NSW firefighters and paramedic graduates are on standby to cope with a predicted influx of Covid cases, as officials warn the worst is yet to come.
Sydney’s healthcare system will be forced to undergo a facelift to cope with the delta variant spread, as Premier Gladys Berejiklian warns the worst is yet to come.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, there is a plan to inject a surge of workers into hospitals, looking to universities and adjacent emergency services for help.
Firefighters and paramedic graduates are reportedly on standby to meet the response, with Ms Berejiklian saying the healthcare system will operate differently in the coming weeks. It comes as the state recorded 1431 cases on Friday and 12 deaths, with Ms Berejiklian predicting a peak in the next fortnight.
Meanwhile, an infectious diseases expert has warned Queensland could be on the brink of another snap hard lockdown to combat the delta variant, with chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young confirming it is “unfortunately still a possibility” in a press conference today.
It comes as a four-year-old girl tested positive to COVID-19 in Queensland’s south-east on Friday and was infectious in the community for two days. The child is a close contact of a 46-year-old Logan truck driver who also tested positive.
Follow our live coronavirus updates below:
Improper mask use may be leading to spread
Mr Sutton said masks being worn incorrectly may be contributing to Covid transmission within the community.
“A mask on a chin does bugger all. If you’re wearing your mask over your mouth and below your nose but breathing through your nose, that is an issue. You will transmit to others if you are Covid-positive,” he said.
“We can all do better, but this is an invisible virus.”
Professor Sutton refuses to comment on Nadia Bartel scandal
When asked about high-profile influencers flouting lockdown rules in light of yesterday’s viral footage of Nadia Bartel appearing to snort a white powder in a gathering of people, Professor Sutton said he “wouldn’t comment”.
He went on to echo the sentiment all of Victorians – that the state is “fed up” with being stuck at home.
“I won’t comment on the incident in particular,” he began.
“We are all fed up. We are all fed up with being stuck at home, not being able to see friends and family. My message to anyone, social influencer or otherwise, the message to all Victorians: There is really only one way to protect yourself and that is following the rules.
“There is no question that it’s hard. The alternative is too awful to contemplate. Tens of thousands of cases could be our reality if we don’t maintain those really tricky constraints on our life. That is just the awful dilemma that we’ve had right through.
“We’ve got maybe the biggest challenge that we’ve ever faced but we’ve also got a proper pathway out of here with vaccination, so hold the line in these last weeks and months, until we get the high vaccination coverage.”
Minister Pakula later said of the incident that the “person involved” should be embarrassed, adding that situations like this lead to lockdown extending.
‘Don’t wait for a vaccine’
When asked when the state will receive more doses of the Pfizer vaccine, Professor Sutton said he wasn’t aware of an exact date, adding an urge for members of the public to book appointments for AstraZeneca if it’s available to them.
“We want it to accelerate our vaccination uptake as much as possible. I would remind every Victorian there is AstraZeneca available in terms of supply. There are AstraZeneca places available in our state hubs, and there are GP appointments that can still be made, of course, for AstraZeneca and for Pfizer, so people should really bear that in mind.”
He added that those with chronic health conditions should be more worried about contracting Covid than experiencing a side effect of a vaccine, and should be lining up for a vaccine as soon as possible.
“Do not wait for other vaccines.
“People have concerns because they have pre-existing illness, they say, ‘I’ve got respiratory illness. I’ve had a deep vein thrombosis. I’ve had high cholesterol or high blood pressure’.
“They are the very conditions that mean that they should be coming forward now for AstraZeneca vaccine and not waiting. The vaccination is not more risky if you’ve had chronic conditions. Covid is much more risky if you’ve had chronic conditions. It is more of a reason to come forward and get your vaccine now, not less of a reason.”
Victoria Health providing update now
Of the 190 cases recorded today, 103 are linked to known outbreaks, Minister Martin Pakula said at today’s press conference.
In total, 87 are under investigation, which takes the state to 1301 active cases, with 1297 of them being local.
“In terms of age brackets, 205 are aged between zero and nine years of age, 213 aged between 10 and 19, 316 are in their 20s and 224 are in their 30s. There are 76 people in the hospital, 23 in ICU and 14 on a ventilator,” Mr Pakula said.
“None of the people that are in hospital are fully vaccinated.”
Discussing vaccination rates, health authorities say things are looking positive: “There were 35,464 vaccines administered in state run clinics yesterday.
“That is our second biggest day on record. There has been 2,000,550 doses administered in total through state run centres, and we are now almost two-thirds of the way through our target in five weeks.
“We have 373,576 doses to go, and on the current trajectory we will get there a little bit early, so that is good news.”
Chief Health Office Brett Sutton later added a reminder to Victorians leaving their homes to shop for essentials, listing new exposure sites including some shopping centres.
“Supermarkets are essential. Everyone will go there at one point in time. They are not inherently high risk, but high volume for our contacts. They have a lot of human movement through there. That means many thousands of Victorians will shop alongside those who are not yet diagnosed with COVID-19, so a reminder that it is one member for each household once a day.
“Think about minimising your exposure, keeping your distance. Don’t be caught up in an exposure site. If you can click and collect for your shopping, please do so. Go less frequently,” he urged.
Sydney’s ‘forgotten bubble boy’ down to ‘pressure’ on system
When asked about reports of a teenager left in isolation for three weeks in a cordoned-off area of his home, Mr Hazzard said officials were exploring ways to support people managing Covid at home.
“I think it’s fair to say there has been a lot of pressure on the 10,000 cases who have been managed at home,” he said of the teen who reportedly hadn’t heard from any health officials about when he could leave isolation.
“The health ministry is working with the Western Sydney local health district and the south-western local health district to try and put in place some new partnerships and I know with the private sector, they are moving to try and ensure that people are not missing out on this phone call to discuss when you can leave yourself isolation.”
He added that he had been told the 18-year-old apprentice, who contracted Covid from a colleague in mid-August, had received “six phone calls”.
“I was advised by health that that particular case highlighted to me this morning, there had been six phone calls to that young person’s home.
“I do think it’s a sign of the stressed health system we are currently in. The world is in massive stress, the entire world, the New South Wales system is still doing far better than almost anywhere else in the world and we have a rising number of cases, so I would encourage people to be patient.
“If you are having some difficulties in the sense you think you should have been out of self-isolation, call your GP, ask your GP to give the necessary advice on how to deal with it.”
‘Rare condition’ associated with Moderna vaccine
Professor John Skerritt of the Therapeutic Goods Administration has discussed evidence of a “very rare set of conditions” associated with the Moderna vaccine, which was provisionally approved today for young people 12 and over.
He said the conditions, called myocarditis and pericarditis, are associated with the messenger mRNA vaccines, which Pfizer is too.
“Based on experience of hundreds of thousands, hundreds of millions I should say of doses given overseas, it appears that while this condition is rare and tends to occur more often in younger men.
“It’s generally transient, most of it resolves through rest, in some patients do require observation and treatment in hospital.
“When you look at the overall benefits versus the risks, the benefits significantly exceed, so yet another step in Australia’s campaign to vaccinate the nation,” he added.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, “myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart.
“In both cases, the body’s immune system causes inflammation in response to an infection or some other trigger.”
Canberra records 32 new cases overnight
Chief health Minister Andrew Barr is speaking now.
“We’ve got 32 new cases overnight. 24 of them linked to current exposure sites or identified close contacts,” he said.
“However, only eight were in quarantine through their full infectious period. 19 spent part of their infectious period in the community, and we have five cases under investigation. 10 people are hospitalised across the ACT, two in intensive care, one requiring ventilation.”
It comes after 18 new cases were recorded in the capital on Friday.
Map shows all NSW case locations from the last 14 days
Police officers being trained to drive ambulances
Mr Hazzard said he has spoken to ambulance commissioner Dr Dominic Morgan about using police officers to cope with the expected influx of Covid patients, and the pressure that may have on emergency health services.
Asked about reports of plans to surge the health workforce with firefighters and police officers, he said: “I did speak to the commissioner this morning about that. He indicated they are doing some work on that.”
He clarified that the government is not involved in the scheme, explaining that the ambulance services were preparing for case numbers to peak in the coming weeks.
“What (Dr Morgan) has advised me is that they have, as you would expect, been doing the preparatory work for this particular event.
“Once a week he sends out an email to all of his staff, brings them up-to-date on what he is thinking about what the issues are, a pretty normal event, and he indicated that if there is going to be, and obviously we think there will be, an increase in patient numbers, over the next few weeks, then what he has suggested is that they may call in some other emergency staff to help drive ambulances if they need it.
“I don’t think that has been finalised yet, but that is certainly a plan that he has, and I support that plan.”
He added that ambulances experienced the second busiest day in history on Friday, urging people to avoid calling emergency services for minor issues.
“I would just say to everybody, if you are sick, of course, and you need emergency assistance, then of course you should dial triple-0. But we had the Commissioner for ambulance here last week of the week before and he was highlighting cases where people were using ambulances to get Band-Aids and other things. Really, there has to be an understanding that we are in the middle of a pandemic. There is no room for people to make calls that are not emergencies.”
‘Significant increase’ in mental health issues
John Brogden from Lifeline addressed the press conference to discuss fears surrounding a “shadow pandemic” in mental health.
Correcting the discourse, he said: “I think it’s important to realise it’s not in the shadows, it is real, and it is a crisis,” adding that issues presenting particularly in young people were a “matter of enormous concern”.
“The crisis is extending to all parts of Australia, all parts of New South Wales, and many many people.
“What we have seen is a significant increase children and adolescents in their mental health illness, in their suicidality, and in stress and depression and anxiety.
“That is a matter of enormous concern, however, at the same time, we at Lifeline are very pleased that people are reaching out in the sort of numbers that we have never seen before,” he added.
We went on to say that the service had seen no increase in suicide on average across all age groups, candidly revealing his own struggles in a plea for others to get help.
“There is good news that people are reaching out and getting the help they need. I have depression, I have suicidal ideation, I know what it is like to live with mental illness and I know what it is like to live with mental illness during Covid.
“It is tough and people are doing it tough. But there is hope. We are coming, we all hope, towards the end of the lockdown. One of the best things we can do for people’s mental health is get out of lockdown as quickly as possible,” he said.
Positive cases still in LGAs of concern, regional cases continue
“Unfortunately and sadly, the majority of our positive cases still continue to be in south-west and Western Sydney,” Mr Hazzard said.
“We are still having cases across regional areas, particularly across the far west of New South Wales and across western New South Wales (and) the far west towards Broken Hill.”
He continued: “In western New South Wales Health districts, there were 38 new cases of Covid-19 reported to 8pm last night. Unfortunately that does bring the total cases in that local health district to 759.
“The 38 cases I just referred to, the majority are in Dubbo, 22 cases. Nine were in Burke, three in Bathurst, three were in Orange and one in Logan.
“To 8pm last night in the far west local health district, there were nine new cases. All of those nine cases are in Wilcannia. This means that to this point we have a total in that far western local health district of 107 cases, 97 in Wilcannia and 19 Broken Hill, and I think there is also one case I referred to earlier in the week now in Queensland.
“There are 15 new cases across the Hunter New England local health district to 8pm last night, and that brings the total in that district to 218 since the 5 August. 10 of the new cases are in the Port Stephens local government area, one is in the Lake Macquarie local government area, one is in the Newcastle local government area and three are in the Maitland local government area.
“There are 17 new cases reported to 8pm last night in the Illawarra, and that brings their local health district to a total of 140 cases. Those 17 cases, there were 12 actually in the Wollongong area, there were three in the Shellharbour local government area, and two in Shoalhaven.
“There were also, in the Central Coast area, there were 15 new cases, and that takes the total number in that district to 93.”
‘Good news’ on grim numbers day
Almost 40 per cent of people over 16 are fully vaccinated, Mr Hazzard has revealed.
“New South Wales residents are still getting out there and getting vaccinated at a great rate of speed. There were almost 130,000 vaccines yesterday, administered in New South Wales.
“72% of people aged over 16 have received one dose in New South Wales. Just shy of 40% are fully vaccinated, as 39% are fully vaccinated.”
He went on to thank the NSW community for coming out for their jabs, announcing a “super vaccination blitz” for police, fire and emergency services personnel who live in the 12 LGA “hot spots”.
“Obviously, we are very concerned as a government and as New South Wales Health to make sure that we have all of our frontline workers vaccinated, and so, tomorrow is a very special day.”
He said the focus on vaccinations was a “positive way forward”, pleading with residents to continue rolling up their sleeves.
“I want to say to those who are still hesitating, there is no reason to hesitate.
“There are very good vaccines available here in New South Wales, their own abundance of venues where you can get vaccinated, and it is absolutely crucial that for us to get back our freedoms as quickly as possible, for us to get back to our normal way of life, or as close as possible in a Covid environment.
“You need to get vaccinated, so please, please do that, please take up the opportunities that have been offered in so many places.”
Brad Hazzard provides NSW Covid update
NSW has recorded 1533 cases and four more deaths: a man in his 60s, a woman in her 80s, a man in his 50s and another man in his 70s, none of whom were vaccinated.
“To 8pm last night there were 131,000 174 tests, and from those tests, there were 1533 locally acquired cases of COVID-19,” Mr Hazzard said.
“Very sadly, to 8pm last night, we have had four more people pass away.
“We had a gentleman in his 60s who died at his home, and he was from Western Sydney. We had a lady in her 80s from south-west Sydney, she died at Fairfield Hospital. We had a man, a gentleman in his 50s, from Western Sydney, who died at Westmead Hospital, and a gentleman in his 70s from south-west Sydney who died at Liverpool Hospital.”
Mr Hazzard added of the deaths: “I want to express my condolences to each of those people‘s families, friends, the passing of a family member or friend is always extremely sad and I really want to express the strong wishes to each of the community members who knew those people and just to say we’re thinking of you.
“Sadly, none of the four people who passed away were vaccinated.”
Moderna vaccine provisionally approved for children 12 and older
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has provisionally approved the use of the Moderna vaccine in Australians aged between 12 and 17 years of age.
On August 9, the TGA approved the vaccine for individuals aged 18 years and older.
The recommended dose in children is the same as that of the adult population for Moderna, which is two full doses given 28 days apart.
It is expected to be made available primarily through pharmacies from late September and will be allocated on a per capita basis across the states and territories of Australia.
Health officials ‘not considering lockdown’ yet
While a lockdown “is still a possibility” Dr Jeanette Young is confident the fact that the four-year-old child was infectious in the community is “in hand”.
“We have been working very, very closely with the owner of the nail salon and we have been looking at CCTV footage, we have been trying every way we can to find those people who attended that nail salon. That’s critical,” Dr Young said of the new exposure site.
“I am actually not as worried about this child because it’s in hand,” she explained.
“We have got it under control. It depends, if we find cases who went to the Beenleigh marketplace, and have then since then been out infection in the community in an uncontrolled situation, then that would lead me to think that we need to consider a lockdown.
“Four-year-old children don’t go out in the community by themselves. They go to child care and that’s where this child has been.”
Ms D’Ath added: “We are not changing the level of restrictions in Queensland other than in the Logan LGA area we are restricting visitors around hospitals, aged care and disability facilities.”
‘Critical’: Urgent plea for vaccinations
Chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young is calling for Queenslanders to get serious about vaccination in order to protect the community against a potential outbreak.
“Please, anyone 60 years of age or older could you please immediately, if you haven’t had your first dose, immediately go and see your GP or go to a pharmacy and get vaccinated with AstraZeneca,” she said.
“We have plenty of supplies. There is no shortage. So could you do that immediately. If you have had one dose, and it’s 12 weeks since you had that first dose of AstraZeneca, go and get your second dose.
“We know with the delta variant you need two doses to be protected. So that’s critical. If you are 16 years of age or older, please either go and see your GP if your GP is offering Pfizer, or talk to your GP if you want to have AstraZeneca.”
New testing sites opened
Ms D’Ath said the outbreak fears had prompted a number of new testing sites to open, urging people to get tested should they present any symptoms of the virus.
“We do have a number of sites opening for testing over the weekend. I want to mention in addition to the ones that we have posted yesterday, please people check the website for exposure sites and also testing clinics.
“O‘Sullivan are setting up a drive through clinic at Logan River parklands in Beenleigh, it will be operational from 9 to 4. There are many, many sites open this weekend on the side. So please check the Queensland website for the closest testing clinics to you.”
‘We cannot afford to get complacent’
Queenslanders have been slammed for not checking in via QR codes at venues, making it difficult for health officials to contact trace.
It comes amid two cases being infectious in the community over the past week.
“Sadly what we have seen is that people were not checking in,” Ms D’Ath said.
“There was one person during that time checked in with the check in app at the nail salon. But we know there was at least eight customers there in addition to this gentleman and the child. And of course four staff. So we do need people to come forward because we can’t rely simply on the check in app data because people haven’t been checking in.”
She continued: “This is a good reminder for everyone. Businesses and individuals all have a responsibility to make sure that people are checking in. Businesses should not be letting people into their premises and sit down or participate in activities or shop around without making sure they have checked in first.
“As individuals you have a responsibility to check in. Because you are putting yourself at risk by not doing so. It means it’s harder for us to identify you, contact you, and give you the right advice as to what action you need to take. We cannot afford to get complacent.”
Qld health Minister gives Covid update
More information has been provided about the four-year-old girl who tested positive for Covid-19 this week.
“We have now identified that this young child was infectious in the community from 31 August up to 2 September when she got tested,” Yvette D’Ath said.
“But we believe infectious for the two days as in she was out in the community for two days. She had been at daycare at The Boulevard Early Learning Centre and there are children at that learning centre that also go to Windaroo State Physical but use the early learning centre for before and after school care. Consequently both of those two sites have been put into quarantine.”
She went on to reveal more places of concern attended by the truck driver, who the girl was a close contact of.
“We also are concerned about the fact that this driver, with the child, went to the Beenleigh marketplace on 30 August and to the Stylish Nails salon inside the Beenleigh marketplace.
“So we are calling on anyone who has been at the Beenleigh marketplace between 10:30 and 11:45 to go and get tested, and await your results. If you have been to the nail salon, you are required to quarantine for 14 days.”
Firefighters, paramedic graduates on standby to bolster Covid support
As NSW braces for a surge in coronavirus cases, the state’s health officials are plucking workers from different areas to ensure the system is appropriately armed for the influx of patients.
Firefighters and paramedic graduates are on standby to meet the demand, the Sydney Morning Herald reports, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian declaring that the healthcare system will see a change up in the near future.
The state recorded 1431 cases on Friday and 12 deaths, the highest numbers recorded in a 24-hour period since the pandemic began. But the worst is yet to come, with Ms Berejiklian expecting a peak in the next fortnight.
Father of Covid-infected ‘public enemy number one’ dies from virus
The father of a Covid-infected man who is currently on the run from police for refusing to isolate has died from the virus.
Fugitive Anthony Karam, 27, was arrested last month and charged with 13 offences after allegedly breaching public health orders during NSW’s Covid lockdown.
During that time, his father was taken to Liverpool Hospital after his condition rapidly deteriorated. He is understood to have died on Wednesday.
Karam tested positive for the virus on August 14, according to police, but allegedly would not follow orders to self-isolate in hotel quarantine, evading police efforts to track him down.
Dr Kerry Chant has even appealed to the public to help track him down.
His family, who were also all infected, were allegedly aware of his whereabouts but refused to disclose it to police.
Maskless man charged for allegedly assaulting police in Sydney
A man who was questioned by police for not wearing a mask in Regents Park has been charged after allegedly throwing punches at officers, with explosive footage of the incident published by the Daily Mail.
The video shows the 41-year-old man yelling at officers before charging at them.
He allegedly refused to answer questions from police officers carrying out Covid-19 compliance checks on Thursday night, locking himself inside his car and forcing officers to break the window to arrest him.
Dozens of new exposure sites in Canberra
Canberra has listed 25 new exposure sites overnight.
It comes after 18 new cases were recorded in the capital on Friday.
On Wednesday, there were 23 and on Thursday there was just 12.
Health officials will provide an update on case numbers later this morning.
The list of new exposure sites can be found here.
Victoria records 190 new cases
Victoria has recorded 190 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours.
103 cases have been linked to the current outbreak. More than 35,000 vaccine doses were administered in the latest reporting period.
New potential case in QLD sparks concern
A Twitter user has pointed out a potential third case of coronavirus in Queensland in two days that is yet to be announced by health officials.
Posting a screenshot of the exposure sites from the Queensland Health website, @MartySilk wrote: “Seems like a student at Windaroo State School, near Beenleigh, in Queensland has COVID-19.
“Doesn’t appear to be the four-year-old girl who tested positive on Friday because she was in daycare at the same times.
“This is a possible third case in two days.”
One commenter pointed out the exposure site could still be with regards to the same positive case.
“Hopefully still the one case. I believe the daycare kids may have visited the school on the Wed; This could account for the exposure site.”
Another posted a letter from the school outlining that several children had been exposed to someone diagnosed with Covid, who could have been the young girl.
Neighbours actress asks to date NRL player to cross Qld border
Actress Charlotte Chimes has found a loophole to cross the Queensland border — calling out a bizarre double standard by the state government.
Slamming the decision to allow NRL stars through its strict border lockdown, but not residents desperate to see sick family members, the 27-year-old asked if there were any single NRL players she could date so she could visit her mother battling breast cancer.
Posting a video to Instagram on Friday, Chimes asked: “Who are all the single NRL players in my area?”, before promising to cook them breakfast and go fishing with them if they strike up a romance, meaning they can hotel quarantine together in her home state.
Joking that she’s “freshly vaxxed and freshly waxed”, she told followers: “Because even though I’m a Queensland resident and my mother is going through cancer treatment right now, I can’t get an exemption.”
The actress also tagged the Queensland Premier in the caption, asking: “@annastaciamp why won’t you let me come home to QLD to take care of my mother?”
Bubble boy: Teen ‘forgotten’ by NSW Health left inside sealed room for weeks
An 18-year-old boy who tested positive for coronavirus spent three weeks isolating in a makeshift bubble in his bedroom because health officials “forgot” to let him out, The Daily Telegraph reports.
The teenage apprentice is from Lidcombe in Sydney’s Cumberland local government area, which is one of the state’s 12 “hotspot” councils. He caught the virus from a co-worker.
His family has managed to avoid contracting the virus, with the boy living in an area of the house walled off by a tarpaulin his parents taped up to separate his living quarters.
The teen has not been outdoors since August 13, and as of Thursday, had had no contact from a health official.
While NSW Health guidelines declare a patient must remain in self-isolation for the number of days determined by the designated health practitioner — “ usually 14 days” —
Queensland’s best plan of attack amid worrying outbreak
Speaking on ABC News Breakfast, Dr Paul Griffin said if the state hopes to keep the objective at zero cases in the community, locking down hard and fast must be considered.
He said the state was “certainly in a precarious position”, but it all depends on today’s numbers.
Dr Griffin said Queensland has done a “fantastic job” of controlling Covid, but added that the focus must shift to vaccinations.
“Because we have had such few cases and been relatively spared from Covid I think there is an element of complacency in Queensland.
“The vaccine uptake being second last reflects that. We need to focus on getting more people vaccinated and coming up with a plan where we can start to coexist with this virus a little bit more. So while the strategy has been effective so far I don’t think we can keep this up forever.”
It comes as a four-year-old girl tested positive to COVID-19 in Queensland’s south-east on Friday.
It is understood the child is a close contact of a 46-year-old Logan truck driver who tested positive to coronavirus this week.
Queensland Health announced the new case late yesterday afternoon, and is expected to release more information today.
Earlier this week, she demanded more research be done into the potential effects of the virus on children, particularly those aged under 12 who are unable to be vaccinated.