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Covid-19 News Updates


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.

Australia secures another 10 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines

Australia secures another 10 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines

The Commonwealth Government has acquired an additional 10 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, meaning Australia will receive 20 million doses of it in 2021.

In total Australia now has access to more than 150 million vaccine doses.

It comes as the country is due to commence a vaccination program in late February for the first priority group of vulnerable Australians.

"[Vaccination] is the big agenda item for us, obviously, because it provides the pathway to so many of the other things we wish to achieve this year," the Prime Minister said today.

"We are still, though, on track to commence later this month.

"That puts us in a very good position, particularly with our sovereign vaccine production capability, ahead of many countries, like New Zealand, for example, we understand, won't commence until April, I think it is."

As the rollout begins, people who need protection the most will get the vaccine first. This includes aged care and disability care residents and workers, frontline health care workers, and quarantine and border workers.

The priority groups have been determined based on the advice of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) which oversees Australia's immunisation program.

The Australian Government is also extending free access to COVID-19 vaccines to all visa-holders in Australia.

"I encourage people to get vaccinated when their turn comes every vaccination helps us defeat the virus," Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

"Australians understand that vaccines work. They save lives and improve lives. They protect lives. We can be confident that every COVID-19 vaccine approved in this country will be safe and effective.

"Australia is a vaccination nation. We have one the highest vaccination rates in the world."

Secretary of the Department of Health Professor Brendan Murphy said the additional purchase gives Australia more options.

"There was always an option to increase our stake in the mRNA vaccination, should registration and trials be successful," Professor Murphy said.

"We are now in the wonderful position of having three vaccines rolling out this year - two of them early, the Pfizer and AstraZeneca, depending on the TGA registration, of course, of AstraZeneca, and then Novavax later on.

"All of these three vaccines have now been shown to be highly effective at preventing clinical COVID disease, and particularly severe COVID disease. That is a position that we wouldn't have dreamt of a year ago, six months ago. It is a very, very nice position to be in."

Updated at 3.49pm AEDT on 4 February 2021.

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