COVID’S MIXED BAG
So, there’s some good news and some not so good news when it comes to the coronavirus…
UGH. LET’S GO WITH THE TRICKY STUFF FIRST…
• The cluster of cases linked to Melbourne’s Holiday Inn outbreak has risen to 16 as the state’s 7 million residents hit the halfway mark of what’s hoped to be a 5-day ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown. How the outbreak started has been subject to an exchange of words between a man who used a nebuliser while in quarantine, and officials who say he was not granted permission to use the machine because of the risk posed by distributing the virus in the air. Which is what seems to have happened…
• Kiwi PM Jacinda Ardern yesterday asked Aucklanders to stay home for 3 days while officials get to the bottom of 3 new local cases. She said there’s no clarity where the virus has popped up from, and tracers need some time to work on it. That’s also seen quarantine-free travel from NZ to Oz suspended.
• And to top things off, it looks like the UK variant of COVID, which is the strain at the centre of the Melbourne outbreak, could be 30-70% more transmissible – and 30-70% more deadly. That’s the latest official word on the mutation which is being closely tracked by the UK Government.
AND THE GOOD NEWS?
Australia will take delivery of 80,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by the end of this week – and maybe as soon as tomorrow. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said it puts us on track to get the immunisation program up and running by the end of the month with older and frontline Aussies receiving the first jabs. It’s the only vaccine to have received Aussie regulatory approval at this point, and officials yesterday said it’s a difficult logistics exercise with the precious medicine requiring cold storage of -60C to -80C. Ice ice baby… And NSW hit a milestone yesterday – 28 days with no cases of community transmission of the virus. That’s the longest stretch the state’s gone without recording a locally acquired case since the pandemic began.
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