/ 01 April 2021

Hot crossed fingers for NSW and Queensland

COVID-watch yesterday saw Queensland report 2 new locally-acquired cases – another nurse from Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital and her housemate. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said they are connected to the cluster that popped up earlier this week when a nurse from the same hospital and her sister tested positive. They had been over the border in NSW’s Byron Bay while unknowingly infectious last weekend, and NSW officials yesterday said a local man who sat near them at the Byron Beach Hotel had also caught the virus.

The NSW and Queensland premiers were a bit optimistic yesterday, but both say the coming days will be critical. A question mark still hangs over the wrap-up of the Greater Brisbane lockdown tonight, but Palaszczuk says if there are “very good testing rates across Queensland and we don’t see any unlinked community transmission, the signs for Easter are looking positive.” And NSW’s Gladys Berejiklian announced restrictions for the Byron region, including masks and reduced numbers in homes and hospitality venues. But, she said, “the positive news in all of this is we’re not saying to businesses shut your doors, quite the opposite.” That was not the case for Byron Bay’s legendary Bluesfest – the local economy booster has been knocked over by the coronavirus for a second year. And if you’re wondering how all this might affect your (or the Easter Bunny’s) long weekend plans, here’s a guide to the latest on travel restrictions.

Long story short, PM Scott Morrison set the target earlier this year of having 4 million Aussies vaccinated by the end of March. Today is 1 April, and 670,000 people have had at least one shot. The Feds are responsible for sourcing the vaccines – and delivery delays from Europe, floods, and booking issues have all been problems. Then a report appeared in News Corp publications yesterday (paywall) saying the states and territories “have done three-fifths of bugger all” on the rollout, to use Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud’s delicate language. That was as welcome as a nip from Major Biden with the states saying they are moving as quickly as they can with shipments that arrive late and without notice. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt started to walk things back by last night. Aren’t you glad you asked?

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