/ 28 June 2021

Well, that escalated quickly…

The National Security Committee will meet this morning to discuss coast-to-coast COVID outbreaks, and a National Cabinet meeting will be convened soon. Every state and territory has stepped up their COVID responses over the weekend as new cases of community transmission appeared and concern about the spread of the virus deepened.

• The NSW outbreak has increased to 112 cases. That saw Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour go into lockdown until 9 July. The reason for the firm response: the number of people infected with the Delta strain who were circulating in the community for several days, and the growing list of exposure sites.

• Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield went into a snap 48-hour lockdown yesterday arvo after 4 locally transmitted cases were recorded – and things got a bit hectic at the shops… The cases are linked to a FIFO mine worker who tested positive on Saturday. Officials believe he caught the virus in hotel quarantine in Brisbane.

• Queensland reported 3 cases of community transmission yesterday. Two are linked to an earlier case in Queensland, and one to the NT mine cluster. So it’s hello to statewide restrictions

• And Western Oz yesterday said it has one local case – a woman who travelled to Sydney a fortnight ago and visited a hotspot. Authorities believe she was infectious while she was out and about in Perth for 3 days of last week. That prompted restrictions being reintroduced in Perth and the Peel region.

• All of which means there have been updates to state and territory border and travel restrictions. Oh, and the Kiwi travel bubble has been suspended

There’s so many issues: hotel quarantine breaches, cross border travel, frontline worker protocols… But it was NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian who got that question a lot over the weekend. After gaining a reputation as the most reluctant leader to implement lockdowns, she’s fended off criticism saying “I have never cared about what people think about me, but I care about keeping people safe and not putting burdens on them unless we absolutely have to.” Also under pressure yesterday was Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt over Australia’s vaccination program’s pace (or lack thereof). Yesterday he resisted calls for the AstraZeneca vaccine to be made available to people under 40yo who request it saying “we follow a risk-based profile.” Labor says having 5% of the Aussie population fully vaccinated is not good enough at this stage of the game.

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