Covid Australia live news update: NSW reports 163 new coronavirus cases, Victoria 12 and South Australia one | Australia news
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Foley urges anti-lockdown protesters not to participate today. He says they should “be on the side of humanity” and not on the side of the virus.
Foley was asked about the $22,000 fine given to a Echuca pub for opening against the rules, and how it compares to the removalists who sparked the outbreak in Victoria still being investigated by Victoria Police. He won’t be drawn into comparing the two:
“I think there is a qualitative difference between a publican who chooses deliberately to flout the laws and being advised by Victoria Police not to come to them still go ahead, on one set of factors, and has been determined by Victoria Police, and I will let Victoria Police determine on the evidence, on the material provided by health, as to the other set of circumstances.”
“It is up to Victoria Police, for the normal processes of our justice system to make sure that these arrangements are applied fearlessly.”
On unsolicited advice from interstate, Foley recalls the advice Victoria received during our second lockdown, when asked about Victoria recommending NSW implement a ring of steel. Basically MYOB:
“I concede Mr Hazzard has not provided Victoria with advice, but I can pretty well recall some fairly frank and direct advice from Commonwealth ministers, particularly as we were coming out of the second wave last year that was problematic at best, I think that… If we all look to our own backyards, that is where our responsibility starts.”
He says the ring of steel around Melbourne “played a role” in crushing the second wave in 2020.
Foley says NSW’s fight “is Australia’s fight”:
We cannot beat this as a nation until such time as New South Wales gets on top of that wave of outbreaks at the moment. That cannot be at the expense of allowing the further importation of that wave into any other state or territory. We all have to do what we need to do, what our communities expect us to do, what our public health officials tell us has to be done to allocate a scarce resource in this case vaccines, to the areas we need to cement our public health position while at the same time, in a scarce environment, trying to address NSW’s clear need.
He says redirecting vaccine from Victoria would mean cancelling appointments, but he expects the scarcity issue to go away by the end of August.
Victorian health minister Martin Foley has responded to his NSW counterpart, Brad Hazzard’s complaint about Victoria’s rebuff over the redirection of the Pfizer vaccine to NSW, but says the redistribution of Pfizer back to NSW is not the policy of national cabinet:
I have nothing but respect for the minister and the New South Wales public health team. They are dealing with extremely difficult circumstances and Victorians know those circumstances all too well from our winter 2020 experience so our position is the position of national cabinet and indeed the position that the commonwealth put to the senate yesterday and that is a pretty clear, we all get allocated Pfizer and AstraZeneca and soon Moderna, based on our proportion as part of the Australian population.
He says if there is unallocated stock in the national stockpile, it should go where it is needed, but that should not come at the expense of the stock already allocated to other states.
He’s not biting back. He thanks NSW, SA and WA for helping Victoria out during our second wave. But he says there is a scarcity of vaccines for July and August, and it is all allocated in Victoria. He says he has a close working relationship with Hazzard:
I think you misjudge the extremely cooperative nature of our health departments, health ministers, health services, work together across the country. There is no anger or frustration.
The chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, is not saying whether lockdown in Victoria will end on Tuesday night as planned, but says the numbers of those out in the community while infectious are in the right place.
We need to see those numbers out in the community for any period of time to be minimal and hopefully zero. That is where we are today and that is where I want us to be for the rest of the week.
I feel we are on track. I have been surprised in the past, pleasantly and unpleasantly, and I hope this can brings further news in terms of everyone being in home quarantine and isolation throughout the infectious period, that would be the good news for Tuesday.
He expects there will be new cases right through to Tuesday among the close contacts. There is no “magic number” of cases, it’s part of overall assessments, and the key aim is having no new exposure sites.
The 400 exposure sites listed with this outbreak have “largely tapered off”.
Sutton explains what led Victoria to upgrade NSW from a red zone to an extreme zone, which prevents resident from returning except in very limited circumstances:
The case load in a jurisdiction, the trends over time, how much we expect cases to emerge each and every day. In South Australia they have had a dozen plus cases but they are in lockdown and those numbers seem to be stabilising for a population of over 1.5 million. New South Wales, 163 cases today, close to 2,000 active cases now, that is a big caseload and the risk of people coming from New South Wales having been potentially exposed to others who are infectious is much higher than for South Australia, ACT and so it is managing that hopefully proportionately and, like everything, it will undergo review at regular intervals.
Sutton says none of the cases today are connected to the exposure site at Prahran market. He said there had been a “strong testing response” from people identified through QR code check-ins:
You never know, for that one individual if they are going to be very infectious, not infectious at all or somewhere in between. Prahran market has many people around you do not know so it was a very important to have people come forward for testing very quickly but to have no positive come out of that thus far is reassuring stop it is a reasonably open space with decent ventilation, by virtue of the ceiling space, but the risk is always there in crowded places.
Sutton couldn’t say what restrictions will be in place in the state if and when the lockdown ends, but crowd restrictions would need to be considers, and masks would play a big role:
Masks become even more important in an era of the Delta variant. They have played a huge role as has been highlighted by recent literature from the Burnett Institute and ended a review of the second wave in Victoria last year, the critical role that masks have played and that will be one of the baselines that we will just have to live with globally, it will not be unique to Victoria. They are reviewing the advice on masks in lots of places where there is hope vaccination coverage because of the Delta third and fourth waves.
Sutton calls on people in the Glenroy area, including Hadfield, Oak Park and Pascoe Vale, to stay on alert for symptoms after viral fragments were detected in wastewater tests, and he says some red zone permit holders have returned to those areas.
Victoria’s chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, says residents of an apartment complex at 673 La Trobe St in Docklands will need to quarantine due to a Covid-19 case in the building.
He says a pop-up testing clinic is being set up at the building, and the department will contact residents, but they must quarantine until further notice.
Of the 12 new cases today, five are linked to the AAMI Park outbreak, one is a social contact of one case, and four are household contacts.
A further three are linked to Ms Frankie’s, one being a patron, and two household contacts of a staff member.
There are two other cases linked to the Burnley apartment complex, fellow residents who live on the same floor as a positive case.
Another case is a student at Bacchus Marsh, and one is a household contact of a case connected to the Young and Jackson’s outbreak.
There are over 20,000 people in Victoria identified as primary or secondary close contacts isolating.
The 2,500 MCG close contacts are now hitting their day 13 test. 2,000 close contacts have been cleared so far from the outbreak, and 4,000 should be tested over the weekend, with another 8,000 in the next week.
Now turning to the Victorian press conference, health minister Martin Foley says it there was an “encouraging” trend down in case numbers, while not a huge drop, most were in quarantine for their entire infectious period:
Overall, we are pleased to see an encouraging trend down in case numbers and certainly not an increase. Not a huge trend down but, in terms of the direction and particularly the issues that the chief health officer will go into, a reassuring trend towards cases overwhelmingly being in quarantine. Being in-home isolation for the entirety of their infectious period.
Ten of the 12 cases today were isolating for their entire infectious period, with the remaining two only in the community for less than a day.
The few exposure sites are at Camberwell, Hawthorn and Newport.
He says it is too early to say whether lockdown will end on Tuesday night.
There are 10 cases in hospital, three in ICU, with one on ventilation.
Marshall says it is too early to say what restrictions will look like after the lockdown ends, and says the government made the right decision to lock down early:
Look, I’m so grateful that we put these restrictions in when we did. If we had have waited another 12 or 24 hours … this particular strain would have got away from us.
SA premier Steven Marshall says the state is on track to end the seven-day lockdown next week. He says children in the state will then be able to return to school on Wednesday.
He also reveals international flights into SA will be cancelled for Monday and Tuesday next week, and the state is trialling a booking system for Covid testing.
SA premier Steven Marshall has reported one new case of Covid-19, linked to the Tenafeate winery cluster.
This is off the back of 23,410 tests.
There is an anti-lockdown protest planned in Sydney today. When asked about it, Hazzard sighs, and says he thinks it’s silly:
We live in a democracy and normally I am certainly one who supports people’s right to protest, but I actually think it is really silly. At the present time we’ve got cases going through the roof, and we have people thinking that it’s OK to get out there and possibly be close to each other at a demonstration. I just think that’s a bit silly.
NSW deputy police commissioner Gary Worboys said it was not the time to protest, but NSW police would attempt to ensure people are complying with the health orders:
NSW police are in a position where they will try and work with the organisers and the specific group leaders to make sure that they comply with the public health orders, and in fact we don’t get a situation where we end up with a spreading event in Sydney which would, of course, be disastrous, but police – there is additional police, there is a specific police operation around the protest and the events, and we want to work with the organisers and those people who are leading specific groups into the city or other places to make sure that it’s not an event that we regret.
That’s the end of the NSW press conference.
Hazzard says it is “really impossible to answer the question” on whether the modelling would suggest Sydney can exit the lockdown as planned at the end of next week.
He said a week ago they were hopeful the numbers would come down. They have now gone in the opposite direction.
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