Coronavirus updates LIVE: Victoria returns to harsher restrictions after Melbourne hotel quarantine worker tests positive for COVID-19; WA lockdown continues
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SummaryVictoria will return to harsher COVID-19 restrictions and up to 600 Australian Open players, officials and support staff have been told to isolate and get tested after a hotel quarantine worker tested positive to coronavirus on Wednesday. All tennis matches at Melbourne Park today have been called off.Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said in a late-night press conference on Wednesday that the state would return to mandatory masks indoors, would reintroduce caps on gatherings to 15 people in a household and would pause the 75 per cent return to work, scheduled to begin on Monday.Western Australia continues to face twin emergencies – a coronavirus lockdown and devastating bushfires – as Perth residents enter their fourth day of a hard five-day lockdown.NSW reached its 17th day without a case of community transmission on Wednesday, while Queensland clocked up 23 days without a locally acquired case.The federal government is working with the biotech industry on ways to establish large-scale mRNA vaccine manufacturing in Australia as a group of senior scientists work on a parallel plan to enable local production of the cutting-edge jabs.Latest posts
Qld border announcement expected soonBy Lydia Lynch
A decision about whether to shut Queensland’s border to Victoria is expected to be announced this morning.
Queensland’s Acting Premier Steven Miles will address the media from the central Queensland city of Rockhampton at about 9am local time (10am AEDT).
Acting Queensland Premier Steven Miles.Credit:Jono Searle/Getty Images
Senior government sources say the fresh case is unlikely to see Queensland’s border to Victoria close “at this stage”, but that may change if there is a rapid escalation of cases in the next few days.
The state closed its borders to Western Australia after a case seeped out of a quarantine hotel on Sunday, triggering Perth’s five-day lockdown.
Victoria has tightened gathering restrictions but has so far avoided another lockdown.
Queensland defines a hotspot as a place “where health officials have found a lot of people with COVID-19, or places that are at risk of a lot of COVID-19 infections”.
‘The next few days will be crucial’: Tony Bartone says Aus Open hangs in the balance
Former Australian Medical Association president and Melbourne GP, Tony Bartone, says the next few days are crucial for Victoria.
“Here we go again, you might say. It was looking good there again – 28 days, no community transmission – but it does point again that while we continue to repatriate Australians and other international people back to Australia for whatever reason with quarantine, we’ve always got that possibility of the virus getting out back into the community,” Dr Bartone told Nine’s Today show earlier this morning.
“There is no clear understanding about where or how … the worker has contracted the virus on this occasion other than being in that quarantine hotel.
“They’ll be reviewing CCTV footage. They’ll be doing testing of all the other people who are considered close contacts and the close contacts of those. So that ring-fencing around the incident will be giving us the surety and the confidence that we’re going to try and get on top of it as quickly as possible and protect the community.”
The Australian Open now hangs in the balance, with Dr Bartone saying the outcome of rapid testing will help determine whether officials allow spectators at Melbourne Park for the grand slam.
“The next few days will be crucial. Obviously, the 600 people who have been put into isolation and told to get tested today is going to be stage one. If any of them test positive, I think that does really put a big question mark about the next few days. If we see cases come in from that, it does raise a question about crowds definitely for the next week’s Open.”
Victoria records three new COVID cases in hotel quarantine worker, two guests
As is apparent now, Victoria’s run of 28 days without a case of community transmission has sadly come to an end with the infection in an Australian Open hotel quarantine worker that was confirmed last night.
Two other cases have also been detected in hotel quarantine
More than 13,000 tests were carried out yesterday, but you can expect to see that figure skyrocket as people turn out in droves to get tested today.
Long queues for COVID testing in Melbourne’s south-east
Long queues have already formed at a drive-through coronavirus testing site at Springers Leisure Centre in Keysborough, in Melbourne’s south-east.
“I would say there’s almost 100 cars now,” Today show reporter Izabella Staskowski has told Melbourne radio station 3AW. “It was supposed to open at 8am, but they had to open early – 15 minutes early – because of the sheer number of people that are here.”
Front pages of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald
The Reserve Bank of Australia governor’s call for a permanent rise in the dole is making headlines in today’s papers. Philip Lowe declared it an issue of fairness while revealing the economy could need record low interest rates until the middle of the decade.
Carrie Fellner continues her coverage of hospital deaths in NSW regional hospitals. Senior doctors have accused public health officials of covering up avoidable deaths, including the death of a young man from an infected toenail after he turned up to emergency four times, she writes.
‘We’ve done this before, we’ll do it again’: latest word from Andrews
If you were asleep when Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews held a press conference at 10.30pm on Wednesday, here is his latest update via Facebook:
The new rules in Victoria
My colleague and our graphics extraordinaire Jamie Brown is busy this morning collating the latest information on the new restrictions in Victoria.
Here are the new rules (so far) about masks and limits on household visitors:
Victorian authorities also investigating COVID spread among quarantine guestsBy David Estcourt
The fresh case in the Grand Hyatt quarantine worker comes as Victorian health authorities investigate the transmission of the UK variant of COVID-19 within one of the state’s quarantine hotels after the virus jumped from a hotel room to a guest in the opposite room.
The state’s public health team believe viral particles may have exited the room of a family who all later tested positive. Somehow, the virus either lingered in the air or attached itself to a hard surface, which then caused a woman in another room to contract the same strain of COVID-19.
Hotel quarantine workers wearing full protective equipment at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne Hotel.Credit:Getty Images
A member of the family recalled opening the hotel room door – either to collect food or put out laundry – at the same time as someone in the room opposite opened their door.
CCTV footage has not shown any occasion on which members of the two rooms exited their rooms simultaneously.
What you need to know about Victoria’s latest case
In case you missed it, here is Premier Daniel Andrews’ late-night press conference:
And here is what you need to know about the latest case, which ended the state’s run of 28 days without community transmission:
The man worked at the Grand Hyatt, one of three main hotels being used for the Australian Open.He last worked at the hotel on January 19 and was tested at the end of his shift, returning a negative result.Subsequently, the worker developed symptoms and was tested again on February 2. He returned a positive result late on Wednesday.The man is a CFA volunteer and attended at least one CFA function at Club Noble in Noble Park, in Melbourne’s south-east.The Grand Hyatt was one of three main quarantine hotels used by players and personnel arriving for the Australian Open. Most players were released from quarantine on January 29 and 30.Up to 600 tennis players, officials and support staff are considered close contacts and have been told to isolate and get tested, and all tennis matches at Melbourne Park today have been called off.
Read more here.
Full list of Victorian exposure sites
My colleague and graphics guru Jamie Brown has now collated all the exposure sites in Victoria listed by the Department of Health at 1.30am:
Anyone who has visited these Tier 1 exposure sites during these times must immediately isolate, get a coronavirus test, and remain isolated for 14 days.
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