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Covid-19 News Updates

Will Australia follow Europe into a fourth COVID wave?

Will Australia follow Europe into a fourth COVID wave?

Europe is facing a fourth wave of COVID. As we watch on, it is reasonable to ask whether Australia will be confronted with the same fate.

Several factors will determine this: vaccination rates, high uptake of third dose boosters, vaccination of children and whether a comprehensive strategy of ventilation with vaccine-plus measures including masks, testing and tracing are used.

New OzSAGE modelling for NSW shows possible increasing cases from mid-December with a predicted peak in February 2022, despite high vaccination rates. OzSAGE warns if contact tracing is not maintained and children 5–11 remain unvaccinated, hospitals may be overwhelmed again. But if we vaccinate young kids and maintain high testing and tracing, the outlook is good.

If not for Delta …

If the ancestral strains of the virus that dominated infections in 2020 were still in pole position, we would now have COVID well controlled in countries that achieved higher than 70% of the whole population vaccinated.

Unfortunately, just as the vaccines became available, new variants of concern began emerging. The currently dominant Delta variant raises the stakes because it is far more contagious and has some potential to escape the protection offered by vaccines. This means we need very high rates of vaccination across whole populations – probably over 90% of everyone vaccinated including younger children – to control the virus.

In addition, we need to start thinking about “fully vaccinated” being triple, not double, vaccinated.

covid cases by country graph
World in Data, CC BY

Boosters are key

Patchy third dose booster policies in Europe may partially be to blame for the COVID surges we are seeing in countries there now.

Germany, for example, in October recommended boosters for people 70 years and over and certain risk groups. On November 18, it belatedly changed the recommendation to people aged 18 years and over in response to the large resurgence of COVID.

France, too, has been slow and restrictive in making boosters available for adults, with people over 50 eligible from this December. Likewise, Ireland only approved boosters for people 60 years and over at the end of October.

The evidence is clear that boosters are needed. So, on the background of inadequate vaccination rates ranging from 64% in Austria to 76% in Denmark, a slow and restrictive approach to boosters, together with abandoning other measures such as masks, has left many European countries vulnerable.

Austria, with one of the lowest vaccination rates, has one of the highest rates of COVID, prompting it to be the first European country to mandate vaccines.

Much of the fourth wave is also being driven by transmission in children. The EU has been slow to approve vaccines for younger children, prompting Austria to commence vaccinating children without EU approval.

vaccination by country graph
World in Data, CC BY

Too much reliance on vaccines?

The fourth wave follows the relaxation of COVID restrictions like masks, density limits, testing and tracing; and failure to address safe indoor air.

The Delta virus is a tenacious beast, and the vaccine alone is not enough to tame it. Country after country has shown this, including Denmark, which ceased all restrictions, including masks in September and is now facing a large surge in cases despite relatively high vaccination rates.

The prospect of a fourth wave also depends on the epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2. There is a high probability new variants will emerge that will challenge us further, either because they are even more contagious or more vaccine-resistant.

That said, we have seen spectacular advances in science, with vaccines produced in less than a year. There are many more second generation vaccines and matched boosters in the pipeline, and promising new antivirals for early treatment. So our ability to fight this virus will keep improving.

What about Australia then?

So will Australia also face a fourth wave? Yes, it’s likely because SARS-CoV-2 is an epidemic infection. It will continue to cause the waxing and waning cycles of true epidemic infections just like smallpox did for thousands of years, and like measles still does. However, it’s possible we can achieve elimination of COVID just as we have with measles, and only see small outbreaks.

patterns of disease graph
Author provided

If we’re successful, outbreaks may still occur – but they will not become sustained or uncontrollable. Here’s what Australia can learn from Europe and other countries:

  • firstly, we need to aim for at least 90% of the whole population vaccinated – this should be done equitably for all states and territories, for remote and regional areas and for all subgroups including children

  • we need to be agile and responsive to evidence, including the need for subsequent boosters. If a new vaccine or Delta-matched booster comes along that improves protection, we need to add that to the tool box rapidly

  • childcare and schools are fast becoming the new frontier of COVID. We must ensure safe indoor air, masks and vaccination for younger children by the time students return from summer holidays in 2022

  • vaccines alone are not enough, so let’s not be like Denmark and embark on magical thinking. We need to address safe indoor air and have a vaccine-plus strategy. That means masks in indoor settings, maintaining high testing and tracing levels, protecting younger kids until they are eligible for vaccination and ensuring high uptake of boosters.

If we acknowledge the airborne transmission of COVID and adopt effective ways of preventing this virus, we can defeat it.

But that requires a layered, comprehensive strategy of ventilation, vaccine-plus measures and the ability to move quickly with evidence as it becomes available.

New vaccines and new ways of employing them are hopefully on their way. Until they eventuate, we’ll need to be ambitious in our COVID strategy and keep using ventilation, masks and other measures to avoid a severe fourth wave.The Conversation

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

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

International students, skilled workers welcome next month, travel bubble extends to Japan and Korea

International students, skilled workers welcome next month, travel bubble extends to Japan and Korea

Fully vaccinated students, skilled workers, working holiday makers, overseas family members and refugees will be allowed to enter Australia without needing to receive a travel exemption from 1 December as part of the Federal Government’s reopening plan, provided they have the appropriate visas.

In addition, fully vaccinated citizens from Japan and South Korea will be permitted to travel from their home country quarantine-free to some states and territories without needing to seek a travel exemption from the beginning of December too.

As announced today by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, fully vaccinated eligible visa holders can come to Australia from 1 December without needing to apply for a travel exemption. Eligible visa holders include skilled and student cohorts, as well as humanitarian, working holiday maker and provisional family visa holders.

Under these arrangements, travellers must:

  • Be fully vaccinated with a completed dosage of a vaccine approved or recognised by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
  • Hold a valid visa for one of the eligible visa subclasses
  • Provide proof of their vaccination status
  • Present a negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test taken within three days of departure.

Travellers to Australia must comply with the quarantine requirements in the state or territory of their arrival, and any other state or territory to which they plan to travel.

So far, this includes New South Wales for fully vaccinated people and Victoria which today announced students can arrive in Melbourne without having to quarantine provided they have received two doses of a TGA-approved COVID-19 vaccine.

Under the new arrangements, the Prime Minister also confirmed fully vaccinated citizens of Japan and South Korea who hold a valid Australian visas will be able to travel from their home country quarantine-free to participating states and territories, without needing to seek a travel exemption.

Under these arrangements, travellers must:

  • Depart from their home country
  • Be fully vaccinated with a completed dosage of a vaccine approved or recognised by the TGA  Hold a valid Australian visa
  • Provide proof of their vaccination status
  • Present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within three days of departure.

Today’s announcement follows earlier changes which have seen Australia welcome home fully vaccinated citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members since 1 November, and follows the commencement of the Singapore safe travel zone yesterday.

"The return of skilled workers and students to Australia is a major milestone in our pathway back,” PM Morrison said.

“It’s a major milestone about what Australians have been able to achieve. It will mean a lot for the economies of country, right around the country, who need these workers and want to see those students return.”

Updated at 12.13pm AEDT on 22 November 2021.

Victoria to lift venue and visitor caps tonight with 90 per cent full vaccination milestone in sight

Victoria to lift venue and visitor caps tonight with 90 per cent full vaccination milestone in sight

“Whether it’s 100,000 people at the MCG on Boxing Day, or a smaller group of people standing up at the public bar at the local pub having a beer, this is the COVID normal that every Victorian has built,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.

After enduring lockdown after lockdown and some of the tightest COVID-19 restrictions in the country, Victorians will return to a greater sense of normality from tonight as the state government eases most of the remaining pandemic rules.

With the Victorian population inching closer to being 90 per cent fully vaccinated - a milestone expected to be reached this weekend - visitor and venue capacity limits will be removed from 11.59pm tonight.

This means capacity limits in clubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and every other public place will no longer be governed by COVID-19 - rather they will revert back to regular liquor licensing laws.

All indoor and outdoor events with less than 30,000 fully vaccinated attendees will be able to proceed with no special approval and outdoor events with 30,000 or more will only need to publish their COVIDSafe Plan.

Indoor venues – including stadiums that have a capacity of 30,000 or more – will need to get a one-off approval of their COVIDSafe Plan from the Victorian Government.

Further, there will no longer be any caps on the amount of people permitted to gather at homes, which is encouraging news for large families as the Christmas period approaches and the weather gets warmer.

In addition, dance floors will reopen to revellers and Victorians will be able to enjoy a drink while standing - simple pleasures that residents have missed out on for large parts of 2020 and 2021.

Masks will also be able to come off in most settings except for retail. However, the Premier said his government was looking to remove mask requirements for shoppers in the middle of December.

However, they will still be required for primary school staff and visitors and for students in Years 3 to 6, for workers serving the public at hospitality venues, for workers and customers at indoor retail, for visitors and select workers in hospitals or care facilities, and for people using public transport, taxi/rideshare and planes.

Non-essential retail settings across Victoria will join the vaccinated economy and will only be open to those who are fully vaccinated, under 12 years and two months, or have a valid exemption.

Quarantine and isolation requirements are also going to change at midnight, meaning close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases will no longer have to self-quarantine.

Instead, only confirmed cases will need to isolate, and those that come into contact with infected people just need to get tested and isolate until a negative result is received.

The Department of Health will continue to manage emerging outbreaks of concern and ‘superspreader events’ and can impose a quarantine period on contacts on a case-by-case basis, depending on evidence.

The changes also effectively mean the end of mandatory deep cleaning. Businesses will self-manage their exposure in line with public health guidance. 

“This is quite an amazing achievement on behalf of every single Victorian. Our state should be proud,” Andrews said.

“It really will be a Christmas like no other - but a normal Christmas. It’s one that we’ve all earned. It’s one that every Victorian will enjoy.

“These two years have been so, so challenging and Victorians have given so much. I’m proud of them. I’m grateful to them.”

Updated at 10.55am AEDT on 18 November 2021.

SA to reopen borders on 23 November, unveils new rules for the fully vaccinated

SA to reopen borders on 23 November, unveils new rules for the fully vaccinated

Premier Steven Marshall has announced today that fully vaccinated South Australians will only need to undertake a quarantine period of seven days if they are identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case, under new rules when state borders reopen on 23 November.

However, the Premier noted those who are unvaccinated still will be required to complete the full 14 days of quarantine if they are found to be a close contact in an exposure site.

From next Tuesday, SA will welcome fully vaccinated travellers from New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT. Travellers from Queensland, WA and Tasmania are already permitted to travel into the state. 

The Premier expects that 80 per cent of South Australians aged 16 and over will be fully vaccinated by 23 November.

“We've always said we wanted to give certainty and clarity. So, we will be lifting those borders on [23 November]. I expect that we will be at that 80 per cent,” he said.

“We're trying to have a more bespoke, tailored approach away from the approach that we had previously which was very heavy handed where everybody who was a close or casual contact needed to go into quarantine.” 

In the next phase, businesses will no longer need to close down for deep cleaning following exposure in their site, as the type of cleaning required will be reduced to what the Premier describes as “a significantly lower level.”

The Communicable Diseases Control branch will be tasked with risk assessment on outbreaks and provide advice to individuals and businesses about the people who will need to go into isolation.

As part of SA's COVID-ready plan, the state has made 392 extra beds and treatment spaces available and have recruited up to 1,920 doctors, nurses, ambulance officers and health staff.

No changes to public health and social measures will be made in SA until 90 per cent of South Australians aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated.

The second-dose vaccination rate in SA currently stands at 73.9 per cent.

“Achieving high vaccination rates is a key part of our strong plan to be COVID-ready and South Australia’s pandemic control going forward,” said the Premier

Not only will it reduce time in quarantine, it is the best way for people to protect themselves, their loved ones and the community from this nasty disease.”

Updated at 05.03pm AEDT on 15 November 2021.

Midweek dining boosted in Melbourne with $5m vouchers, VIC turns up volume for live music support

Midweek dining boosted in Melbourne with $5m vouchers, VIC turns up volume for live music support

The Melbourne Money dining scheme has returned to the city’s cafes, bars and restaurants, with $5 million allocated to encourage visitors to keep the city buzzing beyond the weekend.

Diners in the city will now be able to claim 30 per cent off their bill when they spend between $50 and $500 from Monday through Thursday.

The first round of the initiative in May saw $40 million poured into hospitality businesses, with foot traffic bouncing back three times faster than previous lockdowns.

“The first round of Melbourne Money was such a huge success that we had to come back for seconds,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp said.

“When the city last enjoyed a long stretch of freedom, weekday pedestrian activity still lagged at some 60 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels, while activity on weekends was as high as 85 per cent.”

To claim the rebate, diners must pay for the meal in full and take a photo of an itemised receipt with the business name and ABN on it.

The photo can be uploaded on the Melbourne Money website and users will be prompted to provide contact and bank details.

Once approved, the rebate is accredited to the nominated Australian bank account within five business days.

“Please take advantage of the rebate and support the great options in the City of Melbourne by coming in for a midweek meal,” said Grossi Restaurants co-owner Liz Rodriguez.

The scheme is being offered through the $200 million Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund – a joint partnership with the Victorian Government.

It is available across the entire municipality including Southbank, Chinatown, Lygon Street, Docklands, North Melbourne and Kensington and at hospitality venues within sporting, arts and theatre precincts.

It will continue until the $5 million funding is exhausted.

Victoria’s live music industry to receive $20 million shot in the arm

Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson has announced a $20 million Live Music Restart package that will support the return of live music to the state.

Music venues will receive $8 million to recruit and train new staff, invest in COVIDSafe infrastructure and get more musicians and industry professionals back in the sector.

Meanwhile, music events and festivals will also get an $8 million boost to help them recover from the uncertainty and impact of rescheduled and cancelled events.

The final $4 million will be used to bring music performances to the heart of the city, complementing the $5 million already in place for regional and outer-suburban events.

An Australian-first COVID-19 event insurance product will give event organisers a safety net to plan and stage future shows.

The 12-month scheme, subsidised by the Government and delivered through the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA) will ensure up to $230 million of events against cancellation due to public health measures, or where events have reduced capacity due to restrictions.

Funding will be made available through Creative Victoria, with application details to be announced soon.

Updated at 10.36am AEDT on 15 November 2021.

2 million Ellume COVID-19 home tests recalled in the US

2 million Ellume COVID-19 home tests recalled in the US

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified a voluntary recall of 2 million COVID-19 home tests manufactured by Brisbane-based Ellume that were delivering ‘false positive’ results as a ‘Class 1 recall’ - the most serious type of recall it can issue.

“The FDA is continuing to work with Ellume to assess the company’s corrective actions, such as additional manufacturing checks and other corrective steps, to address the reason for the manufacturing issue, and to help ensure that it is resolved and will not recur,” the FDA said.

The recall comes after the FDA issued an alert earlier this week, notifying test users, caregivers and health care personnel about the potential for false positive results with certain lots of the Ellume-manufactured test, resulting from a manufacturing issue.

The manufacturing problem meant some people were receiving false positive results - indicating that a person has COVID-19 when they do not actually have it. Negative results were not affected by the manufacturing issue.

In a statement on the Ellume website, the company says it has isolated the cause and confirmed this incidence of false positives is limited to specific lots.

“We worked with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to voluntarily remove affected Ellume tests from the market. Importantly, the reliability of negative results is unaffected by this issue and are not included within this recall,” Ellume said.

“At Ellume, we remain committed to developing high-quality digital diagnostics that empower our users to manage their health. Patient well-being and product quality are our first priorities throughout every step of the manufacturing and supply chain process. We understand you are counting on us to do nothing less.

“We offer our sincere apologies for the stress or difficulties people may have experienced due to a false positive result. We have and will continue to work diligently to ensure test accuracy, in all cases.”

The news comes 11 months after the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorisation to permit the use of the Ellume COVID-19 test in the US.

Test users have been told to compare the lot number on the test carton to the lot numbers on Ellume’s website.

Ellume CEO Dr Sean Parsons has also issued a statement and an apology, noting that the recall may have “shaken the confidence of some of those who trusted Ellume to help them manage their health and to take back a bit of control of their lives during this pandemic”.

“To those individuals, I offer my sincere apologies – and the apologies of our entire company – for any stress or difficulties they may have experienced because of a false positive result,” Dr Parsons said.

“You have my personal commitment that we have learned from this experience, we have implemented additional controls to ensure our product meets our high quality standards and we are going to do everything in our power to regain your trust.”

Updated at 9.20am AEDT on 11 November 2021.

Queensland vaccine mandates extended, home quarantine rules to relax

Queensland vaccine mandates extended, home quarantine rules to relax

Unvaccinated Queenslanders will not be able to work in private healthcare positions across the state, while home quarantine is also set to become more accessible after the Palaszczuk Government announced new changes to COVID-19 restrictions today.

COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory by 15 December for all private healthcare staff across the state, including those working in hospitals, aged care and disability services.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath today announced the Workers in a Healthcare Setting (COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements) Direction to ensure more protection for vulnerable Queenslanders.

“Under this Direction, everyone working in healthcare must be vaccinated by 15 December, including private health workers,” Minister D’Ath said.

“We’ve already mandated the jab for Queensland Health staff and now we’re applying the same set of rules for private sector healthcare workers

“It’s critical that all health workers, including students and volunteers, are protected. They face a high infection risk, especially clinicians on the frontline.”

The Direction extends to health professionals, contractors, independent third party providers, and employees or volunteers engaged by external agencies.

It applies to a vast range of healthcare settings including private hospitals, day surgeries, GP clinics, pharmacies, optometrists, private nurse offices, allied health clinics, dental surgeries, and private pathology centres.

The Direction also applies to in-home aged care, many disability support services, and not-for-profit and NGOs providing public healthcare services.

Related story: QLD Health outlines vaccination check requirements for businesses

Home quarantine rules to be relaxed

In good news for those looking to return to Queensland, the state will soon reduce the number of hurdles for those wishing to home quarantine.

Minister D’Ath said the success of a recent home quarantine trial had prompted the decision to allow more people to enter this way, with new rules coming into effect once the 70 per cent double-dose vaccination mark is reached.

“We evaluated the trial and it was very successful and safe,” D’Ath said.

“More than 1,000 people in eight local government areas in south-east Queensland took part in the trial and their feedback has been very positive.

“This trial has helped shape a new approach to home quarantine that will make the process more comfortable and accessible for all returning Queenslanders, not just those in the south-east. This policy will apply to eligible domestic travellers also.”

As of this morning 67.84 per cent of eligible Queenslanders had received two doses, meaning the changes are likely just days away from coming into effect.

“You will be able to quarantine at any self-contained dwelling, as long as it has no shared common areas that are accessible by people outside the household,” D’Ath said.

“This may include a standalone house or a unit, townhouse or duplex that has its own entrance.

“You will be able to arrive at any Queensland airport, but you can only transit to another destination if you transit through Brisbane. You can then drive to your home quarantine residents, as long as its within two hours without stopping. You can travel by either private car, a hire car with contactless pick-up, or an endorsed transport provider.”

People wanting to home quarantine must still:

  • be fully vaccinated (they must have had two doses of the vaccine, with at least two weeks between their second shot and their entry into Queensland)
  • have returned a negative COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours prior to entry
  • ensure anyone else residing in the household also quarantines
  • use the home quarantine check-in service
  • maintain contact records for anyone attending the property and
  • get a PCR test at a drive-through clinic, using a private vehicle, on days 1, 5 and 12.

The changes come after QLD today reported three new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, of which one tested positive in hotel quarantine.

The other two were infectious in the community and include a man on the Gold Coast and a person in Warwick.

Updated at 3:16pm AEST on 10 November 2021.

QLD Health outlines vaccination check requirements for businesses

QLD Health outlines vaccination check requirements for businesses

While Queenslanders will soon be able to live mask-free in most places, the state's health authorities have today released a list of new requirements for non-essential businesses around vaccination requirements and verification for entry.

"From 17 December when Queensland is forecast to reach the 80 per cent double vaccinated milestone, hospitality and entertainment venues including festivals will only be permitted to allow entry to patrons and staff who are fully vaccinated," Queensland Health stated in an update this afternoon.

"This affects non-essential leisure businesses including hospitality venues (hotels, pubs, clubs, taverns, bars, restaurants and cafes) and entertainment venues (nightclubs, live music venues, stadiums, theatres, cinemas and festivals) that will no longer need to operate under COVID-19 density limits."

From 17 December these businesses will be asked to: 

  • display the vaccination rules at the business premises
  • ask for evidence of vaccination from customers at the time of check-in
  • if a customer cannot or refuses to provide evidence, ask the person to leave the premises
  • if the person refuses to the leave the premises, call the police.

Unvaccinated people will still be free to access essential businesses, including grocery stores. 

Weddings and private hire venues will be capped at 20 people or one person per 4 square metres if any unvaccinated people are among the guests (including the wedding party), staff or officials.

From 19 November people will be able to link their vaccination certificate into the Check In Qld app. Customers and staff will continue to use the app to assist with prompt contact tracing.

Updated at 4pm AEST on 9 November 2021.

QLD on the verge of lifting mask mandate, Darwin lockout to end at midnight

QLD on the verge of lifting mask mandate, Darwin lockout to end at midnight

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced today that face masks can be put away once 80 per cent of the state has received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine and that more freedoms will be available when people are fully vaccinated. 

Exceptions would remain in airports and planes, where a federal mask mandate is in place.

With 79.6 per cent of the state's population having received one jab as of yesterday afternoon, the Premier said it would be safe for schools, cafes, pubs, clubs, hairdressers and workplaces to go mask-free soon.

"This is another small step back towards life as normal,” the Premier said.

“Queenslanders have done an incredible job all through the pandemic and this is their reward.

“The more of us who are vaccinated, the faster we return to life the way it used to be.”

Masks are strongly recommended on public transport and other areas where social distancing cannot occur across Queensland. 

“We have no community cases and therefore no need to wear masks in most settings,” said Health Minister Yvette D’Ath.

“But we shouldn’t throw them away.”

“Masks have been an excellent defence against the spread of COVID and it’s more than likely we will need them again.”

Vaccinated Queenslanders to be rewarded before Christmas

Vaccinated Queenslanders aged 16 or older will be rewarded with a return to normal life on December 17 or once the State hits 80 per cent of eligible citizens being fully vaccinated.

From that date stadiums, venues and festivals will only be open to attendees that are fully vaccinated, with police enforcing the requirements.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said these measures are a reward for vaccinated Queenslanders.

“This pandemic has been a long, hard road,” Palaszczuk said.

“Soon our borders will open and COVID will be in our communities.”

“This is about keeping our freedoms.”

Visitors to aged care, hospitals, prisons and disability services will be required to be vaccinated except in end-of-life cases, childbirth or emergencies.

The first fully vaccinated event will be the Brisbane Heat v Sydney Thunder Big Bash League match at the Gabba on 19 December.

Tourism and Sport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said making sure spectators were fully vaccinated was critical to keeping all Queenslanders safe from COVID-19.

“If you want to see sporting spectacles like the BBL or State of Origin, you need to be vaccinated,” Hinchliffe said.

“Without double vaccination you won’t make it past the Gabba turnstiles from 17 December onwards.”

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said COVID-safe quarantine plans have already been developed with Queensland Health for the England and Australian cricket teams for the first test on 8 December.

“Then the game changes again for all sports and concerts from 17 December,” said D’Ath.

“Together as Queenslanders we are facing down the virus and building towards a brighter future.”

Greater Darwin to lift lockout from midnight 

The lockout for Greater Darwin will lift at 11:59pm tonight after it was extended by 24 hours due to a new public exposure site being identified at Noonamah Tavern.

Katherine, which was lifted from lockdown yesterday at 5pm, has put a mask mandate in place until 5pm on 12 November.  

The below areas remain in lockout until midnight:

  • City of Darwin
  • City of Palmerston
  • Litchfield Council
  • Wagait Shire
  • Belyuen Shire
  • Dundee
  • Bynoe
  • Charlotte
  • Cox Peninsula

Updated at 9:06am AEST on 9 November 2021.

WA roadmap projects early 2022 reopening at 90 per cent double-vaccination milestone

WA roadmap projects early 2022 reopening at 90 per cent double-vaccination milestone

More than 250,000 unvaccinated Western Australians have been urged to roll up their sleeves to get the jab after Premier Mark McGowan unveiled the state's roadmap to reopening today, with plans to ease border restrictions once 90 per cent of the population aged 12 and over is double-dose vaccinated.

The Premier said modelling indicated that milestone would likely be hit in late January or early February 2022, although there is potential for the threshold to be met earlier or later depending on vaccination rates.

"Once we hit 80 per cent and then set the specific date for transition, that date will be locked in to provide everyone with the certainty they need to plan ahead and be prepared for the next stage of this pandemic," McGowan said, noting this announcement would likely be made in December.

"As far as world standards go a rate of 90 per cent will be an amazing achievement, but I've always believed we can strive high and get the best result for our state, and given the current vaccination rate these targets are realistic and within our sights.

"It is a statewide vaccination rate, however if there are there are regional areas that don't have a high enough vaccination rates, then pending health advice at that time, intrastate borders to protect those specific regions may need to be introduced."

He noted the modelling indicated the decision to open up at a 90 per cent rather than 80 per cent rate would likely save 200 lives.

Once the transition begins, face masks will be required in high-risk indoor settings including public transport, hospitals and aged care facilities, while proof of vaccination will be required to attend nightclubs, the casino and large events with crowds of more than 1,000 people.

"Contact registers and the use of SafeWA will still be required at all public venues, as will revised COVID event and safety plans, and entry will be restricted to emote Aboriginal communities where necessary," the Premier said.

"These safeguards will complement our vaccination rollout. They will be interim, they won't last forever, but they will put us in the best position in case of an outbreak."

At that date travel will be permitted from all jurisdictions across Australia with double-dose vaccination requirements for arrivals from interstate, as well as the need to return a negative PCR test 72 hours prior to departure and take another test within 48 hours of arrival.

"International arrivals won't be subject to quarantine if they're double-dose vaccinated, but international arrivals who are not double-dose vaccinated will be required to complete 14 days of quarantine in a designated facility.

"I understand there will be disappointment for some. I acknowledge some people will be frustrated - they may not be able to be reunited with family from New South Wales or Victoria over Christmas.

"I know what that feels like. I understand. I won't be able to see my parents and my brother until the transition in late January or early February, but as difficult as it is, it is for the right reasons."

WA Health Minister Roger Cook emphasised younger people in particular would play an important part in reaching that goal, as currently less than 60 per cent of 30-somethings were fully vaccinated and only 45 per cent of those in their 20s had received two doses.

"Tell your friends, tell your mates, tell your brother, tell your sister - go and get vaccinated now. Do you really want your lifestyle to be cramped just because you couldn't bother to get vaccinated? Of course you don't, so don't hold everyone back," he said.

"We need two million Western Australians double dose vaccinated to reach 90 per cent, and at the moment 1.75 million have had one dose, and 1.4 million have had two doses, so we need 250,000 to get their first dose, and 600,000 more two doses."

Updated at 10:25am AWST on 5 November 2021.