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Covid-19 News Updates


Masks mandatory and gatherings restricted as Victoria records one new case

Masks mandatory and gatherings restricted as Victoria records one new case

Update: Rules for travellers from Victoria into South Australia and Queensland have now changed, but borders will remain open.

A number of COVID-19 restrictions have been reimposed in Victoria after a resident support officer for the Australian Open tested positive to the coronavirus.

VIC Premier Daniel Andrews announced the new restrictions during a press conference last night, with mandatory mask wearing and gathering restrictions now back in force.

The following new state-wide restrictions came into effect overnight:

  • The limit on the number of people gathering in a household have been reduced from 30 to 15, meaning the household members plus 15 visitors (excluding children under 12 months of age).
  • Masks are mandatory in public indoor spaces.
  • The 75 per cent 'return to work' cap in both public and private sectors scheduled for Monday 8 February has been paused and the current cap of 50 per cent will remain in place.

According to Premier Andrews the 26-year-old man tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday.

The man worked at the Grand Hyatt quarantine hotel on 29 January and undertook a COVID test at the end of his shift and returned a negative result.

Subsequently, he developed symptoms and was tested again on 2 February, receiving a positive result this time. There were six positive infections in the hotel when the man was working there.

As such, public health officials have contacted all Australian Open players, officials and support staff who were staying at the Grand Hyatt during the entire period between 29 January and 2 February. All 520 of these people are considered casual contacts and must immediately isolate and get tested.

Additionally, all hotel staff working at the Grand Hyatt are considered primary close contacts and must immediately isolate, get tested and remain isolated for 14 days.

None of the man's close family contacts have tested positive for COVID-19 so far.

Premier Andrews says the man has been a "model employee".

"We have reviewed literally days worth of CCTV footage, and it's fair to say that this person has been a model employee and has done everything that he should do," says Andrews.

"Whether its donning PPE, all the other protocols, all the other rules that are followed. And of course he's also provided us with very detailed accounts of where he's been."

Victoria Department of Health has issued a number of possible exposure sites where the man has visited. Anyone who visited these sites during these times must immediately isolate, get a COVID-19 test, and remain isolated for 14 days.


 

Update (9.49am AEDT): Victoria's Department of Health has updated the list of exposure sites:

 

 

 

 

 

States introduces new rules for arrivals from Melbourne

In response to the new COVID-19 case in Melbourne, South Australia has introduced rules for arrivals from Metropolitan Melbourne.

Arrivals from Melbourne will be required to isolate on arrival in South Australia and get tested on the same day.

If the test is negative on day one they will be free to leave isolation, but will still be required to get tested on days five and 12.

However, any traveller who has been to Melbourne's Grand Hyatt quarantine hotel from the 28th must immediately isolate in a quarantine hotel in Adelaide.

In Queensland arrivals from Melbourne exposure sites must isolate for 14 days on arrival and get tested for COVID-19.

Updated at 9.23am AEDT on 4 February 2021.

Reprieve for NSW bars and clubs as restrictions set to ease

Reprieve for NSW bars and clubs as restrictions set to ease

Hospitality venues in Greater Sydney will have reason to celebrate on Friday, 12 February, when the two square rule is expected to be introduced.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says unless there are any "unexpected outbreaks" before then, restaurants, bars and places of worship will move from the current restrictions which limit their venue capacity to one person per four square metres.

The planned easing of social distancing restrictions comes after the state recorded 17 days without any cases of COVID-19 from community transmissions, with 12,000 tests recorded overnight.

There were just two new cases recorded from overseas visitors in hotel quarantine.

Berejiklian foreshadowed the easing of some restrictions last week in Greater Sydney, Wollongong, the Central Coast and the Blue Mountains, and says today's announcement is aimed at providing certainty for businesses.

"We are considering reviewing our mask wearing policy in view of the position NSW is in," Berejiklian says


"Mandatory masks on public transport will continue. We feel this gives assurance for people to get about their daily business.

"If there's no evidence of community transmission, we would recommend or revert back to previous mask wearing policy but that's yet to be determined.

"So, whether it's a hospitality worker or a place of worship, you still need to wear a mask until at least next week when we consider that position."

Mask wearing also remains in place for hospitality workers facing the public in gaming rooms and beauty salons.

The NSW Government last week increased the limits to private gatherings to 30 indoors and 50 outdoors, while also allowing up to 300 guests at weddings and funerals based on the 4 square metre rule.

Updated at 12.18pm AEDT on 3 February 2021.

Perth enters five-day lockdown to curb potential COVID-19 outbreak

Perth enters five-day lockdown to curb potential COVID-19 outbreak

Parts of Western Australia have gone into a five-day lockdown after one new COVID-19 case was recorded in the state, breaking an almost 10-month coronavirus-free streak.

As of 6pm last night the entire Perth metropolitan area, the Peel region, and the South West region went into a full lockdown for five days until 6pm Friday 5 February.

People in these regions are required to stay home unless they are shopping for essentials, for healthcare needs, for exercise within their neighbourhood (with one other person, for one hour per day), or where one cannot work from home or remotely.

In addition, everyone in these three regions is now required to wear a mask at all times.

In response, all other Australian states and territories have put new border controls in place for travellers leaving WA.

The strict lockdown measures have been put into place after one new locally acquired case of COVID-19 was discovered - a man working at the Sheraton Four Points hotel quarantine facility in Perth.

When the man was working at this hotel there were four active cases of COVID-19 confirmed in retuned travellers completing quarantine.

According to WA health officials, the man was working on the same floor as a positive UK-variant case of COVID-19 - a more transmissible type of the coronavirus.

The man developed symptoms on Thursday 28 January and phoned in sick and did not go to work at the quarantine facility since then.

In order to curb this potential outbreak of COVID-19 in Perth the following businesses, venues and locations will close during the lockdown period:

  • Pubs,
  • Bars,
  • Clubs,
  • Gyms and indoor sporting venues,
  • Playgrounds,
  • Skate parks,
  • Outdoor recreational facilities,
  • Entertainment venues,
  • Casinos,
  • Large religious gatherings and places of worship,
  • Libraries and other cultural institutions.

Restaurants and cafes have also closed but will be permitted to continue with takeaway services during the five-day lockdown period.

Supermarkets and businesses that sell other essential goods will remain open during the five day period.

Only 10 people will be allowed to attend a funeral, and all weddings have been cancelled for the next five days.

In addition, no visitors are allowed to other homes (unless in an emergency or when caring for a vulnerable person).

No visitors are allowed in aged care facilities, hospitals, or disability facilities either.

Elective surgery and procedures for categories two and three will be suspended from Tuesday 2 February, but category one and urgent category two surgeries will be allowed to continue.

Schools have also closed as of this morning.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the situation was "very serious" in Perth.

"We have acted decisively and swiftly in the circumstances," he said.

"I want to thank everyone in advance for their patience and understanding.

"Throughout the pandemic, the response of Western Australians has been second to none. The community has done everything we've asked them, they have made great sacrifices and has kept our state safe."

States slam borders shut to WA

In response to the potential outbreak of COVID-19 in WA a number of states have closed borders to the western state.

Queensland declared Perth a COVID-19 hostpot last night, meaning anyone who has been in the three WA regions under lockdown must go into 14 days of mandatory hotel quarantine on arrival.

New South Wales is requiring any WA travellers who have been to any of the venues of concern to WA Health to isolate for 14 days on arrival.

Those who have not been to those locations but are from any of the three regions in lockdown will have to get tested within 48 hours of arrival in NSW and stay at home for five days until 9pm Friday 5 February. If they do not get tested they are required to stay at home for 14 days.

South Australia has completely closed to any travellers from WA as of 10.15pm last night.

WA travellers who have entered SA anytime since 26 January must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days and get a COVID-19 test immediately and on days five and 12.

South Australians will be permitted to return from WA still, as well as those who have a permit to travel for essential purposes.

Victoria has moved the three areas under lockdown to 'red zone' classification under its traffic light permit system.

Those in the 'red zones' will be required to isolate and get tested within 72 hours of arriving and remain self-isolated until they receive a negative result. 

Tasmania has declared the three areas of concern in WA as 'high-risk', meaning anyone who has been there on or since 25 January should self-isolate.

Travellers from those areas are no longer permitted to enter TAS without special approval.

The Northern Territory is requiring any person travelling from the areas in lockdown to undertake 14 days of mandatory supervised quarantine on arrival.

Further, anyone who arrived in the territory between 25 to 31 January must get a COVID-19 test and self-isolate until a negative test is returned.

The ACT has asked all travellers from the Perth Metropolitan area since 25 January to get tested and isolate for five days.

They will be self-isolating until Friday at 9pm even if they test negative for the virus.

Updated at 9.34am AEDT on 1 February 2021.

Victoria will open to most of Sydney from tonight

Victoria will open to most of Sydney from tonight

Travellers from most of Greater Sydney will be permitted to enter Victoria from 6.00pm AEDT tonight, with the last red zone in New South Wales transitioning to an orange zone.

This means everyone from NSW will be allowed to enter Victoria with a permit. However, those from the local government area (LGA) of Cumberland in Sydney's west will still need to isolate on arrival.

The Greater Sydney LGAs of Blacktown City, Burwood, Canada Bay City, Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield City, Inner West, Parramatta City and Strathfield Municipality and Liverpool will move from orange to green.

Wollongong and the Blue Mountains will also move to green, leaving Cumberland as the only remaining orange zone.

Travel from an orange zone requires people to self-isolate on arrival in VIC, get tested within 72 hours of arrival and remain in quarantine until they receive a negative result.

"We're extremely happy to see the last red zone in New South Wales be downgraded," VIC Premier Daniel Andrews said.

"We're reminding people to get tested if they're returning from an orange zone, so we can continue to enjoy an open and COVIDSafe summer." 

The news comes as VIC reported no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and one positive infection from a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

Tasmania to remove border restrictions with all of Greater Sydney

From Sunday, anyone in Greater Sydney will be permitted to travel to Tasmania without having to go into isolation as the island state announces the removal all remaining restrictions.

TAS will remove the 'medium risk' COVID-19 designation on 10 LGAs including Blacktown, Burwood, Canada Bay, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Inner West, Liverpool, Parramatta and Strathfield.

Further, anyone still in quarantine in Tasmania who had been in these areas will be free to leave quarantine from 12:01am Sunday.

Updated at 12.34am AEDT on 29 January 2021.

 

Queensland reopening to Greater Sydney from next Monday

Queensland reopening to Greater Sydney from next Monday

Queensland will reopen its border to Greater Sydney from Monday, 1 February, meaning any person in New South Wales will be able to cross the border north unrestricted.

The announcement comes after NSW recorded 10 consecutive days of no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 yesterday.

Palaszczuk has encouraged those in Sydney to visit QLD for a well-deserved holiday.

"Now that the Chief Health Officer has recommended it's safe for Greater Sydney residents to come to Queensland, the borders can come down," she said.

"People have done a terrific job looking after each other through the pandemic and now Queensland is good to go.

"I want to encourage anyone in New South Wales who is thinking about having a holiday, come up to Queensland."

 

 

QLD reported one new case of COVID-19 yesterday - a person in hotel quarantine.

Updated at 9.24am AEDT on 28 January 2021.

SA to ease quarantine requirements for visitors from Sydney

SA to ease quarantine requirements for visitors from Sydney

Requirements for travellers from Sydney to quarantine for two weeks on arrival in South Australia will be eased from this Sunday, but mandatory testing will stay in place.

Announced today by SA's Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, from 12.01am on 31 January arrivals from Sydney into SA will be required to isolate for one day and receive a COVID-19 test.

If that day one test comes back negative they will be free to move into the community. However, they will still need to get tested on days five and 12 on arrival in SA.

"If someone does provide a positive test on day one, their exposure to the community has been dramatically limited so we can wrap that up in a close contact arrangement," said Stevens.

Further, from this Sunday, those already completing two weeks of quarantine will be permitted to leave isolation if they have already tested negative for the coronavirus.

Stevens said the easing of restrictions can be done because Sydney has gone 12 days without community transmission. But if another local COVID-19 case is discovered the restrictions could be reimposed.

Ultimately, he hopes to be able to fully remove restrictions in the coming days.

"We're trying to find that middle ground position where we're protecting South Australians, but enabling as much travel as possible between the states and territories," Stevens said.

"We continue to monitor the situation in New South Wales and as soon as we can remove that PCR testing obligation we will certainly be doing that, but we're waiting to see how that unfolds."

NSW reported no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 today, but three infections were detected from overseas arrivals in hotel quarantine.

Updated at 1.18pm AEDT on 28 January 2021.

 

NSW to ease restrictions on Friday, but some mask rules will remain

NSW to ease restrictions on Friday, but some mask rules will remain

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced a series of restrictions will be relaxed on Friday in Greater Sydney, Wollongong, the Central Coast and the Blue Mountains, with a message for businesses to prepare for a 2 square metre rule setting in two weeks' time.

Private gathering limits will be lifted to 30 indoors and 50 outdoors, and up to 300 guests will be allowed at weddings and funerals if the 4 square metre rule is observed.

Masks will no longer be mandatory in most settings, although the Premier explained they would still be required on public transport, for hospitality workers facing the public, in places of worship, gaming rooms and beauty salons.

"In relation to retail and in relation to the public, we recommend a mask when you can't guarantee social distancing," the Premier said.

"But it will not be compulsory if you're going retail shopping or if you're a retail worker, or obviously if you're attending a hospitality venue."

She said there was a high likelihood of a further relaxation of restrictions if the state continues on its current course, although the state's Health Minister Brad Hazzard lamented that not enough people were coming forward to get tested.

"If we continue to see zero to low case numbers and reasonable rates of testing, then all of the settings that we've currently described as being subjected to the four square meter rule will revert to the two square meter rule," Berejiklian said.

"We're not there yet, and the reason is that whilst we've had two 14-day cycles of the Northern Beaches not having any community transmission, in Southwest and Western Sydney we've gone through one cycle of no community transmission."

She highlighted the NSW Government aimed to take a balanced approach to keeping the virus under control and keeping the economy as open as possible.

"We're sending this message out today so that businesses can be prepared; so that businesses can know that in a couple of weeks' time they will feel increased trade and be able to plan for the year ahead," she said.

"We will also be looking at compliance. Do we need to increase fines to make sure businesses are being as vigilant as ever? Because because our strategy will only work if people do the right thing.

"What we're trying to do is prevent a super spreading event."

Minister Hazzard added there had been reports of large groups dancing and singing at weddings in violation of social distancing requirements, putting the community at risk.

Updated at 1:34pm AEDT on 27 January 2021.

Australian border closed to New Zealand after one COVID-19 case detected in Auckland

Australian border closed to New Zealand after one COVID-19 case detected in Auckland

Effective immediately, Australia has suspended 'Green Zone' travel arrangements with New Zealand after one new case of COVID-19 was detected in Auckland.

The border closure will be effective for a minimum of 72 hours, meaning all travellers from NZ will have to go into hotel quarantine for 14-days on arrival.

The decision was made today by Australian health officials, with Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt declaring it was done "out of an abundance of caution".

Until today, New Zealanders have been permitted to enter most Australian states and territories without needing to complete 14-days of hotel quarantine because of low case numbers on the neighbouring island nation.

However, NZ Health officials found a positive case in Auckland yesterday - a person who had developed symptoms of COVID-19 just days after leaving hotel quarantine.

Officials confirmed this person has been infected with the South African variant of COVID-19 - a more transmissible version of the novel coronavirus.

Hunt has apologised to those who may be inconvenienced by the sharp decision, noting two flights were due to land in Australia from NZ this afternoon.

"This is being taken on the basis of strong, clear, immediate medical advice from the AHPPC, immediately considered in the cabinet arrangements, and accepted by the Prime Minister," Hunt said.

Updated at 5.02pm AEDT on 25 January 2021.

 

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Australia

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Australia

A COVID-19 vaccine developed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has been provisionally approved for use in Australia today by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

According to the TGA, the vaccine meets the high safety, efficacy and quality standards required for use in Australia.

The approval is for individuals 16 years of age and older, and two doses will be required - at least 21 days apart.

As such, the Australian Government will roll-out the vaccine into the community in stages - however, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the timeline has been slightly delayed.

Because of manufacturing and production challenges the roll-out will commence in late-February, rather than mid-month as previously advised.

If there are delays in shipping or production, the possibility remains that commencement could be in early March, however guidance remains for late-February.

Nevertheless, the Government hopes to vaccine around 80,000 people per month.

The vaccine was approved through the regular channels, and not on an emergency basis as done in countries like the UK and the US where COVID-19 is still running rampant through communities.

However, it has received "provisional" approval by the TGA, meaning it is valid for two years and subject to strict conditions such as the requirement that Pfizer continue to provide information to the approvals body on longer term efficacy and safety from ongoing trials and post-market assessment.

"Australians can be confident that the TGA's review process of this vaccine was rigorous and of the highest standard," the TGA said.

"The TGA will continue to actively monitor the safety of the Pfizer vaccine both in Australia and overseas and will not hesitate to take action if safety concerns are identified."

PM Morrison said the TGA approval was an important step in the fight against COVID-19.

"I welcome the TGA's approval of the Pfizer vaccine, with our own Australian experts finding it is safe, effective and of a high standard," the Prime Minister said.

"Australians should take confidence in the thorough and careful approach taken by our world-class safety regulator.

"Our priority has always been to keep Australians safe and protect lives and livelihoods.  Today's approval is another big step forward for our community, particularly in the protection of our most vulnerable people."

News of the vaccine approval comes as Australia goes seven consecutive days of no community transmission of COVID-19.

There are currently no Australians on ventilation or in the ICU because of COVID-19 complications.

However, the situation is not the same overseas, with more than 25 million active cases in the world.

Just yesterday the US confirmed 173,067 new cases of COVID-19 and more than 3,000 deaths.

Meanwhile, 61,121 cases were confirmed in the UK yesterday, and 33,552 in Brazil.

In total there have been more than 99 million people infected with the coronavirus globally and more than 2 million have died.

Updated at 10.02am AEDT on 25 January 2021.

Victoria to open up to Brisbane and regional NSW as restrictions ease

Victoria to open up to Brisbane and regional NSW as restrictions ease

Travellers from Brisbane and regional New South Wales will be able to freely travel into Victoria from tomorrow when the state eases COVID-19 restrictions further.

In addition, Victorians will be able to enjoy larger home gatherings of 30 people from midnight tonight, following reduced exposure risk and continued low community transmission in the state.

As such, Premier Daniel Andrews and Minster for Health Martin Foley will declare Greater Brisbane and regional NSW as 'green zones', meaning travellers do not have to isolate for 14-days on arrival.

The Greater Sydney Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Blacktown City, Burwood, Canada Bay City, Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield City, Inner West, Liverpool City, Parramatta City and Strathfield Municipality will join the rest of Greater Sydney, Wollongong and Blue Mountains as orange zones.

For now, Cumberland LGA will remain a red zone. People from Cumberland are still not permitted to travel to Victoria without an exemption, exception or essential worker permit.

Anyone who is now in an orange zone and meets the permit criteria can now apply for an Orange Zone Permit from 6:00pm tonight.

Travel from an orange zone requires people to self-isolate, get tested within 72 hours of arrival and remain in quarantine until they receive a negative result.

Travel from a green zone requires people to watch and get tested if they have any symptoms at all.

 

 

"Victorians have done an incredible job getting tested and we're happy to be able make these changes to private gatherings in time for a public holiday so families can continue to enjoy a COVIDSafe Summer," Premier Andrews said.

Victoria reported no locally acquired cases of COVID-19 today, and one positive case in hotel quarantine, from 16,465 tests.

Globally there are now 98,085,548 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and more 2 million people have died from the coronavirus. 

Updated at 10.48am AEDT on 22 January 2021.

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