/ 05 February 2021

Feel it coming in the air

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said he’s going “full steam ahead” with plans for the grand slam event to kick off on Monday – despite 160 players being asked to isolate yesterday and get a coronavirus test. The uncertainty comes after a 26yo man tested positive to COVID on Wednesday. He was yesterday described by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews as a “model employee” for his adherence to the safety rules while working as part of the tournament’s hotel quarantine program.

To start with, officials say they’re working on the assumption he picked it up at work, but genomic sequencing will give officials more clues about the origin of his infection. One thing to note: there is growing concern about airborne transmission of the virus with Andrews saying that it can’t be ruled out in this case. Some experts say there will be “more groundhog days” if officials and policymakers didn’t do more to deal with airborne transmission within quarantine hotels. This and broader concerns from state premiers about delivering the hotel quarantine program will be discussed today at National Cabinet.

Yep. That’s when Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says all Australians who want a COVID vaccination will have had their jabs. To that end, the Federal Government’s bought another 10 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, taking the total to 20 million doses. It’s considered the world’s most effective protection against the virus. PM Scott says he expects the jabs to start rolling out to vulnerable and frontline Aussies in the last week of this month. On the AstraZeneca vaccine (you know, the one that hasn’t been approved here, but we’ve booked 53.8 million doses) – it looks like it can reduce transmission of the virus. Which is so great. To date, it and other vaccines have shown they can reduce the chance of death and severe illness, but it’s not been clear whether immunised people can still carry COVID and pass on.

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