Coronavirus live: Victoria calls for quarantine rethink; New Zealand records three local cases | World news
Victorian press conference for 12pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time)
The Victorian health minister, Martin Foley, will hold a press conference at 12pm AEDT with the chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, and the head of contact tracing Jeroen Weimar on the latest on the Covid situation in Victoria on day two of the five-day snap lockdown.
New Zeland reports three new community Covid cases
New Zealand’s minister for Covid-19 response, Chris Hipkins has confirmed there are three new cases in the community and one at managed isolation facility.
The community cases involve a mother, father and daughter from the same south Auckland household. Officials are currently investigating whether the infections are one of the more transmissible strains, and to identify the source.
The mother works at LSG Sky chefs, an airport laundry and catering facility, where staff undergo regular testing. However, the last time she was at work was on 5 February. “Based on current timelines we do not consider that she would have been at work while she was infectious,” said director-deneral of health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield. The daughter’s school has been temporarily closed.
“There is no such thing as no risk while Covid-19 is out there, so we need to stay vigilant,” Hipkins said, adding that the government would act with an abundance of caution, and that prime ministerJacinda Ardern would return to Wellington in the afternoon to address the situation.
Hello, this is Rebecca Ratcliffe in Bangkok, taking over from my colleague Josh Taylor.
Here is an update from Britain, which will begin giving Covid-19 shots to people aged 65 and over on Monday as it closes in on its target to offer vaccines to 15 million people in priority groups.
The government set Monday as the deadline to deliver a first vaccine dose to everyone in its top four priority segments, including all those aged 70 and over, a goal it looks likely to reach, Reuters reported.
According to the latest official figures, 14.56 million people have received a shot, allowing health officials to expand the programme to those aged 65 to 69, and to other clinically vulnerable people.
The National Health Service said about 1 million people had already received invitations.
“Every jab in the arm is another step closer to returning to normality in the future and that’s why we’re now inviting the next priority group to book their appointments,” vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi said in a statement.
Britain, which has recorded more than 120,000 deaths from Covid-19, was the first western country to begin mass vaccinations in December, and is ahead of other European countries in rolling out the shots.
New South Wales records 28th consecutive day of no new local cases
The Australian state of New South Wales recorded no new locally acquired cases of Covid-19 for the 28th consecutive day.
There were two cases in hotel quarantine reported, with 16,302 tests to 8pm.
The NSW health department says this is the first time NSW has gone 28 days with no locally acquired cases since the start of the pandemic last year.
For those wondering how the Victorian MPs will manage federal parliament with the lockdown in place, worry no longer – most arrived in the ACT before the lockdown, under advice from the sergeant-at-arms so they could attend the coming sitting.
Those who elected to stay at home can attend via virtual sittings from their offices.
Just some more information on the two cases in Victoria today, the ABC’s Raf Epstein says they’re linked to a private function at Coburg, where most others have tested negative.
We are expecting a press conference soon. Just checking on the timing.
Boris Johnson urges G7 leader to unite to defeat ‘common foe’ Covid
The British PM Boris Johnson will urge world leaders to work together to defeat the “common foe” of coronavirus when he hosts his first meeting of the UK presidency of the G7, AP reports.
Johnson will call for an end to the “nationalist and divisive politics” which marred the initial response to the pandemic when he chairs the virtual gathering on Friday.
According to Downing Street, Johnson will say the rollout of vaccines offers a fresh opportunity to demonstrate the value of international cooperation.
The online meeting – ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall in June – marks US president Joe Biden’s first major multilateral engagement since entering the White House last month.
Among those involved with the G7, there is reportedly relief at the prospect of dealing with a president committed to upholding the international order after the turbulent years of Donald Trump.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Johnson said: “The solutions to the challenges we face – from the colossal mission to get vaccines to every single country, to the fight to reverse the damage done to our ecosystems and lead a sustainable recovery from coronavirus – lie in the discussions we have with our friends and partners around the world.
“Quantum leaps in science have given us the vaccines we need to end this pandemic for good,” he said. “Now world governments have a responsibility to work together to put those vaccines to the best possible use.”
Queensland has reported no cases of Covid-19.
It’s still a couple of weeks until Australians start to get vaccinated against Covid-19, and health minister Greg Hunt has flagged the government will be developing communications to ensure everyone in Australia is able to receive the vaccine, AAP reports.
Hunt said it is critical that communications around the vaccine program are also targeted for culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse communities.
“The government recognises that people from multicultural communities are a significant part of the health, aged care, child care and disability workforce and will be among the first people in Australia to receive vaccinations,” Hunt said in a statement on Sunday.
Australia’s shadow federal treasurer, Jim Chalmers, is concerned that Australia is languishing in rolling out the vaccine program which he says is creating uncertainty in communities and the economy more broadly, AAP reports.
He said some 90 countries have their vaccinations program under way.
“After the prime minister said we were at the front of the queue, 160m people have been vaccinated around the world, while zero Australians have been vaccinated,” Chalmers told Sky News on Sunday.
The Australian rollout is not due to begin until later this month.
Good morning and welcome to the Guardian’s global coronavirus live blog.
I’m Josh Taylor, reporting to you from Melbourne where we are in day two of a five-day snap lockdown, following an outbreak from the Holiday Inn Melbourne airport quarantine hotel.
As of Sunday morning, there are now 16 cases associated with the Melbourne outbreak, with two new cases reported today, with one other case in hotel quarantine.
Here’s the latest from the rest of the world at a glance:
- UK prime minister Boris Johnson has said he is “optimistic” he will be able to begin announcing the easing of restrictions when he sets out his “roadmap” out of lockdown in England on 22 February.
- Australia’s Victoria state is gearing up to rethink its hotel quarantine programme, as the state enters its second day of a five-day “circuit-breaker” lockdown in response to an outbreak of the more infectious UK variant at a Melbourne airport quarantine hotel, and two new locally acquired cases of Covid-19 and one in hotel quarantine were reported.
- Iran is heading towards a “fourth wave” as cases rise in certain areas, its president has warned.
- Talking about UK pubs reopening in April is “premature” and pub bosses need to realise there is a danger of going “back to square one”, an expert has said.
- Uptake of the coronavirus vaccine among care home staff in the UK remains “far too low”, according to the deputy chair of the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), who said only 66% of care home staff had taken up the offer of the jab.
- A coronavirus strain found on a Polish mink farm can be directly transmitted from the animals to humans and vice versa, the country’s agriculture ministry said on Saturday.
- Venezuela has received the first 100,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine on Saturday.
- Lebanon on Saturday received its first coronavirus vaccines, a day before an inoculation drive is set to launch.
- Infections in Germany continue to fall nationwide, as the country reported 8,354 new infections on Saturday, around 2,100 fewer than a week earlier.
- South Africa will reopen 20 of its land borders to allow normal travel after restrictions were implemented to control rising Covid-19 infections last month, the Home Affairs ministry said on Saturday.
- China refused to hand over data on early Covid cases to the investigation into the origins of the pandemic, a member of the member of the World Health Organization-led team has said.
If you want to read more on these developments the previous blog can be found here.
Let’s get into it.
Victoria adds new Covid exposure sites; Greek tennis player tests positive hours after leaving Melbourne
In Victoria overnight, four new Covid exposure sites were added:
- Elite Swimming, Pascoe Vale, Monday 8 February, 5pm – 6pm
- Woolworths Broadmeadows Central, Broadmeadows, Tuesday 9 February, 12.15pm – 12.30pm
- Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses, Broadmeadows, Tuesday 9 February, 12.30pm – 12.45pm
- Oak Park Sports and Aquatic Centre, Pascoe Vale, Wednesday 10 February, 4pm – 7.30pm
Anyone who visited these locations must isolate, test and remain isolated for 14 days. For a full list of exposure sites and locations where you can get a Covid test, visit: http://dhhs.vic.gov.au/case-locations.
The Australian health minister, Greg Hunt, has reportedly rejected suggestions from Victorian premier Daniel Andrews, that hotel quarantine numbers should potentially be slashed to only those on compassionate grounds, stating Victoria should return to its pre-outbreak numbers at the end of the five-day lockdown.
It comes as Greek tennis player Michail Pervolarakis has tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Melbourne following the Australian Open, he flew on a 24-hour flight to South Africa, where he is now in isolation and asymptomatic.
The number 463 in ATP rankings has clarified he tested negative prior to leaving Melbourne, and believes he was infected on his flight or at his stopover in Doha.