- NSW recorded zero locally acquired cases over the last 24-hour reporting period, but one local case was detected in the upper northern beaches after the 8pm deadline.
- Victoria also recorded no new cases in the last reporting period, for the first time in more than a week. Contact tracing teams are still attempting to find the source yesterday’s mystery case, who may have acquired his infection at the Chadstone Boxing Day sales or the Melbourne Test.
- An employee at one of Brisbane’s quarantine hotels tested positive to the UK strain of COVID-19. The positive case could have big ramifications, as workers are allowed to be out in the Queensland community.
- State and territory leaders will discuss whether to tighten precautions on international arrivals at a special national cabinet meeting on Friday.
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Australia could start vaccinating vulnerable groups of the population in February.
New restrictions in Queensland after worker tests positive to UK strain
A casual cleaner at a Brisbane hotel quarantine site has been infected with the United Kingdom's more contagious strain of COVID-19, triggering a raft of new restrictions in Queensland yesterday.
Visits to aged care centres, hospitals, disability accommodation sites, prisons and youth detention sites within the Metro North, South and West Moreton health service regions are now off-limits until further notice.
"Evidence shows that this variant is 70 per cent more infectious than other strains," Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said in a statement. "This is why I'm taking this firm action swiftly, to protect our most vulnerable facilities."
The woman, who works as a cleaner and lives in Algester, is believed to have been infectious from January 2, with Dr Young saying she worked only one shift while infectious, on that day, and had travelled to work by train.
Public health alerts have been issued for travellers on the services to and from the city and Altandi station. Initial contact tracing has led to public health alerts for the woman's train journey and visits to supermarkets and a newsagent in Sunnybank Hills and Calamvale.
"Anyone who has been in the below locations during the relevant time periods, regardless of whether they have symptoms, is asked to come forward for testing and quarantine at home until they receive their results," the Queensland government website says.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has also called for a boost to federal hotel quarantine help in the wake of the case.
National cabinet will meet today to discuss the country's response to this new UK strain.
Alert heightened for Woolworths, chemist on Sydney's northern beaches
NSW Health has raised the alert level for a Woolworths supermarket and a chemist visited by a confirmed case of COVID-19 on Sydney's northern beaches earlier this month.
Anyone who visited Woolworths or Chemist Warehouse at Avalon at the times in January listed below must immediately get tested and self-isolate until receiving a negative result.
They should continue to monitor for symptoms and if any occur, get tested again.
- Saturday, January 2, from 3.45pm to 4pm
- Sunday, January 3, from 12.45pm to 1pm
- Monday, January 4, from 6.30pm to 6.50pm
- Tuesday, January 5, from 4.45pm to 5pm
- Wednesday, January 6, from 12.45pm to 1pm
Chemist Warehouse at Avalon
- Sunday, January 3, between 1pm and 1.15pm
Earlier on Thursday, NSW Health had said people who visited those venues at the listed times only had to get tested if they developed COVID-19 symptoms.
You can find the latest case locations and alerts for NSW here.
Alert issued for Melbourne Woolworths, risk level raised at four sites
A new exposure site at Melbourne's Southland shopping centre has been added to the list of venues visited by COVID-positive people on New Year's Eve.
The Victorian Health Department advised that an infected shopper visited Woolworths supermarket on December 31 between 6pm and 6.30pm.
Anyone who was in store at that time is being advised to monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if they develop.
Meanwhile, the department has raised the risk level of exposures at already publicised exposure sites in Hallam, Mordialloc, Moorabbin and Wonthaggi.
Anyone who visited the following sites at the times listed is now being urged to get tested immediately, regardless of symptoms:
- Coles Hallam, 2 Princes Domain Drive, Hallam on December 30 from 6.15am – 6.30am
- Costco Moorabbin, 8 Chifley Drive, Moorabbin Airport on December 30 from 10.45am – 12.15pm
- Woodlands Golf Club, 109 White Street, Mordialloc on December 28 from 12.00pm – 6.00pm
- Wonthaggi Plaza Shopping Centre, 2 Biggs Drive, Wonthaggi on December 28 from 1.30pm – 2.30pm.
Previous advice levels for these four sites was for contacts to only get tested if they developed symptoms. They must now come forward for testing even if they feel well.
National cabinet to meet today
Good morning and welcome to our continuing live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Before we get started on the day's breaking news, let's recap some of the major developments from Thursday:
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders will hold a special national cabinet meeting today to discuss whether to tighten precautions on overseas arrivals, amid growing concerns over the UK mutant strain of COVID-19.
- NSW reported zero locally acquired cases during the most recent 24-hour reporting period yesterday, but one local case was detected in the upper northern beaches after the 8pm Wednesday deadline.
- Victoria recorded no new cases on Thursday, for the first time in more than a week. Contact tracing teams are still attempting to find the source of Wednesday's mystery case, who may have acquired his infection at the Chadstone Boxing Day sales or the Melbourne Test.
- An employee at one of Brisbane's quarantine hotels who tested positive to COVID-19 has contracted the more infectious UK strain of the virus. The positive case could have massive ramifications, as workers are allowed to be out in the Queensland community.
- The patient at the centre of a series of personal protective equipment breaches at Perth Airport and in hotel quarantine who tested positive to coronavirus has also contracted the UK strain.
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Australia is on track to start vaccinating vulnerable groups by late February, and half the population could be vaccinated against coronavirus before the middle of the year.
- To sport, and masks are mandatory at day two of the Sydney Test between Australia and India. People who have visited some western Sydney suburbs will be fined $1000 if they attend the SCG.
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