Let’s start with some really good news to start your Monday: From now on, it’s going to be easier for Australians to get vaccinated.
Nearly half a million doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine arrived in Sydney on Sunday night as part of a swap deal with the UK.
The federal government announced last week that the arrangement would add 4 million Pfizer doses to Australia’s supplies, doubling the nation’s Pfizer supply this month.
The first flight from London carried 164,970 doses and landed on Sunday evening. A second flight, carrying 292,500 doses, arrived a few hours later. The rest of the four million are due to arrive during September.
Australia will return Pfizer doses to the UK later this year. UK High Commissioner to Australia Vicki Treadell has said those supplies would be used for booster shots.
Meanwhile, about 500,000 doses of Pfizer secured from Singapore are now being dispatched around the country after getting the nod of approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
And states are rolling out more vaccination hubs – including “Jabba the Bus” which will visit regional Victorians, and caravans to serve New South Wales Indigenous communities.
It’s positive news not just for our health but also for the millions of locked-down Australians being told they will need to show they are vaccinated to enjoy freedoms in future.
You can click here to find out more about what’s being said about the plan to reopen the nation following a “bin fire” interview by Employment Minister Stuart Roberts.
Watch Australian musicians leading a #VaxTheNation movement:
Or read on to see the latest on coronavirus vaccine passports and what we know about lockdowns and caseloads.
Monday marks one month since Victorians were plunged into their sixth lockdown.
The state is also marking a much more positive milestone: 60 per cent of the population is now vaccinated with at least one dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca.
Soon there will be more motivation to book in for a COVID-19 vaccine, as the state moves towards a “vaccinated economy” that would see “double-vaxxed” people allowed to dine in pubs and cafes.
It’s likely Victorians outside metro areas and COVID-hit Shepparton will be given greater freedoms in the coming week, and a “vaccine passport” pilot program will be trialled in regional venues.
“There’s going to be a vaccinated economy, and you get to participate in that if you are vaccinated,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.
“I am certain that there will be a whole range of events once we get to 70 and 80 per cent double dose thresholds … that will be open for vaccinated people only.”
With only one of the 89 Victorian COVID patients in hospital fully vaccinated, Mr Andrews described the current outbreak as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”.
It is also impacting a younger demographic than last year’s second wave, with 91 per cent of the 183 new cases reported on Sunday under the age of 50.
Multiple primary schools, PAS group in Richmond, a dental clinic in Tarneit and Frankston Hospital emergency department were added as Tier 1 exposure sites on Sunday night, as the list grew beyond 1000.
Major financial firm Ernst & Young was named among new Tier 2 sites.
- Click here to see the full list of exposure sites
A weekend record 29,915 doses were administered at state-run hubs on Saturday, taking the state closer to its goal of one million jabs in five weeks.
Once Victoria reaches 70 per cent first dose coverage, it will trigger minor rule easing including the expansion of the 5km travel radius to 10km and more exercise time.
The state was initially forecast to hit the mark on September 23, but is five days ahead of schedule.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will this week release COVID-19 modelling on the looming peak in case numbers and hospitalisations, as the state’s vaccination rate reaches 40 per cent.
“All the modelling indicates to us that the peak is likely to be here in the next week or two,” the premier said on Sunday.
“The peak in hospitalisation and intensive care is likely to be with us in October.”
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that one in 10 people who catch the virus is ending up in hospital.
Last week, Ms Berejiklian said the state’s hospitalisation rate was 5.5 per cent of cases, even though a NSW Health COVID-19 report for the period up to August 14 – at a time the state was recording three times fewer cases a day – stated the figure as 12 per cent.
Data released at the weekend shows 11 per cent of cases are hospitalised, SMH reports.
There are 1030 COVID-19 patients in NSW in hospital, with 175 in intensive care and 72 who require ventilation.
The death toll for the current NSW outbreak is now 126.
NSW reported 1485 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and three deaths on Sunday as authorities battle to contain the spread of the virulent Delta strain.
Ms Berejiklian said the government will share the modelling on case and hospitalisation predictions, which informs health rules, to be “as open and transparent as possible”.
The three deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday included a woman in her 50s who’d had one vaccine dose, who died at Blacktown Hospital.
A woman in her 70s died at Campbelltown Hospital and a man in his 70s died at Liverpool Hospital; both were unvaccinated.
NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty asked people in the state’s regions to come forward and get tested for even the mildest of symptoms.
Meanwhile an isolation hub, including 30 caravans, is being established at Wilcannia in the state’s far west where more than 13 per cent of the town’s predominantly Indigenous population have caught the virus.
The government will make a decision on whether restrictions can ease in regional NSW after Friday.
At least 73 per cent of NSW residents aged 16 and over have had at least one vaccine dose, with more than 7.3 million jabs administered in the state.
The premier said the 40 per cent full vaccination rate was an “incredible milestone”.
- Click here to see the NSW exposure sites
Canberra has recorded 15 new COVID-19 cases, as the territory passed the milestone of getting more than 70 per cent of people aged over 16 vaccinated with a single dose.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the ACT is getting close to 50 per cent of the population aged 16 and above being fully vaccinated with two doses.
“On current trends we will cross that threshold in about a week,” Mr Barr told reporters in Canberra on Sunday.
The 15 cases reported on Sunday was less than half the record amount of 32 reported for the previous 24 hours.
Thirteen of the new infections were linked to previously-known cases.
Six were in quarantine during their entire infectious period, seven spent part of their infectious period in the community and two remain under investigation.
“In good news we have seen a reduction in the number of people requiring urgent medical care,” Mr Barr said.
Nine people are in hospital and one person remains in intensive care.
Despite the positive news, Mr Barr said there is no intent to ease restrictions at this point in time.
“We obviously have checkpoints but the settings that are in place, they are likely to remain so people should work on that basis,” he said.
“We will signal in advance of when we will next update so people have a bit of notice.”
At this stage the territory remains in lockdown until September 17.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has pledged there will be no state-wide lockdowns once her state reaches the 80 per cent double-doses vaccinations, and only relying on targeted restriction.
But Mr Barr said this was not something he could promise as localised restrictions would likely be unworkable.
“We’re probably too small,” he said.
Mr Barr again urged people to get tested.
“It is critical if you have any symptoms that you come forward for testing immediately,” he said.
“Every day you wait an see if it might just be a cold and you delay getting tested, that is a risk to you, your family and the broader community.”
ACT Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman said about one-in-three cases in the territory have waited for two days before getting tested after their symptoms have appeared.
- Click here to see Canberra exposure sites