COVID-19

Vic demands more jabs as cases grow

The new cases takes the number of local cases in the state’s latest outbreak to 65.The health department also confirmed two new cases in hotel quarantine, which takes the number of active cases in Victoria to 72.The results came from more than 49,000 tests, while 24,169 vaccine doses were also administered.It comes after it was revealed on Thursday evening two Victorians thought to have caught Covid-19 by “fleeting contact” had been reclassified as “false positives”.The cases include a woman who was previously understood to have acquired the virus at a Metricon display homes exposure site and a man who was thought to have contracted the virus at the Brighton Beach Hotel exposure site.“These cases will be reclassified and no longer considered confirmed cases,” the health department said on Thursday night.“Primary close contacts who are linked only to these cases and not to other exposure sites will be released.”The health department said the Brighton Beach Hotel and the Metricon display home suite would remain exposure sites as they were linked to other cases.The two previously thought to be positive cases were used by the state’s top health officials as part of their justification for the extended lockdown in Melbourne.The two cases were thought to be a group of at least four incidents where the virus was spread by “fleeting contact”.Pressure is now mounting on acting Premier James Merlino and chief health officer Brett Sutton to justify Melbourne’s extended lockdown and publicly release the health advice that led to it.When asked on Friday morning if the lockdown could be cut short given the false positives, Mr Merlino said the government’s answer hadn’t changed overnight.“And nor should it, it is absolutely based on public health advice and that is assessed day by day, hour by hour,” he said.“The proposition put forward by public health was that we needed this further seven-day period for Greater Melbourne to absolutely run this thing into the ground (and) that remains the case.“My expectation is next week I will be in a position, based on public health advice, to announce further easings in regional Victoria and some careful easing of restrictions in Melbourne.”Mr Merlino also said the federal government would “do all it can” to meet increase Victoria’s Covid-19 vaccine supply after the state requested more doses to meet demand.“As we have seen and reported on over the last week or so, we have seen a significant increase in demand for both Pfizer and AstraZeneca at our state centres, we’re now running at around 140,000 doses per week but demand still exceeds access,” he said.“People are having to wait weeks, we have seen long queues, we have also seen gaps in access, particularly in regional Victoria and in our peri-urban areas.”“This morning we have made a request to the Commonwealth, a request to double the distribution, double the number of AstraZeneca to our primary care givers, our GP network.”Mr Merlino said GP clinics could “double” the amount of jabs they were administering.“We want to see a doubling of the AstraZeneca vaccine to our GPs,” he said.“We also want to see additional Pfizer allocations, starting from a further 100,000, an additional 100,000 from mid-June and some confidence in supply for that six-week period.“We need some ongoing confidence that supply is coming.”Mr Merlino said the discussion so far with the federal government about the request had been “positive”.$200M FOR VIC QUARANTINE AS NATIONAL CABINET TO MEETPrime Minister Scott Morrison will meet with state and territory leaders on Friday for National Cabinet, where it’s expected they will discuss how to fund the $500 a week emergency payment scheme.It was announced yesterday after Victoria’s lockdown was extended, and will be available to any state or territory who goes into lockdown for more than seven days in the event of an outbreak.Leaders are also expected to discuss whether Covid-19 vaccination should be made mandatory for aged care workers, though Mr Morrison has conceded this is “unlikely” to occur.International arrival caps and proposed regional quarantine facilities are also expected to be on the agenda, including one in Victoria.The Morrison Government is expected to green light a purpose built quarantine facility just outside Melbourne.It’s understood the federal government has given a memorandum of understanding to the Victorian government to sign on to regarding the quarantine proposal.It’s believed the Morrison Government will commit $200 million to the construction of the 500-bed facility, but the state government will be required to pay for the centre’s operational costs.Construction of the facility — which will be based in Avalon, about 15km from Geelong CBD — is expected to commence by September and complete by January.It’s understood the state’s preferred site was Mickleham in Melbourne’s north.The Victorian government had asked for federal support to construct the facility, which had been met with a positive response from Treasurer Josh Frydenberg earlier on Thursday.Victoria, which is in its fourth lockdown, has been desperately calling out for a quarantine facility to house returning international passengers to take the pressure of hotels being used as 14-day quarantine hubs. Mr Frydenberg said the federal government was working through the details of the proposal, which it broadly supported, hinting a location near Avalon Airport was favourable.“We have been working through the details of that proposal and we’ve said publicly that we’re favourably disposed and a decision is imminent,” he told 3AW radio on Thursday.“This designated facility that Victoria has proposed for quarantine is over and above the existing hotel quarantine facility.“Avalon does have some very positive characteristics to it, obviously being near an airport and that’s relevant in this case.”Acting Premier James Merlino said the government was waiting for a definitive answer from its federal counterparts.“The federal government just needs to give us the tick on the site, and the tick on the funding, and we will crack on and get this thing built, and whilst we need it for Covid response, we will operate that facility,” he told reporters on Thursday.Mr Merlino said the key in negotiations was ensuring the purpose-built facility would lower the risk in hotel quarantine, and cater to travellers deemed the highest risk.“We will not accept a model that doesn’t lower risk in hotel quarantine and has an indefinite capacity increase in our hotel quarantine system. This is all about making our state and our nation safer,” he said.EIGHT MORE BLOOD CLOTS LINKED TO AZ COVID VACCINE Eight more rare blood clots have been linked to AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine and one is currently critically unwell and is in intensive care the nation’s medicine watchdog has revealed.Four of the clots are confirmed cases of the rare Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) that have been linked to the jab. Another four cases were classified as probable cases.The confirmed cases were in a 40-year-old woman from Victoria who is being treated in NSW, a 70-year-old woman from Victoria, an 82-year-old woman from NSW and a 70-year-old man from Queensland.The probable cases were in a 72-year-old man from South Australia, a 61-year-old female from NSW and a 73-year-old man and 67-year-old woman, both from Queensland.The total number of confirmed cases has now risen to 31 and there are 10 probable cases.More than half the cases (23) have been discharged from hospital and are recovering.Four have left hospital but require outpatient medical care, thirteen patients remain in hospital and one person, a 48 year old woman from NSW died in hospital.Nine of these 41 cases were more serious and required treatment in intensive care for a period of time, the Therapeutic Goods Administration said.“We recognise the terrible impact that this has had for the person’s family and loved ones and extend our sincere condolences,” the TGA said.Compared to overseas a smaller proportion of cases in Australia were of a serious nature involving unusual blood clots, such as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) which occur in the brain or clots in major abdominal veins, including those in the spleen or liver.“From what we have seen so far, Australian cases seem to represent a wider spectrum of disease with more blood clots in common locations such as deep vein thrombosis in the leg and pulmonary embolism in the lungs,” the TGA said.NED-3619-AstraZeneca blood clots-What we knowAnyone who has received the AstraZeneca vaccine is urged to consult their doctor if they develop any of the following symptoms after vaccination: severe or persistent headache or blurred vision shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal pain unusual skin bruising and/or pinpoint round spots beyond the site of vaccination.The most common time period for onset of TTS symptoms is four to 30 days after vaccination.The TGA said with the ongoing risk of COVID outbreaks in Australia and the potential for severe long-term effects or fatal consequences of infection, the benefits for the AstraZeneca vaccine continue to outweigh the risks.FALSE POSITIVE TWIST IN VIC OUTBREAKTwo people thought to have been infected with Covid during Victoria’s latest outbreak have been reclassified by health officials as “false positives”.The health department made the announcement on Thursday evening after two new locally acquired cases of coronavirus were recorded earlier in the day.“Following analysis by an expert review panel, and retesting through the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory, two cases linked to this outbreak have been declared false positives,” the department said in a statement.The cases include a woman who was previously understood to have acquired the virus at a Metricon display homes exposure site and a man who was thought to have contracted the virus at the Brighton Beach Hotel exposure site.NED-3915-Melbourne-and-regional-VIC-restrictions“These cases will be reclassified and no longer considered confirmed cases,” the health department said.“Primary close contacts who are linked only to these cases and not to other exposure sites will be released.“Any exposure sites linked only to these cases will be stood down, including every exposure site in Anglesea.”The health department said the Brighton Beach Hotel and the Metricon display home suite would remain exposure sites as they were linked to other cases.“Individuals, venues and businesses affected must await formal clearance from the Department of Health or a local public health unit, which will occur throughout the evening,” the statement said.It brings the state’s active case count back to 67 as the number of exposure sites was increased to 370.Victoria’s health department reported three new cases on Thursday, but one of those infections was announced on Wednesday in aged care.It comes as health authorities announced a seven day extension to lockdown in the greater Melbourne area, while Covid restrictions relaxed in regional Victoria. The latest areas of concern are six buses in the city of Whittlesea in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, where the first few cases of the latest outbreak first emerged in early May. More than 300 of the exposure sites have been connected to the city of Whittlesea outbreak.NSW EXTENDS VIC BORDER RULESNSW has extended stay-at-home orders that apply to people who have been to Victoria for another seven days. The restrictions apply to anyone in NSW who has been to Victoria and mean they have to follow the same stay-at-home measures that would have applied if they were still south of the border. “Anyone in NSW who has been in Victoria, including regional Victoria, after 4pm on Thursday 27 May must continue to follow stay-at-home directions for 14 days, or until the order is lifted,” NSW Health wrote in a statement on Thursday afternoon. Those living at the state border will be exempt from the stay-at-home order, provided they haven’t been outside the region since 4pm on May 27.There was also a demand anyone who had attended a close-contact venue in Victoria to get tested and self-isolate for a fortnight since that visit, regardless of the test result. Those who have been to a casual-contact venue must get tested and self-isolate until receiving a negative result – and once that happens, they’ll have to continue following the stay-at-home order. On Wednesday, Ms Berejiklian said she wouldn’t criticise Victoria for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.“I’m not going to comment on what’s already a difficult situation,” Ms Berejiklian said when probed about whether NSW would have responded to a coronavirus outbreak in a similar way.“Every state has managed the pandemic differently. It’s not for me to comment on what other states do; my focus is NSW.“It’s a statement of fact that every state chose to deal with a pandemic in a different way.”NSW initially announced it would impose restrictions on Victorian visitors last Thursday, the same day Victoria went into lockdown. – with Anthony Piovesan and Jack Paynter

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