Frontline health workers in Sydney can start rolling up their sleeves to receive the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from Wednesday, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has confirmed.
The vaccination start date was clarified after Ms Berejiklian complained of being left in the dark on key aspects of the federal government’s vaccine program.
She said it was unclear which NSW nursing homes have been visited by vaccine teams, and how many residents have received the jab.
The premier also revealed the Commonwealth did not forewarn NSW that it would be enlisting the military to help with the aged-care rollout.
Instead, she found out via the media.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he has asked federal Health Minister Greg Hunt for a “full exchange of information, full transparency” to allow the state to roll out vaccines as quickly as possible.
Other state ministers had “communicated similar issues” to Mr Hunt as well, he said.
So far, about 15,000 people in NSW have been vaccinated, including 4200 quarantine workers out of 6500 staff.
The first of 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will start being administered to frontline workers from March 10 at St George and Hornsby hospitals.
This vaccine is administered in two doses, 12 weeks apart.
Victoria’s doughnut day streak continues
Victoria recorded its fifth consecutive day without a new COVID case on Wednesday following an impressive turnout at testing clinics.
The state’s active caseload has dropped into single digits, with just eight infections.
More than 18,800 test results were received on Tuesday.
Stranded Aussies dealt bad news
Overseas Australians desperate to come home will have to wait even longer after the federal government announced on Tuesday evening that it would extend the international border ban until June 17.
Authorities pointed to the increasing danger posed by various mutations of COVID-19 that have been detected in England, South Africa and Brazil.
Mr Hunt said the Governor-General had extended the “human biosecurity emergency period,” that was first imposed on March 17 last year, to “ensure the Australian government has the powers to take any necessary measures to continue to prevent and control COVID-19”.
Detection of the Russian variant of COVID-19 in Queensland has prompted health authorities to extend the hotel quarantine for some returned travellers by another five days.
It comes after several returned travellers who took Qatar Airways flight QR898 from Doha to Brisbane on February 17 tested positive late in their 14-day quarantine period.
In a letter to passengers, authorities said “some cases have been found to have variant B.1.1.317 (Russian variant)”.
“Whilst this is not considered a variant of concern, little is known about the strain,” the letter said.
As a result, 74 residents who may have been exposed to the variant will undergo additional testing.