As it happened: Nation tips past 70 per cent vaccinated with at least one dose; more NSW LGAs back in lockdown

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As it happened: Nation tips past 70 per cent vaccinated with at least one dose; more NSW LGAs back in lockdown

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The day in review

By Cassandra Morgan

Good evening, and thank you for joining us for live coverage of the day’s events. In case you are just tuning in, here’s what you missed:

  • Australia tipped past 70 per cent of the eligible population vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Australian government’s daily vaccine figures on Friday showed 70.5 per cent of people over the age of 16 have now received at least one dose, equating to more than 14.53 million people.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

  • Victoria recorded 510 new local coronavirus cases, and one death - a woman in her 50s. Health authorities said people booked in for a COVID-19 vaccine in Melbourne’s inner city tomorrow should still be able to get their jabs, despite a public transport blackout in the CBD and checkpoints in place in an attempt to thwart a planned anti-lockdown protest. Victoria became the fourth jurisdiction to have at least 70 per cent of its population vaccinated with a first dose.
  • Melbourne construction workers took to the streets of the CBD for lunch to protest the state government’s tearoom ban. About 150 tradies attended from a Multiplex site on Lonsdale Street near King Street, firing up a barbecue and sharing soft drinks as traffic was forced to bypass the area for about 20 minutes. Earlier, Victoria’s COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar said people were bending over backwards to keep the construction industry going and some workers needed to check their privilege.
Construction workers using a street in Melbourne’s CBD as a tearoom on Friday.

Construction workers using a street in Melbourne’s CBD as a tearoom on Friday. Credit:Joe Armao

  • NSW recorded 1284 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths, including two people in their 20s. The state announced a home quarantine trial for fully vaccinated travellers returning from overseas to Sydney. It will be launched in the coming weeks and will allow 175 people to isolate for seven days at home instead of in a hotel. Authorities announced the Glen Innes Severn local government area in the NSW Northern Tablelands and the Hilltops local government area in the South West Slopes region would be under stay-at-home orders from 6pm tonight for seven days.
  • Queensland recorded one new low-risk coronavirus case on Friday, as the state looked towards its “Pfizer weekend”, with a concerted push to ramp up COVID-19 vaccine delivery. The new COVID-19 case was a household contact of a case linked to the most recent Sunnybank cluster and was in home quarantine for their entire infectious period. The state shut out the NSW town of Glen Innes after authorities confirmed the lockdown there.
Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath and Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath and Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.Credit:Matt Dennien

  • The ACT recorded 30 new COVID-19 cases, 14 of whom were infectious in the community. The territory’s Chief Minister Andrew Barr said it was clear that was “not a good number”.
  • Western Australia reported two new cases of COVID-19 - both returned travellers in hotel quarantine. Authorities announced Public school students in the state would be able to get their vaccinations on campus from Term 4.
  • Meantime, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania recorded no new local cases of COVID-19.

This is Cassandra Morgan signing off for the blog. Thanks again for joining us, and be sure to return tomorrow for more live coverage.

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‘Medium’ restrictions should stay in place until 80 per cent fully vaccinated in large hotspots

By Rachel Clun

State and territory leaders have been told restrictions including stay-at-home orders and a ban on any travel should remain in areas of concern where thousands of cases are reported each day even when 70 per cent of the eligible population is vaccinated.

Concerns were raised in Friday’s national cabinet meeting about whether the health systems in NSW and Victoria could cope with the ongoing outbreaks. The bulk of the country’s more than 1800 cases on Friday were in those states, and there have been 12,519 cases reported over the last week.

GPs in most states and territories can now administer the Pfizer vaccine to everyone aged over 12 as long as they have enough supplies.

GPs in most states and territories can now administer the Pfizer vaccine to everyone aged over 12 as long as they have enough supplies.Credit:AP

Under the national plan, restrictions can begin to ease once 70 per cent of the eligible is fully vaccinated, and more freedoms will be introduced once 80 per cent have been double-dosed.

But a sensitivity analysis of the modelling that informed the plan, conducted by the Doherty Institute and presented to state and territory leaders on Friday, found that if daily case numbers were in the thousands it would be prudent to keep “medium” public health safety measures in place in locations of concern until that 80 per cent target is reached.

Read the full story here. 

Melbourne childcare centre among new COVID-19 exposure sites

By Cassandra Morgan

A childcare centre in Melbourne’s south east is among new COVID-19 exposure sites identified by Victorian health authorities.

Guardian Childcare and Education at Bentleigh East was declared a tier-1 or close contact exposure site on Tuesday, September 14 between 8.30am and 4.45pm.

A childcare centre in Melbourne’s south east is among new COVID-19 exposure sites.

A childcare centre in Melbourne’s south east is among new COVID-19 exposure sites. Credit:Ryan Stuart

Anyone who attended the centre during that timeframe has to immediately get tested for COVID-19 and quarantine for 14 days from the exposure, regardless of whether they receive a negative test result.

The remainder of new exposure sites are tier 2 or close contact, and include a medical centre and a chiropractor, also in Melbourne’s south east, and Wellington Square Shopping Centre at Wallan, about 50 kilometres north of the city’s CBD.

Authorities warned there would be some close contacts at the otherwise casual contact sites of McDonald’s at Epping in Melbourne’s north, and the restaurant Who is Bunker Spreckles at Elwood in the city’s south.

A full list of Victorian exposure sites can be found here.

Listen: How scientists saved the bandicoot from extinction

By Nathanael Cooper

The world is usually riddled with grim news about the environment, but this week there was a rare moment of both celebration and hope.

On Wednesday, the eastern barred bandicoot’s threatened species status was downgraded to endangered.

The small rabbit-sized marsupials were considered extinct in the wild due to predation from introduced species like foxes as well as land clearing, but three decades of conservation efforts and captive breeding programs has seen the population swell.

Now more than 1500 eastern barred bandicoots live in the wild and Zoos Victoria has closed its captive breeding program after it was deemed a success.

Today on Please Explain, environment writer Miki Perkins joins Nathanael Cooper to look at how Australian scientists have brought the bandicoot back from extinction.

You can listen to the podcast below.

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New Zealand suspends travel bubble with Australia for a further eight weeks

The trans-Tasman bubble will remain closed for at least two more months as problems with the Delta variant continue on both sides of the Tasman.

In July, the New Zealand government suspended quarantine-free travel from Australia for an initial period of two months as New South Wales and other states struggled to contain their Delta outbreaks.

New Zealand has suspended its quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia for a further eight weeks.

New Zealand has suspended its quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia for a further eight weeks. Credit:Wolter Peeters

On Friday, the country’s COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins announced the quarantine-free travel (QFT) suspension would be extended.

“When QFT was established with Australia, both our countries had very few recent cases of Covid-19 community transmission and a very similar elimination strategy. This has changed significantly leading to our decision to suspend QFT for a further eight weeks,” Mr Hipkins said.

“Uncontrolled community transmission is still occurring in Australia, with case numbers continuing to steadily increase in New South Wales, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory.

“A small number of cases also continue to appear intermittently in other states and territories. In New Zealand as well, we’re getting on top of an outbreak in Auckland.”

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Queensland shuts out NSW town of Glen Innes after COVID outbreak

By Toby Crockford

Queensland has reinstated border restrictions for the northern NSW town of Glen Innes after a confirmed local COVID case prompted the area to be ordered into a week-long lockdown by NSW Health.

The announcement from Queensland Health came just before 5pm, with anyone from the Glen Innes Severn local government area to become part of the restricted NSW border zone from 1am on Saturday.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.Credit:Matt Dennien

In addition, border zone residents who have been to the Glenn Innes area will only be allowed into Queensland for limited essential purposes - which includes getting food, seeking medical care, or providing essential case to someone.

Queensland residents may only return to Queensland if they went to the Glenn Innes area for those limited essential purposes.

Anyone who is currently in Queensland but visited the Glen Innes area in the past 14 days should get tested if they have symptoms and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Melburnians: how are you spending picnic day?

Lockdown-weary Melburnians will finally get their first taste of freedom with outdoor gatherings, such as picnics, allowed from Saturday.

The gatherings will be allowed for up to five people from two households but only if those over 18 years of age have had two vaccination shots. The limit does not include dependants.

The gathering limit will be two people for those who are unvaccinated or have had one vaccine dose.

We’d love to hear your plans. Who are you meeting up with? How long has it been since you’ve seen them? What do they mean to you? And how will you celebrate together?

Share your story below and include your phone number if you don’t mind speaking to a reporter.

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Young in NSW joins Glen Innes in return to lockdown tonight

By Sarah McPhee

Earlier, we reported Glen Innes Severn local government area in the NSW Northern Tablelands would enter a week-long lockdown at 6pm tonight.

NSW Health has just released a public health alert confirming that decision and announcing lockdown restrictions for the Hilltops LGA in the South West Slopes region, including the town of Young.

Fragments of the virus that cause COVID-19 were recently detected at the Young sewage treatment plant.

NSW Health Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Marianne Gale, at the 11am update, said a positive case had been identified in Young to 8pm last night and the person’s household contacts had since tested positive.

Murrumbidge Local Health District said the initial case is a man, aged in his 60s, who presented to Young District Hospital and has been transferred to Wagga Wagga Base Hospital.

NSW Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke said on Facebook: “I appreciate that will come as a blow to many with school holidays upon us, and the small amount of time that we have been able to enjoy out of the recent statewide lockdown.”

She also shared a list of exposure sites in Young.

The Glen Innes and Hilltops LGAs will be under stay-at-home orders from 6pm tonight for seven days.

“These stay-at-home orders also apply to anyone who has been in the Hilltops LGA including Young and surrounding areas since 3 September, and the Glen Innes LGA since 13 September,” NSW Health said.

“Everyone in the Hilltops and Glen Innes LGAs must stay at home unless it is for an essential reason, which includes shopping for food, medical care, getting vaccinated, compassionate needs, exercise and work or tertiary education if you can’t work or study at home.”

The health department is calling on the communities to come forward for testing in large numbers, “to determine the extent of the risk and detect any further potential COVID-19 cases in these areas”.

Australia tips past 70 per cent vaccinated with at least one dose

By Cassandra Morgan

Australia has tipped past 70 per cent of the eligible population vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Australian government’s daily vaccine figures on Friday showed 70.5 per cent of people over the age of 16 have now received at least one dose, equating to more than 14.53 million people.

The proportion of the population that has now been fully vaccinated has reached 45.4 per cent.

Victoria has also become the fourth Australian jurisdiction to have at least 70 per cent of its population vaccinated with a first dose, with 70.3 per cent of eligible people in the state having now received one.

Under the federal government’s national plan, restrictions will ease when 70 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and again at 80 per cent.

Click here to view our COVID-19 vaccination tracker. 

Qantas says home quarantine a ‘stepping stone’ to re-starting international travel

By Patrick Hatch

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce says NSW’s home quarantine trial is an important first step towards restarting international travel, but he wants to see the rules relaxed further as more of the population is vaccinated.

Qantas crew operating international repatriation flights will take part in the four-week trial, allowing double-vaccinated travellers to quarantine at home rather than in a hotel.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce. Credit:Dom Lorrimer

“This is very welcome news for our crews who have been flying overseas to bring Australians home and to carry essential freight, chalking up months in quarantine since the pandemic began,” Mr Joyce said.

Mr Joyce said Qantas had been working closely with the federal and NSW governments on the shift to home quarantine, which was an “important stepping stone in re-starting international passenger services”.

“As vaccine rates rise here and overseas, we’d like to see quarantine requirements relax further,” he said.

Qantas is set to resume regular international flying from December 18, based on the belief the federal government will reopen Australia’s international border before Christmas.

The airline has flights scheduled to London, the US, Singapore, Canada, Fiji and Japan from December 18 to 20.

The home quarantine trial for travellers returning from overseas to Sydney will be launched in the coming weeks and will allow 175 people to isolate for seven days at home instead of in a hotel.

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