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As it happened: COVID-19 cases continue to grow across the nation as states ramp up vaccination measures

Thanks for joining us, that’s all we have for you this evening. We will be back bright and early tomorrow morning with our national news blog, which will keep you up to date with the latest breaking news, as well as reportage on Australia’s COVID-19 situation.

But for now, here’s a wrap of today’s top stories:

  • NSW recorded 1485 new local cases and three deaths due to COVID-19 in south-western and Western Sydney on Sunday. Three children with COVID-19 in NSW are being treated in intensive care.
  • Victoria recorded 183 new cases, with just 101 linked to known outbreaks. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he was open to easing some restrictions earlier should the state reach its 70 per cent first dose vaccine target before September 23.
  • ACT records15 new COVID-19 cases, 13 linked to known cases and more than 85 per cent of cases found in people aged less than 45 years-old.
  • As many adults as possible will need to get vaccinated in areas where more than one-fifth of the population is made up of children aged under 12 who will not be eligible for vaccinations this year.
  • A security guard at a Melbourne detention centre has tested positive for COVID-19. Victorian COVID-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said everyone at the centre was being tested and no other positive cases had emerged.

  • Authorised workers leaving Sydney’s local government areas of concern for their employment will be given an 11th hour reprieve from a deadline to get vaccinated, the NSW government has announced.

A major shipment of 450,000 Pfizer vaccines from the United Kingdom has arrived into Sydney this evening.

The shipment departed on Saturday morning local time from Heathrow, packed with so many doses that Qantas had to obtain special permission from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to land because the flight was heavier than normal.

Some 450,000 Pfizer doses from the UK arrived on a Qantas cargo into Sydney on Sunday night.

Some 450,000 Pfizer doses from the UK arrived on a Qantas cargo into Sydney on Sunday night. Credit:Getty Images

The vaccines are part of a deal announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday, with a total of 4 million doses to be sent to Australia from the UK.

Because of the caps on passengers that the national cabinet has imposed since July last year, there are just a handful of commercial flights into Australia, meaning trying to send the doses via existing air freight would have meant a seven-day delay.

A pallet of Pfizer vaccines is unloaded at the Qantas freight terminal.

A pallet of Pfizer vaccines is unloaded at the Qantas freight terminal.Credit:Getty Images

The doses also need to be transported at ultra-low temperatures, so it was decided to charter a Qantas freight-only flight.

Read how the deal to send vaccines to Australia was struck here.

It’s not lockdowns but the periods in between that have proved trickiest for Janine Pero, the director of music at Ringwood Secondary College.

Music is a big deal at the large government school in Melbourne’s east. Ms Pero heads a music program that involves 330 children playing in 16 jazz and classical ensembles.

Ringwood students rehearse together online.

Ringwood students rehearse together online.

When Melbourne entered its second lockdown last year, Ms Pero feared it might spell the end for the school’s ensembles, which require students to commit a significant amount of their free time.

She went online to see what schools in the US and Britain were doing to keep their music programs going.

The picture wasn’t encouraging, with plenty of advice to concentrate on teaching online and let ensembles go until students could return.

“For us, it wasn’t a choice because we are an ensemble-driven program,” Ms Pero says.

Ringwood’s students have met on Microsoft Teams to play together in lockdown. It’s not slick, but it’s effective in keeping the program going, she says.

Read the full article here.

As many adults as possible will need to get vaccinated in areas where more than one-fifth of the population is made up of children aged under 12 who will not be eligible for vaccinations this year.

The Delta variant remains milder in children even as cases among younger age groups rise, as health experts say higher adult and teen vaccination rates will not just protect under 12s but will significantly prevent those children from passing on the disease to more vulnerable relatives.

Health Minister Greg Hunt promised there will be more than enough doses for young children next year when immunisations are likely to be approved for primary school-aged children.

“As we have said on multiple occasions, we have whole of population coverage for every Australian,” he said.

To date 62.7 per cent of the eligible population aged 16 and over have had one dose, and 38.2 per cent are fully immunised.

Across the country there are 3.8 million children aged under 12 years, who make up about 14 per cent of the population. But data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows there are about 40 local government areas across the country where under 12s make up 20 per cent or more of the local population.

Read the full story here.

A security guard at a Melbourne detention centre has tested positive for COVID-19.

Victorian COVID-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said everyone at the centre was being tested and no other positive cases had emerged.

“We know that there was a case who tested positive who worked at the detention centre. We’ve, of course, done the usual full testing regime of both the residents of that centre and the staff who were there,” Mr Weimar said.

Mr Weimar said the security guard had not had direct contact with other people at the centre.

Read the full story here. 

Authorised workers leaving Sydney’s local government areas of concern for their employment will be given an 11th hour reprieve from a deadline to get vaccinated, the NSW government has announced.

They will now have until the end of September 19 to get vaccinated to allow them to continue to work outside of the LGA they live in, provided they have booked their COVID-19 vaccination by the end of this Wednesday September 8.

The extended deadline was announced late on Sunday afternoon following consultation with industry.

It means authorised workers from the LGAs of concern must have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of Sunday September 19 to continue to work outside the LGA they live in from Monday 20 September.

From September 9, authorised workers who remain unvaccinated will be required to carry evidence they have booked in for a jab before the deadline if they wish to leave their LGA for work.

The requirement also applies to a relevant care workers aged 16 and over whose place of residence or place of work is in an LGA of concern. This includes those who work in an early education and care facilities or who provide disability support services.

Authorised workers under the age of 16 years remain exempt from the requirement to be vaccinated.

If an authorised worker is not vaccinated or does not have a medical contraindication form, they will not be able to work outside their LGA after September 19. Workers from the LGAs of concern are offered priority bookings for vaccination.

The following links can be used to make priority bookings:

For many Sydneysiders in the city’s COVID-19 hotspots, nearly all of life’s essentials are appearing at the front door with minimal fuss, heralded by the knock of a delivery driver or the thud of package on the doormat.

But not so in the NSW town of Wilcannia, a remote outback town 945 kilometres north-west of Sydney.

Volunteers have spent the last few weeks delivering food hampers to some of Wilcannia’s most vulnerable.

Volunteers have spent the last few weeks delivering food hampers to some of Wilcannia’s most vulnerable.Credit:Rhett Wyman.

The town’s 700-odd residents are in their fourth week of lockdown, and dealing with a worsening COVID-19 outbreak that’s already infected 13 per cent of the population.

As Cameron Gooley reports, without access to grocery deliveries in NSW’s remote far west, many of Wilcannia’s mostly Aboriginal residents were struggling to get food when the lockdown began.

“We don’t have Uber Eats, we don’t have click and collect, we don’t have delivery services,” Sarah Donnelly, the woman organising the town’s volunteer efforts, told the Herald. “When families found themselves suddenly plunged into isolation, there was an inability to get food and other essential items to them.”

But now volunteers are dropping off much-needed supplies – vegetables, meat, milk, nappies – to the community’s most vulnerable.

Read the full story here.

Two Melbourne primary schools and an aged-care ward at a major hospital campus near the city’s CBD have been listed as Victoria’s latest tier-1 sites.

Courtenay Park Primary School in Cranbourne North, in the south-eastern suburbs, has been listed as a tier-1 exposure site on August 31 between 9am and 3.40pm and again on September 1 between 9am and 3.40pm.

Pascoe Vale Primary School, in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, was visited by a positive case between August 31 and September 3, between the hours of 8.55am and 4pm each day.

Staff and students at the tier-1 exposure sites are expected to isolate for 14 days and get tested as soon as possible.

The acute area of the Frankston Hospital Emergency Department was listed as a tier-1 exposure site for September 3 between 12pm and 10.30pm.

The Department of Health noted the advice for Frankston Hospital does not apply to the emergency department’s waiting room, fast track, paediatric area, extended care unit, or emergency short stay unit.

Royal Melbourne Hospital’s AC4 ward on the Royal Park Campus in Parkville, which caters for elderly patients, has also been listed as a tier-1 exposure site on August 31 between 12pm and 7.30pm.

The ward’s listing as an exposure site was removed by the Department of Health late on Sunday afternoon. It is understood this change was made as there are no primary close contacts linked to the exposure site, and as such it poses a reduced public health risk.

La Manna supermarket in Essendon Fields – which was an exposure site during Victoria’s longest lockdown last year – and Northcote Plaza have also been listed as a tier-2 sites, with some patrons having to isolate until they get a negative test.

The latest tier-1 exposure sites also include:

  • IPC Health, Hoppers Crossing, September 1 between 2.30pm and 3.40pm.
  • Capital Radiology, Sunshine, September 2 between 2.25pm and 3.25pm.
  • Hadfield Family Dental, Hadfield, September 1 between 2.40pm and 4.30pm.
  • Tarneit Smiles, Tarneit, August 31 between 4.20pm and 6pm.
  • Australian International Academy, Coburg North, August 31 between 8.20am and 5.30pm and September 1 between 9am and 5.30pm.
  • Construction Site Greenvale Secondary School, August 31 to September 3 between 6.30am and 3.30pm all days.
  • C.R Electrical Solutions, Keilor Park, September 1 between 10.15am and 1.30pm.
  • VicRoads, Broadmeadows, August 26 between 10.30am and 12pm.
  • Barghache Chicken Fish & Chips, Broadmeadows, August 25 between 10am and 8pm, August 26 between 11.35am and 8pm, August 27 between 11am and 5.30pm.
  • Chemist Warehouse, Campbellfield, August 31 between 12pm and 9.45pm.
  • Panorama Construction Site, Box Hill, August 24 to September 2, various times.
  • Maxcon Construction, Box Hill, August 30 between 6.30am and 6pm, August 31 between 6.30am and 5pm, September 1 between 6.30am and 8am.
  • Northern Medicals, Epping, August 26 between 4.50pm and 6.35pm.
  • Adrone, Brunswick, September 2 between 7am and 4pm.
  • 601 Bridge Innroad Job Site, Mernda, September 1 between 7am and 4pm.
  • Couriersplease, Truganina, September 1 between 11.30am and 7.40pm.
  • Ilim College construction site, Dallas, August 30 between 7am and 3.30pm and August 31 between 7am and 3.30pm.
  • Lotus Caravans, Campbellfield, August 30 between 7.15am and 11.30am, August 31 between 7.15am and 12pm, September 1 between 7.15am and 11.30am, September 2 between 7.15am and 11.10am.
  • 101 Warehousing, Truganina, September 1 between 4.40am and 3.30pm and September 2 between 5am and 3.30pm.
  • Kasr Sweets, Coolooroo, September 1 between 1.45pm and 2.35pm.

The Victorian government has boosted its funding for food, financial relief and family violence services by $27 million.

Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan said the government was funding a $6 million Food Relief Financial Reserve, a $3.7 million to local government partners and the Red Cross to support families in COVID-19 quarantine or isolation.

Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, Luke Donnellan.

Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, Luke Donnellan. Credit:Justin McManus

$2 million will go towards boosting basic needs and case support for people seeking asylum, $7.2 million to the CALD communities taskforce to provide support, promote vaccine uptake and deliver emergency food to culturally diverse communities.

Specialist family violence support services will receive $2.25 million and $850,000 will go to case workers for single mothers and women’s mental health projects.

“There is also funding for family violence and support for single women,” Mr Donnellan said on Sunday.

“Family violence during this period of time, it has increased, there is no doubt about that, and this is very much about providing that support and recognising the continuing need to support people and ensuring that to get out of your house.

“If you are in that situation, really, that is a simple reason to get out of your house. We need to provide the support, the brokerage and accommodation. We to be blunt, we need them to leave the house in those difficult situations.

“This package is about recognising the acute impact obviously of the lockdown, the fact that we are not at a level in terms of community vaccinations.”

Some Victorian private schools are cutting fees as students prepare to do seven weeks of remote learning this term and possibly more in term four.

Kilvington Grammar School, a co-educational school in Ormond, and Goulburn Valley Grammar School in the COVID-hit regional centre of Shepparton have informed families they will cut prices.

Kilvington Grammar flagged an interim fee reduction last Wednesday.

Kilvington Grammar flagged an interim fee reduction last Wednesday.Credit:Penny Stephens

But retired principal Phil De Young said widespread discounts were unlikely because many term-four fees had already been issued, and he instead predicted no or low fee increases for 2022.

Read more here.

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