COVID updates: Spike in cases 'will hit hard for many', says Victoria's Deputy Chief Health Officer — as it happened

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Victoria's Deputy Chief Health Officer, Ben Cowie, has said nearly half of the cases recorded on Wednesday were aged under 30, and 63 per cent were under 40 years old.

Here are the key moments from Thursday:

Catch up on all the latest COVID-19 updates in the blog below.

Live updates

By Michael Doyle

That is all for the blog today

We have been given our cue to close the blog.

Another busy day with plenty of news.

Thank-you to everyone who joined us and to those who submitted questions. 

Until next time, stay safe and be well. 

By Michael Doyle

Australia plans to stop AstraZeneca vaccine production — but how will it affect our neighbours?

The federal opposition and aid groups are urging the government to extend its contract with biotech giant CSL to manufacture more AstraZeneca vaccines in Melbourne, saying Australia should ramp up production next year to help vanquish the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed this morning the government would not renew its contract with CSL beyond the 51 million doses the company had already promised to deliver.

The company was expected to wind up production of AstraZeneca in Australia early next year.

CSL's Melbourne plant is now producing around a million doses a week, with up to 800,000 being sent overseas to bolster vaccine rollouts in the Pacific and South-East Asia.

But Mr Hunt said the government would not extend its contract with CSL, suggesting the company had commitments to manufacture other medicines and vaccines.

"The contract is being delivered in full, the doses are being shared, but it was only ever going to be one of the methods [for vaccine supply] and it was never contemplated that CSL would become a contract manufacturer," he said.

By foreign affairs reporter Stephen Dziedzic and Pacific affairs reporter Liam Fox.

By Michael Doyle

Epidemiologist urging Daniel Andrews to delay reopening if cases remain at current level

An epidemiologist has called on the Victorian Premier to delay reopening if the state's covid numbers remain high.

Victoria recorded a record 2 thousand 2 hundred and 97 new infections today.

Professor Tony Blakely has told the ABC's Statewide Drive, he disagrees with Daniel Andrews' commitment to ease restrictions despite rising cases.

"His belligerent tone today I thought was a bit out there," he said.

"The idea that we'll open up no matter, what that's quite a change of tune.

"If I was the Chief Health Officer and when we get to 70 per cent double-vaxxed and we're still at over 1000 cases a day I would be very nervous about opening up."

By Michael Doyle

WA records no new cases of COVID-19 today

By Michael Doyle

Calls for Queensland and WA to explain what living with COVID-19 will look like — 7.30

By Michael Doyle

Pub owner coming out of his 9th lockdown wants his country town moved to another shire

Residents in Tooboorac, where about 300 people live on the edge of the Mitchell Shire, are calling for the town to be zoned to a council area less likely to see another COVID lockdown.

The Mitchell Shire has experienced the most time in lockdown of any regional Victoria area.

It was released from its ninth lockdown last night after restrictions were tightened on September 19 — originally for just seven days.

Tooboorac has not recorded any cases during the latest outbreak and the majority were in the east and south of the shire. 

Read more on this story by reporter Sarah Lawrence by clicking here

By Michael Doyle

Here are the figures for Australia's vaccination rates today.

By Michael Doyle

South Australia's AMA says 93 additional hospital beds are not enough

The Australian Medical Association says the addition of 93 beds to South Australia's hospitals will not go anywhere near far enough when COVID-19 arrives in SA.

The government says the beds, to be spread across Modbury, Hampstead and the Repat at Daw Park, will help ease the pressure on the system.

But the AMA's South Australian President, Dr Michelle Atchison, says the extra beds only address demand before there has even been an outbreak of the virus.. and she'd like to see at least 300 beds opened up.

"These 93 beds aren't for COVID patients, these are for people who are stuck in the hospital system at the moment, to free up a bit of space in the hospital system for what is day-to-day general medical need at the moment," she said.

"The government really needs to announce more beds for COVID patients."

By Michael Doyle

Your questions about COVID and Victorian schools, VCE exams and masks answered

This one is for our friends in Victoria. 

Reporter Yara Murray-Atfield has put together this piece answering some burning questions that Victorian parents and students have. 

You can read all about it by clicking this link. 

By Michael Doyle

SA announces state of emergency extended for another 28 days

The Governor of South Australia today extended SA's state of emergency for another 28 days. 

The state of emergency is now set to end on November 23.

By Michael Doyle

A question about Mildura's lockdown

Is there any news on Mildura getting out of lockdown tomorrow??

-Victorian Mum

Hello blog friend. 

I have not seen any new information about the seven-day lockdown in Mildura which started last Friday.

If there is any update, you will find it here.

By Michael Doyle

South Australia records zero new cases 

By Michael Doyle

At home COVID tests approved by TGA

By political reporter Nour Haydar

Australians will be able to test for COVID-19 at home from next month, with several rapid antigen tests now approved.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved three self-testing kits for use at home, all of which deliver results within 15 to 20 minutes.

Two of the approved tests require individuals to take a saliva test, while the other requires a nasal swab.

Anyone who tests positive, using the at-home kits, will be instructed to self-isolate immediately and contact a doctor to arrange a more reliable PCR test.

The rules for how they're used could also depend on where you live, with states and territories allowed to take their own approaches to the tests as well.

Health Minister Greg Hunt had previously flagged the federal government hoped at-home tests would be available in Australia by November 1, as long as they were approved for use by the TGA.

At the moment you can only use a rapid antigen test under the supervision of a health professional, which is what many businesses have taken to doing.

By Michael Doyle

Victorian changes to Transdev route frequencies from Thursday

Nearly 30 Victorian bus routes have been impacted after a number of drivers were forced into COVID-19 quarantine.

The Department of Transport said, "a number of drivers are required to isolate to help contain the spread of coronavirus".

Here's what the department says about the affected routes:

There will be some afternoon cancellations today on routes 318, 901, 902 and further cancellations to some route 903 services.

From tomorrow, Route 901 and 902 services will operate to a Saturday timetable.

Other affected routes will run at the following frequency:

  • Route 202 – Yarra Bend to Melbourne University, 25 minutes
  • Route 215 – Caroline Springs to Highpoint SC, 60 minutes
  • Route 216 – Sunshine Station to City, 30 minutes
  • Route 220 – Sunshine Station to City, 30 minutes
  • Route 223 – Somerville Road to Highpoint SC, 30 minutes
  • Route 232 – Altona Park & Ride to Queen Victoria Market, 30 minutes
  • Route 235 – Fisherman's Bend to Queen Victoria Market (via Williamstown Road), 30 minutes
  • Route 237 – Fisherman's Bend to Queen Victoria Market (via Lorimer Street), 60 minutes
  • Route 250 – La Trobe University to City, 40 minutes
  • Route 251 – Northland SC to City, 40 minutes
  • Route 350 – City to La Trobe University via Eastern Freeway, 60 minutes
  • Route 426 – Caroline Springs to Sunshine Station, 60 minutes
  • Route 429 – Sunshine South Loop, 60 minutes

There will be a significant number of cancellations in the morning and afternoon peak periods on routes 303 and 903.

There will also be some morning peak cancellations on routes 270, 905, 906, 907, and 908.

A full list of affected services can be found by clicking this link.

By Michael Doyle

Casey Briggs brings us the latest figures from across Australia.

By Michael Doyle

WA Premier Mark McGowan offers a glimpse into life with COVID in the state

Did you miss today's press conference from WA?

Reporter Rhiannon Shine has outlined what Premier Mark McGowan said earlier today. 

You can read about Mark McGowan offering a glimpse into life with COVID here.

By Michael Doyle

NT Health Minister says officials are doing best to vaccinate remote areas

The NT Health Minister says health officials are doing their best to vaccinate people in remote parts of the Northern Territory where COVID vaccination rates remain significantly lower than in urban areas.

The NT government says the Stage 3 COVID plan will be enacted once 80 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, despite earlier promising border restrictions would stay in place until vaccination rates were evenly spread across remote and regional areas.

Minister Natasha Fyles says the government is trying to reach those who might have less access to health care…but she says ultimately, it's up to individuals.

"They're going out where we know people that are vulnerable and might not be engaging with mainstream services, and talking to them about the vaccine, and they're going back repeatedly, but we've all got a role to play in this," she said.

By Michael Doyle

A question on SA residents returning from overseas, completing their hotel quarantine in NSW

Hello there lovely bloggers! I'm just wondering whether you happen to know the current situation for International arrivals who fly into NSW, and therefore do their 14 day hotel quarantine there, but then wish to return to their home in SA? Are they able to then fly from Sydney to Adelaide? If so, do they do another 14 days in a hotel or can they do it at home?

-Claire

Hey Claire

Excellent question. 

You will need to apply for an exemption from SA Health. The link for the exemption page can be found here

You will need to wait for the decision before you have any chance of making arrangements other than quarantine in a medi-hotel.

The following is from the SA government website

People who are overseas arrivals (including South Australian residents or people genuinely relocating to South Australia) having completed 14 days quarantine in NSW, must apply for an exemption from SA Health which may approve travel to South Australia. Applications should be made through the Health Exemptions page.

Note: Submitting the Cross Border Travel Registration without SA Health approval will result in a declined application.

By Michael Doyle

Hundreds attend Warrnambool races as part of reopening trial

Hundreds of racing fans have filtered through the gates at the Warrnambool races in south-west Victoria as part of the state government's "vaccinated economy" trial.

The club is hosting up to 300 fully vaccinated spectators this afternoon in one of the first tests for the events industry ahead of this summer's reopening.

It is the first time racegoers have been allowed at the track since amid the latest coronavirus outbreak and comes ahead of plans to host 10,000 spectators at this year's Melbourne Cup.

Warrnambool Racing Club chief executive Tom O'Connor says patrons were more than happy to provide proof of vaccination.

"Anything we learn today is going to help not just the Melbourne Cup, it'll help businesses down the street here in Warrnambool, it's going to help other racing clubs and other events too," Mr O'Connor said.

"We're just happy to be part of the trial."

By Michael Doyle

No news yet from SA

Hey Team!
Any word out of SA? The SOE runs out in less than 24hrs and the transmission committee should have met today.. but it appears radio silence is it...

-Quirky

Hello blog friend. 

No word from South Australia so far. 

As for the State of Emergency (SOE), this ends on Saturday and I have not seen anything else to say otherwise.

Happy Thursday. 


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