Breaking News

Experts say Japan’s vaccine rollout too late for pre-Olympics ‘herd immunity’

6hhours agoWedWednesday 17 FebFebruary 2021 at 9:55am

By Jacqueline Howard

That’s all for tonight

It’s looking like we won’t hear from WA for a little while yet, so we’re going to wrap the blog up.

Thanks for joining us and we’ll be back again tomorrow.

7hhours agoWedWednesday 17 FebFebruary 2021 at 9:12am

By Jacqueline Howard

You said WA was holding a press conference a while back and then there was silence?? What happened?

-WA?

 Not a press conference, a meeting. We’re waiting for information to come out of that. We’re expecting something in 20-ish minutes at the earliest.

7hhours agoWedWednesday 17 FebFebruary 2021 at 8:47am

By Jacqueline Howard

UK to urge cease-fires to allow vaccinations

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says he will urge the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution calling for cease-fires in conflict zones to allow the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.

Britain holds the council presidency this month and Raab is chairing a virtual high-level meeting of the U.N.’s most powerful body on the problem of ensuring access to vaccines in conflict areas on Wednesday. Diplomats said 11 foreign ministers are expected to speak, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Britain says more than 160 million people are at risk of being excluded from coronavirus vaccinations because they live in countries engulfed in conflict and instability including Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia.

“Global vaccination coverage is essential to beating coronavirus,” Raab said ahead of the meeting. “That is why the U.K. is calling for a vaccination cease-fire to allow COVID-19 vaccines to reach people living in conflict zones and for a greater global team effort to deliver equitable access.”

British U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward stressed that it is in all countries’ interests to ensure that people in hostile areas and vulnerable situations are vaccinated because “no one is safe until everyone is safe.”

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Tuesday that Mexico will stress the importance of equal access for all countries to COVID-19 vaccines at the council meeting.

He was sharply critical that countries that produce the vaccine have high vaccination rates while Latin American countries have problems obtaining doses.

8hhours agoWedWednesday 17 FebFebruary 2021 at 8:11am

By Jacqueline Howard

Key Event

NT revokes Greater Melbourne hotspot declaration

The Northern Territory Government has revoked the coronavirus hotspot declaration for Greater Melbourne.

From 6:00pm this evening, anyone from the hotspot in quarantine in the Northern Territory will be released, and anyone travelling from Greater Melbourne will not be required to quarantine.

The NT Chief Health Officer says all cases linked to the cluster have been traced and tested.

The removal of the Melbourne hotspot declaration comes hours before the city’s five-day lockdown ends at midnight tonight.

8hhours agoWedWednesday 17 FebFebruary 2021 at 8:10am

By Jacqueline Howard

Hi Jacqui,
Is there any word on crowds at AFLW matches in VIC this weekend?

-Footy fan

 Nothing yet, but keep an eye on their Twitter for updates.

Loading8hhours agoWedWednesday 17 FebFebruary 2021 at 7:54am

By Jacqueline Howard

Crowds allowed back to Australian Open in Melbourne

(AP: Hamish Blair)

Spectators will be allowed to attend the final four days of the Australian Open following confirmation the five-day Victorian state coronavirus lockdown will end at midnight.

Attendance from Thursday onwards will be capped at 7,477 spectators for each session, which is approximately 50 per cent capacity.

For the start of the tournament, organisers allowed a maximum of 30,000 fans a day to watch from inside the venue, although most days the total attendance was lower than this number.

Fans were allowed to sit in their seats without masks when the stadium roof was open although they had to wear masks in concourse areas.

Then last Friday, the State Government announced a five-day statewide lockdown would apply from midnight in response to the spread of the UK variant of COVID-19.

Loading

For the last five days, matches have been held without fans present.

On Wednesday afternoon, following state government confirmation that lockdown would end at midnight, the Australian Open released a statement.

“We look forward to welcoming fans back to the Australian Open for the next four days and to finishing the event safely and on a high,” tournament director Craig Tiley said in the statement.

“The crowd will be capped at 7,477 for each session, which is approximately 50 per cent capacity.

“Last week we had our first real experience of live sport with fans in the stands and the atmosphere was electric.

“The players appreciated the opportunity to compete in front of crowds for the first time in almost a year, and many spoke about how emotional it was to connect with fans again.

“The COVIDSafe measures we had in place will continue, and we’ve opened up the zones so everyone can access the full site and enjoy both Grand Slam Oval and Garden Square.

“We are all looking forward to an incredible four days of tennis and can’t wait to see everyone back at the AO.”

9hhours agoWedWednesday 17 FebFebruary 2021 at 7:21am

By Jacqueline Howard

Key Event

Japan begins COVID-19 vaccination drive amid Olympic worries

(Behrouz Mehri/Pool Photo via AP)

Japan began giving the first coronavirus vaccines to front-line health workers today. Many are wondering if the campaign will reach enough people, and in time, to save a Summer Olympics already delayed a year.

A big problem as the vaccines roll out — first to medical workers, then the elderly and then to the rest of the population — are worries about shortages of the imported vaccines Japan relies on, and a decades-long reluctance among many Japanese to take vaccines.

The late rollout will make it impossible to reach so-called “herd immunity” against the virus before the Olympics begin in July, experts say.

The vaccination drive has the support of the government, but there’s widespread wariness, even opposition, among citizens to having the Games at all. About 80 per cent of those polled in recent surveys support cancellation or further postponement of the Olympics.

Japan is behind in its vaccine rollout because it asked Pfizer to conduct clinical trials with Japanese people, in addition to trials already conducted in six other countries. Japanese officials said this was necessary to address worries in a country with low vaccine confidence.

Half of the recipients of the first shots will keep daily records of their condition for seven weeks; that data will be used in a health study meant to inform people worried about the side effects.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said he’s determined to achieve a safe and secure Olympics as “proof of human victory against the pandemic,” but the prospect is uncertain given the state of the infections.

Critics say many medical workers are now helping out in the vaccination drive at a time when Japanese hospitals are already strained by daily treatment of COVID-19 patients. There’s worry hospitals will have no additional capacity to cope with the large number of overseas visitors the Olympics would involve.

9hhours agoWedWednesday 17 FebFebruary 2021 at 7:06am

By Jacqueline Howard

We’ll hear from WA later today 

Is there any word on the WA hard border, which is due to end with Vic tonight? Thanks!

-Bordering on ridiculous

The team in WA tells me there is a state disaster council meeting at 3:30pm local time (in half an hour), and we’ll likely get an announcement out of that a few hours later.

9hhours agoWedWednesday 17 FebFebruary 2021 at 6:53am

By Jacqueline Howard

Key Event

Tasmania is set to reopen its border with Victoria on Saturday.

Travel restrictions imposed last Friday will ease as long as there is no evidence of community transmission in the next 48 hours.

Victoria was designated a high-risk location on Friday after the Holiday Inn outbreak lead to a snap five-down lockdown.

In a statement, Tasmania’s Public Health director Mark Veitch said that until 12.01am Saturday  travellers who had spent time in Victoria in the 14 days before arriving in Tasmania would  still not be permitted to enter unless they were an approved essential traveller.

In the next 48 hours, travellers and Tasmanians returning will still need to enter the state using the G2G PASS and be subject to “quarantine, testing and hotel quarantine fees”.  

“People who arrived in Tasmania from Victoria on or after Saturday 12 February need to remain in quarantine until the Victorian risk designation is changed,” the statement said.

Loading10hhours agoWedWednesday 17 FebFebruary 2021 at 6:37am

By Jacqueline Howard

Weak positive case under investigation in Victoria

The Department of Health was notified of a weak positive test result in a man who presented to hospital from the Twin Parks Aged Care Facility. The man was a positive case from August last year.

He tested negative twice before a third test returned a weak positive.

This case has not been added to the numbers as it is still under investigation. The result is thought to represent persistent shedding from a previous infection. He has no links to cases at the Holiday Inn.

The case is being re-tested today.

Out of an abundance of caution while awaiting the repeat test, the aged care facility has been kept safe and all staff and residents were tested yesterday evening.

10hhours agoWedWednesday 17 FebFebruary 2021 at 6:30am

By Jacqueline Howard

Who will be able to see if you’ve had the COVID vaccine?

(AP: Ted S. Warren)

New laws have just been passed mandating the recording of COVID-19 vaccine information on the Australian Immunisation Register. The changes to the Australian Immunisation Register Act 2015 will mean vaccination providers, such as GP clinics, will need to report to the Government who was given the COVID-19 vaccine, both within and outside of Australia.

The act introduces penalties for providers who don’t comply with requests for information. Before these changes were made, the Australian Immunisation Register, which records inoculations (such as for seasonal influenza) under school-based programs and those given privately, was maintained on a voluntary basis.

Now vaccine providers will have no choice but to add personal information to the register about people’s vaccination status. This information can be accessed by authorised government officials for health and other purposes.

The Federal Government has also announced that Australians will be able to provide proof of vaccination through an app on their phone.

The idea is that this will allow those who have been vaccinated access to services such as air travel. It may also bestow certain privileges, such as being eligible to attend sports stadiums and theatres.

These announcements appear to give rise to a very satisfactory result: mandatory reporting of inoculations will give authorities accurate information about who has received the jab, and those people in turn can prove their vaccinated status on a readily accessible app if need be. Lots of Australians will happily download the app; some might even see it as their civic duty. But there will be many who will baulk at these arrangements.

10hhours agoWedWednesday 17 FebFebruary 2021 at 6:21am

By Jacqueline Howard

No changes to border restrictions between NSW and Victoria

So is the Vic / NSW border totally open now?

-Confused

 The only thing we’ve heard from NSW is the stay-at-home order for people who had recently been in Victoria has lifted. That order was essentially a lockdown the same as the one for Victorians. 

The Premier Gladys Berejiklian did not say that the travel restrictions into NSW from Victoria had lifted. Here are the current guidelines for travel into NSW. You are required to complete a traveller self-declaration form before entering NSW.

10hhours agoWedWednesday 17 FebFebruary 2021 at 6:17am

By Jacqueline Howard

Clarifying the new workplace rules in Victoria

From the Victorian Department of Health:

Workplace Directions will revert back to the same rules that applied before the Circuit Breaker actions. Under these Directions, any office with fewer than 40 workers can have 20 people. For example, an office with 25 workers can have 20 workers in the office, subject to density quotients. For offices with 40 or more workers, the 50 percent rules applies to both the public and private sector.

10hhours agoWedWednesday 17 FebFebruary 2021 at 6:04am

By Jacqueline Howard

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt speaks on the vaccine rollout

Loading

Mr Hunt says Phase 1A will being on Monday, which will see the vaccination of the elderly, aged care and disability residents, as well as aged care and disability workers.

Mr Hunt also said that hotel quarantine workers have been identified by the states as a priority.

10hhours agoWedWednesday 17 FebFebruary 2021 at 5:53am

By Jacqueline Howard

Professor Peter Doherty says he will be glad to see lockdowns end with the vaccine rollout

With the COVID-19 vaccine rollout set to begin on Monday, Professor Peter Doherty of the Peter Doherty Institute says the focus should be ensuring as many people as possible get vaccinated.

“If we can get [the percent of vaccination of] people well up in the high 80s …. we don’t need to do these stupid lockdowns all the time,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.

“The lockdown was the right thing to do but no one wants to do it because of the economic damage.”

With high vaccination rates nationally we can then open up the borders, he said.

But it will be a long time before we can open up to the world.

“Opening up internationally is a more complex situation and that’s going to take a lot of thought,” he said

“We’re not going to be through this as far as international involvement goes in this year – it’s going to take longer,” he said.

11hhours agoWedWednesday 17 FebFebruary 2021 at 5:43am

By Jacqueline Howard

Vaccine rollout to begin on Monday 

I just read on vic.gov website that Melbourne won’t get the vaccine till March. Can you clarify this as I have heard nothing else about it.

-Whaaaaattt?

 If you and I are looking at the same page of information, that page hasn’t been updated since 4 February. A lot has changed since then.

It’s true that the AstraZeneca vaccine isn’t expected to be rolled out until March, but now that the Pfizer vaccine has arrived, the rollout will begin on Monday.

11hhours agoWedWednesday 17 FebFebruary 2021 at 5:34am

By Jacqueline Howard

The manager of a gym in Ballarat said the business had only opened its doors to the public five days before the shutdown.

(ABC News: Sarah Jane Bell)

   
Lincoln Barnes from Body Fit Training said it had been a disappointing start.

“We opened on the 6th, the grand opening, it was a long time in the making, the owners had this in store for last year [but] obviously with everything that happened it has just pushed us back all the way through,” he said.

“To open for five days and then to close the doors was pretty disappointing but we’re looking forward to reopening and then hoping we stay consistent,” Mr Barnes said.

Mr Barnes said closing the doors had effected the buzz around the new studio opening.

He said it was important for the gym to open back up given the benefits to mental health.

“Even the last three days I know a lot of people have asked for mental health help and generally as a gym our job is to get people in, get moving and exercising,” he said.

“Without that, some people can’t motivate themselves and it’s quite tough for them to keep on top of their mental health without that.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *