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Here are all the latest developments in the coronavirus pandemic in Australia. This is Mostafa Rachwani and it’s Friday 16 October.
Victoria may ease restrictions as numbers hover
The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, suggested on Monday that Melbourne’s roadmap out of lockdown could be changed.
The number of confirmed cases dropped steadily this week, with just two cases recorded on Friday, pushing down the rolling 14-day average to 8.7.
That is still above the five daily cases average required by the premier to lift restrictions on Sunday – the commonwealth’s threshold for a safe reopening is 10 daily cases – but Andrews has indicated that the state may still go ahead with a partial reopening.
Meanwhile, roughly 400 people started self-isolating in the town of Shepparton this week after three people tested positive.
A truck driver brought the virus to the town in September, but failed to disclose his visit to contact tracers, meaning the virus could have been circulating there for more than two weeks.
Some testing sites were overwhelmed, with hours-long waiting queues reported, and had to close after lines became unsustainably long.
Western Sydney outbreak grows
New South Wales recorded an uptick in cases this week, including two GPs from the A to Z clinic in Lakemba.
NSW Health updated its list of venues in an alert on Tuesday to include Ikea Tempe and various locations in Emerald Hill and Campbelltown.
The premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said she was hoping to announce a further easing of restrictions next week, if the chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, thinks it safe.
Victoria’s top public servant resigns
Chris Eccles, the secretary of Victoria’s Department of Premier and Cabinet, resigned on Monday.
Victoria’s top public servant handed in his resignation after he conceded he spoke to the ex-police chief on the afternoon the decision was made to use private security guards for the botched hotel quarantine program.
He had previously given evidence to the inquiry investigating failures in hotel quarantine that he did not recall speaking to Victoria police chief commissioner Graham Ashton.
The phone call between the two men came during a critical six-minute window where the decision was made for private security, rather than police, to guard the hotels.
Eccles is the second resignation linked to the program, following the health minister, Jenny Mikakos, who resigned last month.
Quarantine capacity to be boosted
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, confirmed this week that the government will use the Howard Springs facility near Darwin to boost quarantine capacity.
The arrangement will help up to 5,000 people return home, with Australians stranded in the UK the first travellers to benefit.
Flights are being sold by Qantas, which was given a priority list of Australians identified as “vulnerable” by the the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
It will cost travellers $2,500 to be quarantined in the facility.
There are close to 30,000 overseas Australians who have registered to come home, but have struggled with a lack of flights and caps by states on the number of weekly returns.
First flight from New Zealand lands
The first flight as part of the trans-Tasman travel arrangement arrived in Sydney on Friday, bringing with it passengers who had been stuck overseas.
The arrangement is still one way for now, with travellers only allowed to fly from New Zealand to New South Wales, but it means passengers won’t have to quarantine.
Sydney airport burst back to life briefly, as returning passengers were reunited with their loved ones after, for some, months of separation.
Fittingly, the NSW tourism minister, Stuart Ayres, likened it to “a scene from the move Love Actually”.
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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Coronavirus Australia latest: the week at a glance | Coronavirus