As it happened: NSW records 1063 new COVID-19 cases, six deaths; Victoria begins earthquake clean-up as state records 766 new cases, protests continue

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As it happened: NSW records 1063 new COVID-19 cases, six deaths; Victoria begins earthquake clean-up as state records 766 new cases, protests continue

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The day in review

By Michaela Whitbourn

That’s it for today. Thank you for reading our live coverage of the day’s events. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Victorian police arrested 92 people during a fourth day of unrest in Melbourne’s CBD, but the anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown protests were on a much smaller scale than in the previous three days. A spokeswoman for Victoria Police said the arrests were for breaching the Chief Health Officer’s directions, an offence that also attracts a fine of about $5500, as well as for other matters, including outstanding warrants.

Police outside the Queen Victoria market this morning were prepared for another day of protest.

Police outside the Queen Victoria market this morning were prepared for another day of protest.Credit:Wayne Taylor

  • People who attended the larger protest in Melbourne’s CBD yesterday are being urged to get tested for COVID-19, as one person who attended the demonstration is now being treated for the virus in hospital. A spokesperson for the Victorian Department of Health said this evening that public health investigations were under way into the positive case. “We are urging protesters to get tested should they experience COVID-like symptoms, no matter how mild,” the spokesperson said. The person will be included in Friday’s COVID-19 numbers.
  • Police were stationed outside the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union’s Melbourne headquarters earlier this morning after significant disruptions in the city on Wednesday. The protests were triggered by the Andrews government’s decision to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for the construction sector and have targeted the CFMEU. However, the union did not support the vaccine mandate and the protesters are not drawn solely from the construction sector. You can catch up on the full wrap of today’s protests here.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Thursday.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Thursday.Credit:Janie Barrett

  • NSW recorded 1063 new local coronavirus cases and six deaths. Four of the people who died were not vaccinated. A woman from the city’s west in her 50s who was fully vaccinated also died at Liverpool Hospital. NSW’s Chief Deputy Health Officer, Dr Marianne Gale, said the woman “had some serious underlying health conditions”. A woman in her 90s from St Mary’s Villa Aged Care at Dubbo, in the state’s west, died after acquiring the virus at this facility. She had received one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Her death is the fourth linked to the home.
  • There are 1244 COVID-19 cases in the state’s hospitals. Of those cases, 233 people are in intensive care and 112 people require ventilation.
Sydney’s Liverpool Hospital is at the centre of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Sydney’s Liverpool Hospital is at the centre of a COVID-19 outbreak. Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

  • Twenty eight per cent of children aged 12 to 15 have now received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in NSW. The vast majority of the age group only became eligible for the shot on September 13.
  • A second major COVID-19 outbreak is unfolding at Liverpool Hospital in Sydney’s south-west, but authorities have revised the number of patients who have acquired the virus down from 24 to 20. Five staff members have also tested positive. A South Western Sydney Local Health District spokesperson said the cases were spread across four wards (not six, as the hospital originally believed). The cases occurred across the orthopaedic, renal, neurology and geriatrics wards. The cardiothoracic ward has not been affected. A total of 28 staff are in isolation as a result of the outbreak.
  • A coronavirus cluster has also emerged at North Sydney’s Mater Hospital, after 14 patients and staff tested positive in the past week. A spokesperson for the hospital said five patients, eight staff members and one carer had tested positive to COVID-19.
    The lockdown in Orange ends at midnight tonight.

    The lockdown in Orange ends at midnight tonight.Credit:Kate Geraghty

    • Lockdown restrictions will end in Orange and Glen Innes in regional NSW from midnight tonight.“There will be still standard restrictions and precautionary measures but they will be out and back to a more normal life,” Health Minister Brad Hazzard said. Lockdown restrictions were eased in Brewarrina, Gilgandra, Lismore and Albury from midnight yesterday.

    Premier Daniel Andrews on Thursday during his marathon media  conference.

    Premier Daniel Andrews on Thursday during his marathon media conference. Credit:Getty

    • Victoria recorded 766 new, locally acquired cases of COVID-19, the state’s largest ever daily coronavirus tally, and four deaths. Victoria’s previous record was 725 daily cases reported in August last year. The state’s COVID-19 response commander, Jeroen Weimar, said it was a “challenging number”. More than half of the cases (55 per cent) were in households where there was a previous infection, he said.
    • Victorians stranded in Sydney and the ACT can come home from September 30, provided they are double vaccinated and test negative to COVID-19 in the 72 hours before leaving NSW, Premier Daniel Andrews has announced. “They will have to do 14 days of quarantine, but that quarantine can be done at their home,” he said.
    • More than 23 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds in Victoria have now received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and 80 per cent of Victorians over the age of 40 have received a first dose.
    • The four people who died in Victoria with COVID-19 were aged between their 70s and their 90s. Three of the people lived in Hume, in Melbourne’s north-western suburbs, and one lived in the Moreland council area in Melbourne’s north. There are 257 people in Victoria’s hospitals with COVID-19. Of those, 60 are in intensive care. Forty-one people are on a ventilator. About 81 per cent of them are unvaccinated, 15 per cent are part-vaccinated and 3 per cent are vaccinated, Mr Andrews said.

    ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr says Canberrans may be able to get a Moderna vaccine appointment as early as today.

    ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr says Canberrans may be able to get a Moderna vaccine appointment as early as today.Credit:Kate Geraghty

    • The ACT recorded 16 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, at least 11 of whom were infectious in the community. Twelve people are in hospital. “Canberrans aged 12 to 59 are eligible to receive the Moderna vaccine, so if you jump online now, you may be able to get a Moderna booking today,” ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said today. “Pharmacies right across the ACT have access to the Moderna vaccine and there are bookings available.”
    • Western Australia has reported no new cases of COVID-19, after a NSW truck driver who spent time in WA subsequently tested positive to the virus. This is good news for football fans, with the AFL grand final set to go ahead in Perth on Saturday. Ever the shrinking violet, West Australian Premier Mark McGowan said he was confident “it will be the greatest grand final ever”.
    Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says her state already enjoys more freedoms than will be available to NSW and Victorian residents when 80 per cent of people aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated.

    Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says her state already enjoys more freedoms than will be available to NSW and Victorian residents when 80 per cent of people aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated.Credit:Matt Dennien

    • Queensland reported one new case of COVID-19 in the community, in a student at St Thomas More College at Sunnybank. She tested positive on day nine of home quarantine, where she has been during her entire infectious period.
    • Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her state already enjoys more freedoms than will be available to NSW and Victorian residents when 80 per cent of people aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated, as she defended her tough stance on borders. “In Victoria, at 80 per cent, they will be allowed 30 people to visit for Christmas dinner. Here, Queenslanders can have 100 people over,” she said. Ms Palaszczuk did not answer a question about the level of vaccination at which it would be safe to reopen the state’s borders. She said the national plan had not been finalised and further Doherty Institute modelling would be put before the next national cabinet meeting.

    This is Michaela Whitbourn signing off on the blog for the evening. Broede Carmody will be back with you early tomorrow morning.

    Barnaby Joyce condemns Melbourne protesters, takes aim at extremism

    Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has condemned violent anti-lock-down protesters in Melbourne, urging Australians to get vaccinated if they want coronavirus restrictions to be lifted.

    Mr Joyce took aim at Victorians who had gathered at the Shrine of Remembrance, saying it was not about left-wing or right-wing, it was about “doing the proper thing”.

    Thousands of people angry about vaccinations and lockdowns shut down parts of the city and descended on the Shrine of Remembrance on Wednesday.

    Thousands of people angry about vaccinations and lockdowns shut down parts of the city and descended on the Shrine of Remembrance on Wednesday.Credit:Jason South

    He said he understood the frustrations, but the best way to get back to a normal life was to get vaccinated “as quickly as possible”.

    Asked on ABC’s 7.30 about extremists infiltrating the protests, Mr Joyce said it was in his fabric to fight against fascism.

    “I was brought up very much educated about the evils of the far-right,” he said.

    “I believe temperance is an incredibly important thing in everything we do. That the human condition is crushed by the evils on the far-right and crushed by the evils on the far-left. They’re both extremism. It’s a horseshoe where the crazy left and are crazy right in a horseshoe are not that far away from each other.”

    He said he had made his views known to colleague George Christensen, who has been accused by other National MPs of encouraging the protests and violence towards police.

    “Why don’t you stop him?” he said. “Well, I can talk to him, and that’s the logical thing to do.”

    “One of the things we love about this nation is you have the freedoms to say what you like, even if what you say is wrong. That’s one of the things we protect in this nation.”

    Hospital ED among new Victorian exposure sites

    By Cassandra Morgan

    A Melbourne hospital’s emergency department is among new COVID-19 exposure sites identified by Victorian health authorities.

    The Casey Hospital emergency department waiting room was listed as a tier-2 or casual contact exposure site on Saturday, September 18 between 3.21pm and 4.38pm.

    Members of the public who attended it during that timeframe must get tested urgently get tested for COVID-19, and isolate until they receive a negative test result.

    Jaybelle Childcare Centre at Fawker in Melbourne’s north was declared a tier-1 site on Friday, September 17 between 9.30am and 6pm. Tier-1 contacts must get tested immediately for coronavirus and isolate for 14 days regardless of the result.

    Prestige Tyre and Auto Service at Roxburgh Park, also in Melbourne’s north, was declared tier 1 on Thursday, September 16 and Friday, September 17, between 9.30am and 6pm on each day.

    Other new tier-2 sites include FoodWorks at Dallas, IGA at Meadow Heights Shopping Centre, a University of Melbourne management building, and Captain Roxburgh Fish and Chips at Roxburgh Park, all in Melbourne’s north.

    The Quality Lakeside Hotel in the city of Bendigo, about 150 kilometres north-west of Melbourne, was declared tier 2 over four days.

    Authorities warned that there would be some tier 1 or close contacts identified at all of those otherwise tier-2 sites.

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

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    Person who attended Melbourne protests in hospital with COVID-19

    By Cassandra Morgan

    A person who attended the protests in Melbourne’s CBD on Wednesday is in hospital being treated for COVID-19, the state’s Department of Health has confirmed.

    A spokesperson for the department said on Thursday evening that public health investigations were underway into the positive case.

    “We are urging protesters to get tested should they experience COVID-like symptoms, no matter how mild,” the spokesperson said.

    The person will be included in Friday’s COVID-19 case numbers for Victoria.

    The trio of Victorian kids behind a popular COVID-19 data website

    By Michelle Griffin and Michaela Whitbourn

    The creators of a well-regarded COVID-19 data website and social media account, CovidBaseAU, have unmasked themselves today.

    They’re a trio of talented Victorian kids who got their first Moderna vaccine doses today, as the vaccine is rolled out to 12 to 15-year-olds.

    Jack, Wesley and Darcy posted a photo showing off their freshly-vaxxed arms on Twitter this afternoon and were greeted as rockstars.

    Their website provides data about coronavirus infections in Australia and the world, and tracks the country’s progress in the vaccination rollout. Their own jabs will, of course, be included in the count.

    There was a lot of love on social media for the boys this afternoon.

    “CovidBaseAU is website run by three close friends living in Melbourne: Jack, Darcy and Wes,” their website says.

    Jack is described as the data collector, Darcy the coder, and Wes the “cool dude” who does everything else, including advertisements, some of the logos, and collecting data for the timeline.

    “But my most important role and the role they desperately needed the most is MORAL SUPPORT,” Wes says on the website. “When their hopes were down, when they were about to give up, when they needed motivation I was the one who totally dragged them out of the dumps and forced them to get a GRIP and start working again.”

    Emotional intelligence and data skills to boot. The perfect antidote to a wild week of news.

    Sydney’s Liverpool Hospital revises size of COVID-19 outbreak after three cases excluded

    By Mary Ward

    After reporting yesterday 24 patients had acquired COVID-19 within its wards in the past week, Sydney’s Liverpool Hospital this afternoon said some cases had since been excluded.

    A South Western Sydney Local Health District spokesperson said there had actually been 20 patient cases recorded in the outbreak, which had spread across four wards (not six as the hospital originally believed).

    A cluster of COVID-19 cases at Liverpool Hospital is smaller than first reported.

    A cluster of COVID-19 cases at Liverpool Hospital is smaller than first reported.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

    One case in a staff member in the orthopaedic ward had also been misreported to media as a patient case and an infection in an intensive care nurse initially believed to be connected to the other cases has now been determined to be a separate incident which occurred several days earlier.

    The result is there have actually been 20 patient cases and five staff cases linked to the exposure last week, which occurred across the orthopaedic, renal, neurology and geriatrics wards.

    The cardiothoracic ward has not been affected.

    A total of 28 staff are in isolation as a result of the outbreak.

    “The hospital is conducting regular testing of patients and staff and is undertaking contact tracing to determine the source of infection,” the spokesperson said.

    “In addition, they are conducting genomic sequencing to establish if the cases are linked.

    “Ninety-seven per cent of Liverpool Hospital staff have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

    “It should be noted that it is unlikely any health system will achieve 100 per cent vaccination, due to workforce inflows and outflows.”

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    More than 90 arrested in Melbourne protests

    By Cassandra Morgan

    Victoria Police arrested 92 people during today’s protests in Melbourne’s CBD.

    A spokeswoman said the arrests were for breaching the Chief Health Officer’s directions - an offence that also attracts a fine of about $5500 - as well as for other matters, including outstanding warrants.

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    “We again urge anyone thinking of coming into the city without a lawful purpose to stay home and comply with the Chief Health Officer directions,” the spokeswoman said.

    Victoria Police said it would “continue to provide a highly visible presence across the city over the coming days”.

    Today marks a fourth day of unrest in the city. The protest were triggered by the Andrews government’s decision to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for the construction sector and have targeted the CFMEU.

    However, the union did not support the vaccination mandate and the protesters are not drawn solely from the construction sector.

    You can catch up on the separate coverage of the protests here.

    People in their 20s and 30s push NSW closer to reopening

    By Mary Ward and Nigel Gladstone

    People in their 20s and 30s are pushing NSW closer to reopening as they come forward for second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in droves.

    In the week ending Tuesday, roughly one in 10 people aged between 16 and 39 in the state completed their vaccination against COVID-19, federal government data shows.

    The group would have included many who received the Pfizer vaccine, as well as others who followed national vaccine advisory group ATAGI’s advice to bring forward second AstraZeneca shots to four to eight weeks after the first due to the state’s ongoing outbreak.

    “It was something we have been recommending from June and July, but certainly the reopening has become an incentive for younger people who are only coming to the party later to bring their doses forward,” said Royal Australian College of GPs NSW/ACT chair Charlotte Hespe.

    About one in five children aged 12 to 15 and about one in 10 teenagers aged 16 to 19 received a first dose during the same period.

    On Thursday, NSW Chief Paediatrician Matthew O’Meara said 28 per cent of children aged 12 to 15 in the state had received their first shot, despite the vast majority only becoming eligible on September 13.

    Read the full story here.

    Decision on COVID-19 vaccine booster shots expected by end of October

    By Rachel Clun

    An expert advisory panel will provide the Commonwealth with preliminary advice on a booster shot program as well as a third-dose regime for a small cohort of high-risk people by the end of next month.

    The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation said in a statement on Thursday that current international evidence shows two doses provide ongoing protection against severe disease, even with the Delta variant.

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    So far, 74 per cent of the eligible population aged 16 and over have had one dose, and nearly 50 per cent of that population is fully vaccinated.

    “First and second dose coverage in yet to be vaccinated adults and adolescents remains a priority, as high primary COVID-19 vaccine coverage is expected to have the largest impact on protection against severe disease,” the group said.

    ATAGI said it was closely monitoring local and international data about COVID-19 infections in people who have been fully immunised.

    The group is also looking at the efficacy and safety of additional doses for high-risk groups, as well as the general population.

    Additional doses are either third doses that may be required to reach an optimal level of protection, or a booster dose required more broadly to increase protection as immunity wanes.

    ATAGI expects a “relatively small cohort” of people, including those who are immunocompromised, will require a third dose to make sure they have optimal vaccine effectiveness and will provide advice on this in coming weeks.

    ATAGI also anticipates boosters will be needed in the future for other groups, and expects to provide preliminary advice on the need and timing of booster shots by the end of October.

    The timing of any booster dose is an “important consideration”, as it’s not clear how long those additional shots provide protection.

    Data on the efficacy and safety of third mRNA doses is still emerging.

    Australia has signed deals with Pfizer and Moderna for mRNA vaccine supplies into next year and beyond. Moderna is contracted to supply 10 million doses next year, while Pfizer has agreed to supply 60 million in 2022 and 25 in 2023 for booster programs.

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    Queensland Premier hits back over border opening plan

    By Felicity Caldwell and Cameron Atfield

    A combative Queensland Premier has again cast doubt on borders opening when an 80 per cent vaccination target for people aged 16 and over is reached, as she gave a full-throated defence of her state’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Speaking at Pinkenba on Thursday, Annastacia Palaszczuk said the nationally agreed threshold for reopening could ultimately be adjusted because of updated Doherty Institute modelling.

    Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says her state already enjoys more freedoms than will be available to NSW and Victorian residents when 80 per cent of people aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated.

    Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says her state already enjoys more freedoms than will be available to NSW and Victorian residents when 80 per cent of people aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated.Credit:Matt Dennien

    Eighty per cent, she said, meant different things to different states.

    “At the moment, Queenslanders have more freedoms than what Victoria will have at 80 per cent and what NSW will have at 80 per cent,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

    “In Victoria, at 80 per cent, they will be allowed 30 people to visit for Christmas dinner. Here, Queenslanders can have 100 people over.”

    Asked what freedoms Queenslanders would experience once the vaccination rate hits 80 per cent, Ms Palaszczuk said the national plan would actually take the state “backwards”, while the date that target would be reached depended on supply from the federal government.

    “I don’t want that for Queensland, so we’re probably going to see a difference for Western Australia and Queensland because at the moment we have freedoms,” she said.

    Ms Palaszczuk did not answer a question about at what level of vaccination it would be safe to reopen the state’s borders.

    She said the national plan had not been finalised and further Doherty Institute modelling would be put before the next national cabinet meeting.

    Read the full story here.

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