Expert warns of new national COVID wave

Australia’s COVID outbreaks are at a “critical point” and we could be facing a “new national wave” of the infectious coronavirus, says epidemiologist Professor Mary Louise McLaws.

She said the NSW government’s belated lockdown was like “sending a sprinter after a racehorse” after it had bolted.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned the number of COVID cases in her state could “go up considerably” this week after confirming 18 new infections today.

She said expert health advice was “the source of truth we rely upon”, not the opinions of others, including fellow state premiers who have been critical of how long it took NSW to take stronger measures against its outbreak.

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant doesn’t expect a significant reduction in infection numbers for five days, ABC News reports.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says her state is on the verge of a lockdown, must act quickly, and she will be monitoring the outbreak there very closely. Queensland residents must wear a mask when out in public from 1am on 29 June, but she asked them to start using them immediately.

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SA Health says 29 workers from the Northern Territory mine where a worker tested positive for COVID-19 are now self-isolating in South Australia, and 11 of them have already tested negative. The South Australian government yesterday announced a ban on most travel from Western Australia, the NT, Queensland and the ACT, in addition to restrictions already in place on most of NSW. An announcement on social distancing and mask-wearing rules in South Australia is expected later today.

NT authorities fear the outbreak at Newmont’s Granites Mine, about 540 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs, could grow further as Darwin and surrounding areas start their first full day of lockdown.

NT’s 48-hour lockdown started at 1pm on Sunday after 900 workers left the mine site where a Victorian man had earlier tested positive. Six infections are now linked to the mine, with more expected.

In Western Australia, where 250 of the NT fly-in fly-out miners arrived in recent days, huge queues formed at testing stations following the announcement of six exposure sites in Perth’s northern suburbs. The new restrictions for Perth and the Peel region came into effect on Sunday afternoon after a traveller who returned from NSW spent several days in the community while unknowingly infectious.

The woman attended several venues before she became aware of her infection. WA Premier Mark McGowan has announced one new case of COVID in his state. Health authorities have ascertained that she contracted COVID after coming into “only minimal contact” with a case at a gym, reports The Guardian.

  • NSW: Greater Sydney and Wollongong in lockdown, 18 new cases
  • Qld: Two new local cases; widespread restrictions in the south-east
  • NT: Six new cases; 48-hour lockdown commenced Sunday
  • ACT: No new cases
  • Vic: No new cases; border shut to NSW, NT travellers
  • SA: No new local cases; returned miners being traced
  • WA: One new case
  • Tas: No new cases; border locked to NSW and NT.

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The Delta variant of the virus currently circulating in Australia is twice as infectious as previous strains, according to leading epidemiologist Professor Raina McIntyre. She said on ABC radio that anyone with minor cold symptoms should get a COVID test, even if they tested negative only a day before.

An emergency national cabinet meeting to be held this evening will consider introducing day 16 post-quarantine testing; mandating vaccinations for aged care staff; testing and vaccinating all people working directly or indirectly in the quarantine system, and banning the practice of allowing low-risk travellers to quarantine near high-risk international travellers.

Victoria reported no new local cases on Monday and 17 active cases overall. Police have moved to a “highly visible, mobile” model of border security, using booze buses, automatic number plate recognition vehicles and helicopters, claiming this approach yields nearly 40 times as many infractions as fixed border check stations.

New Zealand is expected to return to state-by-state travel bubble arrangements. The Kiwis shut their border for three days to Australia on the weekend.

The Transport Workers Union is calling on the federal government to make domestic flight crews a priority vaccination group.

The call follows a Virgin Australia domestic crew member testing positive in recent days, after unknowingly working on several east coast flights while infectious.

And NSW police have fined two men for breaching coronavirus restrictions after they were startled by a deer while sunbaking naked on a beach south of Sydney. The unclad pair ran into the bush, became lost and needed to be rescued.

Police sent a helicopter to search for the pair, who were fined $1000 for breaching public health orders.

Are you ready for further pandemic lockdowns? Share your thoughts and plans with fellow readers in the comments section below.

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Written by Will Brodie

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