news

More of NSW locked down as cases climb: What you need to know about COVID-19 this weekend.

NSW reaches a new daily record.

NSW has recorded 319 locally acquired cases of COVID-19 — a new daily high for the state. 

The source of 194 of the new cases are still under investigation.

Tragically, the state also recorded five COVID-19 related deaths: a woman in her 80s, two men in their 80s, a man in his 90s, and a man in his 60s. None were vaccinated. The current outbreak of the Delta virus has now claimed a total of 27 lives.

There are currently 345 COVID-19 cases to hospital, with 56 people in intensive care, 23 of whom require ventilation. 

There were 108,449 COVID-19 tests reported to 8pm last night.

Greater Sydney, including Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour local government areas, have been in lockdown since June 26 in an effort to contain the spread of the Delta variant.

With no sign of cases easing, the proposed August 28 end date is looking increasingly tenuous.

Responding to calls for harsher 'circuit breaker' restrictions, the state's health minister, Brad Hazzard, said, "We have the toughest lockdown the country at the present time. What is happening is people are not complying... If people don't comply, the community will continue to suffer."

Minister Hazzard pointed to vaccination rates as the state's "freedom path".

Currently, 50 per cent of the NSW population over 16 has received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and close to 22 per cent are fully vaccinated.

"We are going up at about 5 per cent per week, so can I say to everybody out there, we're not going to beat this virus unless you get on this journey with us. I want you to book in for vaccination. You can do it through your GP, your pharmacist, at one of the state hubs," he said. "We need you to do that, because that is our freedom a path."

ADVERTISEMENT

Meanwhile, the NSW regional centre of Armidale is to enter a snap seven-day lockdown from 5pm Saturday, after a resident tested positive for COVID-19.

Minister Hazzard said it appears a young person with coronavirus has brought the disease into the region, causing the new infection.

The city will now be under the same restrictions as Greater Sydney and the Newcastle/Hunter region, the latter of which is under a snap lockdown until August 12.

Cases in Victoria reach a 2021 high.

Victoria has reported 29 new locally acquired COVID-19 infections — the highest daily case number recorded in the state so far this year.

All the new infections have been linked to previously reported cases, and all were active in the community during their infectious period.

The state administered 22,335 vaccine doses in the 24 hours to Friday evening and conducted 43,618 tests.

Victorians are bracing for more exposure sites spread across wider parts of the state amid yet another race to contain the Delta variant.

Residents have woken to another weekend in lockdown and with more than 10,000 close contacts of positive cases now isolating.

The statewide seven-day lockdown began at 8pm on Thursday, under the same stay-home rules that applied during last month's lockdown.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Victoria will receive 149,760 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine ahead of schedule.

"Within a week, tens of thousands of additional Pfizer doses will start rolling into Victoria with more than 149,000 doses to be delivered," he said, according to the ABC.

The outlet reported that the doses will be delivered from August 13, and do not represent an overall increase in the state's rollout allocation. They will simply be brought forward from a planned delivery in September.

ADVERTISEMENT

Queensland records "encouraging" result ahead of the southeast's lockdown deadline.

Queensland has recorded 13 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, 12 of which were in isolation for the duration of their infectious period.

The remaining case remains under investigation.

"Queensland, this is another very good day," Deputy Premier Steven Miles told Saturday's press conference. "You are doing great: wearing masks, getting tested, and we have been staying home. We need to keep it up. If we do, that is what will give us the best possible chance of starting to get closer to what is normal as soon as possible."

The lockdown in the state's southeast is due to lift at 4pm Sunday, and Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said authorities will be monitoring the situation closely in the meantime. An announcement on restrictions is expected Sunday morning.

"Today's numbers are encouraging but I really can't predict what tomorrow will do. I need those numbers before we have a decision," Dr Young said.

"It is important to continue that testing. That is very important so we can make sure there are no unknown cases out there. [It is] very, very important to keep wearing masks; that is critical as we go forward. And for people to just stay home."

There are now more than 10,000 Queenslanders in quarantine.

The total number of cases recorded in the Indooroopilly cluster stands at 102.

Deputy Premier Miles also announced that Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is due to be released from home quarantine on Sunday, following her trip to Japan to secure Brisbane's 2032 Olympics bid.

"I am pleased to report the Premier has had her final COVID test of home quarantine. It has come back negative, so she is looking forward to being released tomorrow morning. She will come straight to work and she is looking forward to being here with us for the press conference tomorrow," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Australia tightens overseas travel rules.

The Federal Government has quietly tightened pandemic border rules with citizens who live in other countries now needing approval to return home.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the move was designed to reduce the number of Australians joining the backlog of people stranded abroad.

"It's been very difficult in terms of repatriating people into Australia. We have limited availability," he told Sky News on Friday.

"One of the tools quite rightly applied to make sure that we manage that is to keep a lid where possible on the number of people exiting the country in the first place.

"So many of those exiting do seek to come back in a relatively short order."

There are concerns people who come to Australia for quick visits to see dying loved ones may face hurdles in returning to the countries they live in.

Senator Birmingham argued the exemption for overseas residents from needing permission was not designed to enable frequent travel in and out of Australia.

He said there were too many people leaving the country for short periods before adding themselves to the cohort keen to return.

More than 38,000 Australians stranded overseas have registered to come home with 4569 considered vulnerable.

Federal and state governments agreed to halve inbound passenger caps out of concern about the Delta variant of coronavirus.

With AAP.

Feature Image: Getty.

Want to win $50? Take our 3 minute survey now:
MMSurvey