news

Brisbane enters its strictest lockdown yet: What you need to know about COVID-19 this weekend.

Parts of Brisbane placed into three-day snap lockdown.

Eleven local government areas in Brisbane will enter a snap three-day lockdown from 4pm Saturday, after the city recorded six new locally acquired cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19.

Residents of Brisbane City, Moreton Bay Regional Council, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley Regional Council, Logan City, Noosa Shire Council, Redland City, Scenic Rim Regional Council, Somerset Regional Council, and Sunshine Coast Regional Council are only permitted to leave home for four reasons:

  • To obtain essential goods such as groceries and medications. Although, you must not travel more than 10km from your home.
  • For essential work, school, or child care.
  • To exercise. This is only permitted with one person who is not from your household, and again, a 10km restriction applies.
  • For healthcare, to care for somebody who needs assistance, to get your COVID-19 vaccination, or to get a COVID-19 test.

No visitors are permitted to homes within those 11 LGAs, and non-essential businesses in those areas must remain closed. That includes cinemas, entertainment venues, hairdressers, and gyms.

Hospitality venues such as pubs, clubs and cafes will be restricted to takeaway only.

From 4pm today 11 South-East Queensland local government areas will enter a hard lockdown until 4pm on Tuesday August 3.

Please don't leave your home except for the below reasons, and if you are sick, stay home and get tested. pic.twitter.com/JLKkEyVq3t

— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) July 31, 2021

Schools and childcare centres in those 11 LGAs will only be open for vulnerable children and the children of essential workers, which Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young defined as "those people who genuinely must go to work and can't do their work online from home". 

Also, for the first time, all school staff must wear a mask, along with all high school students. Primary school students are exempt.

Funerals and weddings will be restricted to 10 people within those LGAs. Community and professional sport is cancelled. Places of worship must remain closed.

The cluster has been genomically linked to two cases among returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine, but the circumstances of the transmission remain unknown.

ADVERTISEMENT

The cluster emerged on Friday after a 17-year-old student at Indooroopilly State High School tested positive. Her parents and two siblings are among the new cases, as well as her tutor who is a medical student from the University of Queensland.

"I suspect that that medical student is the index case and has taken it into that household, and then it has spread within that household," Dr Young said.

The sixth case is a staff member at Ironside School, which one of the 17-year-old's siblings attends.

Dr Young warned people across southeast Queensland to brace for "an enormous number of exposure sites all through Brisbane and probably as well through the Sunshine Coast and further."

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said in order to manage the cluster, the state must "go hard... and fast",

"We have one chance to get this under control and we need everyone — everyone — to work with us to make this happen. No movement. Stay home. If you are unwell, even with the slightest cough or sore throat, go get tested. We will be looking at our testing clinics. We will be monitoring demand. We will be setting up extra clinics, so please check the website to see where the closest testing clinic is," she said.

"We have to get this right. We know Queenslanders will do the right thing. We've been here before. We know what we've gotta do. We've gotta be more vigilant, more compliant than we've ever been before."

ADVERTISEMENT

Deputy Premier Steven Miles told the media he will speak to the Federal Government about establishing a compensation package for those financially affected by the lockdown.

New South Wales records 210 locally acquired cases.

New South Wales recorded 210 locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm Friday, at least 32 of which were in the community at some point while infectious.

Speaking to the media on Saturday morning, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the majority of the cases were recorded in the southwest and western Sydney — the epicentre of the city's outbreak.

Currently, 198 people are in hospital with COVID-19, 53 of which are intensive care and 27 on ventilation.

Minister Hazzard urged young people, in particular, not to be complacent.

"I want to stress that among the 210 locally acquired cases, two-thirds — 138 cases — were people under the age of 40 years old. So my message to younger people is, please, understand this is a virus that you can be susceptible to," he said.

"There are six people in their 20s in intensive care. There are four people in their 30s and there is one person in their 40s. At the moment, we have 11 people in intensive care who are all 40 years old or under. That is extremely concerning."

Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour, remain under stay-at-home restrictions until at least August 28.

ADVERTISEMENT

There have been 3,190 locally acquired COVID-19 cases in the state since the beginning of the outbreak on June 16.

Meanwhile, NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Mick Willing warned Sydneysiders not to attend further anti-lockdown protests, after an illegal march attracted an estimated 3,500 people to the CBD last Saturday.

"One final message to anyone who is intending to go into the city to engage in protest activity. Do not do it. Our policing operation has been in place since early this morning, and up to 1000 police officers including a range of specialist resources on the ground already," he said.

Eighty-five people have been charged and 300 infringement notices issues over last week's protest, which was staged in defiance of stay-at-home orders.

Victoria records two new cases; changes intervals for Pfizer jabs.

Victoria reported two new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, both of which are linked to the traffic controller who tested positive on Wednesday after working at the Moonee Valley Racecourse COVID-19 testing site.

One is the partner of the traffic controller and has been in isolation throughout their infectious period.

The other is a fellow traffic controller from the Moonee Valley site. The person was in the community briefly before learning they were a close contact and being directed to isolate.

The Devon Plaza Woolworths in Doncaster was added as a Tier-1 exposure site overnight after being visited by the man on Wednesday, July 28.

ADVERTISEMENT

Authorities are still working to determine precisely how the original case acquired their infection.

Meanwhile, Victorian health authorities announced that the minimum interval between first and second doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine would be extended from three to six weeks at all state-run sites, in an effort to boost the number of Victorians with their first jab.

"That does front-load the first doses for Victorians and allows more to receive that first dose in coming weeks," the states Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.

The changes will not apply to those who have already booked their second jab, nor to hotel quarantine and border workers, frontline workers, correctional services staff and clients, or those administered by GPs. 

The magic number for overseas travel.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia could begin to open its international borders to some travellers once 80 per cent of the national population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The target is part of the Commonwealth Government's updated four-stage plan for tackling the virus, which was adopted in principle by state and federal leaders at Friday's National Cabinet meeting.

Australia remains in the first phase of the plan, with Phase B due once a vaccination rate of 70 per cent of the adult population is achieved. Each state would also have to reach that target individually to move to the next phase.

ADVERTISEMENT

Once that happens, the Prime Minister said, lockdowns should begin to become less needed and "special rules" will be in place for vaccinated people that will exempt them from certain restrictions. A working group involving the Northern Territory, Tasmania and Victoria has been tasked with determining what those rules could be.

The Prime Minister said he anticipates Australia could reach Phase B by the end of the year.

Following that, an 80 per cent vaccination rate would mean no lockdowns unless necessary to protect particularly vulnerable communities, as well as a lifting of caps on returning vaccinated travellers, and unrestricted overseas travel for vaccinated Australians.

The final phase involves opening international borders with quarantine for high-risk inbound travel only. 

Currently, just 14.5 per cent of Australians have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine — the second-lowest rate among the 38 OECD nations.

— More to come.

Feature Image: AAP.

 Like a $50 gift voucher for your thoughts? Take our quick survey.

MMSurvey