/ 29 June 2021

Staying on top of all the late-night COVID moves

New cases of locally transmitted COVID were reported in NSW (18 cases), Queensland (2), Western Oz (2) and the Northern Territory (1) yesterday. In response, Perth and the Peel regions went into a snap 4-day lockdown overnight. The Top End extended its lockdown of Darwin to mid-Friday. Queensland has brought in social distancing and mask requirements, as has the ACT and South Oz. And NSW says it could take days for the rate of new cases to fall. All of which made for an interesting conversation when leaders met for National Cabinet late yesterday…

Umm, not quite… But the vaccination of people in high-risk jobs will become compulsory. Aged care and quarantine workers (including those involved in transporting people to quarantine) must have their first doses by mid-September. People exiting hotel quarantine and their close contacts must be tested 2-3 days after leaving. And in a move to get more jabs in arms, the under 40yos can now go to their GP and request the AstraZeneca vaccine, with the government tweaking the indemnity scheme to cover GPs if patients develop an adverse reaction. That’s significant because Pfizer is the recommended vaccine for the under 60yos. And the staged rollout has the states and territories now allowing people between 40-59yo to get that shot. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian took a shot of a different kind yesterday saying the slow rollout has impacted the state’s ability to plan for the future.

Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the Dorothy Dixer… You won’t be surprised to hear that Australia is not the only country worried about the speed at which programs are being rolled out. Researchers say the Delta variant of the coronavirus (aka the Indian strain) is 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variety (aka the UK strain). And it’s getting around the world and causing problems from Europe to our neck of the woods. Experts say when a strain is moving fast, it means more people need to be vaccinated more quickly to minimise the risks. It also means “we really, really must keep cases down at the same time as rolling the vaccines out,” Uni of Leeds virologist Dr Stephen Griffin says.

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