COVID-19

Melb faces longer restrictions as Frydenberg ‘considers’ support

While it’s hoped the extended lockdown will end next Thursday, it’s unlikely life won’t return to how it was before the city shut down until the state records several days of zero Covid-19 cases.“There will be no snapback,” government sources told the Herald Sun.A government source also reportedly said that it was “extremely unlikely” Melbourne would achieve several days of zero cases before the anticipated end date of the lockdown.While face-to-face learning could resume from the end of next week, bars, restaurants, retailers and workplaces will face ongoing density limits, football and event crowds will be capped and masks will ­remain mandatory indoors.It comes as Victoria recorded two new Covid-19 infections on Thursday after more than 57,500 people turned out to get tested.Victoria’s health department reported three new cases, but one of those infections was announced on Wednesday in aged care.There are currently 69 active cases in the state.FRYDENBERG ‘CONSIDERS’ SUPPORT FOR VICTORIAFederal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the government is “considering” extra support for Victorians after the state’s lockdown was extended.It comes amid reports that the Morrison Government is mulling over providing cash disaster payments to those in the state who are out of work as a result of the tough restrictions.“Now that the lockdown has been extended, we’re considering our options,” Mr Frydenberg told Sky News.It’s believed Victorians applying for the payment would face an income loss eligibility test to prove they have been left without pay as a result of the lockdown, News.com.au reports.One option is reportedly to change the eligibility criteria for existing pandemic payments worth up to $1500, however, that would require legislation.Currently, cash assistance is only available if you are unable to work due to forced quarantine, not simply for lockdowns.Asked by Sky News host Peter Stefanovic if one of the options for Victorians was a one-off, JobKeeper-style payment of $1500, Mr Frydenberg replied: “We’re not bringing back JobKeeper; we have no plans to do so.”“We’re looking at a series of options and we will have more to say in due course.”He hinted that the Victorian Government would be required to contribute, amid reports the cost may be split 50/50.“We do recognise there is a need for the state government to contribute, and continue to contribute, as they’ve already announced,” he said.“Our measures are always based on a set of principles… namely that our support would be temporary, it would be targeted, it would be measured, and it would be using existing systems.“And those principles guided us very well from the start of the pandemic, and will continue to guide us for future support packagesSECOND AGED CARE RESIDENT GETS COVIDNew details have emerged surrounding the case of a second resident who tested positive at an aged care facility in Melbourne’s western suburbs on Wednesday afternoon.The man, who is 89, had been fully vaccinated and is asymptomatic, with arrangements being made to transfer him out of the facility.It is the fourth case recorded at Arcare aged care facility in Maidstone, where two staff members and another resident have also returned positive results.The second resident, understood to be a primary close contact of the first resident, returned a positive test on Wednesday afternoon and will be transferred to hospital.Aged care services minister Richard Colbeck confirmed the case in Senate Estimates on Wednesday afternoon.Mr Colbeck said the man initially returned “what has described as an indeterminate test result” but tested positive after being retested.Mr Colbeck said arrangements were being made to transfer him from the facility.In a statement, Arcare CEO Colin Singh revealed the man lives in an adjacent room to the first resident to contract COVID-19 case, and further testing will take place in the facility on Thursday.The first case, a worker, tested positive on Saturday, sending the home into lockdown.NEW RESTRICTIONS FOR NSWWestern Australia and the ACT have imposed stricter rules on anyone who has visited an exposure site in NSW, requiring them to quarantine for 14 days regardless if they return a negative test result. WA’s chief health officer Andrew Robertson late on Wednesday updated the initial advice, taking a harder stance against anyone who has visited an exposure site including the need for multiple tests while in mandatory self-quarantine.Anyone who has recently arrived in WA from NSW or the ACT and has been to one of the listed exposure sites during the relevant times is required to get tested and self-quarantine for 14 days, and present for 48-hour and 11-day testing, Dr Robertson said in a statement.“We believe any risk to WA remains very low. However, the situation highlights the importance of remaining vigilant to prevent any spread of the virus or community transmission in this state,” he said.The stricter conditions came as new exposure sites in NSW were linked to the Victorian outbreak and after WA Health had originally asked people to get tested and self-quarantine until they received a negative test result.ACT Health also ordered any resident who has visited an exposure site into self-quarantine for 14 days from the date they were last in the location, even if they receive a negative test result.The locations were Jervis Bay, Goulburn, Hyams Beach and Vincentia, where an individual visited on May 23 and 24 while potentially infectious.Residents of ACT required to quarantine need to seek permission to leave their residence.Non-ACT residents who have visited an exposure site will need an exemption to enter. “ACT Health is also asking ACT residents, who are not in the ACT, to seek an exemption from ACT Health prior to entering the ACT, so that we can assist you with your safe return,” a statement read.WA Premier Mark McGowan told reporters the state’s hard border with Victoria would remain in place.“Apparently someone who is positive has gone to some sites in NSW,” he said.“We’ve now declared those sites as being a risk and any people who have been to affected sites are required to quarantine and be tested if they come to Western Australia.“We don’t imagine it will be many people, if any, but that’s just a precautionary measure we’re putting in place.”Under WA’s hard border rules, travel from Victoria is only permitted for exempt people including: certain government officials; military personnel; federal MPs; transport, freight or logistics workers; and anyone granted approval on compassionate grounds.NED-1859 State of our borders‘AN ABSOLUTE BEAST’: VIC LOCKDOWN EXTENDSVictoria’s Covid-fuelled lockdown has been officially extended by seven days.“We’ve got to run this to ground,” Acting Premier James Merlino said, fronting the media on Wednesday.“The current restrictions remain in place for Melbourne for another seven days.” It means that from 11.59pm on Thursday, there will still be only five reasons to leave your home in Melbourne – shopping for food and supplies, authorised work and study, care and care giving, exercise, and getting vaccinated. The travel limit for Melbourne will be expanded from 5km to 10km, for shopping and exercise. The announcement came after Victoria recorded six new locally acquired cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, bringing the troubled state’s active case count to 67. The number of exposure sites increased to 351, while 51,000 people have been tested in the past day. Mr Merlino announced changes to lockdown rules in regional Victoria, citing no positive cases in country areas.He said the decision to extend the lockdown in metropolitan Melbourne depended not just on case number but the “type of cases”, including whether they were in a high-risk setting and linked to other known infections.“There is no doubt the situation is incredibly serious,” Mr Merlino said. “We’ve got to run this to the ground because if we don’t, people will die.“And if that happens, it’s our most vulnerable – it’s our parents, it’s our grandparents, it’s Victorians with underlying conditions or compromised immunity, it is those Victorians who will pay the price.”The state’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said the lockdown had been reviewed “day by day” and that the latest cases, particularly in casual settings and aged care, were concerning.NED-3889-Melbourne-lockdown-restrictions“We have seen an explosion in exposure sites and we need to extend it (the lockdown),” Professor Sutton said. “We are neck and neck with this virus, and it is an absolute beast.“It has been a rapidly moving virus and the transmission that has occurred in those high-risk settings has been very substantial.”Melbourne residents who visited six shopping precincts in the past two weeks may have been exposed to coronavirus as Victoria’s list of Covid-19 hot spots grows to 351. The alerts came after Victoria’s Covid testing commander Jeroen Weimar warned at least four of the state’s more than 50 locally transmitted cases had come from “fleeting” contact between Victorians.“What we’re seeing now is people are brushing past each other in a small shop, they are going to a display home, they are looking at photos in a Telstra shop,” he said.“This is relatively speaking, relatively fleeting. They do not know each other’s names, and that is very different from what we have been before.“This is stranger to stranger transmission.”Health authorities said more than 300 of those exposure sites had been connected to the City of Whittlesea outbreak, with concerns about shoppers who visited these areas in the past fortnight.NED-3869-Covid-19-Exposure-Sites-VictoriaMAGIC NUMBER TO AVOID FUTURE LOCKDOWNSA forty per cent vaccination rate could be the magic number to avoid future lockdowns, according to a study published on Wednesday.Researchers who used modelling to predict the spread of Covid-19 in Mexico City found that if 40 per cent of the city’s population were fully vaccinated, that would offer a similar level of protection to lockdown restrictions, provided the vaccines were at least 80 per cent effective.The team from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México also found that if vaccination rates were only at 30 per cent, rates of new infection would remain very low – but only if the vaccines had 90 per cent efficacy.The research follows similar modelling undertaken by the University of Sydney in March, which found Australia would not achieve herd immunity using a combination of the Pfizer and Astra Zeneca jabs if vaccination rates only got to 90 per cent.A 90 per cent vaccination rate would not rule out the need for some future lockdowns, but it would reduce the requirements for social distancing measures, Professor Mikhail Prokopenko from the university’s Centre for Complex Systems said of his research.“The bad news is that the direct effect of having no herd immunity due to 10 per cent of the population not being vaccinated is that there will continue to be a need for social distancing regimes, such as a partial lockdowns,” Professor Prokopenko said.“However, the good news is that once Australia’s hybrid vaccination program is rolled out, the need to comply with social distancing measures in the future will decrease. There will likely be small outbreaks, but vaccination of 90 per cent of the population will necessitate only a 30-40 per cent compliance with social distancing measures.”NED-3679-Indias-Mutant-Covid-19NEW COVID FEARS FOR NSWNew South Wales has been hit with fresh Covid fears after a Victorian who was infected with the virus visited a string of venues in the South Coast and Southern Tablelands.The Melburnian was on a two-day visit, and on May 23 and 24 went to Jervis Bay, Hyams Beach, Vicentia and the city of Golburn, Daily Telegraph reports.He developed symptoms on May 25 once he was back in Melbourne, and tested positive to the Covid-19 days later.“NSW Health has been advised … a confirmed case of COVID-19 from Melbourne was in Jervis Bay, Goulburn, Hyams Beach, and Vincentia while potentially infectious on 23 and 24 May,” NSW Health said in a statement.“The person, who reported the onset of symptoms on 25 May and was tested yesterday, drove back to Melbourne on 24 May. Victoria’s stay-at-home measures took effect on 27 May.NED-3900-Age-Care-Covid

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