Two states on high alert after infected case fled Melbourne lockdown

Original article by Lydia Lynch
The Australian – Page: 1 & 4 : 10-Jun-21

Health authorities in New South Wales and Queensland are trying to identify all close contacts of a Melbourne couple who travelled interstate on 1 June, three days after Victoria’s latest COVID-19 lockdown began. The 44-year-old woman subsequently tested positive on 8 June, although her partner has tested negative so far. The couple stopped in four towns in regional NSW before arriving in Queensland on 5 June; they visited family members on the Sunshine Coast on the following day. Queensland’s chief health officer Jeannette Young says the woman may have been infectious while travelling through NSW; she adds that it is too soon to consider whether parts of southeast Queensland should go into lockdown.

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QUEENSLAND HEALTH

Movement in the Melbourne CBD plunges to below 20% of pre-COVID averages as the city experiences a fourth lockdown

Original article by Roy Morgan
Market Research Update – Page: Online : 9-Jun-21

Special analysis of movement data in Australia’s Capital City CBDs since the COVID-19 pandemic began shows a plunge in movement in the Melbourne CBD in late May after the city entered a fourth lockdown on May 28. The average 7-day movement level in the Melbourne CBD was at only 19% of pre-COVID-19 averages at the end of May, around half the movement level in the Sydney CBD (38%). This is the first time average 7-day movement levels in the Melbourne CBD have plunged below 20% since the short five-day ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown in Victoria from February 13-17. Movement levels have declined in other Capital City CBDs during May, despite no significant outbreaks or lockdowns in other cities since a three-day lockdown in Greater Perth in late April. Looking around Australia the Adelaide CBD is again the stand-out with movement levels sitting at 65% of pre-COVID averages in late May, ahead of the Perth CBD (59%). Movement levels in the Brisbane CBD (52%) and Hobart CBD (49%) are at around half of their pre-COVID-19 averages. Roy Morgan has partnered with leading technology innovator UberMedia to aggregate data from tens of thousands of mobile devices to assess the movements of Australians as we deal with the restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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ROY MORGAN LIMITED, UBERMEDIA

Don’t delay jab warning to over 50s

Original article by Natasha Robinson, Adeshola Ore
The Australian – Page: 4 : 21-May-21

Amid reports of an increase in ‘vaccine hesitancy’, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has urged people over the age of 50 to receive AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid agrees, warning that the nation will be at risk of another outbreak as winter approaches. He adds that over-50s who hold out for an mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer will not be a priority when more doses become available, as they chose not to have the vaccine that was available to them. Meanwhile, 24 cases of rare blood clots have now been reported among Australians who received the Astra-Zeneca vaccine. A 53-year-old South Australian man is among the six new cases; he is said to be in a ‘very serious condition’ in intensive care.

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AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF HEALTH, AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION LIMITED, ASTRAZENECA PLC, PFIZER INCORPORATED

Vaccine passports risk a two-class country

Original article by Rosie Lewis
The Australian – Page: 4 : 21-May-21

Business leaders have questioned the merits of the federal government’s proposed ‘vaccine passport’ system for domestic travellers. It would allow fully vaccinated people to travel interstate and return without being subject to COVID-19 restrictions. Restaurant & Catering CEO Wes Lambert says it would be "very cumbersome" and create more red tape; he adds that it might also create two classes of Australians, based on their vaccination status. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and New South Wales counterpart Gladys Berejiklian both oppose the scheme. Meanwhile, five new COVID-19 cases have been reported in hotel quarantine nationwide in the last 24 hours.

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RESTAURANT AND CATERING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA INCORPORATED, QUEENSLAND. DEPT OF THE PREMIER AND CABINET, NEW SOUTH WALES. DEPT OF PREMIER AND CABINET

Revolving door – Thousands cleared to jet in and out of Australia multiple times during pandemic

Original article by Tom Minear, Miles Proust
Herald Sun – Page: 1 & 6 : 13-May-21

The Budget papers show that the federal government does not expect the majority of Australians to be able to travel overseas until at least mid-2022. However, Australian Border Force data shows that 134,758 citizens and permanent residents have received exemptions to travel overseas since the pandemic began. This includes 37,456 people who received a travel exemption on compassionate or humanitarian grounds, while 13,762 were allowed to leave Australia and return on multiple occasions. An ABF spokeswoman says the latter includes Australian Defence Force members and airline staff. Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews says the federal government will review the exemptions process.

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AUSTRALIAN BORDER FORCE, AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE FORCE, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF HOME AFFAIRS

Pfizer warns that a Covid vaccine patent waiver could harm supply and safety

Original article by Paul Karp
The Guardian Australia – Page: Online : 13-May-21

Australia is continuing to resist a global push to waive intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines. Pfizer has used its submission to a parliamentary inquiry into vaccine fraud to argue that rather than increasing global supply of vaccines, a waiver may in fact make it more difficult to manufacture vaccines due to increased competition for raw materials. Pfizer has also highlighted the increased risk of Australians being offered counterfeit vaccines by scammers. Meanwhile, Moderna has advised that the federal government has agreed to buy 25 million doses of its mRNA-based vaccine, including 10 million doses in 2021. It is also holding talks about manufacturing the two-dose vaccine in Australia.

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PFIZER AUSTRALIA PTY LTD, PFIZER INCORPORATED, MODERNA INCORPORATED

Health officials beg for hotel quarantine to be upgraded

Original article by Christopher Knaus, Melissa Davey
The Guardian Australia – Page: Online : 28-Apr-21

Public Health Association of Australia president Tarun Weeramanthri has urged the national cabinet to end the ‘political blame game’ over hotel quarantine and address deficiencies with the system. He says airborne transmission of COVID-19 in hotels with inadequate ventilation is the single biggest risk in terms of the virus spreading. Chief medical officer Paul Kelly has defended the hotel quarantine system; he has told a parliamentary inquiry that the system is ‘fit for purpose’, but concedes that improvements can be made. Some state governments are continuing to advocate housing returned travellers in purpose-built facilities in regional areas.

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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF HEALTH

Loan deferral scheme a win for economy

Original article by James Frost
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 19 : 28-Apr-21

More than 468,000 home loan customers in Australia were on deferred repayment plans at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic; this had fallen to 3,170 by the end of March. Likewise, the number of small business borrowers who have deferred their loan repayments has fallen from 235,440 to just 508. Overall, just 0.5 per cent of all loans are still on a ‘repayment holiday’. The loan deferral scheme ended on 31 March, but Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh says the nation’s banks will continue to provide support for distressed households and businesses.

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AUSTRALIAN BANKING ASSOCIATION

Economy gets caffeine hit as spending soars

Original article by Matthew Cranston
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 3 : 22-Apr-21

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that retail sales increased by 1.4 per cent nationwide in March, after falling by 0.8 per cent in February. Retail sales grew by 5.5 per cent in Western Australia and four per cent in Victoria, with both states having been affected by snap COVID-19 lockdowns in February. Consumer spending totalled $30.7bn overall in March, which is 10.6 per cent above pre-pandemic levels. The growth in retail sales has been driven by service-oriented businesses such as cafes and restaurants.

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AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS

Experts eye Melbourne-made mRNA vaccines

Original article by Paul Sakkal, Melissa Cunningham, Liam Mannix, Rachel Clun, Emma Koehn
The Age – Page: Online : 22-Apr-21

The Victorian government has announced that it will contribute $50m to the cost of establishing a facility to manufacture mRNA-based vaccines in Melbourne. Professor Colin Pouton of Monash University believes that this amount of funding would be sufficient to establish a facility for the local manufacturing of the COVID-19 vaccines that were developed by Pfizer and Moderna. He says Australia could begin producing these vaccines within a year, adding that this could be accelerated if CSL – which is producing AstraZeneca’s adenovirus-based vaccine – becomes involved. Australia currently receives limited supplies of the Pfizer vaccine.

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MONASH UNIVERSITY, PFIZER INCORPORATED, MODERNA INCORPORATED, ASTRAZENECA PLC, CSL LIMITED – ASX CSL