Coronavirus updates LIVE: Australia charts post-COVID course with vaccines; Victoria to tighten hotel quarantine rules

Summary

  • Victoria will tighten conditions in its quarantine hotels as it registered a second day of zero new locally acquired COVID-19 cases
  • NSW marked its 20th day of zero local coronavirus cases as NSW Health announced it will be asking returned overseas travellers to take an additional test after completing hotel quarantine
  • Queensland recorded a 26th consecutive day without a local coronavirus case, as testing rates remain above target
  • Western Australia again recorded zero cases of community transmission of the virus almost a week after a security guard at a Perth quarantine hotel tested positive for the virus, sending the state into a five-day lockdown
  • The COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford protects people against a new, more contagious coronavirus variant at similar levels to the protection it offered against other lineages of the virus

Pandemic makes ‘corporate hippy’ life easier

Kirsten Roach had assumed she would wait until retirement to fulfil the dream she shares with her husband to move out to the country. Like many Australians watching change speed up as work flexes around the pandemic, she just saw her vision go into fast forward.

Kirsten Roach and her daughter, Jaimes Bowe.Credit:Joe Armao

Roach’s house in Blackburn South is on the market and she is about to pack up her treasured bee hives (honey production being her hobby “side-hustle”) and shift to the fresher air of a new home near Bairnsdale, three and half hours drive east of Melbourne.

There, she will combine a job in a large organisation with a lifestyle closer to nature that she describes as “corporate hippy”.

Read her full story here.

Standby lists could prevent vaccine waste

People living close to vaccination sites may receive surprise afternoon phone calls telling them to hurry in and get their jabs as part of a standby program to prevent precious Pfizer doses going to waste.

The Australian government is considering how the substitute pools could be called up at short notice in inevitable situations when highly perishable doses have already been prepared but their intended recipient has not been able to make it to the clinic.

Pharmacist Lei Ching Yeoh in the vaccination hub at Sunshine Hospital in the Melbourne suburb of St Albans. Ultra-low temperature freezers there will store thousands of doses of the Pfizer vaccine as soon as it lands in Australia.Credit:Justin McManus

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine must be stored between minus 60 degrees Celsius and minus 80 degrees Celsius in ultra heavy duty freezers fitted at nine Victorian vaccination hubs. Once removed from the freezers, the vaccine can last about five days in a normal fridge.

But the real race begins once the vials are opened and the doses are diluted with small amounts of saline. If doses are not administered within six hours of being prepared, they must be thrown away.

We have more on this story here.

Victorian tweaks hotel quarantine program

The Victorian government has tweaked its hotel quarantine program to prevent potential transmission of COVID-19 through the air and get the program as close to “perfect” as possible, but leading scientists say new mask rules do not go far enough.

A quarantine worker at the Grand Hyatt tested positive.Credit:Paul Jeffers

As the state on Saturday recorded no new cases of COVID-19 either in the community or hotel quarantine, the government announced large families staying in hotels would have empty “buffer” rooms around them and workers would be subject to tighter PPE rules.

The changes came as the government confirmed Australian Open spectators would need to wear masks inside stadiums with a closed roof, despite all primary close contacts of Victoria’s only recent locally transmitted case testing negative.

The three main Australian Open stadiums, including Rod Laver Arena, have retractable roofs but the courts that host less high-profile matches do not.

You can read the full story here.

Hello and welcome

Hello, Simone Fox Koob here with you this morning. Welcome to Sunday’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s a quick recap of where we are as we start the day:

  • Victoria announced it will tighten conditions in its quarantine hotels as it registered a second day of zero new locally acquired COVID-19 cases
  • NSW has marked its 20th day of zero local coronavirus cases, as NSW Health announced it will be asking returned overseas travellers to take an additional test after completing hotel quarantine to further protect the state against community transmission;
  • Queensland has recorded a 26th consecutive day without a local coronavirus case, as testing rates remain above target;
  • Western Australia has again recorded zero cases of community transmission of the virus almost a week after a security guard at a Perth quarantine hotel tested positive for the virus, sending the state into a five-day lockdown;
  • The COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford protects people against a new, more contagious coronavirus variant at similar levels to the protection it offered against other lineages of the virus;
  • US President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress are forging ahead with their $US1.9 trillion ($2.4 trillion) COVID-19 relief package after legislators approved a budget outline that will allow them to muscle Biden’s plan through in the coming weeks without Republican support.

Stay with us as we follow these stories and others throughout the day.

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