Coronavirus updates LIVE: PM plots future plan for no lockdowns, close contacts of Victorian quarantine worker test negative


  • The 17 close contacts of a COVID-postive Victorian hotel quarantine worker have all tested negative to the virus. But it was confirmed the man has the more virulent UK variant of coronavirus on Friday. 
  • It’s double doughnuts for NSW after the state recorded no new cases in the community or hotel quarantine for the first time in 10 weeks on Friday. Five people in NSW who were staying at a Victorian quarantine hotel when the virus was transmitted between guests in adjacent rooms have returned negative test results. 
  • West Australians can return to work and children will start school on Monday, with WA’s lockdown set to be lifted at 6pm last night. 
  • Australian Open spectators will have to wear masks if the roof is closed on major venues, after the Victorian government confirmed late on Friday that indoor mask rules would include “stadiums and other event venues”. 

COVID-19 cleaning squads to target Sydney’s public transport

More COVID-19 cleaning squads will target Sydney’s train, bus, ferry and light rail services in the CBD, where more than 1000 touch points are sanitised at five locations every day.

Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said the new roving teams had been added to bolster cleaning services across the commuter network and hand out masks as city workers return to offices.

The teams will service the network in addition to its regular cleaners, tending to hand rails, stops, waiting areas and bike racks.

They can also be deployed to areas where there has been a COVID-19 breakout or where a major event is taking place, like the Sydney Cricket Ground.

More than 1,000 touch points are cleaned each shift at Central, Town Hall, Wynyard, Circular Quay and Martin Place, and more than 92,000 masks have been handed out to customers since the squads first popped up during the Northern Beaches outbreak,” Mr Constance said.

South Africa secures enough COVID-19 vaccines for at least 26 million people

Cape Town: South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in parliament on Friday that the country had secured enough COVID-19 vaccines for at least 26 million people.

Africa’s most industrialised economy aims to vaccinate 40 million people, or two-thirds of its population, to reach herd immunity.

People pass a sign at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, indicating a COVID testing station.Credit:AP

It has recorded the most coronavirus infections and deaths on the African continent, and received its first shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India this week.

A health ministry presentation said the government had signed a term sheet for 9 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine at $10 a dose.

One of the conditions for J&J’s vaccine was the establishment of a no-fault compensation system for adverse events, it said.

The presentation added that Moderna had offered the country 200,000 doses of its COVID-19 vaccine priced at $30-$42 a dose in the second quarter, with more doses available in the third quarter.


PM’s top man to plot path back to post-pandemic normal

Scott Morrison has tasked his most senior bureaucrat with plotting a path towards post-pandemic Australia, where localised outbreaks of the virus are managed without locking down major cities, shutting businesses or closing state borders.

Mr Morrison said Australia’s successful suppression of the virus and the pending rollout of the coronavirus vaccinations meant the levels of risks would shift in the coming months, absent of a third wave and the community response.

Announcing plans to lift state-based hotel quarantine caps and expand accommodation at the Howard Springs facility near Darwin, Mr Morrison said Australia would soon be in a place where governments could potentially manage the virus “like other conditions that are in the community”.

Changing the response to new cases means considering the risk to vulnerable Australians, who are more likely to become seriously ill or die from contracting COVID-19, if the nation moves to live with the virus during day-to-day life. Mr Morrison warned that was still “some way off”.

Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Phil Gaetjens will work with his state and territory counterparts this month to advise national cabinet on how Australian life could return to normal over the next year.

Read the full article here.

Spectators at Australian Open to wear masks when the roof is closed

Spectators watching the tennis at the Australian Open will have to wear a mask when the roof is closed at major courts Rod Laver Arena and Margaret Court Arena.

The Victorian government confirmed late on Friday that indoor mask rules which came into effect late on Wednesday night would include “stadiums and other event venues”.

“In the context of the Australian Open, when the roof is closed at its venues with retractable roofs, 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.

When venue roofs are open, masks will not be needed.

Tennis players will be exempt from these restrictions as they are undertaking strenuous exercise.

Close contacts of Victorian hotel quarantine worker test negative

All of the close contacts linked to the positive Grand Hyatt COVID-19 case in Melbourne this week have tested negative.

The Victorian Department of Health issued the good news in a brief tweet sent out on Friday night.

It stated that all 17 of the Noble Park man’s household and social primary contacts, who had been tested for the virus, have returned negative results.

On Friday, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the man’s close contacts could still test positive, but all would remain in 14 days isolation.

Health authorities had earlier confirmed the 26-year-old man was infected with the more virulent UK variant of the virus.

Welcome to today’s coverage

Good morning, and thank you for joining us for our COVID-19 blog. I’m Ashleigh McMillan and I’ll be with you until mid-afternoon today.

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

  • All 17 of personal close contacts of a positive hotel quarantine worker in Victoria have tested negative. The 26-year-old man is confirmed to have the more virulent UK variant of coronavirus.
  • The Victorian government has confirmed those attending the Australian Open will have to wear a mask if the roof is closed at an arena. Players will be exempt during strenuous activity.
  • Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Prime Minister Scott Morrison are in negotiations to commission a new 1000-bed quarantine facility in Toowoomba, about 120 kilometres west of Brisbane.
  • This comes as Mr Morrison tasked his most senior bureaucrat with plotting a path towards post-pandemic Australia, where localised outbreaks of the virus are managed without locking down major cities, shutting businesses or closing state borders.
  • Western Australia exited its five day lockdown with no new local COVID-19 cases at 6pm on Friday, with residents in the Perth, Peel and South West regions free to leave their homes and head out to pubs and restaurants.
  • Gladys Berejiklian on Friday said she had fronted the PM at the latest meeting of national cabinet to make clear her expectation that NSW workers are prioritised.

  • Tennis officials are breathing a sigh of relief after Tennis Australia confirmed all 507 players and staff tested for COVID-19 in Melbourne on Thursday returned negative results.

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

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