Australia Covid news live: NSW, Victoria case, freedom, lockdown restrictions and vaccinations
Victorians are still on track to see restrictions relaxed early, although the state confirmed another worrying spike in Covid cases and deaths today.
Welcome to Thursday’s live coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Australia.
Victoria saw another spike in Covid cases, with 2,297 infections and 11 confirmed deaths within 24 hours to midnight.
Despite the grim numbers, there is still hope that residents can emerge from the lockdown sooner than expected as the state rushes towards its 70% vaccination target.
NSW on Thursday recorded 406 new locally acquired Covid cases and six deaths.
Follow below for today’s major updates. Keep refreshing the page for the latest news.
Covid cases in Victoria soar
Victoria saw a worrying spike in Coivd-19 cases, with 2,297 infections and 11 deaths recorded within 24 hours to midnight.
This is the highest number of daily cases recorded in Australia since the start of the pandemic.
The previous Australian record was when 1946 Victorians tested positive for the coronavirus on October 8.
Melbourne lockdown set to end early as vax rates skyrocket
Despite today’s peak in Covid-19 cases, Victoria is still on track to introduce new freedoms for fully vaccinated residents earlier than expected.
The Victorians have been promised to ease restrictions once the state hits its 70% double-dose vaccination target, with the end of the Melbourne lockdown being one of the major changes.
There are now at least 86.7% of Victorians over 16 who have had their first vaccine, with around 61.49% fully vaccinated.
The state was originally expected to meet the 70% vaccination target on October 26, but is now expected to hit the milestone a few days earlier on Friday October 22.
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews confirmed on Wednesday that restrictions will be relaxed on the same day the vaccination target is reached.
“I look forward to being able to give people absolute clarity on what next week looks like, and the week after, and as far as possible,” he said.
65% of Australians now fully vaccinated
Health Minister Greg Hunt has confirmed that 65.4% of Australians over 16 have now received two doses of a Covid vaccine.
At least 83.6% received a dose.
âSo this protection is really happening across the country. This is a very large number and I want to thank the Australians who return for their second dose and continue to urge them to do so, âsaid Mr Hunt.
âFor those who have not yet received their first dose, there is wide access across the country and we urge you to keep coming forward. These numbers are growing every day, but we urge you to keep coming forward. “
NSW records 406 cases and six deaths
NSW recorded 406 new cases of Covid-19 and six deaths within 24 hours at 8 p.m. last night.
A detail that could derail 80% of freedoms
Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet again signaled that changes could be made to NSW’s highly anticipated Freedom Day 2.0.
Speaking on Thursday, the Prime Minister said officials would meet today to discuss issues surrounding the reopening of regional travel for vaccinated residents of Greater Sydney.
Residents of New South Wales are expected to get even more freedoms when the state hits its 80% double-dose vaccination target, with an increase in vaccination meaning that target could be met this weekend.
This means that the freedoms could come into effect on October 18, a week earlier than the expected date of October 25.
However, the wave of vaccines has raised concerns that regional regions of New South Wales have not had enough time to increase their vaccination rates, meaning they could be at risk for Covid outbreaks. .
Mr Perrottet will meet with cabinet tonight to discuss these issues, with the possibility that the much-anticipated regional travel freedom could be delayed.
âIt looks like, from the efforts of everyone in the state, that we will hit our 80% target over the weekendâ¦ but there have been concerns about the different pace of vaccine rollout in the region. NSW regional, âhe said.
âI will be reviewing this today with members of the cabinet team when we also look at a series of issues related to our response to Covid. “
As of Wednesday afternoon, 76.5% of residents over 16 were fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Yesterday, NSW Nationals leader Paul Toole reminded reporters that he said last week the state was “weeks away” from allowing travel to the areas.
“We also need to make sure in tomorrow’s discussion that we protect the regional NSW,” he said.
The big Qld sign could open for Christmas
Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk has offered a tough reality check for Queenslanders who still have not been vaccinated against Covid-19.
In a very pointed message, the Prime Minister told unvaccinated residents that the government has done “everything it can to keep you safe” and that the next step is up to them.
We can’t protect you if you don’t protect yourself, âshe wrote on Twitter.
Ms Palaszczuk then pointed out that there was not much time left if residents wanted to be fully vaccinated before Christmas.
âIt takes five weeks from the first dose to be fully immunized. In five weeks it’s November 17 – it’s almost Christmas, âshe said.
âWe rely on the people of Queensland to stay safe – let’s do it. “
The reference to Christmas also sparked speculation that the state’s strict border rules could change, after Ms Palaszczuk repeatedly refused to budge on her border position.
For months now, Victoria, ACT and most of New South Wales have been considered ‘red zones’, meaning anyone who has been in these areas in the past 14 days cannot enter. in Queensland.
Queensland residents wishing to return from these areas can only enter the state if they complete 14 days of mandatory hotel quarantine upon arrival.
Ms Palaszczuk’s post follows weeks of growing tension in Queensland, with desperate business owners calling on the Prime Minister to release a roadmap for reopening with NSW and Victoria.
The owner of The Breakers vacation apartments in Broadbeach, Michael Stephens, has accused the Prime Minister of not caring about struggling businesses.
âShe gets up every morning and acts like it’s a State of Origin game,â he said. The Courier-Courrier.
“We’re not just Queenslanders, we’re Australians.”
Dine and Discover extra vouchers for NSW
NSW residents will receive two additional Dine and Discover vouchers in an effort to provide more business support.
Starting in December, residents will have access to an additional $ 25 voucher for hospitality facilities and another $ 25 voucher for recreation and entertainment.
This is in addition to the four vouchers that have already been distributed to residents since March.
Residents will have until June 2022 to use the vouchers.
Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet said the program has already injected nearly $ 500 million into the NSW economy.
He also revealed that the government would make permanent the changes to alfresco dining announced last year.
âWe know they have had incredible success here in Sydney’s CBD. We want to bring life and laughter to the city during the summer, âsaid Perrottet.
“We are also providing grants of up to $ 500,000 to councils statewide to improve their amenities on main streets.”
The government will also provide grants of $ 5,000 to businesses to help them create outdoor dining spaces.
Huge Holiday Discounts for Queenslanders
Queenslanders have been offered big holiday discounts, in a bid to boost the state’s struggling tourism industry.
In a tweet, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said residents will be able to claim huge discounts on airfare, bus tickets and accommodation for tourist experiences as part of the Great Queensland Getaway campaign.
âThe campaign will offer promo codes of up to 50% off tourist experiences across Queensland,â she said.
‘Beginning of the end’ for AZ jab
This is the “beginning of the end” for the AstraZeneca vaccine, with vaccine production on the Australian coast to be suspended by Christmas.
The vaccine will no longer be manufactured here, reports 9 News, with the safe and effective vaccine ultimately succumbing to months of hesitation, after being linked to an extremely rare side effect on blood clotting.
Demand for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines has now made the vaccine irrelevant.
“Obviously, we don’t want to make something that won’t be used, and we will have a number of options going forward,” University of Queensland associate professor Paul Griffin told the network. .
“It obviously received a lot of negative press and it is a vaccine that has been shown to be very effective and very safe.”
Once the current order is completed, it is expected that the vaccine maker in Melbourne, CSL, will cease production, and the federal government “almost certainly” will not extend the contract beyond this year.
“Despite the perhaps disproportionate criticism that this vaccine’s reputation has suffered, we could not be prouder that the AstraZeneca vaccine has protected several million Australians,” CSL chairman Brian McNamee told investors.
Almost 12.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered to Australians.
TGA plans Pfizer jab for 5-11 year olds
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has granted an interim ruling to Pfizer for the use of its vaccine in Australian children aged five to 11.
âOn October 12, 2021, the TGA, which is part of the Department of Health, granted an interim ruling to Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd regarding its Covid-19 vaccine, COMIRNATY,â the TGA said in a statement.
âCurrently, COMIRNATY is provisionally approved for use in persons 12 years of age or older. Granting the ruling means Pfizer is now eligible to apply to change the vaccine’s interim approval to include children ages 5 to 11.
“This provisional determination is the first step in the process and does not mean that a request for a change has been made by the sponsor – or that such a change will be provisionally approved by the TGA.
“In making its decision to grant Pfizer an interim determination for use in individuals 5 to 11 years of age, the TGA considered eligibility criteria, including factors such as evidence of a submission of complete clinical data regarding use in this age group – and the severity of the current Covid-19 pandemic. â