In a high-rise building on the outskirts of the CBD, Mohammad sits on a plastic chair holding his young daughter in his arms amid a sea of neatly lined up Afghan refugees waiting to receive their first coronavirus vaccine.
He is more than 11,000 kilometres from home after fleeing Kabul with his family in August when the Taliban began going door to door searching for anyone who had worked with foreign forces.
The family slept for two days on the cold, dusty ground outside Kabul airport, before finally boarding a rescue flight bound for Australia.
A number of childcare centres have been confirmed as Victoria’s latest tier-1 exposure sites, including a facility in the state’s far north-east.
FROEBEL Fitzroy North Early Learning Centre in Melbourne’s inner north has been listed as a tier-1 exposure site on 27 October, forcing a number of children, parents and educators into isolation for 14 days.
Another childcare centre – Country Buddies Wangaratta in north-east Victoria, just 50 kilometres from the NSW border – has been listed as a tier-1 exposure site on September 29.
Late last night, the Department of Health also identified the Clarendon Street Community Child Care Centre in Cranbourne as a tier-1 exposure site on September 27.
Chicago: It’s a milestone that by all accounts didn’t have to happen this soon.
The US death toll from COVID-19 has eclipsed 700,000 – a number greater than the population of Boston. The last 100,000 deaths occurred during a time when vaccines – which overwhelmingly prevent deaths, hospitalisations and serious illness – were available to any American over the age of 12.
The milestone is deeply frustrating to doctors, public health officials and the American public, who watched a pandemic that had been easing earlier in the summer take a dark turn. Tens of millions of Americans have refused to get vaccinated, allowing the highly contagious delta variant to tear through the country and send the death toll from 600,000 to 700,000 in 3½ months.
G’day everyone. It’s Roy Ward here and I’ll be taking over the blog for the rest of the day and tonight.
Please keep the comments and interactions coming, we should have plenty more news to come.
Enjoy the afternoon to come.
Karrina Kemp never expected to be living in a tent with three children, but that’s all she can afford while waiting to be allowed to cross the Queensland border.
Ms Kemp is one of more than 11,000 Queenslanders stranded in NSW or Victoria while waiting for border passes or exemptions to be allowed across the border. She is also one of several people who told The Sun-Herald they were sleeping in a tent or car as a result, mostly in NSW border towns and some in Victoria.
“The tent is literally starting to fall apart – it’s so windy here and I’ve had to do makeshift screen repairs,” Ms Kemp said. “It’s an eye-opener, that’s for sure. I didn’t think I’d literally be technically homeless at my age with three children.”
Ms Kemp and her children were staying with friends in Jindabyne for the ski season before the Delta outbreak in Greater Sydney, but she eventually had to leave because the property was sold.
The Queensland government rejected her request for an exemption to drive across the border and avoid hotel quarantine. She was advised to apply for a border pass, which means the family has to leave their car in Ballina to be towed later, fly to Brisbane via Sydney, and pay more than $5000 for hotel quarantine as a family.
She applied for the border pass on September 5 and received it on Friday for a return date of October 10.
Victoria’s Premier has hit back after a federal Victorian MP said he won’t get the jab despite new mandates for authorised workers.
Veteran Liberal MP Russell Broadbent, whose electorate Monash is in eastern Victoria, has said publicly he is not vaccinated and doesn’t intend to be. The stance puts him at odds with Victoria’s mandated vaccines for all authorised workers in the state, including federal politicians.
The Age has also confirmed it is probable a vaccine mandate will be required for tennis stars to play in Melbourne this summer. The provision means vaccine-hesitant tennis champion Novak Djokovic could be thwarted in his pursuit of a record-breaking 21st grand slam title.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the grand slam titles “won’t protect you either” against the virus.
“Whether you’re a judge of the Supreme Court, or a member of the Victorian Parliament, the virus doesn’t care what you do for a living,” he said.
“You’re just as likely, unless you’re vaccinated, to get it and spread it.“
Reflecting on the fact that on Monday, Melbourne will take the title of most locked-down city after 245 days under restrictions, Premier Andrews said he was proud of all Victorians “for giving so much and for working so hard to save lives”.
NSW businesses will be responsible for taking “reasonable measures” to stop unvaccinated people entering their premises under updated rules for the state’s roadmap out of lockdown. And if they don’t comply, both individuals and businesses could face hefty fines.
The following are among the key public health advice and obligations for businesses announced today:
- Businesses will be responsible for taking reasonable measures to stop unvaccinated people from entering. For example: Prominent signage, QR code check-ins, staff checking vaccination status on entry and only accepting valid forms of documentation
- Authorised officers will monitor businesses reopening, particularly those with vaccination requirements
- Penalties including on-the-spot fines may apply for non-compliance – up to $1000 for individuals and $5000 for businesses
- If a staff member tests positive they must isolate for 14 days and follow advice from NSW Health
- Businesses must inform NSW Health if three or more staff members test positive over a seven day period
- NSW Health guidelines will enable businesses to assess workplace risk if a COVID-19 case is identified and confirm actions to be taken
Victoria’s stretched healthcare workforce could be assisted by nurses being flown in from interstate, according to a leading Melbourne ICU nurse.
Michelle Spence, the ICU Nurse Unit manager at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, said there was a “staged plan” to open more intensive care beds as they were needed.
She said discussions were under way with health providers in Queensland to potentially bring additional nurses to Victoria.
Allied health workers at Royal Melbourne Hospital are now helping to ‘prone’ COVID-19 patients in order to take pressure off nurses, while more experienced nurses are being taken off vaccination clinics and placed into virus wards, Ms Spence said.
“There’s things that are coming out of the woodwork that we would never have done before, but there is a need to do it,” he said. “This is hopefully a once in a lifetime pandemic.”
Ms Spence said she believed the time between opening up at the end of October and Christmas was going to be the “toughest time” for Victorian nurses.
COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar told the press conference on Sunday that there were 497 COVID-19 cases discovered in Melbourne’s northern suburbs across Saturday.
There were 361 virus cases recorded in the city’s west, with 236 cases found in Melbourne’s south-east. There are now 12 teenagers and 22 patients in their 20s in hospital with COVID-19.
Mr Weimar also noted that the vaccination centre at the Melbourne Museum would be moving next door back to the Royal Exhibition Building from Monday.
“Restoration works in the exhibition building have been completed and from tomorrow, you’ll be able to get your vaccines again under the famous dome,” he said.
Brad Hazzard said Gladys Berejiklian’s leadership has been “absolutely critical” to the state’s COVID-19 response, but following her shock resignation on Friday the government remains “very much focused on making sure the community stays safe”.
Mr Hazzard said he works “extremely well” with both Rob Stokes and Dominic Perrottet and either one would do a “great job”.
Chief health officer Kerry Chant said it would not be appropriate for her to comment other than to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of the outgoing Premier in managing the pandemic.
Dr Chant said Ms Berejiklian “has worked tirelessly since the pandemic commenced through this most difficult time” and her commitment on the issue was evident.