news

What you need to know about COVID-19 today, Tuesday January 5.

NSW records 4 new locally acquired cases.

NSW has recorded four locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm Monday, from 26,000 tests.

Three are connected to the Berala cluster and one if a household contact of the Croydon cluster, acting premier John Barilaro said. 

Barilaro said one case was of particular concern to authorities: An 18-year-old man from Berala who travelled to Orange, Nyngan and then Broken Hill for a camping trip.

"We're urging people in Orange, Nyngan, and Broken Hill to be tested. Clinics will be set up in due course," Barilaro said.

"This is a reminder of what can occur for people who are moving out of Sydney. We said clearly in the past, if you have any symptoms, if you are concerned, you should limit your mobility.

"You should limit travel to regional and rural New South Wales. Even though we're confident in the health infrastructure in the regions, it brings a greater risk.

"And no different to the message yesterday for regional people who are intending to come to watch the test cricket this week, if you can avoid it, if you can change your plans, I urge you to do so."

Dr Kerry Chant said those identified as close contacts from BWS and Woolworths in Berala should get tested and isolate for 14 days, even if they receive a negative result. 

ADVERTISEMENT

For a full list of impacted dates and times, visit the NSW Health website.

There were four additional cases in hotel quarantine, taking Tuesday's total new cases to eight.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said anyone from the suburbs of Auburn, Berala, Lidcombe North, Regents Park or Rookwood will be fined $1000 if they attend the SCG for the cricket.

"Ticket sales have gone in a way that is aimed at ensuring that people from particular suburbs around Berala do not acquire tickets and do not come to the test. That's for your sake and for our community's sake," he said.

"But, I want to alert the community in those suburbs, if any of you think it's still OK to come in with someone else who has got a ticket, or tickets, it won't be OK. Because there will be orders, health orders made, in the next 24 hours, that will enable New South Wales police to fine you $1,000 if you put foot inside the SCG."

Victoria records three new local cases.

Victoria has recorded three new community cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

ADVERTISEMENT

There were 32,000 tests taken in the same period.

There was also one confirmed case in a returned traveller in hotel quarantine, taking the state's total number of active cases to 38.

Victoria's health authorities updated its list of exposure sites, adding a number of venues including Springvale Shopping Centre and IKEA Springvale.

England goes into tough new COVID-19 lockdown.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered England into a new national lockdown to try to slow a COVID-19 surge threatening to overwhelm parts of the health system.

Johnson said a new, more contagious variant of coronavirus is spreading at great speed and urgent action is needed to slow it down.

"As I speak to you tonight, our hospitals are under more pressure from COVID than any time since the start of the pandemic," Johnson said in a televised address on Monday, ditching his regional approach to fighting the pandemic.

"With most of the country already under extreme measures, it's clear that we need to do more together to bring this new variant under control.

"We must therefore go into a national lockdown, which is tough enough to contain this variant. That means the government is once again instructing you to stay at home."

ADVERTISEMENT

Johnson said the measures would include school closures from Tuesday and rules requiring most people to stay at home apart from essential shopping, exercise and other limited exceptions.

He said if the timetable of the vaccination program went as planned and the number of cases and deaths responded to lockdown measures, it should be possible to start moving out of lockdown by mid-February.

However he urged caution.

As Britain grapples with the world's sixth highest death toll and cases hit a new high, the country's chief medical officers said the spread of COVID-19 risked overwhelming parts of the health system within 21 days.

The surge has been driven by the new variant, officials say, and while they acknowledge the pandemic is spreading faster than expected, they say there is also light at the end of the tunnel - vaccinations.

Johnson earlier touted a scientific "triumph" as Britain became the first country in the world to start vaccinating its population with Oxford University and AstraZeneca's COVID-19 shot.

Manchester residents watch Prime Minister Boris Johnson make a televised announcement on January 4. Image: Getty.

ADVERTISEMENT

Dialysis patient Brian Pinker on Monday received the first vaccination outside of a trial.

"I am so pleased to be getting the COVID vaccine today and really proud it is one that was invented in Oxford," said the 82-year-old retired maintenance manager.

But even with the vaccines being rolled out, the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths keep rising.

More than 75,000 people in the United Kingdom have died from COVID-19 within 28 days of a positive test since the start of the pandemic. A record 58,784 new cases of the coronavirus were reported on Monday.

Moving a few hours ahead of Johnson, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon imposed the most stringent lockdown for Scotland since last spring.

Wales also says all schools and colleges there should move to online learning until January 18.

SA unlikely to move on Vic, NSW borders

South Australia's transition committee is set to meet again but is unlikely to change coronavirus border restrictions with NSW or Victoria.

The committee will meet on Tuesday to consider the latest in the fight against growing COVID-19 clusters in both Sydney and Melbourne.

At present, SA has a hard border closure in place with NSW with no one from that state allowed to enter unless they are a returning resident, relocating permanently or an essential traveller.

Returning residents or people relocating will still need to quarantine for 14 days and can only make that trip once.

The border with Victoria remains open, though people who have been to any virus hotspots in Melbourne are being asked to get tested.

Premier Steven Marshall says he's not anticipating any immediate changes with the arrangements for Victoria.

He says he has confidence officials there will be able to bring the outbreak under control.

But he says SA will look for 14 days with no community transmission before lifting coronavirus restrictions with NSW.

Countries mull delaying second virus jabs.

Germany and Denmark are looking into delaying administering a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from BioNTech and Pfizer to make scarce supplies go further after a similar move by the UK last week.

Britain's move to delay administering a second dose of the BioNTech/Pfizer shot has been welcomed by a number of German health experts and comes as governments try to provide protection against coronavirus to as many people as possible by giving them one shot as soon as possible and delaying a second.

ADVERTISEMENT

Danish health authorities are also looking into the possibility of extending the time gap between vaccine shots.

While a longer interval between shots has not been tested in the companies' clinical trials, some scientists said it was a sensible plan given the extraordinary circumstances.

Meanwhile, there is still no timeframe for put in place for Australia's vaccine rollout.

The federal government has supply contracts with three vaccine developers, Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Novavax, and the Therapeutic Goods Administration is working on approvals.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said contracts were in place to deliver the first vaccine doses in the first quarter of 2021.

But he said ultimately it was a decision for the companies when the doses would be made available.

Professor Kelly said health authorities were working closely with the companies and other nations to ensure the vaccines are safe and effective.

"We have the finger on the pulse ... we know what is happening in the regulatory space, but just as important what is happening in terms of the implementation of vaccination strategies in like-minded countries such as the UK, the US and Europe," he told reporters in Canberra.

"The approvals will happen when we have all the information we need ... and that will be fast-tracked as much as possible but no shortcuts will be made."

-With AAP.

Feature image: Getty.

00:00 / ???