/ 17 February 2021

Cross your fingers for Victoria

And cross anything else that comes to mind as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and health officials prepare to make a call about whether the state will be released tonight from 5 days of hard lockdown. Two locally-acquired cases were reported yesterday – they are close household contacts of a previously confirmed case linked to the outbreak from the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport. Andrews yesterday said the result was “promising” given almost 24,000 tests were processed on Monday.

Ease up, turbo… While reports this morning say it’s likely the hard lockdown will be eased with some restrictions remaining in place after Victorian ministers met last night to make arrangements, it’s pending a good result today… For his part, Andrews yesterday said a decision would reflect the health experts’ advice about “whether we can go back directly to the settings that were there on Thursday and Friday or whether we have to ease back into it”. A state of emergency is in place until 26 February, and if today’s result isn’t what he wants, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton could extend the lockdown – for at least part of the state – until then. Regardless of what decision is taken, a freeze on international arrivals into Melbourne will remain in place for now.

The AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID vaccine has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). “This has been the most efficient and timely process that the TGA, I think, has ever undertaken for any vaccine. And they’ve done it in a way which has cut no corners,” PM Scott Morrison said yesterday. With the light now green, 3.8 million doses will be sent from Europe to Oz in the first week of March. From there, 50 million doses will be produced by CSL in Melbourne to be administered to any Aussie who wants one receiving at least the first of 2 shots by October. It’s an arrangement that makes Australia one of the few nations with a homemade vaccine supply.

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