Australia has more than 2,000 new cases; Tony Abbott attacks mask ‘snitching’ – as it happened

By Josh Taylor and Nino Bucci (earlier)
The NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, reported 1,599 new Covid cases and eight deaths, one day after premier Gladys Berejiklian said the daily press conferences would come to an end.
The NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, reported 1,599 new Covid cases and eight deaths, one day after premier Gladys Berejiklian said the daily press conferences would come to an end. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

What we learned today, Saturday 11 September

That’s where we will leave the blog for Saturday. We’ll be back again tomorrow with all the latest in Covid-19 news from Australia.

Here’s what made the news today:

  • With NSW reporting 1,599 cases and Victoria reporting 450 cases, Australia has recorded more than 2,000 new local cases for the first time during the pandemic. Case numbers NSW are set to peak next week.
  • There were five new cases in Queensland across two households. No lockdown has been announced but it has been flagged as a possibility if the situation gets worse in the next 48 hours.
  • One new case was recorded in South Australia in a mine worker from Sydney.
  • SA will make the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine available to all residents over 12 years of age from Monday, including over-60s.
  • The federal government has announced it will contribute $5m to researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne to find a new antibody treatment to fight the virus.
  • There were 303,552 vaccinations administered in Australia on Friday, taking the total doses to 22.4m. Some 66.9% of the population over 16 has had one dose, while 41.9% are fully vaccinated.
  • The former prime minister Tony Abbott was fined $500 for being spotted outdoors without a mask earlier in the week. Abbott has said he believes it is not in the Australian character to dob.

Until tomorrow, stay safe.

Updated

This is good to see.

Here’s some more information on today’s cases in Victoria via the daily health department press release.

By LGA:

  • 7 cases in Banyule
  • 20 cases in Brimbank
  • 4 cases in Casey
  • 20 cases in Darebin
  • 2 cases in Frankston
  • 6 cases in Greater Dandenong
  • 4 cases in Greater Geelong
  • 16 cases in Hobsons Bay
  • 166 cases in Hume
  • 2 cases in Manningham
  • 2 cases in Maribyrnong
  • 6 cases in Melbourne
  • 7 cases in Melton
  • 9 cases in Moonee Valley
  • 88 cases in Moreland
  • 3 cases in Port Phillip
  • 3 cases in Whitehorse
  • 41 cases in Whittlesea
  • 25 cases in Wyndham
  • 6 cases in Yarra

More than 65% of yesterday’s cases in Victoria are in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. There continues to be a steady growth in the number of cases in the northern suburbs.

There were 10 cases reported yesterday in regional Victoria. Four were in Greater Geelong, one in Cohuna, one in Daylesford, one in Healesville, one in Shepparton, one in Bacchus Marsh and one in Beveridge.

And the breakdown of active cases in those under 40:

  • 407 are aged between 0 and 9
  • 449 are aged between 10 and 19
  • 697 are aged between 20 and 29
  • 485 are aged between 30 and 39

Updated

The Australian federal police and border force are claiming another win as part of the “Operation Ironside” investigation that saw criminals using a compromised encrypted phone platform to communicate that police were able to see all messages on.

Updated

The Labor senator Kristina Keneally has responded to the earlier criticism about her intention to run in the western Sydney seat of Fowler at the next election, despite currently living over 40km away in the northern beaches, AAP reports.

Speaking outside the Vietnamese Community Cultural Centre in Bonnyrigg on Saturday, Keneally said she was disappointed in some reactions to her move:

This is a community I will live in, I will love and I will represent.

I know how to fight for communities like this.

It’s why I’ve gone into politics and that is why, come the next election, I want to go into the House of Representatives, as the voice of every family, every small business, every faith community in Fowler.

Kristina Keneally speaks to the media at the Vietnamese Community Cultural Centre in Sydney
Kristina Keneally speaks to the media at the Vietnamese Community Cultural Centre. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

The former NSW premier also defended the party’s record on multiculturalism, flanked by two representatives of the local community.

“If you look across south-western Sydney you’ve got MPs Ed Husic, Michelle Rowland (and) Mike Freelander,” she said.

“I’m proud to be part of a party that supports gender diversity and that supports multicultural diversity.”

Updated

Looks like the only South Australian exposure sites associated with the mine worker are the airport and the plane he was on.

Updated

That’s it from me. Josh Taylor is here to keep you up to date this afternoon. Go well.

Updated

Covid-19 case linked to Melbourne youth detention facility

The Melbourne Youth Justice Centre in the inner city suburb of Parkville has been deemed a Covid-19 exposure site, according to information just released by the Victorian health department.

The exposure periods are between 8am and 8pm on Monday and Tuesday of this week (6 and 7 September).

A positive case attended the centre and it is considered a tier 2 exposure site, meaning people who were there at the same time must be tested and isolate.

But according to the exposure site listing, some people at the centre will be deemed tier 1 contacts, who will be required to quarantine for 14 days.

“The department will contact them directly with this advice,” the listing says.

The centre holds sentenced and unsentenced young people.

Updated

It is a little tense in Queensland, but health authorities are confident the state will be able to contain a cluster of five cases in the one household. AAP reports:

Queensland has recorded five new local Covid-19 cases but will avoid locking down for now, the state’s premier says.

The new cases of the Delta variant are all members of the same family who live across two households, including a 13-year-old schoolgirl from Sunnybank.

“There is no lockdown today,” premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Saturday. “We are very hopeful that we have been able to identify the source and get on top of this very, very quickly.

But the government may have to take “very quick, fast action” if it saw seeding outside the family in the next 24 to 48 hours, she said.

Aged care and disability care facilities, hospitals, and prisons in south Brisbane now have visitor restrictions and anyone with symptoms is being urged to get tested, as authorities work to make sure they are on top of the outbreak.

The most likely source of the virus is believed to be a visitor from NSW who stayed overnight at the home of the girl’s father last Sunday.

The children were exposed to the visitor when they saw their father on Father’s Day, then returned to their mother’s home.

The man has since returned to NSW and has not yet been tested for the virus.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks to the media in Brisbane on Thursday.
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks to the media in Brisbane on Thursday. Photograph: Jono Searle/AAP

Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young thanked the children’s mother for getting her daughter tested when she complained of a headache.

“This mum took her daughter to get tested simply on a headache,” Dr Young said.

“That’s what we want to see no matter how mild your symptoms, if you are unwell in any way whatsoever, don’t hesitate.”

The mother works at Griffith University and attended the Nathan campus on Wednesday, but saw “very few people”, Dr Young said.

The girl’s school, St Thomas More College at Sunnybank, was abruptly closed on Friday.

The exposure has sent about 1000 students, workers and families into home quarantine.

The new cluster emerged after a NSW truck driver tested positive, though the cases are not linked.

The truckie was infectious in the community at nearby Mount Gravatt and Archerfield on Sunday and Monday. He also visited Westfield Garden City shopping centre.

Other close contact exposure sites include a 7-Eleven in East Brisbane, a BP petrol station in Salisbury and an Acacia Ridge cafe.

There were 11,828 tests conducted and 23,631 vaccines administered in the past 24 hours, Palaszczuk said.

Updated

There has been another departure from Victoria’s shadow cabinet, only a few days after Matthew Guy ousted Michael O’Brien as Liberal leader. Brad Rowswell has announced he is departing, joining Ed O’Donohue (who plans to leave parliament entirely).

Here is the full rundown of the NSW press conference from earlier today, the second last daily Covid-19 briefing:

Interesting data on rate of first dose uptake across Australia.

In a bit of Victorian politics news, the former minister in the Baillieu/Napthine governments and shadow attorney general, Ed O’Donohue, has announced he will be leaving parliament.

He said he made the decision before this week’s Liberal leadership spill, but that he would leave earlier than expected.

I’m going to hand back over to Nino Bucci for a bit while I have a break.

Expect outdoor gathering shaming footage in the news tonight.

While the race to vaccinate speeds up, the federal government on Saturday announced it was also keen to accelerate research into ways to treat the virus, AAP reports.

It will contribute $5m to researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne to find a new antibody treatment to fight the virus.

Antibody-based therapies – which are widely used to treat infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases and cancer – block the entry of the virus into cells and stop infection.

Two Covid-19 treatments – remdesivir and sotrovimab – had already been approved in Australia and were currently being used to treat patients across the country, but more were needed, the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, said.

“The considerable expertise of Australia’s world-class health and medical researchers is critical for ensuring preparedness and the safety of all Australians and the global community,” he said in a statement.

“We are backing our best and brightest researchers to drive innovation and contribute to global efforts to control the Covid-19 outbreak.”

Health minister Greg Hunt on a visit to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne last year
Health minister Greg Hunt on a visit to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne last year. Photograph: James Ross/AAP

Updated

Tony Abbott given $500 fine for not wearing a mask

The former prime minister Tony Abbott has received a $500 fine for not wearing a mask after being snapped in Manly without one earlier this week.

According to reports, Abbott told reporters today he believes he was still within the rules, but will not waste police time by challenging it.

He reportedly also said he doesn’t think dobbing is part of the Australian character.

I never thought dobbing and snitching was part of the Australian character.

I think as soon as we can leave this health police state mindset behind us, the better for everyone.

Worth remembering when he was PM he launched a “dob in a dealer” hotline, and public servants were also encouraged to dob in their colleagues for social media posts critical of the government.

Updated

Just circling back to Victoria briefly, one thing that came out of today’s press conference is that even though case numbers are now in the mid-hundreds daily, health officials still say they’re meeting the commonwealth benchmark for contact tracing, that is contacting people who tested positive for Covid-19 within 24 hours.

When one journalist suggested he had been told by one case connected to the Box Hill construction site outbreak that it was four days until he was interviewed, the health department deputy secretary, Kate Matson, said she was surprised and would look into that.

She said the health team was definitely feeling the pressure now, however.

Another interesting point is the exposure site list in Victoria now states it is not an exhaustive list. Matson said this was because they weren’t listing sites where transmission was less likely to occur. For example, if someone just picks up a coffee from a cafe, it is less likely to be listed. People who checked in at the same time will still get those notifications, however.

Updated

Labor senator Kristina Keneally’s bid to move to the lower house, usurping a promising local candidate by running in a safe, multicultural seat, has been branded “hypocrisy” by a colleague, AAP reports.

Keneally, a former NSW premier, is aiming to replace retiring MP Chris Hayes in Fowler at the next federal election, moving from her current home on Sydney’s northern beaches to Fowler in the city’s west.

However, Hayes had publicly backed local lawyer Tu Le to replace him in representing the multicultural electorate, which Labor holds with a 14% margin.

Kristina Keneally with Fairfield councillor Sera Yilmaz and Vietnamese Community in Australia president Paul Nguyen at The Vietnamese Community Cultural Centre in Sydney today
Kristina Keneally with Fairfield councillor Sera Yilmaz and Vietnamese Community in Australia president Paul Nguyen at the Vietnamese Community Cultural Centre in Sydney today. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Labor MP Anne Aly – the first Muslim woman elected to the Australian parliament – says the move to parachute Keneally into the seat is a “huge failure for Labor on diversity”.

“Diversity, equality and multiculturalism can’t just be a trope that Labor pulls out and parades while wearing a sari and eating some kung pao chicken to make ourselves look good,” she told the ABC on Saturday.

“For the Labor party to be in a position where they are pushing aside a community representative from one of the most multicultural electorates is hypocrisy as far as I’m concerned.”

Read the story here:

Updated

South Australia to make Pfizer available to all over 12

While other states are still lacking enough supply to vaccinate those under 60 with Pfizer, South Australia is opening up Pfizer access to those over 60, AAP reports.

The premier, Steven Marshall, made the announcement less than 24 hours after the Northern Territory confirmed over-60s in the Top End could get the Pfizer jab.

“It’s on for young and old,” Marshall told reporters on Saturday.

“From Monday, children aged 12 to 15 and people aged 60 and over will be able to book in for Pfizer vaccinations at state-run clinics.

“It’s part of our plan to accelerate our pathway out of the pandemic as we add more than 60,000 new appointments from next week.”

Forty per cent of South Australians were fully vaccinated, Marshall said.

“We know there have been many people over the age of 60 who said, ‘We don’t want the AstraZeneca, we want the Pfizer jab, this is why we are not having the jab’,” the premier said.

He encouraged South Australians who had already received a first dose of AstraZeneca to get a second AZ shot.

Saturday’s vaccination announcement coincided with news of one new Covid-19 case in South Australia.

The “essential worker” is a miner who arrived in Adelaide on a flight from Sydney about 9.30am on Friday.

“There will be people in South Australia who receive an SMS about this (potential) exposure,” the chief public health officer, Nicola Spurrier, said.

The man travelled on flight VA406 and authorities confirmed he had been in isolation since arriving at the airport.

A mass vaccination clinic at Adelaide Showground this week doubled its capacity, and further pop-up clinics were being rolled out across the state.

Marshall said the state was vaccinating about 100,000 people a week, which would help work towards easing border restrictions in time for Christmas.

Updated

No plans to end Victorian daily press conferences

Victoria’s health minister, Martin Foley, is asked to weigh in on New South Wales’ decision to stop holding daily press conferences from Monday.

Foley says holding daily press conferences is not fun, but it is important, and Victoria has no plans on abandoning them at the moment:

We have no plans, sadly, other than to continue to come and share as we need to, because every day the message changes, every day we need to hear from people like Ryan, and every day we need to hear from people like we did from the other day from our ICU nurses.

We need to hear what this means in real lives. And what that means. And it’s not fun, having to do these things. This is a public health crisis, the likes of which we have not seen in a century. The fate of our public health system is on the cusp here. And it’s important that we use this every opportunity.

Not every person, no doubt, logs in and watches us, but it is an important part of getting the message out. But it’s not just numbers, it’s people, it’s lives, it’s health systems, and we have to do. We have to take every opportunity to get the message out. And it is in our collective ability to reshape that.

As imperfect and as sometimes challenging as these media conferences are, they do form a part of it ... a key part is engaging with people in their lives, in their stories, the kind of messages of Ryan was talking about. That’s the key message, but as things change, we need to keep Victorians updated with that. If there’s better ways to do it, I’m all ears.

Martin Foley says holding daily press conferences is not fun, but it is important, and Victoria has no plans on abandoning them yet
Martin Foley says holding daily press conferences is not fun, but it is important, and Victoria has no plans to abandon them yet. Photograph: James Ross/AAP

Updated

The ACT chief health officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman, confirms that early on Saturday morning a detainee transferred into Canberra’s prison, the Alexander Maconochie Centre, returned a positive test for Covid-19.

She says that more information about that detainee, including the contact he had with other inmates and staff, will be available tomorrow.

The chief minister, Andrew Barr, is asked whether the opening up of NSW could impact the ACT health system. He says he is expecting there could be an impact on Canberra hospitals if people in southern NSW became seriously ill, but that the Berejiklian government had given assurances that it could be manageable.

He also says he was unaware Covid-19 had been detected in sewage in the NSW local government area of Yass, which borders the territory and has come out of lockdown this morning.

There are now 249 active cases associated with the ACT outbreak.

About 840 people have self-identified as close contacts of ACT outbreaks. There are more than 350 current exposure locations listed.

Updated

Barr expects the territory population could reach 80% double dosed a little earlier than expected.

He says he is not concerned that the pleasant weather in Canberra this weekend will result in an increase in cases; if anything because people can be outdoors, rather than in places like supermarkets, it could improve the situation.

There’s a focus on compliance from ACT police on mask wearing, and on the construction, hospitality and retail sectors.

Barr says he will reveal more detail about the ACT’s plan for returning to school, as part of a broader roadmap for coming out of lockdown, on Tuesday.

Updated

The ACT chief minister, Andrew Barr, has given an update on the 15 new cases recorded in the territory.

Of the new cases, 14 are linked to known cases, with the other under early investigation. Eleven of the cases are household contacts. Nine were in quarantine throughout their infectious period. The other six were in quarantine for part of their infectious period. There are 16 people in hospital, 13 of whom had not been vaccinated.

Barr says the territory is leading the country in vaccination: 95% of the population over 60 have had one dose, as have 50% of those aged 25-29, and 30% of those aged 16-19.

He says:

This gives us great confidence our vaccine program will well exceed the national targets ... what’s been holding the territory back is lack of vaccine supply.

Updated

Foley is asked about the vaccine passport pilot being prepared by Service Victoria and Service NSW.

He says the plan is to give the QR code check-in app access to the federal government immunisation register to be able to check vaccination status through the one app. He says he is confident it will progress, and be able to be trialled as soon as possible.

Updated

The Victorian health minister, Martin Foley, says a third of the cases in Victoria have a connection to the construction industry, and there will be talks to ensure worksites are complying with Covid rules:

What we have is a Delta issue in the construction industry. What we have is about approximately about a third of the cases at the moment seem to have some link to construction, and that’s because they’re mobile. Clearly there are issues that we want to talk with the sector itself want to talk to, they know it’s a big responsibility to be on the permitted worker list, and to make sure that your Covid-safe plans and your compliance plans have been dealt with. And they’re very strong in making sure that they want to stay open, but so too is the public health team, and certain other compliance.

He says construction companies could be hit with warnings or even shut down if they are not complying with rules such as 25% usual worker levels and the Covid-safe plans.

Martin Foley at today’s daily Covid press conference
Martin Foley at today’s daily Covid press conference. Photograph: James Ross/AAP

Updated

South Australia records one new case

Nine is reporting one new Covid-19 case in South Australia in a mine worker who flew from Sydney yesterday to work on a mine.

The Victorian department of health deputy secretary, Kate Matson, says 70% of today’s 450 cases are in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, including 166 in Hume, 41 in Whittlesea, while some in the western suburbs grow too, including 25 in Wyndham, 20 in Greenbank and 16 in Hobson Bay.

There was one additional case connected to the V/Line driver.

There were also three cases among staff working in hotel quarantine – all fully vaccinated. It is believed the three cases are from community transmission rather than a hotel quarantine breach. There was no PPE breach, but authorities are still checking CCTV regardless.

Kate Matson speaks to the media at today’s Covid briefing in Melbourne
Kate Matson speaks to the media at today’s Covid briefing in Melbourne. Photograph: James Ross/AAP

Updated

Victoria urges pregnant women to get vaccinated

Ryan Hodges, the program director of women’s and newborn, and the director of obstetric services at Monash Health, is at the press conference. He urges pregnant women to get vaccinated and says Monash is “very worried” at the number of “very sick” women it is seeing.

Any woman who is 24 weeks pregnant or over can get priority access to vaccines.

In the past week Monash Health has seen women with Covid-19 being admitted who are “very sick” and their babies need to be born early, Hodges says:

What we’ve seen over the last week has caused alarm, we have lots of women now who are very sick, who have very high risk of having their babies who need to be born early.

We know that in pregnancy that coronavirus infection means you’re five times more likely that you’re going to need to come to us at Monash, and when you do come to us at Monash is a one in three chance you’re going to need oxygen therapy, is a one in seven chance you’re going to be in intensive care, is a one in two chance you’re going to need emergency delivery of your baby, is a one in two chance of severe infection.

And there’s a one in four chance your baby will need to be born prematurely, twice as likely to have a stillbirth.

This is what we’re seeing from the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Dr Ryan Hodges speaks to the media at today’s Covid press conference in Melbourne
Dr Ryan Hodges from Monash Health speaks to the media in Melbourne. Photograph: James Ross/AAP

Hodges says there are seven women in Monash Women’s who are pregnant and in hospital with Covid-19, one of whom is in intensive care at 24 weeks pregnant with a 600 gram baby.

He says vaccinations are safe:

It does not increase the risk of miscarriage, or abnormalities or pregnancy complications. It prevents severe disease, you coming to manage, you having your baby born early and you put into intensive care.

It is safe. When you look at the side-effects of women in pregnancy who have had vaccinations, they are less likely to get a fever than in the normal pregnant group. The immune protection response actually crosses the placenta to the baby. It provides protection to the baby. For women who are breastfeeding, the vaccination response – not the vaccination – the vaccination response continues protection into the baby. These are very high risk of needing extreme premature births, due to the degree of infection.

Hodges says Monash is concerned because what it is seeing now is worse than what was seen in the second wave:

We are concerned, it is very early on in this next wave. And what we are seeing is not what we saw in the last wave. This is not what we see with influenza. Never would I have seven sick women in hospital with influenza. This is different.

Updated

Martin Foley has noted there are cases in regional Victoria, which is no longer in lockdown.

Those include five in the city of greater Geelong – three of which were linked to different construction sites, one in northern Victoria, one in Daylesford, one in Hepburn shire and one in the Mitchell shire.

Foley says the majority of these regional cases link back to community interactions in metropolitan Melbourne.

Outbreaks at construction sites continue to grow, he says:

The cases that are related to construction continue to be investigated by our public health team, both regionally and in metropolitan Victoria. There is a bit of a crossover with some larger outbreaks in the construction sector, together with these regional cases as well. There is a Panorama Box Hill construction site in Box Hill, of course, which has had an outbreak that we have referred to a few times. It is now sitting at 116 cases associated across three related construction sites, and has been one of the most significant outbreaks in this particular outbreak event.

He says some of the 300 primary close contacts identified with these outbreaks are due for day 13 tests, so more cases are likely.

Updated

I am going to handpass the blog to Josh Taylor, who will take you through the afternoon. Happy Saturday!

Martin Foley holds Victorian Covid press conference

The Victorian health minister, Martin Foley, says the outbreak in Victoria continues to overwhelmingly affect people under the age of 50 and the unvaccinated.

The state recorded 450 new locally-acquired cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, taking the total number of active cases in Victoria to 2,793.

Foley says 85% of active cases are among those under 50. There are 407 cases in children under nine, 449 in people aged between 10 and 19, 677 in their 20s, and 485 people in their 30s.

Health minister Martin Foley speaks to the media during today’s Covid press conference in Melbourne
Health minister Martin Foley speaks to the media during today’s Covid press conference in Melbourne. Photograph: James Ross/AAP

There are 143 people in hospital, up 17 from Friday, with 34 in intensive care, and 26 on a ventilator.

Some 89% of those in hospital are not vaccinated, and 11% have only had one dose. No one in hospital is fully vaccinated.

There were a record number of vaccines administered in state clinics – 39,148 on Friday – with a total of 87,000 including GPs and pharmacies. Some 65.2% of the population has now had at least one dose of the vaccine.

There have been 340,000 vaccine bookings this week, but more are still available. There are still 11,000 first dose AstraZeneca bookings available.

Foley says:

So the easiest thing to do is to hop on to the website, or indeed phone, the hotline, and get yourself booked to do your part to keep yourself safe.

Updated

ACT records 15 new cases

And in the ACT:

Updated

Meanwhile, in Victoria:

Hazzard says decision to cancel daily Covid updates was due to a need for 'clear minds'

Brad Hazzard AGAIN says that canning the daily press conferences will give health authorities the time they need and “clear minds” to wrap their heads around other pandemic news:

I said to you earlier, there will still be regular press conferences, it is just they will not be seven days a week, which allows a little bit of time. We are getting up into higher numbers and we need to have the time to bring our focus with clear minds as to what we need to do and that applies with everybody working in this building ... but we need to balance that and make sure all the information gets out to the community.

I do not think anybody suggests that I or the premier or any of the other ministers have not been available. I think this is probably 500-something press conferences I have done in the last 20 months and it would be similar with the premier. What was being said is that if there is nothing particularly new on that particular day, except the numbers, then we can go back to [video updates].

Brad Hazzard at the daily press conference today
Brad Hazzard at the daily press conference today. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Updated

Brad Hazzard is asked about whether the school reopening date could be brought forward, given the rate of vaccinations. The state government is planning a staggered return from 25 October:

As an ex- school teacher, I would love to get the kids back at school earlier, but I think the point the premier has made in answer to similar questions ... the education system is a very big system and to be able to give a certainty is probably the priority and that is why it has been set at that particular date and I do not believe that will be moved forward. But the one thing I have learned in a pandemic is never say never because if suddenly everybody got AstraZeneca and got vaccinated and we have time to look at the issue, hopefully we will be able to make some changes. But I do not believe that will happen in relation to schools.

Updated

Brad Hazzard goes on to say about the widely panned decision to end daily press conferences:

I think getting the balance right, making sure we get the information out [to the] community is critical but we were doing that before. Dr McAnulty and the others were doing videos. At the present time, while we are dealing with all these issues, we were having press conferences. They might not be absolutely every day. Have no fear, we will be here.

Updated

Brad Hazzard has also made multiple references to how this half an hour to an hour update he provides every day is stopping him from having enough time to work out other parts of the pandemic response.

He says:

Let me just explain this. What I just set about trying to get some clear air for the team to think about the things you are raising, if we do, say, four people or three people at one of these press conferences, you think it is just for one hour or whatever it is that you walk in here. But in fact there is the preparation for the morning, Dr McNulty is here very early getting ready, so is Dr Chant and the others.

There is a massive team of people getting ready, drawing in all the information ... probably three or four hours beforehand. That time is taken out from the time we need to do the things you want us to do.

Health minister Brad Hazzard speaks to the media during today’s Covid press conference
Health minister Brad Hazzard speaks to the media during today’s Covid press conference. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Updated

I defy anyone to say they won’t miss Brad Hazzard talking about how he sympathises with “ladies’ hairdressers” when these daily press conferences end after tomorrow. He adds that:

I will just say, I have had a guy doing my own hair a few times and it has been a disaster.

Updated

Brad Hazzard on how infections are spreading (with a slight interruption when a phone went off):

The issue is that there are still places where it is occurring, the two major places are workplaces and homes, but homes, probably, I think are a major area of concern in south-western and Western Sydney.

Sorry, could I say, I was distracted by the journalist’s phone, but in south-western and western Sydney, and in other parts of the state as well, it is the families that are often the ones who, somebody introduces it to the household, and once it is in there it is very hard to stop it circulating.

But what I would say is that I constantly hear that a person in household or the people in household who do not get it: one is vaccinated. So again, a message to the broader community is, please go and get vaccinated. You are doing it for yourself, for your family and for the broader community.

Updated

There has been at least a dozen deaths at home during this outbreak:

Brad Hazzard is asked a question about why so many people are dying at home during this outbreak. He says:

There have been a number of people die at home who have never even come to the attention of NSW Health [and] will not even to a GP. And certainly in parts of Sydney, particularly in the south-west and west, I think, there is a lot of pressure.

This is a disease that is highlighting some of the, well, it is a virus that is highlighting some of the inequities in our community, and in some households it can be a very large household where only one or two people are working. And I think there is a reluctance, in many instances, for people to want to actually tell us that they are actually not well, because they want to go on earning income.

I say to those people, the federal government and the state government have put up economic [measures], there is also lots of other support for you, and the most important thing is to stay alive. Please do not hesitate to contact our health system for support ... please, please, please, do not run the risk of dying. Seek medical help.

Health minister Brad Hazzard speaks to the media during today’s Covid press conference in Sydney
Health minister Brad Hazzard speaks to the media during today’s Covid press conference in Sydney. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Updated

Brad Hazzard is really rubbing in what we will miss when these daily updates end after tomorrow. He will not be drawn on whether it’s “not the Australian way” to report Covid-19 restriction breaches, and says he expects the media to take photos today of people gathering in the pleasant Sydney weather “as they tend to do that”, etc.

Updated

There have been sewage detections in places where there are no active cases, Jeremy McAnulty says, including: Byron Bay, Bangalow, Jindabyne, Yass and Young.

Updated

Far western NSW Covid cases reach 149

The deputy chief health officer, Jeremy McAnulty, says the majority of new cases are still in Sydney’s west and south-west, particularly Auburn, Greenacre, Merrylands, Liverpool, Punchbowl, Granville, Bankstown and Guildford.

He says 13 cases were reported yesterday in the far west of the state, including 10 in Broken Hill and three in Wilcannia. The total cases in the far west is 149, including 116 in Wilcannia and 32 in Broken Hill.

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Hazzard says the vaccination numbers are now up to 77.3% of the adult population with one dose and 44.5% fully vaccinated.

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NSW death toll hits 170

The death toll from this outbreak is 170, Hazzard says.

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Brad Hazzard says that none of the eight people who died yesterday were vaccinated. There were three people in their 80s, two in their 70s, one in their 50s, one in their 40s, and one in their 30s. All had underlying health conditions, he says.

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NSW records 1,599 new cases and eight deaths

There were 1,599 locally acquired cases and eight deaths recorded yesterday, the NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, says.

Health minister Brad Hazzard has announced 1,599 new locally acquired Covid cases and eight deaths in NSW
Health minister Brad Hazzard has announced 1,599 new locally acquired Covid cases and eight deaths in NSW. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

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Brad Hazzard to give 11am Covid update

For those angry that the NSW daily press conferences are about to end, I remind you that the second last will start in just under 10 minutes.

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Victorian health authorities will front the media at 11.30am. It appears there’s been another case detected in regional Victoria, this time in Cohuna, in the state’s north.

Premier Daniel Andrews has made clear that cases would pop up here and there, but that if an outbreak got out of hand in a regional area then a local lockdown – similar to that which has occurred in Shepparton – would be considered.

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A few people have pointed out that there is absolutely no restriction on drinking cans of VB at home, but that people in Melbourne may very much like to go to a pub at some point.

We have an ACT update from AAP:

Greater outdoor freedoms could be on the cards as Canberra waits to see whether it will exit lockdown next Friday.

ACT chief minister Andrew Barr has indicated things such as golf, tennis and national park visits could be on the cards following September 17.

“This is not about the recommencement of organised sport, but it would be safe, managed, small gatherings,” he told reporters on Friday. “It’s on the agenda, it’s being considered.”

But gatherings at people’s homes will likely remain off limits.

The steps and timeline to ease restrictions following the scheduled end of lockdown will be revealed on Tuesday.

Canberra recorded 24 cases on Friday as it became the first jurisdiction in Australia to vaccinate half of its population aged 16 and over.

Of the new cases, 18 are linked and least six people weren’t in quarantine the entire time.

There are 15 cases in hospital, ranging from under the age of 12 to their 70s, with four in intensive care including one on a ventilator.

All but four are unvaccinated and three are confirmed to have received a single dose.

The majority of cases are in people younger than 45, reflecting the fact Pfizer eligibility was only recently opened to everyone down to the age of 12.

Updated

Here’s some data, wonks:

Here’s a bit of a wrap on the easing of lockdown restrictions in some parts of NSW’s regions, thanks to AAP:

Thousands of NSW residents in a handful of COVID-free regional areas have woken to their first day of freedom in four weeks.

Stay-at-home restrictions have lifted for much of the state’s north-east and south-west, including in the regional centres of Coffs Harbour, Wagga Wagga and Albury.

Masks will be mandatory at indoor public venues, but hospitality venues, shops, sporting facilities and beauty services have all been cleared to reopen with restrictions.

Up to to five people will be allowed in a home and up to 20 can gather outdoors.

Entertainment venues like cinemas and theatres can also open with conditions, and outdoor and stadium events can also resume, with limits on attendees.

Weddings and funerals will be limited to 50 people, with churches and places of worship to open subject to the four square metre rule and no singing.

But for the bulk of NSW residents, those freedoms remain weeks away, with lockdown to continue in Sydney, for the southern parts of the state, the southeast, the Illawarra, the Shoalhaven, Hunter, Central Coast, central west and parts of the far west.

There worse is yet to come in many of the locked-down areas, with cases expected to peak in the next week, putting significant strain on hospitals and ambulances.

NSW ambulances are already enduring a daily level of demand typical of New Year’s Eve as they transport hundreds of suspected COVID-19 patients each day.

Some 3,500 people diagnosed with or suspected of having the virus were transported by ambulances in NSW in the past two weeks, NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan told reporters on Friday.

The number of new locally acquired cases reported remains high too, with 1,542 testing positive to the virus in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday.

Nine people also died in the reporting period, including two who passed away at home.

There are 1,156 patients in NSW in hospital, with 207 in intensive care and 89 ventilated.

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Almost certainly Melbourne fans (not a slight on their collective lawlessness, but a nod to their desperation, given how hopeless the Demons have been for so long...) AAP reports that:

Two Victorians have been sent back to locked down Melbourne after trying to get into Perth to watch AFL finals matches.

WA police said a 46-year-old woman arrived in Perth on a flight from Melbourne on Thursday with an approved pass to enter, but further investigation found she failed to meet the criteria for entry.

“The woman claimed her reason for travel was to watch the AFL finals and complete various business activities,” police said.

Also on Thursday, a 67-year-old man flew from Melbourne to WA claiming he had only been to South Australia in the 14 days prior.

“The man failed to declare he had been in Victoria and claimed his reason for travel to WA was to attend the AFL Grand Final after completing 14 days quarantine,” police said.

“Travel to attend the AFL Finals series as a spectator is not considered a category for approval to enter WA from restricted locations.”

Max Gawn of Melbourne celebrates after winning the AFL preliminary final against Geelong in Perth on Friday.
Max Gawn of Melbourne celebrates after winning the AFL preliminary final against Geelong in Perth on Friday. Photograph: Richard Wainwright/AAP

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The lovely town of Daylesford in central Victoria has recorded a Covid-19 case, AAP reports:

A small Victorian town is dealing with a coronavirus scare on the same day it was released from lockdown, as Melburnians face an anxious wait for a roadmap out of their restrictions.

A cafe and medical clinic in Daylesford, just over 100 kilometres northwest of Melbourne, have been forced to close their doors after people infected with COVID-19 visited their venues.

Cliffy’s Emporium on Raglan Street said a staff member, who worked on 7 September, had tested positive for the virus on Friday.

“We are working closely with DHS. However, as a precaution will be closed from tomorrow to allow our team to get tested,” the cafe said on Facebook.

Springs Medical Clinic on Hospital Street closed for deep cleaning on Friday after a CovidD-positive case visited on September 8, between 3:15pm and 4.30pm, with contact tracing underway.

Most of regional Victoria except Greater Shepparton emerged from lockdown on Friday, with retail and hospitality allowed to reopen under strict rules.

Shepparton is expected to be released from its lockdown next week, while people in Melbourne are awaiting the release of the state government’s roadmap.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the government is waiting for detailed modelling from the Burnett Institute before releasing its plans.

Updated

The numbers in Victoria are confronting, but an increase was forecast. This is how the daily numbers have trended in the state since premier Daniel Andrews announced the goal was no longer covid zero on 31 August:

76, 120, 176, 208, 190, 183, 246, 246, 221, 324, 334, 450.

I believe Victoria has recorded its higher ever dose number in state-run clinics, with 39,148 slightly higher than the amount recorded yesterday. Will expect some confirmation of this later today when Victorian health authorities provide an update.

Updated

Victoria records 450 new cases of Covid-19

There were more than 39,000 vaccine doses administered in state clinics, but that is another significant jump in case numbers. Seventy-five of the cases have been linked to known cases.

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Young makes clear they don’t have all the information yet on this outbreak, saying they have been doing interviews with the family “through the night”. It is hard to shake the image of Young and another health official playing good cop/bad cop during an interrogation in a small smoke-filled interview room.

As is often the case at Covid-19 press conferences around the country, the New South Wales outbreak is being repeatedly mentioned in this Queensland press conference as a warning as to what can happen when people don’t do the right thing.

Here’s the Queensland numbers, as mentioned earlier:

Queensland’s chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young, is speaking now. She will be announcing some restrictions on aged care and hospital settings, while the state gets hold of this cluster.

Young says the theory on how five people contracted Covid is that the children visited their father on Father’s Day, when he also had a visitor at his house from New South Wales.

That visitor has not yet tested positive, but genomic sequencing shows the five cases are not linked to any other known Queensland outbreaks.

There’s three very clear messages here from Palaszczuk: do the right thing when you’re outside the house in terms of mask-wearing and checking in, get tested at the sign of any symptoms, and go and get a jab:

Now is the time, Queensland, to get vaccinated. We have 55.4% of eligible Queenslanders who have their first dose and 57.7% of eligible Queenslanders are fully vaccinated and if we get more supply, as I said, we’ll get more vaccines into people’s arms.

There is a sense of urgency here because we are seeing these clusters that pop up and we need to make sure we are protected as much as we possibly can. There are thousands and thousands of cases in New South Wales. It is just across our border and we’ve seen how easy it is for it to get across our border, whether it’s a freight driver or a visitor from NSW.

That’s why we have tough border measures in place but we can’t stop everything so we need Queenslanders to play their part and I know they absolutely will do that.

Updated

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says:

There is no lockdown today but in the next 24 to 48 hours we’ll be closely monitoring the situation and, if we start seeing any seeding, then we may have to take very quick, fast action. But at the moment, it’s contained to the family.

We also have that young girl’s school community. They’ve gone into home quarantine about 1,000 people there, so we know people are doing the right thing but we absolutely need Queenslanders, if anyone has any symptoms whatsoever, to go and get tested. Now, this young girl had a headache and her mother took her to get tested.

We also believe that the source of this cluster could be a visitor who came to the father’s home from New South Wales. So we are doing further investigations there.

Updated

Five new Covid-19 cases in Queensland

There are five new locally acquired cases in Queensland. They are all from the same family, and health authorities believe they know the source. There will be no lockdown announced today, but it is an evolving situation.

Before we descend into hours of Covid-related pandemonium, can I recommend taking a few moments to read this piece from Donna Lu on the manufacturing of fake meat?

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Gladys Berejiklian won't be at 11am press conference

And there will be no NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian at the second-last 11am pandemic press conference today.

The health minister, Brad Hazzard, the deputy chief health officer, Dr Jeremy McAnulty, and Dr Brian Burns, an emergency medicine specialist, will do the honours.

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One of the things we will be hearing less about from the NSW government is the state of the hospital system:

Speaking of press conferences, Katharine Murphy did not miss in her critique of NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian: “I haven’t seen a politician more disinclined to answer basic questions than Berejiklian. It takes a particular kind of arrogance to be as impervious to scrutiny as this New South Wales premier is”.

Murmurings that Queensland could be considering a lockdown, with premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to give a press conference at 9am.

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If you are in one of those regional areas of NSW coming out of lockdown, spare a thought for those in the the community of Wilcannia. This is a great long read from Calla Wahlquist on the devastating situation unfolding in the town in the state’s west.

Good morning.

I’m Nino Bucci with your Covid news (and a side of non-Covid content) this Saturday.

It will be the second-last daily press conference of the pandemic in New South Wales, with premier Gladys Berejiklian announcing on Friday (along with a record 1,542 cases and nine deaths) that she would abandon the practice from Monday. Her decision was not well received.

Thousands of NSW residents in a handful of Covid-free regional areas have woken to their first day of freedom in four weeks.

Stay-at-home restrictions have lifted for much of NSW’s north-east and south-west, including in the regional centres of Coffs Harbour, Wagga Wagga and Albury.

Masks will be mandatory at indoor public venues, but hospitality venues, shops, sporting facilities and beauty services have all been cleared to reopen with restrictions. Up to to five people will be allowed in a home and up to 20 can gather outdoors.

Queensland will reinstate a border bubble with NSW on Monday. Late on Friday a Brisbane university worker, who is a relative of a Brisbane schoolgirl who has Covid-19, also tested positive for the virus.

Griffith University vice-chancellor Prof Carolyn Evans emailed staff telling them a staff member, who is a family relative of the 13-year-old Sunnybank girl who tested positive on Friday, also tested positive.

Authorities don’t yet know if there’s a link between the girl, her family member and a NSW truck driver who was also infectious in the community at nearby Mount Gravatt and Archerfield on Sunday and Monday.

Victoria is seeing case numbers climb as projected, with 324 cases in the state on Friday.

The vaccination rate is accelerating above forecasts, however, with Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar saying he expected the state would “smash” the original 23 September estimate by several days.

Most of regional Victoria except Greater Shepparton emerged from lockdown on Friday, with retail and hospitality allowed to reopen under strict rules.

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