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As the country waits to see if NSW’s new Covid-19 infection has spread West Australian Premier Mark McGowan says he will take the weekend to assess his options when it comes to opening the border to NSW and Victoria.
WA is scheduled to open up to the states from next Tuesday, dropping the 14-day quarantine requirement for travel from those states.
But the timeline is in doubt after a Sydney hotel quarantine worker contracted the virus, ending the state’s 26-day streak without a single new community case.
Urgent genomic testing is underway to determine how the woman contracted the virus, with an update likely on today.
Depending on the scale of the NSW outbreak and risk of further transmission, WA could also delay reopening its border to neighbouring Victoria.
“The NSW government is confident they have it under control but we want to see and make sure that the evidence supports that before we make a final decision,” McGowan said.
“Obviously if the chief health officer recommends that we delay opening to NSW, then that is the decision we will make.”
Global Covid-19 death toll surpasses 1.5 million
More than 1.5 million people have lost their lives due to Covid-19 with one death reported every nine seconds on a weekly average, as vaccinations are set to begin in December in a handful of developed nations.
Reuters reports that 500,000 deaths occurred in just the last two months, indicating that the severity of the pandemic is far from over. Nearly 65 million people globally have been infected by the disease and the worst affected country, the United States, is currently battling a third wave of coronavirus infections.
In the last week alone, more than 10,000 people in the world died on average every single day, which has been steadily rising each passing week. Many countries across the world are now fighting second and third waves even greater than the first, forcing new restrictions on everyday life.
If you a keen for more global Covid-19 updates, check out the Guardian’s global live blog.
As Melbourne goes more than a month without a Covid-19 infection, New South Wales eases restrictions further and South Australia’s Parafield cluster slowly fades into memory, it seems the country is finally settling into the much-anticipated “Covid normal”.
But as the perception of threat eases, experts say health authorities must find a balance between mitigating risk and keeping the public on side.
Prof Nancy Baxter, head of the school of population and global health at the University of Melbourne, says there is a real risk of governments overstepping and risking widespread refusal to comply with remaining restrictions.
“You saw this during the height of the second wave when the [Victorian] government were digging in their heels about continuing the curfew long after it seemed to have done its job,” Baxter says. “By not easing that, people kind of started saying ‘Well, why do we have to do this?’. It started bringing more of the restrictions into question.”
You can read my full story on how the government should handle this next stage in the Covid-19 pandemic below:
Good morning, Matilda Boseley here. It’s nearly the end of the week and what better way to reach the finish line than to stick around on the Guardian live blog and get all your much-needed news updates, Covid-19 or otherwise.
First up, Liberal MP Andrew Hastie has criticised the Brereton report, which he says was filled with “unproven rumours” of Australian soldiers murdering Afghan children, saying the report has given China an opening to malign Australian troops.
Hastie also took aim at Twitter for refusing to take down an inflammatory tweet by a Chinese foreign ministry official, suggesting Australia was experiencing “a toxic mix of economic coercion and political disinformation enabled by Silicon Valley social media oligarchs in the United States”.
In other news:
- NSW is waiting with bated breath to see if an infection breach in their hotel quarantine system will result in a cluster. A cleaner at one of the hotels has developed Covid-19, and while her family have all so far tested negative she was working across multiple worksites and used public transport on days when she may have been infectious. A number of people have been ordered to self-isolate.
- Today we have learnt Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg billed taxpayers almost $5,000 to take the prime minister’s private jet on a whirlwind trip to Sydney on the night of Lachlan Murdoch’s Christmas party last year, leaving Canberra after 6pm, attending the Bellevue Hill soiree and then returning to the capital before 9am the next morning.
- The UK will be the first country to roll out a Covid-19 vaccine beyond stage-three clinical trials with 800,000 doses to be given to high-priority people, including healthcare workers and the vulnerable, from next week. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is the same one Australia will roll out from March. The two-shot vaccine is also being assessed by the US drug regulator, and a similar authorisation is expected to be made shortly for a rollout in mid-December.
- We are also waiting on the environment and emission reductions minister, Angus Taylor, to make the keynote address at an emissions conference, so we will bring you all the updates on that as it happens.
If you see any news that you think should be on here, don’t hesitate to shoot me a message on Twitter, @MatildaBoseley, or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Guardian
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