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As it happened: First Pfizer vaccine doses arrive in Australia as Victoria records one local COVID-19 case, lockdown continues

Summary

  • The first 142,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have arrived in Australia, Health Minister Greg Hunt has said. 
  • One new locally acquired COVID-19 case was confirmed in Victoria on Monday, along with one new case among a returned traveller in hotel quarantine. 
  • No new local cases have been confirmed in New South Wales for the 29th day in a row and in Queensland for the 38th straight day.  
  • Australia suspended its quarantine-free travel arrangement with New Zealand on Sunday following the detection of COVID-19 in a couple and their daughter in Auckland at the weekend.
  • An Israeli study has found a 94 per cent drop in symptomatic COVID-19 infections among 600,000 people who received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. 

Pinned post from yesterday 1.11pm

Watch: National COVID-19 update from Health Minister Greg Hunt and CMO Paul Kelly

Health Minister Greg Hunt and Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly spoke earlier this afternoon, providing an update on the government’s vaccination program.

Watch the press conference in full below:

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yesterday 8.06pm

That’s all for today

By Ashleigh McMillan

Thanks so much for joining us today. We’ll be back bright and early tomorrow morning with more up-to-date coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

But for now, let’s look back on the biggest stories of the day:

Stay safe and we hope to have your company again tomorrow.

yesterday 6.56pm

Fruit shop, supermarket in Melbourne’s north now COVID-19 exposure sites

By Ashleigh McMillan

A fruit shop and a supermarket in the Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows are now considered exposure sites for February 9, according to the Victorian Chief Health Officer’s daily update.

The Department of Health has said a positive case visited Sacca’s Fruit World, around 16 kilometres north of the Melbourne CBD, between 12.30pm and 1.15pm last Tuesday.

The shop is located inside the Broadmeadows Central shopping centre.

They also visited attended the Woolworths in the same shopping centre between 12.15pm and 12.30pm on February 9.

As the site has been listed as a tier one exposure site, any person who visited the fruit shop at the time listed will need to isolate for 14 days and be tested for COVID-19.

Earlier today, the Bonbons Bakery at Broadmeadows Central was also listed as an exposure site on Tuesday 9 February, between 12.30pm to 12.45pm.

Fergusson Plarre Bakehouse in Broadmeadows is no longer considered an exposure site.

As of 1pm Monday, there have been 57 primary close contacts linked to households and social groups identified as part of the Holiday Inn outbreak. There are now 1057 primary close contacts linked to exposure sites.

“The number of contacts, particularly those linked to exposure sites, will continue to change,” the Department of Health said.

“Numbers today have changed significantly with the declaration of new exposure sites, including 407 individuals linked to two swimming pools, and over 100 people linked to two early learning centres.”

Victoria’s health department also confirmed the new COVID-19 case announced in hotel quarantine on Monday is a female child.

yesterday 6.40pm

UK to assess lockdown exit strategy this week

LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will this week judge how fast England can exit COVID-19 lockdown but the death toll and hospital admission numbers are still too high, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Monday.

“We’ve got to watch the data,” Hancock told Sky News.

“Everybody wants to get out of this as quickly as we safely can, and both as quickly, but also as safely, are important.

“The question is a judgement of how quickly and safely, how quickly we can do that safely. That’s the judgment that we’re making this week, looking at the data, ahead of the prime minister setting out the roadmap, on the 22nd,” he said.

“So these are the judgments that will be made this week.“

Reuters

yesterday 5.53pm

‘Hate to be the bearer of bad news’: More Vic cases likely, says epidemiologist

A Melbourne-based epidemiologist says it is “likely” more COVID-19 cases will emerge in Victoria, with contacts of confirmed positive cases potentially just now showing symptoms.

University of Melbourne’s Nancy Baxter, who also heads the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, said once she realised there had been infectious attendees of the Coburg family function circulating in the community for about a week, she became “a lot more anxious about whether we’re actually going to be out of lockdown on Wednesday”.

“When you think about it, if they got infected on the 6th, they probably weren’t infective for days after that, so then whoever has contracted it from them wouldn’t be infected for more days after that. It would kind of be around now they would be developing symptoms,” Professor Baxter told ABC Melbourne.

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But I think over the next day or two when they’re testing all their close and casual contacts, we’re going to have a lot more information.

“We might get lucky; they might be like the hotel quarantine worker with the tennis players who was everywhere that you could possibly be on a weekend … and didn’t give it to anyone.

“But it’s more likely they will have given to some people, and those people will have been in the community for over a week potentially giving others COVID-19.”

Professor Baxter said in the circumstances – with many Melbourne exposure sites – the “safest thing was a lockdown”.

Victoria’s Holiday Inn coronavirus cluster has grown to 17 cases as another woman tested positive on Monday after attending a family function in Coburg, in Melbourne’s north, with an infected hotel quarantine worker.

yesterday 4.57pm

LISTEN: An insider’s look at the making of a COVID-19 vaccine

In today’s episode of our podcast, Please Explain, national editor Tory Maguire and science reporter Liam Mannix discuss the CSL facility in Victoria, where the company is about to start pumping out millions of doses of the Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

You can listen to the full episode below.

yesterday 4.26pm

Avalon Airport pushing for NT-style quarantine base proposal

By Erin Pearson

Victoria’s second international airport is being put forward as a possible site for a remote quarantine base, complete with outdoor cabins for returned travellers, as the state grapples with the fallout from cases in hotel quarantine again leaking into the community.

Avalon Airport boss Justin Giddings says he is waiting to hear back from the state government after submitting a proposal for a facility to be rapidly built on the grounds of the airport, 50 kilometres south-west of Melbourne, which could house upwards of 300 standalone cabins.

Avalon CEO Justin Giddings on land proposed for quarantine cabins.

Avalon CEO Justin Giddings on land proposed for quarantine cabins.Credit:Joe Armao

The plan would create a quarantine centre similar to that at Howard Springs near Darwin.

Mr Giddings said the plan would involve returned travellers flying into Avalon’s international terminal and walking to nearby quarantine cabins, where people could cook their own meals, clean their own cabins and spend time outside at any time.

The closest private homes are more than 10 kilometres from the airport. Mr Giddings said the first rollout of 50 cabins could be built within a month if the plan gets the green light from the government.

“The whole idea would be to fly people in from overseas and see them effectively walk to a quarantine area for 14 days, reducing the needs for buses,” he said.

“They would be self-contained units like Howard Springs, but more modern and isolated away from other passengers or any of the public. We have a lot of land available.

“It would also allow for easy access to Melbourne and Geelong if people needed medical attention.”

Read the full article here.

yesterday 4.01pm

Handing over

Good afternoon, it’s Ashleigh McMillan here. My colleague Craig Butt has finished for the day and is off to enjoy a well-earned break. But I will be bringing you the latest coronavirus updates throughout the afternoon and evening.

Here are some of the key developments of this Monday so far:

yesterday 3.25pm

WA’s hard border with Victoria extended

By Peter De Kruijff

WA Premier Mark McGowan says Western Australia will keep its hard border with Victoria until at least Wednesday when the eastern state’s initial lockdown period is set for review.

“We’ve decided to extend the hard border with Victoria until at least midnight on Wednesday,” he said.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan. Mr McGowan has just announced the hard border with Victoria will remain in place until at least Wednesday night.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan. Mr McGowan has just announced the hard border with Victoria will remain in place until at least Wednesday night.Credit:Getty

“Victoria is in lockdown until at least that point in time … so the Chief Health Officer’s advice is that it’s the correct approach, to at least at this point in time, mirror that lockdown.”

There were no new cases of COVID-19 overnight in WA.

Free travel between WA and New South Wales will be reinstated from midnight on Monday.

Mr McGowan said people travelling to WA from NSW would need to fill out a Good 2 Go pass.

“They’ll need to confirm they haven’t been unwell, haven’t been to Victoria, those sorts of things,” he said.

“It’s still the strongest arrangements in place of any state because we have the controlled border with the other states and territories.”

yesterday 2.50pm

Anti-lockdown protesters clash with police at Melbourne shopping strip

By Erin Pearson

Anti-lockdown protesters have clashed with police during a heated exchange at a popular Melbourne shopping strip during day three of the state’s five-day “circuit breaker” coronavirus restrictions.

Video footage of the confrontation shows about a dozen police officers attempting to move on a small group of men and women, many who were not wearing mandatory face masks, at Eaton Mall in Oakleigh on Monday.

The police officers, who can be repeatedly heard asking the rally group to “move on”, attempt to separate the group before one officer pulls out his capsicum spray.

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Another officer can be heard telling a man, wearing a grey T-shirt and black cap, to leave the area or risk being arrested.

Seconds later another man – dressed in a grey basketball jersey, red shoes and carrying an Australian flag – is ushered away before returning and continuing to yell at officers.

Other members of the group can be heard yelling “the police are causing violence” and “wake up” while shopkeepers watch on.

Victoria Police has been contacted for comment.

yesterday 2.47pm

Continued lockdown would be ‘dire’ for small businesses: Melbourne lord mayor

By Kate Lahey

A continued lockdown for Melbourne would be “dire” for small businesses, who were forced to shut on a weekend they had hoped would ignite the city’s revival, lord mayor Sally Capp says.

“It’s certainly very challenging. The anguish from traders over the weekend is something that we all feel very deeply,” she said.

“Our normal annual city economy is $104 billion. So if you want to break that down, you can see that every day it’s hundreds of millions of dollars [being lost],” Cr Capp told ABC Melbourne Radio 774.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp.Credit:Simon Schluter

“This weekend was certainly something that traders were looking forward to, as really a sort of breakthrough moment that sense of revival, with the tennis… Valentine’s Day, Lunar New Year, people having reservations, being booked out knowing that there was that energy and vibrancy in the city. Of course, lockdown shocked us all,” Cr Capp said.

Small businesses would need a comprehensive support package from all levels of government to give them the confidence to keep their doors open, once the lockdown is over, she said.

If the lockdown is extended beyond Wednesday, businesses would be in serious trouble, she said.

“I think it’ll be dire. Businesses are making decisions every day about whether they can open their doors the following day, it’s really that urgent and immediate.

“The longer lockdown goes on the more difficult the challenge becomes, but the other thing this COVID experience has shown us is how resilient, and how amazing Melburnians can be and we’ve got to keep relying on that to feel that sense of hope and positivity about the future.”

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