Good evening and thank you for reading our live coverage of the day’s events. If you are just joining us now, here’s everything you need to know:
- NSW recorded 1290 new local cases of COVID-19 on Monday, a new daily record in Australia. Four more people have died, including an Indigenous man in his 50s who died at Dubbo Hospital. His is believed to be the first death of an Aboriginal Australian from coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, and the first death reported in western NSW. Another man in his 70s with underlying health conditions died at Westmead Hospital, while a resident at Meredith House Aged Care at Strathfield, in Sydney’s inner west, died at Concord Hospital after acquiring his infection at his aged care home. A woman in her 60s from western Sydney who acquired her infection at Cumberland Hospital died at Westmead Hospital.
- Australia has now recorded more than 1000 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic. The four additional deaths recorded in NSW on Monday took the national death toll to 1003. Globally, there have been 4.5 million deaths from coronavirus, including 637,531 in the United States and 132,760 in the United Kingdom. New Zealand has recorded 26 deaths.
- The NSW prison system has been locked down statewide as COVID-19 clusters grow among inmates and staff, with authorities rushing to roll out rapid antigen testing and vaccines. At least 12 cases among inmates at Parklea Correctional Centre were confirmed at the weekend and two correctional officers at Bathurst prison have since tested positive, bringing a cluster at the facility in the Central West to eight.
- Victoria recorded 73 new, locally acquired cases of COVID-19, at least 24 of whom were in isolation throughout their entire infectious period. Government officials were expected to make a final decision on Tuesday about what lockdown would look like beyond Thursday when it was scheduled to end.
- There are currently no first-dose Pfizer vaccination bookings available in Victoria, but the state’s Health Minister Martin Foley has urged people not to give up getting one. “As more becomes available from the Commonwealth, we put more [bookings in the system],” he said during Monday’s COVID-19 update. Mr Foley said from Monday, GPs and pharmacies in Victoria would be able to administer Pfizer vaccinations to people aged 16 and over.
- The ACT recorded 12 new cases of COVID-19 overnight, two of whom were in isolation for their entire infectious period. Six were in the community while infectious and four were still under investigation. “We will start booking 16-29-year-olds for a Pfizer vaccination in the coming days. Over 25,000 in this age bracket have already registered on the My Digital Health Record system,” ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.
- New Zealand reported 53 new cases of COVID-19 in the community, all of which were in Auckland. NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that Auckland would remain in strict lockdown for another two weeks after the rest of the country emerges from lockdown on Tuesday at 11.59pm (which does not mean no restrictions apply elsewhere, but it is a step down from a full lockdown). “We are seeing a decrease in cases outside of households, a decreasing number of locations of interest, and the reproduction rate reducing. Now, all of that helps, but the job is not yet done, and we do need to keep going,” Ms Ardern said.
- New Zealand health authorities reported on Monday that a woman had died after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination, although the cause of death has not yet officially been determined. The country’s COVID-19 Vaccine Independent Safety Monitoring Board said in a statement that “the case has been referred to the Coroner”. However, it said it “considered that the woman’s death was due to myocarditis [inflammation of the heart muscle], which is known to be a rare side effect of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine”, and that the myocarditis “was probably due to vaccination”. The board noted “there were other medical issues occurring at the same time which may have influenced the outcome following vaccination”.
- Two Australian soldiers have died after an army vehicle crash in north Queensland. Defence Minister Peter Dutton said in Parliament on Monday afternoon that “I haven’t received confirmation as yet, but … tragically two soldiers are reported to have been died in a vehicle roll-over near Townsville.” He was awaiting further details.
This is Michaela Whitbourn signing off on the blog. My colleague Broede Carmody will be back at 6am tomorrow.
A new antibody treatment could be provided to vulnerable COVID-19 patients in Victoria from tomorrow and cut down on hospital admissions.
The drug, Sotrovimab, can be given to people as soon as they fall sick to reduce the risk of serious illness.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt purchased 7700 doses of the drug, which was provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) on August 20 following a “rigorous” evaluation.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton on Monday confirmed 500 doses were already in Victoria and could be administered, in one-hour long infusions, to vulnerable patients from this week or as early as Tuesday.
“It protects you from that more severe illness,” Professor Sutton said.
He said it would save lives, minimise the number of people in intensive care and the number of people admitted to hospital.
“They are all positive things with this particular treatment.
“It certainly gives us an assurance that our health system can be protected from those more severe cases that would otherwise require intensive care.”
Professor Sutton encouraged people to get tested as soon as symptoms develop so that early interventions, like the new antibody treatment, could be used before serious illness can develop.
“That can make a difference to your outcome, keep you out of hospital, and absolutely keep you out of ICU and keep you from dying.”
A special needs school in Sydney’s west has been shut after a second member of the school community tested positive for COVID-19.
A NSW Education spokesman said all staff and students at Fernhill School have been asked to self isolate and follow NSW Health advice.
The school, which caters for children with moderate to severe intellectual and physical disabilities, will be closed on Tuesday to allow for cleaning and contact tracing.
“The NSW Department of Education will continue to work closely with NSW Health to ensure the health and safety of all students and staff is maintained,” the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, NSW Health has released two new close contact exposure locations in regional NSW. Anyone who was at the following locations must get tested and isolate for 14 days.
- Raymond Terrace, Subway – Market Place on August 25 between 11.55am and midday
- North Gosford, Kl Building Services Pty Ltd all day August 21, 23, 34, 35, 36 and 27.
A full list of exposure venues can be found here.
A cafe at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead has been exposed to COVID-19 over a two-day period.
A spokeswoman for Sydney Children’s Hospital Network said the Bear Brasserie Cafe, located on level 2 of the hospital, has been listed as a venue of concern.
She said the hospital was not aware of any confirmed cases of COVID-19 related to the exposure.
Anyone who visited the cafe on August 23 and 24 between 8.30am and 5.30pm is considered as casual contact and must get tested and isolate until a negative test is received.
“In line with public health advice, all staff and visitors who attended the Bear Brasserie Café during the affected time are able to return to [the hospital] if their test result comes back negative, and they have no symptoms of COVID-19,” the spokeswoman said.
“The privately operated Bear Brasserie Café is currently closed for deep cleaning.”
The number of exposure sites in Victoria has unfortunately hit the 1000 milestone tonight, reaching 1010. The ballooning list now includes a women’s ultrasound clinic, as well as a vaccination centre and hospital waiting area.
Anyone who has been to the below sites at the listed times needs to stay home for 14 days:
- Mulgrave: Monash Ultrasound for Women, 441 Police Road, Tuesday August 24, 1.30pm to 5pm.
- Rosebud: Alpass & Associates, 1/5 Suffolk Street, Wednesday August 25, 9.25am to 10.15am; Thursday August 26, 10am to 4.30pm.
- Kilsyth: Allpass & Associates 511 Mount Dandenong Road, Wednesday August 25, 10.50am to 6.30pm
- Reservoir: Highside Automatics, 151 Edwardes Street, Tuesday August 24, 8am to 7pm; Wednesday August 25, 8am to 7pm.
- Brooklyn: Niss4X4 Autospares, 41 Buchanan Road, last Monday August 23, 8.30am to 5.30pm; Tuesday August 24, 8.30am to 5.30pm.
- St Albans: St Albans Veterinary Clinic, 263 Main Road West, Tuesday August 24, 4.30pm to 5.15pm.
- Shepparton: SkySalon Hairdressing Shepparton, 40 Vaughan Street, August 20, 12am to 11.59pm.
The hairdresser has already appeared on the list and Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he believed more people needed to come forward for testing if they visited the venue between August 15 and 19.
New tier two exposure sites include the imaging waiting area at Dandenong Hospital vaccination clinic in Heidelberg West. Banyule Community Health on Monday confirmed its vaccination clinic remained open, with robust infection prevention and control measures.
You need to isolate until you receive a negative test result if you have been to one of the below exposure sites at the affected times:
- Brunswick: GEOX apartment complex, 37-43 Breese Street, last Sunday August 22, 12am to 11.59pm; Monday August 23, 12am to 11.59pm; Tuesday August 24, 12am to 11.59pm; Wednesday August 25, 12am to 11.59pm; Thursday August 26, 12am to 11.59pm; Friday August 27, 12am to 11.59pm; Saturday August 28, 12am to 11.59pm; Sunday August 29, 12am to 11.59pm; Monday August 30, 12am to 11.59pm.
- Kialla: United Petroleum Kialla, 8010 Goulburn Valley Highway, Monday August 23, 10.20am to 11am.
- Westeadows: Cincotta Discount Chemist, 34 Fawkner Street Westmeadows, Friday August 27, 4.30pm to 5.25pm.
- Shepparton: My Mate’s Pizza, 263 Maude Street, Tuesday August 24, 4.50pm to 5.30pm.
- Dandenong: M Hanna Pharmacy, 4/82 Stud Road, last Sunday August 22, 3.15pm to 4.15pm.
- Melton: VicRoads Melton Customer Service Centre, 267 High Street, last Monday August 23, 11.45am to 1pm; Friday August 27, 2pm to 3pm.
- Altona North: Western Fuel, 276 Blackshaws Road, Wednesday August 25, 1.50pm to 2.20pm.
- Dandenong: Stud Road Medical Centre, 5/82 Stud Road, Thursday August 26, 5.45pm to 6.30pm; last Sunday August 22, 3.15pm to 4.15pm.
- Northcote: Coles, Dennis Street Northcote Plaza Shopping Centre, Separation Street, Thursday August 26, 7.20pm to 11.30pm; Saturday August 28, 7.20pm to 11.30pm.
- Heidelberg West: Banyule Community Health vaccination clinic, 21 Alamein Road, Wednesday August 25, 10.45am to 11.45am.
- Dandenong: Dandenong Hospital imaging department inpatient waiting area, 135 Davide Street, Thursday August 26, 8.20am to 9.20am.
- St Kilda: Fitzroy Street Medical Centre, 201 Fitzroy Street, Wednesday August 25, 4.20pm to 5.05pm.
- Tarneit: KFC Tarneit drive-thru, 4.10 Derrimut Road, last Sunday August 22, 3.55pm to 4.05pm.
- Burnley: IGA X-Press Plus Liquor, 518 Bridge Road, Wednesday August 25, 2.08pm to 2.55pm.
- St Albans: Woolworths, 315/321 Main Road East, Thursday August 26, 1.30pm to 2.30pm; Wednesday August 25, 11am to 12.05pm.
- Broadmeadows: Broadmeadows Central, 1099-1699 Pascoe Vale Road, Wednesday August 25, 9am to 12.20pm.
- Westmeadows: Cincotta Discount Chemist, 34 Fawkner Street, Wednesday August 25, 5.55pm to 6.40pm.
- Kilsyth: Allans Bakery & Cakes, 2/520-528 Mt Dandenong Road, Wednesday August 25, 12.55pm to 1.20pm.
- Rosebud: 7-Eleven, 1140 corner Nepean Highway and Sixth Avenue, Thursday August 26, 9.35am to 10am.
- Sunshine: 7-Eleven, corner Ballarat and Hampshire Road, Thursday August 26, 2.50am to 3.30am.
- Broadmeadows: ALDI, Broadmeadows Central, 1099-1699 Pascoe Vale Road, Wednesday August 25, 9am to 10.30am.
- Broadmeadows: The Reject Shop, Broadmeadows Central, 1099-1699 Pascoe Vale Road, Wednesday August 25, 10.30am to 11.30am.
- Melbourne: Terry White Chemmart, Melbourne Central, 211 LaTrobe Street, last Monday August 23, 10am to 11.30am.
- Cairnlea: Coles, 100 Furlong Road, Wednesday August 25, 4.30pm to 6.30pm.
- Dandenong: AK Medical Practice, 63 Cleeland Street, Dandenong, Wednesday August 25, 1.45pm to 2.15pm.
- Altona North: Chemist Warehouse Altona North, 202 Millers Road, Saturday August 28, 12.30pm to 1.15pm.
- Broadmeadows: Sacca’s Fruit World, Broadmeadows Central Shopping Centre, 1099-1169 Pascoe Vale Road, Friday August 27, 1.30pm to 3.30pm.
- Broadmeadows: Chemist Warehouse, Broadmeadows Central Shopping Centre, 1099-1169 Pascoe Vale Road, Friday August 27, 1.30pm to 3.30pm.
- Broadmeadows: IGA X-press, 10-12 Olsen Place, Friday August 27, 3pm to 3.45pm.
- Deer Park: Coles, Brimbank Shopping Centre, Neale Road, Tuesday August 24, 5.50pm to 7pm.
- St Kilda: Melbourne Physiotherapy, Pilates & Fitness Group, 201 Fitzroy Street, Wednesday August 25, 4.20pm to 5.10pm.
- Point Cook: Target, Stockland Point Cook Shopping Centre, Tuesday August 24, 3pm to 4.30pm.
- Reservoir: Chemist Warehouse Summerhill Village, 18/830 Plenty Road, Tuesday August 24, 3.20pm to 4.27pm.
- Tarneit: Wyndham Village Shopping Centre, 380 Sayers Road, August 21, 3pm to 4.30pm.
- Tarneit: Coles, Wyndham Village Shopping Centre, 380 Sayers Road, August 21, 3pm to 3.30pm.
- Tarneit: Western Fresh Fruit & Veg, Wyndham Village Shopping Centre, 380 Sayers Road, August 21, 3.30pm to 4.30pm.
- Coburg: Reynard Street Neighbourhood House, 104A Reynard Street, Tuesday August 24, 11am to 3.30pm; Wednesday August 25, 11am to 3.30pm.
- Coburg: Reynard Street Neighbourhood House, 104A Reynard Street, Thursday August 26, 11am to 3.30pm.
- Berwick: Australian Butchers Store Berwick, 9/15 Enterprise Avenue, August 22, 3.55pm to 4.05pm.
- Broadmeadows: Coles, Broadmeadows Central Shopping Centre, 1099-1169 Pascoe Vale Road, Thursday August 27, 1.30pm to 3.30pm.
- Docklands: Coles, Spencer Outlet Centre, 201 Spencer Street, Tuesday August 24, 9.25am to 10.20am.
- Tarneit: Bunnings, 83 Leakes Road, Thursday August 26, 10am to 11am.
- Melton: Bunnings, Corner of Keilor Melton Road and High Street, Thursday August 26, 11am to 12pm.
- Altona North: Woolworths Millers Junction, 302-330 Millers Road, Saturday August 28, 12.35pm to 1.45pm.
- Altona North: Chemist Warehouse Altona North, 202 Millers Road, Saturday August 28, 12.30pm to 1.15pm.
- Altona North: Borrack Square Butcher, 18 Borrack Square, Friday August 27, 12pm to 12.30pm.
- Melton: Baker’s Delight, Woodgrove Shopping Centre, floor G, 533 High Street, Wednesday August 25, 11am to 12pm.
- Melton: Coles, Woodgrove Shopping Centre, Coburns Road, Wednesday August 25, 11am to 12pm.
- Melton: Amcal Pharmacy Melton – Ron Davis, 308-312 High Street, Tuesday August 24, 5.22pm to 6.02pm.
- Melton: PETStock, 77 High Street, Tuesday August 24, 3pm to 3.45pm.
- Coolaroo: 7-Eleven, 1350 Pascoe Vale Road, Friday August 27, 2pm to 2.45pm.
- Shepparton: Family Care Pharmacy Safeway Plaza, shop 14/310 High Street, Thursday August 26, 11am to 12pm.
- Abbotsford, Playhouse Apartments Residential Complex, 20 Shamrock Street, Tuesday August 24, 12am to 11.59pm, August 25, 12am to 11.59pm; August 26, 12am to 11.59pm; August 27, 12am to 11.59pm.
- Campbellfield: Falafel AlMina, 540 Mahoneys Road, August 21, 12pm to 12.45pm.
- Essendon: Essendon Physio Group: 15a/82 Keilor Road, Tuesday August 24, 5.38pm to 6.40pm.
- Campbellfield: Campbellfield Pharmacy, Plaza Shopping Centre, 1b/1434 Sydney Road, Friday August 27, 1.32pm to 2.20pm.
- Melton: Woolworths, Woodgrove Shopping Centre, 533-555 High Street, August 16, 12am to 4.30am; August 19, 6am to 12.08am; August 24, 2.30pm to 3.30pm, August 25, 3am to 11am.
- Metro Trains – Upfield Line Outbound (Southern Cross Station to Coburg Station) – August 24 from 10.19am to 10.37am
- Metro Trains – Upfield Line Inbound (Coburg Station to Southern Cross Station) – August 24 from 3.28pm to 3.48pm
- Metro Trains – Craigieburn Line Outbound (Southern Cross Station to North Melbourne Station) – August 25 from 8.12am to 8.15am
- Metro Trains – Upfield Line Outbound (North Melbourne Station to Coburg Station) – August 25 from 8.25am to 8.39am
- Tram 19 – EdwardStreet/Sydney Road (stop 31), to Queen Victoria Market/Elizabeth Street (stop 7) – August 25 from 4.17pm to 4.44pm
- Metro Trains – Mernda Line Outbound (Southern Cross Station to Collingwood Station) – August 26 from 10.12am to 10.25am
- Tram 86 – Johnston Steet/Smith Street (stop 19) to LaTrobe Street/ Spencer Street (stop 119), Thursday August 26 from 11.33am to 11.59am
- Reservoir: Aaliyah Supermarket, 282 Broadway, Thursday, August 26, 3.21pm to 4.04pm
- Preston: Woolworths Northland, 50 Murray Road, Thursday, August 26, 6.40am to 1.10pm. Some individuals will be Tier 1 and the Department will contact them directly
- Broadmeadows: Wells Medical Centre, 176 Blair Street Sunday, August 29, 12.35pm to 1.30pm
- Cairnlea: Havenlea Apartment Complex, 93 Furlong Road, August 25 to 3o inclusive, midnight to 11.59pm
- Port Melbourne: Construction Site – Fishermans Bend Primary School, 477 Graham Street, August 24, 25, and 26, 7am to 3.30pm and August 27, 7am to 9.30am. Some individuals will be Tier 1 contacts and the Department will contact them directly with this advice.
Australia Post staff have secured a new pay deal giving them a 9 per cent pay rise over three years.
The enterprise agreement caps a tumultuous period for Australia Post, which was hit with intense criticism from Labor and the postal workers’ union last year after it won government approval to slacken its delivery schedules during the pandemic.
The pay deal announced on Monday covers 30,000 Australia Post staff and was supported by 90 per cent of staff who cast a ballot.
Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union branch secretary Shane Murphy said the agreement was a landmark moment for the postal service.
“Postal workers fought hard for this new agreement which secures wage rises exceeding forecasted growth, all existing conditions, a moratorium on involuntary job losses associated with traditional letter volume decline and, importantly, restores vital postal services and delivery frequencies for customers,” Mr Murphy said.
Questions over pay emerged when then-chief executive Christine Holgate gave luxury watches as a bonus to a handful of senior staff.
But Ms Holgate has since received a $1 million payout from Australia Post plus $100,000 for legal costs, with the board saying it had “lost an effective CEO” and it regretted the “difficult circumstances surrounding” her departure.
Coronavirus patients will take up 10 per cent of the nation’s intensive care units within a week under federal government forecasts for the pressure on hospitals.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed the forecast in Parliament on Monday in comments that warned of a higher rate in NSW, where patients would take up 20 per cent of ICU beds, and promised new advice this week on how to make the hospital system more resilient.
National cabinet agreed on Friday to set up a working group led by the Commonwealth Secretary of Health, with input from the heads of all state and territory Health Departments, to report by Friday “on the health and hospital system capacity and workforce needs to address expected demands” under the national plan to start re-opening the country when it hits vaccination targets of 70 to 80 per cent of Australians aged over 16.
The Doherty Institute, whose modelling underpins the plan, said in a statement last week that “there is no ‘freedom day’” and we will still need to keep some public health measures in place at those levels (testing, tracing, isolating and quarantining).
Mr Morrison compared the 92 deaths from the NSW outbreak this year with the 820 deaths in Victoria last year to claim Australia would see a “safe transition” from lockdowns over the coming months.
With some state premiers voicing concern about easing lockdowns too soon, Mr Morrison cited figures from the working group to argue the health system could bear the load.
An investigation into who in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office knew about former staffer Brittany Higgins’ allegations of rape by a colleague has been on hold until the conclusion of the accused’s criminal trial.
The head of Mr Morrison’s department, Phil Gaetjens, announced on Monday he had suspended his inquiry after taking legal advice about whether it could prejudice the court case.
It comes after the ACT Director Of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold advised Ms Higgins to “carefully consider not participating” in the inquiry and said that, should Mr Gaetjens’ report be published, it could be “highly prejudicial to the proceedings”.
Earlier this month, police charged 26-year-old Bruce Lehrmann with one count of sexual intercourse without consent. He denies the allegation and is due to face the ACT Magistrates Court on September 16.
In case you missed it earlier this year (and, let’s face it, there’s been a bit on), NSW council elections that were initially scheduled for this Saturday, September 4, have been moved to December 4.
As urban affairs reporter Megan Gorrey reported in July, council elections for more than five million voters in NSW were delayed for the second year in a row, as the Berejiklian government responded to the state’s COVID-19 outbreak. You can read the full story here.
The NSW Electoral Commission said in a tweet today that it had received “a few calls from eager beavers” about the poll, warranting the repetition of this message.
Two soldiers have died in a road accident west of Townsville on Monday afternoon.
Ambulance crews were called to a single vehicle accident on Dotswood Road near Mingela, west of Townsville about 12.50pm. Dotswood Military Training Base is on this road.
The crash reportedly involved members of the Brisbane-based 7th brigade and a defence vehicle.
The vehicle had rolled on Dotswood Road, ambulance media confirmed this afternoon.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton said that while he had not received confirmation, two soldiers were reported to have died in a vehicle rollover.
“I’m waiting for further details on that,” Mr Dutton told Parliament.
“But of course we’ve significant personnel and assets around Lavarack Barracks.”