1.24am GMT

Drawing your eyes to an investigation into attempts by social media companies to reduce the damage being caused by the spread of coronavirus misinformation.

The journalistic investigation found hundreds of pages with more than 40 million collective followers were spreading misinformation while utilising facebook’s fundraising tools.

Not-for-profit First Draft has this useful summary of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s project that examined how Facebook and Twitter were doing.

Last year, social media companies made significant strides in ridding their platforms of Covid-19 misinformation. Both Facebook and Twitter committed to the principle that “no user or company should directly profit from Covid-19 vaccine mis/disinformation.”

But a recent investigation by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found otherwise. At least 430 misinformation-generating Facebook pages — including more than 20 verified with Facebook’s “blue tick” with a collective 45 million followers — were found to directly use Facebook’s fundraising tools, either through contributions from followers or sales of merchandise.

“The Bureau’s findings suggest Facebook has failed to adequately implement this agreement and appropriately enforce its own policies,” authors Jasper Jackson and Alexandra Heal noted. Although Facebook has since taken action to remove the misleading content, many Pages remain live.

1.15am GMT

In that Victorian press conference we reported on earlier, some changes to hotel quarantine were announced after two hotel workers tested positive to Covid-19 in recent weeks. AAP reports:

Victoria will review airflow within quarantine hotels and change mask policies for staff as it seeks to avoid a repeat of two suspected Covid-19 leaks.

Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville, overseeing the revamped program, announced a ventilation review of all hotels within the system was underway.

“We don’t think at this stage this is about ventilation, but again we’re not leaving any stone unturned,” she told reporters on Saturday.

From Thursday night, hotel quarantine staff are also required to wear a face shield and surgical mask. Neville said the change was based on updated advice from infection prevention control experts, with hotel quarantine workers previously wearing just N-95 masks.

They will still don the more protective N-95 mask along with a face shield for encounters with infectious guests and when entering rooms for medical emergencies. In addition, hotel quarantine organisers have put “buffers” between family groups and other guests from Wednesday, resulting in 140 rooms being taken out of the system.

Food delivery times are also being staggered, reducing the risk of people opening doors at the same time.

The moves follow a case of suspected Covid-19 transmission among two separate groups of guests at Melbourne’s Park Royal Hotel, and a worker at the Grand Hyatt testing positive to the virus.

Victoria Police Minister Lisa Neville addresses the media during a press conference in Melbourne, Saturday. Photograph: Erik Anderson/AAP

1.07am GMT

Australian Open spectators will have to wear a mask when the roof closes on the main courts.

Australian Associated Press is reporting the Victorian government clarified on Friday night the mask policy for spectators on the main courts of Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and John Cain Arena.

“These venues are deemed to be indoor spaces under the restrictions and masks use is required by all spectators and officials,” a government spokesman said.

Spectators can take off masks when the roof is open, while players are exempt from the rule.

A cleaner wipes down equipment at the deserted Melbourne Park, the venue for the Australian Open. Photograph: Dave Hunt/EPA

at 1.12am GMT

12.56am GMT

The Northern Territory government has reported that two children who arrived on a repatriation flight from New Delhi on 4 February have tested positive for coronavirus.

The children were not showing any symptoms, but were in the care of health teams at the NT Centre for National Resilience at Howard Springs.

In a statement, the government said since repatriation flights to the NT began on 23 October 2020:

3,393 international arrivals have undertaken quarantine at the Howard Springs centre.
64 positive coronavirus cases have been reported from international repatriation.

The total number of cases diagnosed in the territory is 102. All cases have been related to international or interstate travel, with no cases of community transmission.

at 1.02am GMT

12.47am GMT

The US government’s education department will, for the first time, start gathering data from schools on the effects of the pandemic, including on how many children have gone back into classrooms.

The Associated Press reports the department will collect monthly data from 7,000 schools after the president, Joe Biden, called for the measures in an executive order last month.

The Trump administration had previously declined to collect data on the subject, saying it wasn’t the role of the federal government to do so.

The data will show how many schools have actually reopened, how many are carrying out remote learning, and also ask students about attendance rates.

Ian Rosenblum, an acting assistant department secretary, said in a statement the government wanted to know about any disparities across schools.

To do that, we need more information about how students are learning during this pandemic – and we simply don’t have it right now.

The new survey will collect data from 3,500 schools that enrol fourth graders, and 3,500 schools that enrol eighth graders. It will be made available to the public on a monthly basis through June, with collections starting later this month.

Students wear masks as they work in a fourth grade classroom at Elk Ridge Elementary School in Buckley, Washington. Photograph: Ted S Warren/AP

at 12.54am GMT

12.21am GMT

NSW records 20th consecutive day of no new cases in community

New South Wales has recorded the 20th day in a row of no coronavirus cases detected out in the community.

There have been 16 new positive cases in the past seven days, but they’ve all been detected in people who were in hotel quarantine after returning from overseas.

NSW Health

NSW recorded no new locally acquired cases of #COVID19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

Two new cases were acquired overseas, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in NSW since the beginning of the pandemic to 4,930. There were 12,521 tests reported to 8pm last night. pic.twitter.com/9l0kYoDPsz

February 6, 2021

at 12.23am GMT

12.03am GMT

Health authorities in Victoria, Australia trying to prevent a coronavirus outbreak have said the next 48 hours will be critical, as the government reveals some changes to the way the state runs hotel quarantine.

The state has the added pressure of hosting an international tennis tournament, with the Australian Open due to start on Monday.

Two ministers and the state’s chief health officer have just provided an update, after earlier today revealing there had been no new cases in the past 24 hours.

The health minister, Martin Foley, said that so far, all the close contacts of a man from the Noble Park area linked to a case from the Grand Hyatt, where some tennis players have been staying, had tested negative.

So far 60% of the person’s 1,129 primary close contacts had tested negative. Foley said:

This is encouraging, but there will be more results needed over the next few days. The next 48 hours will be critical in making sure that we’re in a position to get on top of this.

Martin Foley addresses the media on the Covid situation in Melbourne today. Photograph: Erik Anderson/AAP

The police minister, Lisa Neville, revealed some changes to the state’s hotel quarantine to try to stop outbreaks. Some 140 rooms had been removed from the system to create buffers, particularly around large families.

Meal delivery times were being staggered, she said, so that hotel doors were not all being opened simultaneously. She also reiterated the state was not now using any private security firms, and instead police were doing those duties.

All these changes are about acknowledging this is a changing virus. It’s changing, it’s mutating and it’s showing us new things.

Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, said it was encouraging that so far there had been no positive results from the 14 sites the Noble Park man had visited, but it was “still early days” because the potential exposures had been less than a week ago at the end of January and early February.

So, a zero day, absolutely encouraging. But lots of close contacts, lots of exposure sites. And we really need to see that 14-day period play out before we can be much more reassured about no further cases occurring.

Lisa Neville addresses the media in Melbourne. Photograph: Erik Anderson/AAP

at 12.37am GMT

11.29pm GMT

Another day of zero cases of community transmission of coronavirus for Queensland. One case has been detected of a person currently in hotel quarantine.

Annastacia Palaszczuk

Saturday 6 February – coronavirus cases in Queensland:

• 0 new locally acquired cases
• 1 overseas acquired case
• 5 active cases
• 1,311 total cases
• 1,803,657 tests conducted

Sadly, six Queenslanders with COVID-19 have died. 1,294 patients have recovered.#covid19 pic.twitter.com/OlEFIuDQYR

February 5, 2021

11.13pm GMT

Greek scientists advising the government on how to handle the pandemic debated for more than eight hours over what measures should be tightened before further restrictions were announced a few hours ago.

In another sign of how difficult the on-off approach to lockdown has become for countries reeling from the economic effects of coronavirus, epidemiologists held their longest session yet before extra curbs were eventually unveiled.

At just over 162,000 coronavirus cases, Greece has fared better than most other European nations.

But the arrival of the “British variant” of the virus and lax rule keeping has helped spur a surge in its case count with diagnoses doubling over the course of the last week alone.

The extent of the lockdown and whether it should include all retail stores – already limited to customers having to pre-book visiting slots to stores – taxed experts most, along with the issue of whether all schools should also re-close.

Ultimately a night time curfew was brought forward to 6 PM (from 9 PM) over the weekend while only super markets, grocery stores, petrol stations and chemists were spared being closed.

Hairdressers and beauty salons are among the stores that can continue to operate but only on weekdays. The measures, which include high schools returning to remote learning, will be enforced until at least February 15th.

On Friday, 1195 infections were confirmed by the public health organisation, EODY, continuing a trend that has seen rates surpass the 1,000 mark since Tuesday. A further 19 fatalities were also announced this evening bringing the death toll to 5922.

The Greek economy contracted by just over 10 percent in 2020 with a second lockdown in November exacerbating the toll on public and private finances that were only starting to recover from the country’s punishing long-running debt crisis.

Pedestrians wearing protective face masks to curb the spread of coronavirus walk in outside a closed coffee shop, in Psiri district of Athens, on Friday. Photograph: Petros Giannakouris/AP

11.03pm GMT

New Zealand reports fifth Covid case from quarantine hotel

New Zealand’s health authorities say they have detected a fifth positive case of coronavirus from a quarantine hotel.

The person had spent 14 days in the hotel before spending a further five days in isolation at home in Hamilton on the north island. For that reason, authorities think the risk to the community is low.

A statement from the NZ Ministry of Health says: “The case reinforces the importance of the self-isolation and repeat testing strategy we have adopted around people leaving managed isolation at the Pullman [Hotel].”

Ministry of Health – Manatū Hauora

An individual who had been a guest at the managed isolation facility at the Pullman Hotel and has been isolating at home in Hamilton since 30 January has tested positive for #COVID19

Read the full update at https://t.co/CtNJnlAoBg

February 5, 2021

at 11.17pm GMT

10.46pm GMT

Victoria reports no new Covid cases in past 24 hours

More than 23,000 people in Victoria were tested for coronavirus over the past 24 hours, with no positive results returned.

That will be a huge relief for the Australian state, where the Australian Open tennis tournament is about to start.

Health authorities have also confirmed that all 17 close contacts of a positive case of hotel quarantine worker in one of the hotels used in preparation for the tournament have also tested negative.


Yesterday there were 0 new cases reported. 23,227 test results were received – thank you for getting tested. #EveryTestHelps us #StaySafeStayOpen.

More later: https://t.co/lIUrl0ZEco#COVID19Vic #COVID19VicData pic.twitter.com/QxCasDBxCE

February 5, 2021

at 10.51pm GMT

10.39pm GMT

Hello wherever you are and whatever time it is. Graham Readfearn here in Australia to take you through the next several hours of the Guardian’s live coverage of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

A quick update on where things are at.

Greece has joined several other European countries, including France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, in deciding not to give people over 65 the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Lebanon is to start an easing of its countrywide lockdown that has been in place since 14 January. Intensive care capacity is at 90% across the country.
A major study from economists has tracked an “unprecedented” rise in poverty, caused by the pandemic, in many developing countries across three continents.
All 17 close contacts of a Melbourne hotel quarantine worker have tested negative for the virus. The case had put the Australian Open tennis tournament at risk.
The UK government is exploring the idea of documentation that would allow travellers to prove they have been vaccinated against coronavirus, the Foreign Office minister James Cleverly has said.
Latest figures from Johns Hopkins University show 165m people have caught covid-19 during the pandemic, with 2.29m deaths.

Thanks for staying with us. I hope you are as safe as you can be.

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