Covid 19 coronavirus: NSW, Queensland, Victoria outbreaks grow

New South Wales has recorded 283 new local cases of Covid-19, with at least 64 of those cases infectious while in the community. The isolation status of 71 cases remains under investigation.

NSW Health also reported another Covid-related death of a woman in her 90s from northern Sydney.

That takes to 29 the total number of Covid-related deaths during Sydney’s latest outbreak.

There are currently 349 Covid-19 cases admitted to hospital, with 67 people in intensive care, 29 of whom require ventilation.

Regional NSW is also under threat after an infected woman from the Newcastle area is believed to have broken that region’s lockdown to enter Tamworth on August 5.

She is believed to have attended a string of venues in Tamworth, including a cafe, pub and restaurant.

As a result, the regional city will now enter lockdown at 5pm this afternoon as the Delta variant spreads to the regions.

The Byron Bay area is also on high alert.

End of lockdown doubtful

An epidemiologist has poured cold water on rumours that lockdown restrictions across Greater Sydney could lift within weeks.

Health expert Nancy Baxter told the ABC today that it would be “some time” before case numbers drop, that she did not believe the August 28 lockdown deadline was realistic, and that “Sydney is in it for the long haul”.

“Here in Sydney things are continuing not to really be in control. You’re continuing to have one person infecting more than one person so the reproductive number is above one, meaning the outbreak is continuing to grow,” she said.

“So this is not the time to be talking about relaxing restrictions no matter what vaccines get to, if it’s not getting to 90 per cent or a very high number.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian suggested on Sunday that some restrictions could ease in September – such as face-to-face learning for school students and some workplaces returning – when the state reaches six million doses of Covid-19 vaccinations.

Berejiklian said completely suppressing the Sydney outbreak was a “challenge” for the government and that increasing vaccinations would be the pathway to freedom.

“We know, given where the numbers are and the experience of Delta overseas, that we now have to live with Delta in one way or another – and that’s pretty obvious,” she said.

“But the higher the vaccination rate, the safer we all are and the more free we will be”.

Queensland

Queensland has recorded four new community cases of Covid-19, with all of those cases in quarantine throughout their infectious period and all linked to the Indooroopilly cluster that began when a high school student tested positive for the virus last month.

An additional case was picked up in hotel quarantine.

The new cases come on the first day of freedom for the state’s southeast, which was released from an eight-day lockdown on Sunday.

Cairns, however, was plunged into a snap three-day lockdown on the same day after a taxi driver was found to have been infectious in the community for 10 days.

The driver’s infection has been linked to a marine pilot who tested positive last week, and authorities suspect he contracted the virus while driving the pilot from his home to the airport.

A number of the taxi driver’s household contacts are also unwell and the man’s movements throughout the community has health authorities concerned.

“Given that this gentleman has been in the community infectious for ten days and given that he’s had two positive tests, both with very low CT values, which means a lot of virus, I think the risk is reasonably high,” the state’s chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said yesterday.

As a result, the far north city and Yarrabah local government areas were put into a three-day lockdown at 4pm.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who came out of hotel quarantine on Sunday morning following her trip to the Tokyo Olympics, said Queenslanders had done a “mighty job” to quash the outbreak in the southeast.

Nevertheless, she warned the state was “not out of the woods” and “extra precautions” would need to remain in force.

Continued restrictions in southeast Queensland include: home gatherings limited to 10 people; a cap of 10 people gathering in public spaces; and a cap of 20 people for weddings and funerals.

Given Victoria had been plunged into its sixth lockdown a week after it was released from its fifth, the Premier said Queenslanders “should be under no illusion” that the next outbreak could happen at any time.

“We are seeing this Delta strain take hold in countries all around the world. We have to go on what the best advice is about going hard and going fast,” she said.

Palaszczuk has also warned she may strengthen border restrictions against NSW if the Berejiklian government decides to unwind the lockdown when they hit 50 per cent of their population vaccinated.

She said she would not comment on the policy specifically but that the Queensland government was watching the situation in NSW very closely.

Queensland recorded nine new locally acquired cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, with seven of those linked to the Indooroopilly cluster.

Victoria

Victoria has recorded 11 new community cases of Covid-19 today – the same number as yesterday.

Authorities said they were all linked to existing cases, but only one has been in isolation throughout their infectious period.

Despite the promising reported number, the state is still on alert today after a St Albans women and children’s hospital was identified as a new exposure site due to a positive case visiting the building.

There are now 103 active cases of coronavirus in Victoria and more than 9300 primary close contacts across the state as the number of public exposure sites grows.

The new cases come as state authorities rush to identify the links of transmission to the two clusters they’re really focused on: the Hobsons Bay cluster, which involves a woman in her 20s who teaches at Al-Taqwa College, and the Maribyrnong outbreak, which involves a man in his 20s who works in Derrimut.

Yesterday the state recorded 11 new cases, all of which were linked to previously confirmed cases, but none were in quarantine during their infectious period.

Premier Daniel Andrews warned that cases will continue to rise throughout the state’s sixth lockdown, which began on Thursday.

“Our system will be overrun if we don’t bring this under control,” he said. “We have it within us to continue to do this work, as tough and gruelling as it is, none of us have the luxury of pretending that this is over.”

Australia’s first drive-through Covid-19 vaccination clinic is now open in Victoria in what could be the first of many new pop-up hubs to expand the state’s rollout.

The site of a former Bunnings at 149 Barries Road in Melton, in Melbourne’s outer north-west, has been converted into the new centre.

It will administer up to 10,000 vaccines a week and will offer AstraZeneca from mid-August.

Talks are underway to boost the number of jabs with more drive-through clinics, including in regional areas, stadiums and shopping centre car parks.

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