Pfizer COVID vaccine on way to Australia

Two additional cases were recorded in the past 24 hours — a hotel quarantine worker and a return traveller.Minister for Transport Jacinta Allen said one of the new cases fell within the waste water catchment area of Coburg and Reservoir, which had earlier detected traces of COVID-19.More than 22,570 tests were conducted on Wednesday, with a total of 4,628,335 tests taken since the start of the pandemic.

Ms Allen said all 20 testing facilities have increased operations on Thursday to ensure more Victorians could get tested.Three workers and two residents, both released from quarantine before testing positive, have now been diagnosed with coronavirus as part of the ballooning cluster.‘WE’RE ON TRACK’The first shipments of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination has been formally approved by the European Union with the government expecting they will arrive on Australian shores by the end of the month.Trade Minister Dan Tehan confirmed that the first jabs will be administered “within weeks”.“It is great news and they’ll arrive towards the end of February and we’re absolutely on track to roll our vaccine program out,” Mr Tehan said.“I met with the European Union ambassador last week and he reassured me that the vaccines would be arriving as they said they would be and it’s fantastic to get this extra further news that that’s the case and that the vaccine rollout will take place as scheduled,” he told Nine.

“First it will go to the elderly, those people who are on the front line with our hospital workers and then in the aged-care facilities and then roll out into the community. The government has planned this,” he said. “We’ve put a lot of work into it.”He said the government was co-operating with the state and territory governments on the rollout and Australians could have faith that the “vaccine rollout is on target”.AUSSIE FAILURE ON INFECTION CONTROLThe expert panel in charge of drawing up infection control guidelines to control COVID-19 has failed Australians by refusing to recognise it is an airborne disease, the Australian Medical Association has declared.It comes as the outbreak at Melbourne Airport’s Holiday Inn quarantine hotel — which has now been closed — was confirmed to have risen to eight cases. South Australia will tighten its border with Victoria following the virus outbreak. Anyone arriving in South Australia from the greater Melbourne area after midnight on Wednesday will be locked out, SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said.Regional Victorians will not be affected.

The AMA is demanding higher grade personal protective equipment be made available to quarantine workers to stop the spread of the virus from quarantine hotels to the community.Commenting on the latest outbreak of COVID-19 among hotel quarantine workers, AMA president Dr Omar Khorshid said the new Holiday Inn outbreak is “more evidence that these calls should have been heeded earlier”.“It’s most likely that these cases are the result of airborne spread, yet the experts advising Government, the Infection Control Expert Group (ICEG), have continually played down airborne transmission in the spread of the virus in hotel and healthcare settings,” AMA president Dr Omar Khorshid said.Last September Health Minister Greg Hunt committed to reviewing guidelines for protecting healthcare workers from COVID-19, specifically focusing on the question of airborne spread.“It’s been almost six months and Infection Prevention and Control Panel is yet to produce the goods. We cannot wait any longer for ICEG to act,” Dr Khorshid said.“It is clear, as the AMA raised in our appearance at the recent Senate inquiry, that ICEG has failed in its duties to date.
NED-1910-How COVID-19 spreads by air
“Ministers, through national cabinet, need to act and act now. Anyone involved in hotel quarantine and all healthcare workers must be protected from all methods of SARS Cov-2 spread in any situation where there are possible, suspected, likely or confirmed cases of infection,” he said..Smart changes need to be made to airflow in facilities, and better personal protective equipment (PPE) including N95 masks and eye protection for workers in hotel quarantine, he said.. “If hotels cannot be made safe through PPE and other controls, alternatives must be found now that will allow some travel in and out of Australia while protecting all Australians from this virus, including the new strains,” he said.HOLIDAY INN OUTBREAK LINKED TO DEVICEAn outbreak at a Melbourne quarantine hotel has been linked to a ‘vaporiser’ in a medical device.The Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport was closed today after three workers tested positive for COVID-19.Victoria’s Chief Medical Officer Brett Sutton said it’s likely the virus was spread by a medical device that vaporises liquids into a “fine mist” in the air.“(The hypothesis is) these three cases are related to an exposure event that involved a medical device called a nebuliser and it vaporises medication or liquid into a fine mist,” he told reporters today.“That mist can be suspended in the air with fine particles. We think the exposures are to that event, this nebuliser whereby the virus was carried out into the corridor and exposed the authorised officer, the food and beverage service worker and also the other resident.

That makes sense in terms of the geography and it makes sense in terms of the exposure time.”Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said that a nebuliser is a “common device” that anyone with asthma or small children would recognise.He said authorities will make sure they are not used anymore.“These are quite common devices. They do not necessarily speak to a serious illness,” he said.Earlier, Mr Andrews announced that the state will not be raising its international flight cap back to previous levels, as a result of the outbreak.States had agreed at national cabinet last week to raise the arrival cap.“That will not be occurring on Monday,” Mr Andrews said. “The prime minister has been informed of that. We believe that it is appropriate to have a very low tolerance, or perhaps no tolerance for risk.”He also said the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport was shut as “an abundance of caution”. “As a result of this outbreak, the Holiday Inn at the Melbourne Airport will be closed for a terminal clean. So that’s that very deep clean to the highest of standards and it’s simply not possible if there are guests at that hotel.” Mr Andrews continued, “I wouldn’t read anymore into that beyond the to do that clean, and simply can’t do it if there are people there.”

About 135 staff were stood down from the Holiday Inn on Tuesday night and told to isolate for 14 days.Another 48 quarantine guests at the hotel are also considered primary close contacts.It’s understood residents who were scheduled to leave quarantine within the next three days will continue to quarantine for a further three days before their quarantine period is reviewed.Those scheduled to exit beyond Friday will continue to quarantine while a review is underway and further advice provided.“The transfer of the residents will be sequenced and co-ordinated, and there will be careful management of infection prevention and control measures,” the spokeswoman said.“This is a changing, hyper-infectious virus, which means our quarantine program is constantly reviewed on the basis of expert advice.Victoria’s CHO on Tuesday said the new, more infectious variants posed a threat across Australia.“I want a root and branch review like everyone else,” he said. “My understanding is that it is front and centre for discussions among chief health officers in coming days.“It will be an end-to-end review of all the mitigations that can be put into place, including the testing before somebody leaves their country of origin.”VICTORIAN TOWN ON HIGH ALERT
Residents in the outskirts of Melbourne are on high alert after seven venues in the one town were added to the list of COVID-19 public exposure sites.The warning comes after a Sunbury woman employed as a food and beverage worker at Melbourne airport’s Holiday Inn tested positive for coronavirus, triggering a shutdown of the hotel.
The woman worked at the hotel on February 4 and after displaying symptoms tested positive on February 9.
The health department added seven locations in Sunbury, in the city’s northwest, including a bottle shop and Bakers Delight, to the exposure sites list late on Tuesday night.Salesian College Sunbury and St Anne’s Catholic Primary School in Sunbury are also closed today due to COVID-19 concerns in the area.Both schools are not listed as public exposure sites, but it’s believed the schools have been closed as a “precautionary measure”.A confirmed case of coronavirus visited several stores in Sunbury Square Shopping Centre on February 5 and 6, as well as the Cellarbrations bottle shop in Batman Ave on February 6 and 7.Among the other shops added to the public exposure sites list were Sunny Life Massage, PJ’s Pet Warehouse, Aldente Deli, Sushi Sushi and Asian Star.

WHEN INTERNATIONAL TOURISM BAN WILL BE LIFTED International tourists will potentially be allowed to enter Australia by early 2022, Tourism Minister Dan Tehan says. The nation’s borders have been closed since March 2020 due to the global pandemic. Mr Tehan said the ban on overseas tourists — who spent $45 billion a year before the pandemic — could remain in place for the rest of 2021. “Our hope is that by this time next year we’ll have international tourists back,’ Mr Tehan told Seven Network show Sunrise on Monday.Mr Tehan said the government was considering setting up travel bubbles with Singapore and “potentially with Japan, if they can get the virus under control again”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he hopes Australian can make “real progress soon” on a travel bubble with Pacific Island nations by working with them on their COVID-19 testing capabilities.Speaking to John Laws on 2SM on Monday morning, the Prime Minister said he would “love to see a Pacific bubble”.“We are working (with) countries like Vanuatu, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Fiji and so on, because we also have a lot of seasonal workers,” he said.“We don’t have full confidence yet that they are just going to a complete what’s called a green lane. But we’re working with them to ensure we can just lift that confidence. We’ll be seeking to support them with their testing over there and I hope we can make some real progress on that soon.”HOTEL QUARANTINE PROGRAM TO BE REVIEWED Australia’s chief health officer Professor Paul Kelly has said the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) will be reviewing the hotel quarantine program from pre-flight testing, to transport, to the 14-day stay in hotels.The review comes after recent transmission in hotels in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia.He said he has asked NSW to put forward a proposal on day 16 tests for returned travellers to AHPPC.“I’ve asked my New South Wales colleagues to give a proposal through to AHPPC and we will be looking at that later this week around that particular component but that is one of many things we are looking it,” he said.

QUARANTINE WORKERS TO GET PAID FOR TESTS Victorian hotel quarantine workers will be paid to undergo coronavirus tests on their days off in a further bid to stop community transmission.The state’s Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said workers would be tested on their days off on a voluntary basis until officials worked out the legal arrangements to make it mandatory.“People on their days off, once you ask them to get a test, that becomes a work day,” Ms Neville told the Herald Sun.“Inside their contracts they are required to do their on-duty testing. We are now working through those issues.”

SYDNEY PUB, CAFE PATRONS ORDERED TO ISOLATEPatrons at two venues south of Sydney have been ordered into 14-day quarantine after a returned overseas traveller tested positive to COVID-19 two days after leaving their mandatory hotel quarantine stay.People who visited the Headlands Hotel’s beer garden in Austinmer on February 2 between 1-3pm or the Bulli Beach Cafe on February 6 between 1.30-4pm are now close contacts, according to a statement from NSW Health, The Daily Telegraph reports.“Anyone who was in the beer garden of the Headlands Hotel or who dined in at the Bulli Beach Café at the times listed below is now considered a close contact and should immediately get tested and self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result,” a NSW Health statement read.“Anyone who was at the Headlands Hotel (in all areas other than the beer garden) and anyone who got takeaway from the Bulli Beach Café at the times listed below is now considered a casual contact who should monitor for symptoms.”“If any symptoms develop, get tested immediately and self-isolate until you receive a negative result.”All up, NSW Health has issued a fresh warning for 11 venues across Wollongong and southeast Sydney.Health officials said the returned traveller was not showing any symptoms and had low levels of infection, but had been tested on day 16 as part of a beefed up follow-up protocol for people returning from overseas.The person recorded two negative tests during their 14 days in hotel quarantine.

HOW AUSSIES WILL PROVE THEY GOT COVID JABDigital “proof of vaccination” certificates will be stored and displayed on phone apps as part of the federal government’s plans for the national coronavirus vaccine rollout.The Express Plus Medicare app and MyGov accounts will both store digital proof-of-vaccination certificates, while those who require a hard copy will be able to access a printout from vaccine providers and Services Australia offices.Cabinet approval for the scheme is due in the next two weeks, Nine Newspapers reported on Sunday.An update to the Medicare app will also be developed as part of the plan, which aims to make proof of vaccine quick and easy to access.It is expected the certificates will simplify visits to nursing homes and hospitals, and could even be required for interstate travel if future lockdowns are needed.They will also play a role in the reopening of international borders, which is expected to begin from later this year.The Pfizer vaccine is due to be rolled out nationally from the end of this month, while the distribution of AstraZeneca is due in March.The federal parliament last week passed laws that require vaccine providers to record all the vaccines they administer, including the COVID-19 vaccine, on the national register.Previously, the reporting of vaccinations had been voluntary.
When will I be able to get the vaccine?
PM ACCUSED OF ‘GOING MISSING’Scott Morrison has been accused of “going missing” during the coronavirus pandemic, as the federal opposition continues to question his leadership on issues including state borders and national quarantine.Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said the Prime Minister has failed to unite the states during the crisis.“When the states have disagreed, the ability of this prime minister to get consistency at a national level, across the states, has been essentially zero,” he told the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.“He has gone missing when the going has got tough.”Mr Morrison has no legal powers to override state leaders closing their borders for health reasons.But Mr Marles said the federal government had “relegated itself to the sidelines” and should be part of the decision-making process around closures.“I think we would have had much greater consistency” he said.“In crises before, what you’ve actually seen is national governments which have led within our federation.”The deputy Labor leader also called on the government to show greater leadership around possible reform to the federal quarantine system.

He said it needed to “dust off” a report written former senior public servant Jane Halton last year, which recommended facilities including the Learmonth RAAF base be used for “surge” capacity.“I think one of the really marked aspects of the COVID-19 crisis, which we’ll look back on, is the degree to which the government has been prepared to abrogate itself of responsibility when there have been moments of greatest crisis,” he said.“That’s particularly the case in relation to quarantine.”
NED-1859 State of our borders
NSWThere are no restrictions around travelling to or from regional or rural NSW, or other areas of NSW.However, NSW Health currently recommends practising COVID safe behaviours such as physical distancing and hand hygiene when travelling within NSW, especially between Greater Sydney and regional and rural areas.

SOUTH AUSTRALIAAnyone arriving in South Australia from Melbourne after 12.01am on February 11 will be denied entry. All travellers coming to South Australia must complete a Cross Border Travel Registration.From midnight on January 31, travel is permitted from Greater Sydney, Wollongong and the Central Coast to South Australia.Upon arrival, travellers must immediately self-quarantine and must remain in that place until a negative COVID-19 test result is received.The regions of Peel, Perth and South West are now considered a restricted zone.Travellers arriving from Peel, Perth and South West, must self-quarantine at a suitable place and submit to COVID-19 testing on day 1, 5 and 12. They can be released from self-quarantine upon written advice of a negative COVID-19 test result. VICTORIAPeople from anywhere in Australia entering Victoria must apply for a permit to enter the state.Victoria has also reopened its border to the majority of NSW.The Perth metropolitan area, the Peel region and the South West region of WA has now changes to an orange zone. People in orange zones can apply for a permit to enter Victoria provided they had not been in close contact with a coronavirus case and do not have any symptoms.On arrival in Victoria, orange zone permit holders must isolate at their home or accommodation, get a coronavirus test, and continue isolating until they have received a negative result.

NORTHERN TERRITORYAll arrivals to the Northern Territory must: fill in a Border Entry Form, complete 14 days of mandatory supervised quarantine at your own expense, if you have recently been in an active declared COVID-19 hot spot. This includes children returning from a hotspot.QUEENSLANDIf you have been in Greater Melbourne since January 29 and arrived into Queensland you should get tested – even if you do not have symptoms – and isolate until you receive a result.Specific areas of Western Australia have been declared COVID-19 hot spots.

WESTERN AUSTRALIAInterstate travellers are now permitted to enter WA, subject to meeting strict conditions. All people arriving into WA from overseas are subject to the Commonwealth Government’s mandatory quarantine period of 14 days in a State Quarantine Facility (hotel quarantine) at their own expense.TASMANIATravellers who have spent time in a high-risk domestic region or premises (including in Western Australia, Victoria and New Zealand) in the 14 days before arriving in Tasmania are not permitted to enter Tasmania, unless approved as an Essential Traveller.If entry is approved, there may be a quarantine requirement in government-designated accommodation (fees can apply).AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORYAs of 6pm February 5, all local government areas in WA are no longer considered COVID-19 affected areas.Anyone who has been in a potential high-risk exposure site in Victoria needs to quarantine and get tested.
– with Kathryn Bermingham and Evin Priest

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