Australia’s Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly says “there will be a time sometime this year” when levels of vaccination in the community are high enough for social distancing restrictions to be eased, but it will take time.
New South Wales (NSW) is the only Australian territory to record new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. There are 13 new cases, including three locally-acquired cases.
Speaking to media this afternoon, Kelly said the country had not had a death from someone acutely sick with Covid-19 since October.
“So there are very different situations here. In terms of hospitalisations, here in Australia, 41 people are in hospital. In many other countries, the hospitals and intensive care units are absolutely full and deaths are mind-boggling. In the UK in the last 24 hours, over 1000 deaths. In the US, over 4000.”
He said his sister lives in a small village in northern Italy and the church’s bells rang “almost every day and almost the whole day” to signal the mounting death toll.
“So that’s what the situation is out there in the world right now. In Australia, we’re doing much better than that.”
Containment measures, such as social distancing and border measures, will remain in place for some time, but Kelly hoped some of the settings will be able to be adjusted later in the year once Australia had reached a certain amount of vaccination in the community.
“There is a limited supply that we will be getting of the Pfizer vaccine. As for the AstraZeneca vaccine, is being made right now in Melbourne and it is well advanced, so we will be getting large supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine. That is the one we will have available for most people during this year, the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
New South Wales
New South Wales recorded 13 new cases in the last 24 hours, including three locally-acquired cases.
Two of the locally-acquired cases were linked to the Berala cluster and one linked to a known northern beaches case.
There are now 23 cases linked to the Berala cluster, in Sydney’s west, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
The new case linked to the Avalon cluster is a close contact of a previously reported case – there are now 150 cases linked to that cluster.
Nearly 24,000 tests were conducted across the state in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the next fortnight was critical to the management of the latest outbreaks, and urged the community to continue turning up for testing.
“We need to maintain those high rates of testing for at least 14 days and I would like to see them sustained beyond that,” Dr Chant said.
“But for the next 14 days, it is critical that we mop up any unrecognised chains of transmission.”
Queensland has recorded zero new cases of coronavirus overnight, as Greater Brisbane enters day two of its three day lockdown.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has praised the efforts of locals, with only 20 active cases in the state, and more than 19,000 tests conducted in the past 24 hours.
A hotel cleaner who tested positive for the highly contagious UK variant of Covid-19, was the reason behind the region being plunged into lockdown.
Premier Palaszczuk said 147 close contacts of the cleaner have now been identified, and 122 have tested negative.
“We’re seeing large amounts of compliance in Brisbane and people are doing the right thing,” Palaszczuk said.
She reminded people it was safe to go to the shops to get essential items, or to go for a walk, but a mask must be worn at all times.
Meanwhile, Queensland’s Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the lockdown would remain in place until 6pm tomorrow despite no new cases.
There were no new cases recorded in Victoria over the last day. There are 44 active cases in the state.
The state’s Health Minister Martin Foley said Victorians had stepped up since the NSW outbreak began.
He said the low numbers of community transmission in NSW was “an important achievement” but that Victoria was continuing to monitor the situation north of the border.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian says Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews told her he hopes to reopen the border sometime next week.