 2 will then include Adults aged 50 and over, Aboriginal and Torrest Strait Islander people aged 18 and over, and other critical care workers.

However, the Prime Minister emphasised once the vaccinations start it does not mean that COVID-Safe practices come to an end.

"They continue to be a 2021 lived experience," he said.

"But this will add a very, very significant defence, and offence I should also say, in combatting the virus here in Australia and around the world."

"The outbreak and containment structures that have been enhanced during the course of the pandemic are succeeding, are protecting Australians, are saving lives," added Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

Department of Health Secretary and former Chief Medical Officer Dr Brendan Murphy said the vaccines would be manufactured on-shore, ensuring Australia has a guaranteed supply of the vaccine.

"That will lead to a rapid ramp-up within weeks of that initial start and we will expand the roll-out to a significantly broader range of, again, the at-risk population," Dr Murphy said.

"Over the second quarter of this year we will have a very significant portion of the population covered.

"And then we will go on to the rest of the population and the last group we will consider is children. We know children are at the lowest risk of getting COVID and transmitting COVID, and the vaccines currently haven't been properly tested in children."

One new case in QLD

There were no new cases reported in NSW or VIC today, but in QLD there was one new case who is a hotel quarantine worker, leading the state's Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to call on residents of Sunnybank Hills, Algester and Calamvale to get tested if they have symptoms.

"There's a lot of contact tracing that has been going on overnight, and I want to thank [Queensland Health]...they are doing everything they can to alert the community, so we need the community to stay alert." the QLD Premier said.

The patient was unknowingly infectious from 2 January 2021 and tested positive for COVID-19 on 6 January 2021.

Queensland Health has released the following details of the individual's movements while infectious:

  • Saturday 2 January - 7am - Train from Altandi station to Roma street
  • Saturday 2 January - 4pm - Train from Central Station to Altandi station
  • Sunday 3 January - 11am -12pm - Woolworths, Calamvale North
  • Tuesday 5 January - 7.30am - 8am - Coles, Sunnybank Hills
  • Tuesday 5 January - 8am - 8.15am - Newsagent, Sunnybank Hills Shopping Town

Updated at 1:08pm AEDT on 7 January.

 

Public health alerts issued for venues on the NSW South Coast

Public health alerts issued for venues on the NSW South Coast

The south coast of New South Wales is on alert for the potential spreading of COVID-19 after a person with the virus visited venues in the region.

In addition to visiting a cricket ground and a restaurant in Parramatta and the Merrylands RSL the case went to venues in the popular tourist region of the south coast leading to a number of public health alerts being issued overnight.

The alerts come as NSW records no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

Anyone who attended the following south coast venues at the times listed below should monitor for symptoms and, if they occur, get tested immediately and self-isolate until you receive a negative result:

  • Kangaroo Valley, Nostalgia Factory Shop - Sunday 27 December 11.20am to 11.30am
  • Huskisson, Taj Indian Restaurant - Sunday 27 December 4.45pm to 5.20pm
  • Parramatta, Saravanaa Bhavan - Monday 28 December 9.50am to 10.50am
  • Merrylands Merrylands RSL (Ariah Room) - Monday 28 December 4pm to 4.55pm
  • Merrylands, Merrylands RSL (Smoking Gaming Area) - Monday 28 December 4.55pm to 5.15pm
  • Merrylands, Merrylands RSL (Sports Lounge) - Monday 28 December 5.15pm to 6pm

In addition, anyone who attended any other area of the Merrylands RSL between 4pm and 6pm on Monday 28 December should monitor for symptoms and get tested if they appear.

Anyone who played cricket at the listed time below should immediately get tested and self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result:

  • Parramatta, Ollie Webb Cricket Ground (cricket ground) - Monday 28 December 7.30am to 11am

Anyone who was present in the Ollie Webb Cricket Ground grandstand between 7.30am to 11am on Monday 28 December should immediately get tested and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

These latest public health alerts come on the back of other new announcements released by NSW Health yesterday afternoon.

These public health alerts relate to a number of venues in the western Sydney suburb of Wentworthville.

Anyone who attended the following venues at the listed times is considered a casual contact who should get tested immediately and isolate until a negative result is received, and continue to monitor for symptoms and test again if any symptoms develop:

  • Wentworthville, BWS - Sunday 27 December 8.30pm to 8.35pm
  • Wentworthville, Domino's Pizza - Sunday 27 December 8.50pm to 9pm

Anyone who attended the following venues at the listed times is considered a casual contact who should monitor for symptoms and if they appear, isolate and get tested until a negative result is received:

  • Wentworthville, Woolworths - Wednesday 30 December 12pm to 12.10pm
  • Wentworthville, Green Farm Meat NSW Halal - Wednesday 30 December 12.10pm to 12.15pm
  • Wentworthville, Udaya Supermarket - Wednesday 30 December 6.30pm to 6.35pm
  • Wentworthville, Ambeys Big Apple - Friday 1 January - 5.30pm to 5.40pm
  • Wentworthville, Sri Lakshmi Supermarket - Friday 1 January 5.40pm to 5.45pm
  • Wentworthville, Pizza Hut - Saturday 2 January - 8.30pm to 8.40pm
  • Wentworthville, Ambeys Big Apple - 8.45pm to 8.50pm
  • Wentworthville, Udaya Supermarket - Sunday 3 January - 6.30pm to 6.40pm
  • Wentworthville, Udaya Supermarket - Monday 4 January - 6.30pm to 6.35pm
  • Wentworthville, Swagath Biryani House - Monday 4 January 6.40pm to 6.50pm

NSW reordered four new cases of COVID-19 yesterday after the state recorded 32,667 tests.

Updated at 10.37am AEDT on 7 January 2021.

P&O Cruises extends New Zealand operations pause until 2022

P&O Cruises extends New Zealand operations pause until 2022

A rolling pause of P&O Cruises Australia's operations in New Zealand will be extended until July 2022 as the industry continues to be battered by the choppy seas of border closures and COVID-19 restrictions.

The cruise line, which has had ships based in Auckland for a number of years, will now return to New Zealand for a dedicated 150-day season in July 2022.

P&O Cruises Australia president Sture Myrmell says the start of the new year brought renewed optimism and confidence but maintains it is important for the operator to be realistic about the immediate future of the industry.

"We know that much better days lie ahead and we remain positive about the resumption of cruising," says Myrmell.

"While we've paused operations, P&O Cruises together with the wider industry has been using the time wisely to plan for cruising's return.

"As we work towards this goal, we wanted to provide our Kiwi guests with as much certainty as possible and flexibility around their 2021 bookings and an opportunity to reschedule their cruise holiday for 2022 or beyond."

Initially scheduled to start sailing from Auckland from 6 February 2021, Pacific Explorer's operations were previously paused to 4 March 2021 and are now paused to 25 April.

In Australia, Pacific Adventure is currently scheduled to begin sailing from Sydney on 30 April 2021 while Pacific Encounter is due to call Brisbane home from 7 May - although additional voyages may be added earlier, depending on the timing of the return of cruising in Australia.

The extended pause in operations from New Zealand affects the following cruises:

  • Pacific Explorer: X112N, X113N, X114N, X115N, X116N, X117N, X118N, X119N, X120N.

Australia reports five new COVID-19 cases

Four new COVID-19 cases in New South Wales and one in Victoria have been detected in Australia today, sparking further concerns of community transmission of the coronavirus.

The four new cases in NSW were discovered after 32,667 people went out and got tested for COVID-19 yesterday - a welcome improvement in testing numbers according to Acting Premier John Barilaro.

With the Sydney cricket test between Australia and India set to begin tomorrow health authorities have asked all attendees to wear a mask while at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

They have also asked attendees to reconsider using public transport to attend the match while Sydneysiders in Western Sydney COVID-19 hotspots have been banned from attending.

The one case in VIC is so far unlinked to any of the current outbreaks in the state.

The man who tested positive has sparked fears of potential spreading of COVID-19 in VIC as he attended day two of the Boxing Day test match at the MCG and went to Boxing Day sales at Chadstone Shopping Centre on 26 December.

Those who were in Zone 5 of the MCG's Great Southern Stand or who went to any of the stores the man visited on Boxing Day have been urged to get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Victorian health officials have listed the following stores in Chadstone Shopping Centre as sites of concern:

  • Culture Kings
  • Huffer
  • JD Sports
  • Jay Jays
  • H&M
  • Uniqlo
  • Myer
  • Superdry
  • Foot Locker
  • Dumplings Plus

Updated at 12.18pm AEDT on 6 January 2021.

New year, new restrictions: the state of COVID-19 in Australia

New year, new restrictions: the state of COVID-19 in Australia

Welcome back to Business News Australia's COVID-19 live update feed for 2021.

Over the last two weeks an outbreak of COVID-19 in Sydney's Northern Beaches region ruined Christmas and New Year travel plans for many Australians, sparking border closures and new restrictions around the country.

The outbreak, initially contained within the Northern Beaches area, has since spread down to Melbourne where new cases have been popping up in recent days.

Another cluster in the NSW capital's western suburbs, connected to a returning overseas traveller, has largely centred around a BWS liquor shop in Berala.

Today the NSW Government announced two new cases connected to the outbreak of COVID-19 at the BWS store in Berala were discovered overnight.

These new cases are not included in the state's official daily case updates as they were discovered after 8pm on Sunday, but were announced by NSW Acting Premier John Barilaro this morning.

In total there are 188 active cases of COVID-19 in NSW, not including the two new cases that were confirmed overnight.

Meanwhile in Victoria three new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 were reported this morning, bringing the total number of active cases in the state to 36.

Because of these outbreaks new restrictions have been put in place in NSW, including the mandatory wearing of masks, and border restrictions have come back into play in all states and territories.

Restrictions in New South Wales

Mandatory mask wearing

Overnight the mandatory wearing of masks became enforceable for residents of Greater Sydney, Central Coast, Wollongong and Blue Mountains.

Those caught not wearing a mask in certain indoor settings (shopping centres, indoor entertainment, public/shared transport, waiting areas for transport) can be fined $200 on the spot.

Masks are also mandatory for places of worship, hair and beauty premises, and when visiting aged care facilities.

Staff in hospitality venues and gaming areas in licenced premises must also wear masks.

Gathering restrictions

Restrictions on gatherings are different depending on where people reside in NSW.

In the northern area of the Northern Beaches (from North Narrabeen to Palm Beach):

  • Stay at home rules apply, and residents may only leave the house to exercise, to purchase essential goods or services, or to get medical care or supplies;
  • Up to five people, including children, may gather outdoors in a public place for exercise or another recreational activity;
  • General outdoor gatherings not for exercise or recreational activity are restricted to no more than two people.

In Greater Sydney, Central Coast and Wollongong:

  • Household gatherings are restricted to five visitors;
  • Outdoor public gatherings are restricted to no more than 30 people;
  • Outdoor events are subject to the one person per two square metre rule, with a maximum of 500 people if attendees are assigned to a seating area or 2,000 people if assigned to specific seats;
  • Venue operators must ensure there are at least 2 square metres of space in outdoor areas and 4 square metres of space in indoor areas;
  • Gyms are restricted to the four square metre rule and a maximum of 30 people per class;

In regional NSW:

  • Up to 50 visitors from any household may visit another household at any one time;
  • Hospitality venues must ensure there are at least 2 square metres of space for each person on the premises.

Victorian COVID-19 restrictions

As of 31 December 2020 the following restrictions are in place for Victoria:

  • The number of people who can visit a home per day (either at once or across the day) has been reduced to 15 (excluding members of the household and children under 12 months);
  • Masks are mandatory indoors.

Border restrictions in place

Across the country different border controls have been implemented since Sydney's third wave of COVID-19 commenced in late 2020.

The current border restrictions by state are as follows:

New South Wales

NSW is currently open to receiving travellers from all Australian states and territories with no permit required.

However, health authorities recommend delaying non-essential travel within NSW, especially between Greater Sydney and regional areas.

Queensland

Queensland residents who have been in Greater Sydney in the last 14 days must apply for a Border Declaration Pass and will be directed to quarantine in government arranged accommodation on arrival. Those who have been or intend to go to NSW but not Greater Sydney must also apply for a pass.

As of today Queensland hospitals, aged care facilities, disability accommodation facilities and correctional facilities are closed to all visitors that have been in Victoria on or since Monday 21 December 2020 or left Victoria less than 14 days ago.

Victoria

VIC's border closed to New South Wales on 1 January 2021, with returning residents to get tested and isolate at home for 14 days on arrival.

Victorians must not enter from Greater Sydney, Northern Beaches, or the Central Coast.

Those living in VIC border communities will continue to be able to access the 'border bubble' using their driver's license to prove their residential address.

Tasmania

Travellers who have been in high-risk areas in NSW or VIC can provide evidence of residency and seek to complete 14 days required quarantine at a residential address or other suitable premises.

Non-residents who have been in a high-risk area in NSW and VIC can only enter the state if they receive an exemption.

South Australia

Effective 12:01am 1 January 2021, anyone who has been in NSW in the last 14 days will be prohibited from entry into South Australia.

Northern Territory

All people travelling to the Northern Territory must complete a border entry form.

Anyone arriving into the Northern Territory from or through Sydney in the last 14 days must undertake 14 days mandatory quarantine in supervised accommodation.

Western Australia

Travel into WA from VIC and NSW is no longer permitted unless you are an exempt traveller.

Exempt travellers will be required to complete 14 days of self-quarantine on arrival in WA.

Anyone who has arrived from Victoria since December 21 or was in Victoria from December 21 and has since arrived in WA will be required to do the following:

  • self-quarantine in a suitable premises until you have spent 14 days in WA;
  • present for a COVID-19 test as soon as any symptoms develop;
  • present for a COVID-19 test on Day 11 after arrival in WA.

Australian Capital Territory

Non-ACT residents who have been in the Northern Beaches, Greater Sydney, Central Coast, or Wollongong are not permitted to enter the ACT unless an exemption is granted.

If people have just transited through Greater Sydney, Central Coast and Wollongong without making any stops, they are not required to seek an exemption or complete a declaration.

ACT residents who have visited any of the Sydney hotspots must complete an online declaration 24 hours before they intend to travel back to the Territory.

Updated at 12.25pm AEDT on 4 January 2021.

Massive testing effort finds just 15 new COVID cases in Sydney

Massive testing effort finds just 15 new COVID cases in Sydney

Sydney has avoided further restrictions to social gatherings for now despite the northern beaches COVID-19 outbreak growing to 83 cases overnight.

With 38,000 tests conducted in Sydney over the past 24 hours, just 15 new community-transmission cases were reported. All of these cases are linked to the northern beaches cluster.

An additional eight cases were recorded in relation to returned travellers who are in hotel quarantine, including two travellers from the UK who NSW health authorities say have the new COVID mutation which is reported to be highly infectious.

"Every single case (of community transmission) we've had to date has been linked to the Avalon cluster, and that's how we want to keep it," says NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

As a result, the NSW Government has not introduced any new restrictions as Sydney residents are now subject to a total shutdown from the rest of Australia from midnight last night.

Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania will require anyone entering their states from greater Sydney after midnight to now enter hotel quarantine. The cut-off for Queensland was 1am this morning, while Victoria also includes residents from the NSW central coast.

Berejiklian this morning offered a veiled criticism of the interstate restrictions imposed on Sydney residents and returning travellers. She argues that the only state NSW has ever closed its borders to during COVID this year has been Victoria during its second wave when cases exceeded 140.

"I use that to put that into perspective," Berejiklian says. "Of course, I am concerned but every response has to be proportional to the risk. Let's all of us make our decision on the facts. It's a very emotional time of the year and please ensure your response is proportional."

The premier also argues that NSW is carrying the load of international arrivals currently in hotel quarantine and preparing to be repatriated with family and friends interstate. She says it is a time to show "compassion" at this time of year.

Meanwhile, Greater Sydney residents were met with a previously announced round of restrictions from midnight last night. These include:

  • A temporary limit of 10 visitors in household gatherings until 11.59pm on 23 December
  • A one person per four square metre rule for all indoor settings, including hospitality venues and places of worship
  • A cap of 300 people for hospitality venues and places of worship.
  • Restrictions to singing in indoor venues, returning to a maximum of five performers indoors, provided they are 1.5 metres from one another and at least 5 metres from the audience who are not allowed to sing along
  • Dancefloors will not be permitted, except for weddings, when a maximum of 20 from the wedding party will be permitted.

'Greater Sydney' comprises the following local government areas: Bayside, Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Burwood, Camden, Campbelltown, Canada Bay, Canterbury-Bankstown, Central Coast, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Hawkesbury, Hornsby, Hunters Hill, Inner West, Ku-ring-gai, Lane Cove, Liverpool, Mosman, North Sydney, Northern Beaches, Parramatta, Penrith, Randwick, Ryde, Strathfield, Sutherland Shire, Sydney, The Hills Shire, Waverley, Willoughby, Wollondilly, Wollongong and Woollahra.

People in Greater Sydney are also urged not to visit residential aged care facilities, disability services or vulnerable people unless it is critical. This advice will be re-assessed on Wednesday 23 December.

They are also advised to wear masks in indoor settings such as shops and hospitality venues, in line with advice already issued to those in the Northern Beaches.

'Stay at home' orders in place for residents of the Northern Beaches local government area (LGA) will also continue until 11.59pm on Wednesday 23 December to control the spread of COVID-19. Further clear advice will be provided to the community before Christmas.

All residents of the Northern Beaches LGA are required to stay at home, unless permitted to leave for certain reasons, under the Public Health Order issued on Saturday 19 December.

Acceptable reasons for leaving home include shopping for food and other essential goods and services; travelling to work or an educational institution if working or studying from home is not possible; exercising; seeking medical care; providing carer's responsibilities and meeting compassionate needs. It is strongly recommended masks are worn when leaving isolation for these permitted reasons.

Any residents of the Northern Beaches LGA who left the area on or since Thursday 10 December 2020 must comply with the same restrictions that apply to the Northern Beaches, regardless of their current location.

Non-residents who have visited the Northern Beaches on or after Thursday 10 December should monitor closely for symptoms and get tested if any appear, no matter how mild. Anyone who visited the Northern Beaches since 10 December is also urged to check the NSW Government website for locations visited by confirmed cases and follow the associated health advice for the relevant venues if they have visited any of them.

Click here for the latest COVID-19 case locations in NSW.

Positive COVID-19 case travelled to Brisbane, Sunshine Coast

Positive COVID-19 case travelled to Brisbane, Sunshine Coast

Queensland Chief Health Officer (CHO) Dr Jeannette Young has today confirmed the movements within the state of a positive COVID-19 case from Sydney's Northern Beaches, where a cluster has now grown to 28 known infections.

The case was one of three reported by Dr Young today, including two in hotel quarantine who had returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The third case is a lady in her 50s who travelled up from the Northern Beaches on the 16th of December. She flew up on Virgin flight VA925, arriving into Brisbane Airport at 9:30am," Dr Young said.

"We are currently contact tracing the rows in front of where she sat, behind and either side.

"Anyone who was on that flight should, if they develop any symptoms at all immediately get themselves tested."

The woman then rented a hire car and went to lunch at The Glen Hotel in the southern Brisbane suburb of Eight Mile Plains, so anyone who visited the venue after 11:30am on 16 December has been urged to get tested if they develop any symptoms.

"The lady then travelled to the Sunshine Coast and we're contact tracing there. She went to a hotel but only had contact with the receptionist, so we're working with that receptionist. Otherwise she didn't have any broad contact there.

"She stayed overnight on the Sunshine Coast, and then travelled through Brisbane to return home to the Northern Beaches, and she went into the Prince Charles Hospital [Chermside, Brisbane] and got tested for COVID because a friend of hers let her know from Sydney."

Dr Young has declared the Northern Beaches of Sydney a COVID-19 hotspot, and as of 1am tomorrow anyone arriving in the state who has been in the area since 11 December will need to enter hotel quarantine up until 14 days have passed since they were in the hotspot.

"Anyone in Queensland today, who has been in the Northern Beaches from 11th of December, onwards, any date, needs to immediately go into quarantine wherever they are, so in their home or a friend's home, a hotel or wherever they are in Queensland," she added.

"They need to organize to get themselves tested. That's very important. And they need to stay in that quarantine site, wherever they are, until it's 14 days since they left the Northern Beaches.

"Police will be working through to see how we can fine people, but essentially I'm relying on people to do the right thing, and we know from the start of the pandemic Queenslanders have overwhelmingly done the right thing, so I ask them that they continue to do that."

Updated at 11:06am AEST on 18 December 2020.

 

Sydney's Northern Beaches cluster grows, states impose border restrictions

Sydney's Northern Beaches cluster grows, states impose border restrictions

Update (10.13pm AEDT Friday 18 December): NSW has recorded 10 new cases overnight and one positive case has travelled to Queensland)

Those living in Sydney's Northern Beaches have been asked to stay at home as much as possible after a cluster of COVID-19 grew to 17 confirmed cases yesterday afternoon.

Meanwhile Queensland has mandated some new conditions ordering visitors from Sydney's hotspot into immediate hotel quarantine from Saturday, while Tasmania has banned entry to anyone who has visited the northern beaches since 11 December.

Western Australia has ordered that, from midnight last night, anyone entering the state from anywhere in NSW will be required to self-quarantine. The state has changed its classification of NSW from a "very low risk" state to a "low risk" state under WA's controlled interstate border.

To assist with contact tracing and reducing the spread of the virus, people in the Northern Beaches have been asked to stay home as much as possible over the next three days.

This includes working from home where possible, not visiting aged care facilities or hospitals unless essential, avoiding unnecessary gatherings and high-risk venues such as clubs, restaurants, places or worships and gyms, and avoiding unnecessary travel outside of the Northern Beaches area.

States and Territories impose border restrictions

Queensland

Anyone who was in the northern beaches region on or since 11 December and is already in Queensland should get tested and quarantine in their home or accommodation for 14 days from the date they left the northern beaches.

Anyone who was in the northern beaches region on or since 11 December and arrived in Queensland on a flight from Sydney from midnight on 17 December, must get tested and quarantine in their home or accommodation for 14 days from the date they left the northern beaches.

Anyone who was in the northern beaches region on or since 11 December and arrives in Queensland on a flight from Sydney after 1am on 19 December must go into hotel quarantine at their own expense for 14 days from the date they left the northern beaches, and get tested.

Western Australia

From midnight tonight, anyone arriving from New South Wales will now be required to self-quarantine in a suitable premise for 14 days. These arrivals will also be required to be tested for COVID-19 on day 11.

Anyone who has arrived from NSW from 11 December or was in NSW from that date and subsequently arrived in WA before 12.01am this morning (18 December) will be required to follow updated arrangements, which include:

  • the requirement to self-quarantine in a suitable premise as soon as possible
  • to present for a COVID-19 test as soon as possible
  • return to self-quarantine until a negative test result is confirmed
  • undertake a further test on day 11 after arrival in WA. 

Victoria

Anyone who was in the northern beaches region or other NSW exposure sites on or since 11 December and is already in Victoria should get tested and quarantine in their home or accommodation for 14 days from the date they left the northern beaches.

Anyone who was in the northern beaches region or other NSW exposure sites on or since 11 December and arrived in Victoria after midnight last night (17 December), must get tested and quarantine in their home or accommodation for 14 days from the date they left the northern beaches.

Anyone who was in the northern beaches region or other NSW exposure sites on or since 11 December and is already in Victoria should get tested and quarantine in their home or accommodation for 14 days from the date they left the northern beaches.

Tasmania

Tasmania has put a ban on anyone who has been in the northern beaches area on or since 11 December from entering the state.

Anyone already in Tasmania who has been in the northern beaches area must immediately self-isolate and have a COVID-19 test.

South Australia

South Australia has expanded its hotspot zones to include the northern beaches of Sydney, which now requires anyone in the state who visited the area from the dates identified by NSW authorities to self-quarantine immediately for 14 days from the last day they were present on the site.

Anyone who visited these locations must get a COVID-19 test immediately and again on day 12 of the self-quarantine. Even if you return a negative test result, you must remain in quarantine for the full 14 days.

People who live with you and/or travelled with you also need to self-quarantine immediately until they receive further advice from SA Health.

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory has advised anyone intending to travel there from an identified hotspot to cancel their plans. The same applies to Territorians intending to travel to an active hotspot.

The Territory says anyone from the northern beaches area entering the NT must quarantine for 14 days.

Public health alerts issued

People who have visited the following Northern Beaches locations should get tested immediately and isolate until they receive a negative result:

  • Woolworths Mona Vale, 25/29 Park St, Mona Vale, 13 December, 12-12.30pm
  • Aldi Mona Vale, 13 Bungan St, Mona Vale, 13 December, 12.45-1.30pm
  • Avalon Beach Surf Life Saving Club, 13, 14 and 15 December, 9-9.30am
  • Palm Beach Rockpool, LOT 1 Rock Bath Rd, Palm Beach, 14 December, 9:30-10:30am
  • Woolworths Avalon, 74 Old Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon Beach, 14 December 5-5.30pm
  • Chemist Warehouse, 4/74 Old Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon Beach, 14 December 5.205.25pm
  • Commonwealth Bank, 47 Avalon Parade, Avalon Beach, 15 December, 12-12.15pm
  • Mitre 10, 49 Avalon Parade, Avalon Beach, 15 December, 12-12.20pm
  • Roof Racks World, 13/87 Reserve Rd, Artarmon, 15 December, 2-2:30pm
  • HongFa BBQ Restaurant, Dee Why, 15 December 4.30-4.45pm
  • Dee Why Fruit Market, 33 Oaks Avenue, Dee Why, 15 December, 4.45-4.55pm
  • North Avalon Cellars, 4/3 N Avalon Rd, Avalon Beach, 15 December, 6-6.05pm
  • Careel Bay Dog Park and Hitchcock Park, Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon, 16 December 77:30am
  • Palm Beach Pool, LOT 1 Rock Bath Rd, Palm Beach, 16 December, 8am-9am
  • Brot and Wurst, 1442 Pittwater Rd, North Narrabeen, 16 December, 2pm-2:05pm
  • Avalon Beach Post Shop, 45 Avalon Parade, Avalon Beach, 16 December 3.30-3.50pm

A confirmed case also travelled between the following stations on 14 December at the following times. Other passengers are considered to be casual contacts, and should get tested and isolate until a negative result is received.

  • Roseville to Redfern, 6.50-7.40am
  • Redfern to Milsons Point, 11.20am-11.45am
  • Milsons Point to Roseville, 3.15-3.40pm

Updated at 9.23am AEDT on 18 December 2020.

Public health alerts issued after three new cases of COVID-19 detected in NSW

Public health alerts issued after three new cases of COVID-19 detected in NSW

UPDATE (11.07am AEDT 17 December): Two new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed this morning on Sydney's northern beaches, bringing the total number of new cases in the last 24 hours to five.

Following the discovery of three new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in New South Wales yesterday officials have issued a variety of public health alerts.

The majority of the alerts are for Sydney's Northern Beaches where two new infections were recorded in a woman in her 60s and a man in his 70s.

The third case is a person who works as the driver of vans that take international and domestic air crew from the airport to hotels.

Health officials are currently conducting urgent genome sequencing to confirm when and where the infections were acquired.

Anyone who has attended the following additional venues is considered a close contact and should get tested and isolate for 14 days even if they receive a negative result:

  • Hungry Ghost Café, 20 Avalon Parade, Avalon Sunday, 13 December, 9.30am-11am and Tuesday, 15 December 9.30-11am
  • Sneaky Grind Café, Avalon Beach Monday, 14 December, 10.30-11am
  • Barramee Thai Massage and Spa, 4/42-44 Old Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon Beach Monday, 14 December, 2-3.30pm
  • Bangkok Sidewalk Restaurant, 1/21-23 Old Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon Beach Monday, 14 December 7-8pm
  • Avalon Bowlo (bowling club), 4 Bowling Green Ln, Avalon Beach Sunday, 13 December, 5-7pm and Tuesday, 15 December 3-5pm
  • Palm Beach female change rooms Sunday, 13 December 9-9.15 am
  • Coast Palm Beach Café, Palm Beach Sunday, 13 December 10-11am

People who have visited the following venues should get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result:

  • Bing Lee, Gateway, 1 Mona Vale Rd, Mona Vale Monday, 14 December, 4.304.45pm
  • Woolworths Avalon Beach, 74 Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon Beach Tuesday, 15 December, 12-12.30pm and Sunday, 13 December, 12-5pm
  • Oliver's Pie, Careel Shopping Village, Avalon Beach Monday, 14 December, 9 9.15am

Everyone living in the Northern Beaches area should monitor for even the mildest of symptoms and come forward for testing immediately if they appear, then isolate until a negative result is received.

The driver of the airport vans lives in south-western Sydney and attended a sporting event while infectious. Anyone at the event at the times indicated is considered a casual contact:

  • Forest Rangers FC, Little Rangers session at Gannons Park, Pindari Rd and Isaac Street, Peakhurst Friday, 11 December 2020, 4.30pm 5.30pm

Updated at 9.16am AEDT on 17 December 2020.

Trans-Tasman travel bubble slated for early 2021

Trans-Tasman travel bubble slated for early 2021

New Zealand's Cabinet has agreed in principle to establish a Trans-Tasman travel bubble with Australia in the first quarter of 2021, according to NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured).

The bubble will only be established pending no further outbreaks of community transmission of COVID-19 in either Australia or New Zealand.

Once in place it would allow Australians and New Zealanders to travel between the two countries without needing to go into two weeks of quarantine on arrival.

"Pending confirmation from the Australian cabinet and no significant change in the circumstances of either country, officials have been working on a range of matters and good progress has been made," PM Ardern said.

"There has been some public focus on the requirement for 28 days free of community transmission, but that is just one of the criteria.

"As important is having clear plans in the event of community outbreak in either country that may see borders closed and potentially thousands of New Zealanders seeking to return who may need to go into isolation."

Ardern also said arrangements need to be made with airlines about the management of crew and the separation of Trans-Tasman flights from other services.

This will be done to ensure there is no potential cross-contamination between those transitioning from high-risk areas.

"It is our intention to name a date for the commencement of Trans-Tasman quarantine-free travel in the New Year once remaining details are locked down," Ardern said.

"I think for now, New Zealanders by and large appreciate the approach of the government to ensure that we are not taking on unnecessary risk as we're going into Summer."

Updated at 1.10pm AEDT on 14 December 2020.

 

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