News COVID: YouTube blocks anti-vaccine content, NSW changes school date
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COVID: YouTube blocks anti-vaccine content, NSW changes school date

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YouTube is promising to block all anti-vaccine content, moving beyond its ban on lies and conspiracies about COVID-19 inoculations.

Several prominent anti-vaccine activists would also be banned, platform owner Alphabet Inc announced early Thursday morning.

The new rules will prohibit misinformation about any vaccine that has been approved by health authorities such as the World Health Organisation and are currently being administered.

Claims about vaccines that are being tested will still be allowed.

The video platform said personal stories about reactions to the vaccine will also be permitted, as long as they do not come from an account that has a history of promoting vaccine misinformation.

That’s the major news on vaccine hesitancy from overseas.

Read on for a wrap of what’s happening at home – including a change to plans to get some children back to school.

Later on Thursday, expect to hear more details about Australia’s soon-to-be released vaccination passport.

A Senate committee is due to grill federal bureaucrats responsible for delivering vaccine certificates before outbound travel restrictions are scrapped.

That comes after a QR code scanner for international vaccine passports appeared on Apple’s App Store. You can read more about that here. 

NSW

New South Wales students will be packing their bags for school a week ahead of schedule after the Premier earlier flagged she was considering moving the date forward.

The staged opening of schools was to begin on October 25, starting with year 12, kindergarten and year 1.

But on Wednesday night the cabinet agreed that school returns would start on October 18 for this group, with the official announcement expected on Thursday.

All other students will be integrated back onto school grounds over the following two weeks, on October 25 and November 1.

It comes after NSW exceeded vaccination double dosage expectations, and as the state is set to reach 70 per cent full coverage ahead of schedule.

Parents of young children who need to leave home for work on October 11 – when the state begins opening up – will no longer be able to supervise learning.

The Independent Education Union says it is deeply concerned by the lack of consultation and believes the former staged plan was the safest option.

IEUA acting secretary Carol Matthews told AAP they had still not been contacted regarding the latest decision and there was a lot of “nervousness” given how contagious the Delta variant is.

“I don’t think people will be ready for those dates to be adjusted,” Ms Matthews said.

“There are no government guidelines in place about ventilation and air filtration in schools.

“NSW non-government schools are only just starting to take steps in this area.”

In other news out of NSW, residents aged 60 and over can now get vaccinated with Pfizer and Moderna.

“All three TGA approved vaccines are now available to everyone aged 12+ for Moderna and Pfizer,” NSW Health said in a statement.

Previously, NSW residents aged 60 and over were only eligible for AstraZeneca.

Doctors had been urging the government to grant older Australians access to mRNA vaccines amid reports of vaccine hesitancy.

Victoria

In Victoria, schools and childcare centres are among the new ‘Tier 1’ exposure sites.

They include:

  • St Margaret’s Primary School in Maribyrnong;
  • Delahey Children’s Centre in Delahey;
  • Narre Kids Early Learning and Kinder in Narre Warren.

Another major source of concern is the construction union CFMEU’s Melbourne headquarters which was listed as a COVID-19 exposure site on Wednesday, a week after it was the scene of anti-vaccination protests.

The Elizabeth Street office was named by the Department of Health as a tier-one site for September 20, forcing union staff and officials into isolation for two weeks.

The outside of the building has also been classed as a tier-two venue, with protesters asked to get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Four positive cases have been linked to the office so far, and CFMEU state secretary John Setka blamed the “disgusting behaviour of selfish and reckless” protesters for the outbreak.

Meanwhile, Victoria has opened the door for residents stranded in Sydney to come home.

From Thursday, Victorian residents in extreme risk zones such as Greater Sydney can apply for a permit if they are fully vaccinated, test negative within 72 hours of departure and isolate at home for 14 days.

Victoria recorded a daily record 950 new locally acquired cases on Wednesday, 87 more than NSW.

QLD

Queensland authorities are resisting sending parts of the state’s southeast into lockdown after the emergence of a number of COVID-19 cases in recent days.

The state recorded two cases on the Gold Coast on Wednesday, with authorities on high alert as the men were out in the community for several days.

The first is a close contact of an aviation training centre worker who tested positive on Monday night, and the second case wasn’t counted in Queensland’s tally because it was detected in NSW.

It involved a truck driver who lives on the Gold Coast and regularly travels between Queensland and NSW.

He was active on the Gold Coast for three days, from September 25 to 27, including in Mermaid Waters, Merrimac, Nerang, Surfers Paradise, Miami Beach and Currumbin.

Brisbane has listed 24 new COVID exposure sites including hotels, restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, shops in the CBD, Spring Hill, Carindale Westfield, Camp Hill, Cannon Hill and Eatons Hill. Eight sites are considered close contact venues.

However, Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young said a lockdown wasn’t necessary as authorities knew where all the infections had come from, but the coming days were critical.

“I’m watching this very, very carefully. At the moment, I am prepared to wait and see if we’ve got any local transmission,” she said on Wednesday.

The state is still pushing ahead with plans for reopening at a non-specified date, subject to modelling by the Doherty Institute.

Queensland Health says no other models have been commissioned regarding vaccination rates and restrictions.

“As Queenslanders would expect, there is planning underway internally that will use similar methodologies as the Doherty modelling, to support local decision making at a state and regional level,” a spokesperson said.

So far 64.58 per cent of eligible Queenslander’s have had their first dose of vaccination, while 45.6 per cent of the population is fully inoculated.

The government says all vaccination hubs will now accept walk-ins following the success of their ‘Super Pfizer’ weekends.

Anyone aged 12 and over is now eligible for the Pfizer vaccine at all Queensland Health vaccination hubs, with Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk saying Queenslanders must protect themselves from Delta on their doorstep.

“We won’t keep Delta out of our community forever. Thanks to the way we’ve responded to the pandemic, we have a great window of opportunity to vaccinate as many Queenslanders as possible,” she said.

Mask requirements in place for Brisbane and the Moreton Bay local governmnet areas have been extended to the Gold Coast following the infections, as well as restrictions on accessing hospitals, aged care, disability facilities and jails.

There are currently 18 active cases in the state.

ACT

Thousands of businesses in the national capital struggling under COVID-19 restrictions are set to benefit from a joint federal-ACT government package of grants.

The support is aimed at getting businesses through to mid-October at which point the ACT is set to reach 80 per cent vaccination rates.

A grant of $10,000 for all employing small businesses and $3750 for non-employing businesses will be paid to all businesses who were eligible for the COVID-19 Business Support Grant in industries still significantly impacted by health restrictions.

A top-up payment will also be made available to large businesses.

Support of $10,000 will go to employing businesses with a turnover greater than $2 million and less than $5 million, with the figure rising to $20,000 for those with a turnover greater than $5 million and less than $10 million.

A $30,000 payment will apply to businesses with a turnover greater than $10 million.

The package will be split on a 50-50 basis between the federal government and the ACT, which will administer it.

A program to help tourism, events, hospitality, fitness and dance businesses will offer $5000 for non-employing businesses, rising to $25,000 for businesses with turnover greater than $5 million.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the support package would taper once 70 per cent full vaccination was achieved, to ensure support was focused on those industries that remained closed or severely restricted.

The ACT’s vaccination rate for over-16s leads the nation at 63.2 per cent, while 89.5 per cent have had one dose.

The territory recorded 22 new local infections on Wednesday. A source could be found for 12 of them.

At least seven were infectious in the community and another seven were in quarantine the whole time.

There are 237 active cases in the ACT, 10 of them in hospital including three in intensive care requiring ventilation.

-with AAP