Local News - Victoria

One new quarantine case, but no new local COVID-19 cases for 20th day in a row

Of the more than 1200 tennis players, coaches and officials in mandatory two-week quarantine ahead of the Australian Open, there are nine positive cases.

Only one tennis player – Spanish world No.67 Paula Badosa – has tested positive, with the remaining positive cases among support staff and a coach.

Spain's Paula Badosa said she was not feeling well after receiving her positive COVID-19 result.

Spain’s Paula Badosa said she was not feeling well after receiving her positive COVID-19 result.Credit:AP

Badosa, who cannot leave her hotel room until January 31, has described her extended period of quarantine ahead of the grand slam following her positive COVID-19 test as the worst moment of her career, adding she felt abandoned by organisers.

“I feel abandoned because I don’t have training equipment which I requested five days ago, I haven’t been told which type of the virus I have, I’ve had no information from the tournament,” she told Spanish newspaper Marca on Monday.

Badosa, who said she had been suffering from anxiety and claustrophobia, has been limited to doing sit ups in her hotel room and using water bottles as weights to try to stay in shape.


The 23-year-old added that the room, which she is sharing with coach Javier Marti, was not suitable for an elite athlete.

“It’s far and away the worst experience of my career,” Badosa said. “The conditions here are lamentable, I wasn’t expecting that. The number one thing people recommend when you have the virus is to open the windows to let in air, but I don’t have windows in my hotel room and it’s barely 15 metres square.”

Three Australian Open participants have been confirmed as having the UK variant of the virus, B.1.1.7.

If Badosa is found to have been infected with the new variant, she will only return to training on February 5 which the Spaniard believes will be too late to regain her fitness.


Following the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, hubs with ultra-cold freezers to store the jab will be set up in some of Melbourne’s major hospitals.

Austin Health, Western Health and Monash Health, which oversee multiple hospitals in Melbourne’s northern, western and south-eastern suburbs, will run the inoculation operation in metropolitan areas. Regional hubs have been earmarked for Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Albury-Wodonga, Sale and the Latrobe Valley.

Australian Medical Association Victorian president Julian Rait told The Age it will be a “huge logistical exercise” because the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at minus 70 degrees, although it can be kept at ordinary fridge temperate for five days. From mid-February, it will be given to high-risk groups including aged care residents, healthcare workers and people working in hotel quarantine and border control (and the NRL has said it wants players to be allowed to jump the queue).

Football stadiums and drive-through clinics are being considered because they could vaccinate a large number of people at once while ensuring social distancing requirements are met.

Meanwhile, Australia has suspended its quarantine-free travel scheme with New Zealand for at least 72 hours. The decision came after a new case of the more contagious South African strain of COVID-19 was detected in the community in Auckland.

After arriving back from Europe late last year, the 56-year-old woman completed 14 days in quarantine and returned two negative tests. But in the week after she left isolation, the woman developed symptoms and tested positive.

Investigations are ongoing, but New Zealand’s health authorities believe she became infected while in the quarantine hotel. Any travellers who arrived in Australia from New Zealand on or after January 14 must isolate and get tested.

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Local News - Victoria

No local Victorian COVID-19 cases for 18 days in a row

Two men in their 30s and a man in his 50s currently in Victorian hotel quarantine have been confirmed to be carrying the mutant virus strain, which is up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the original.


The three men are not tennis players, but are connected to the Australian Open, according to COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria (CQV). All have been in hard lockdown since their arrival on January 15, and their cases were previously announced.

After a hotel quarantine cleaner in Brisbane was found to have contracted the more virulent UK strain of COVID-19 in early January, the Queensland capital city was plunged into a three-day lockdown due to fears of an outbreak.

“CQV can confirm that three quarantine residents associated with the Australian Open who tested positive for coronavirus have been found to have the UK variant of the virus B.1.1.7.,” the release on Saturday evening said.

“The residents arrived in Melbourne on a dedicated Australian Open charter flight on 15 January and returned their first positive tests on 15, 17 and 18 January.

“All three cases have been in hard lockdown since they landed in Melbourne.”

As of Saturday night, a total of 10 coronavirus cases have been linked to the Australian Open ahead of the tennis tournament’s start on February 8.

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Local News - Victoria

Victoria records zero new local coronavirus cases, three in quarantine

Victoria eased its travel restrictions for most of NSW and all of Brisbane from 6pm on Friday, with all but one of the Greater Sydney local government areas that were red zones becoming orange.

Regional NSW, with the exception of the Blue Mountains and Wollongong, was designated a green zone. All local government areas in Greater Brisbane were also made green zones.

Travel from orange zones requires people to self-isolate and get tested within 72 hours of entering the state and remain in quarantine until they get a negative result, while travel from a green zone requires people to watch and get tested if they have any symptoms.

Cumberland, in Sydney’s western suburbs, is the only local government area in Greater Sydney that will remain a red zone – meaning people who have been in that area across the last 14 days cannot enter Victoria without an exemption.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the change to borders was a “very significant step” and would allow a number of Victorians to finally return home.

“It’s based on public health advice and will be welcome news, I’m sure, for many, many people who want to get home and have had a summer that has been somewhat disrupted, and in some cases more than that,” he said on Friday.

Mr Andrews reiterated that anyone returning to Victoria, even from a green zone, needs a travel permit.

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Local News - Victoria

No local COVID-19 cases for 16th day in Victoria as tennis player in quarantine tests positive

International arrivals – particularly foreign students and seasonal workers – are expected to dominate discussions at Friday’s national cabinet meeting. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszscuk is also set to put forward her proposal to quarantine people in regional worker camps rather than CBD hotels.


Meanwhile, infectious disease experts say Invasion Day rallies would pose minimal public health risks in Victoria, provided face masks are mandated and other safety precautions like social distancing are widely enforced.

Their comments come after Premier Daniel Andrews urged people not to attend a rally planned for Melbourne, as large gatherings are still banned under coronavirus rules.

Mr Andrews said now was not the time for protests. “This will be a different Australia Day; we’re in the midst of a global pandemic,” he said.

“It’s no time to be protesting, it just isn’t. We’ve built something precious and unique, Victorians have, through their sacrifice and their commitment and their compassion for each other and we have to safeguard that.”

On Thursday, three senior public health experts agreed that while the risk of an outbreak could not be ruled out, the danger would be minimal while there was no community transmission of COVID-19, and if precautions were taken by protesters.

Thousands marched through the streets of Melbourne to protest Australia Day last year, before COVID-19 took hold in the country.

Thousands marched through the streets of Melbourne to protest Australia Day last year, before COVID-19 took hold in the country.Credit:Chris Hopkins

“Given the direction we’re heading, with low transmission rates in the community and with high observance of appropriate precautions, the smoothest path may well be to allow protests within appropriate bounds,” University of Sydney infectious diseases expert Robert Booy said.

University of South Australia epidemiologist Adrian Esterman said: “There is risk in holding this protest, but it is quite minimal.”

La Trobe University epidemiologist Hassan Vally said: “The worst-case scenario is that there is a super-spreader in a huge crowd who could infect a lot of people that will all go back to different areas of Melbourne, and two weeks later we will have hundreds or thousands of cases. That’s our biggest fear.”

More to come.

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Australian News

No new local virus cases, Berala testing shut down

A public school in Western Sydney has undergone a deep clean ahead of the start of the school year, after the pop-up testing clinic hosted on its grounds was shut down.

Incredible images show workers in hazmat suits disinfecting surfaces at Berala Public School on Thursday morning.

Disinfectant was sprayed on to playground equipment, walls and classroom desks in the major operation to get the school ready for the return of its students on January 29.

The clinic was opened on January 5 to cater for an outbreak in the local area involving a man in his 40s, five family members and a co-worker.

It was always set to come to a close towards the end of the school holidays, with a statement from NSW Health when the site first opened for testing explaining it would “cease operation prior to the end of the school holiday period”.

A spokeswoman for NSW Health told NCA NewsWire there were 34 locations for COVID-19 testing in the Western Sydney region, nine of which were within the Cumberland LGA, of which Berala is a suburb.

“The Berala walk-in clinic that was located at Berala Public School has been relocated

to the Berala Community Centre,” she said.

“The Berala Public School is currently undergoing an enhanced deep clean in

preparation for the return of school.”

The state recorded no new locally transmitted coronavirus cases as a computer glitch caused confusion about testing numbers.

Five overseas travellers were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the 24-hour reporting period ending at 8pm on Wednesday night, NSW Health said.

Those numbers were based on around 18,000 tests that were performed in that time period.

But only 12,213 of them had been reported to the NSW Health team that tallies the daily numbers by the 8pm cut-off.

A computer glitch caused a batch of around 6,000 tests to be reported too late to make the cut. Those cases will be included in Friday’s numbers instead, meaning that day’s testing numbers will likely appear higher than they otherwise would be.

It’s understood these kinds of issues have happened periodically throughout the pandemic, although on a smaller scale.

The fact that the reporting lag amounted to a third of the day’s tests meant NSW Health officials decided to inform the public of the IT issue in their daily update.

“While there were 12,213 tests reported to 8pm last night, compared with the previous day’s total of 19,959, NSW Health can advise the reported testing numbers today appear lower after a minor IT issue delayed inclusion of approximately 6,000 negative tests,” officials wrote.

“These figures will be counted in tomorrow’s numbers. There were no delays reporting test results to individuals who had been tested.”

NSW Health also urged anyone on Sydney’s northern beaches and near Berala in the city’s west to pay attention to any COVID-19-like symptoms they may experience, after virus fragments were found in sewage there.

The Warriewood treatment plant handles waste from 160,000 in the northern beaches area.

The western Sydney alert affects people in the suburbs of Berala, Auburn, Lidcombe, Rookwood, and Regents Park.

Those updates came on the heels of an alert for southwestern Sydney on Tuesday after virus fragments were detected at a waste treatment plant in Glenfield, which serves over 160,000 people.

NSW Health officials sent out an alert warning people in a number of nearby suburbs to be watchful for symptoms and get tested if any appear.

Those suburbs are Airds, Ambarvale, Appin, Bardia, Blair Athol, Blairmount, Bow Bowing, Bradbury, Campbelltown, Casula, Claymore, Currans Hill, Eagle Vale, Englorie Park, Eschol Park, Gilead, Glen Alpine, Glenfield, Gregory Hills, Holsworthy, Ingleburn, Kearns, Kentlyn, Leumeah, Long Point, Macquarie Fields, Macquarie Links, Menangle Park, Minto, Raby, Rosemeadow, Ruse, St Andrews, St Helens Park, Varroville and Woodbine.

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Local News - Victoria

Zero new local COVID-19 cases, one in hotel quarantine

Victoria has clocked up 15 straight days without a new locally acquired case of COVID-19, while one person in hotel quarantine has tested positive in the last 24 hours.

It is not clear whether positive test results from two Australian Open players and a support person on Wednesday have been reclassified as viral shedding. Their cases were expected to be included in Thursday’s official figures.

Police Minister Lisa Neville said on Wednesday morning that three people associated with the grand slam had tested positive for COVID-19, but one player was strongly suspected of being a case of viral shedding.

Melburnians travel to work on Monday during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Melburnians travel to work on Monday during the COVID-19 pandemic.Credit:Joe Armao

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Local News - Victoria

Three new COVID-19 cases linked to Australian Open as government insists it’s not footing quarantine bill

“I’m aware of these figures and I wanted to share them with you because there’s been a lot of debate about how many people we have in the Australian Open who are positive,” she said. “This morning we became aware of three more positives.”


The three additional cases will be included in Thursday’s official figures.

Ms Neville said two cases are players, including one who is strongly suspected of shedding the virus and is already in lockdown because they arrived on a flight with another positive case.

The second player and their support person who returned positive swabs will not be allowed outside their hotel rooms while the Department of Health and Human Services reviews their test results to determine whether they are also shedding the virus.

“In the meantime though, the player and the support person … will not be training until we have final confirmation they are either shedding [the virus] or that they are positive,” Ms Neville said.

“If they are positive those two will go into the health hotel and the two bubble people will be considered close contacts and will be in lockdown for the 14 days.”

Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Wednesday morning the bill for the quarantine program is expected to top $40 million and will be partially paid by the Victorian government.

That was strongly disputed by Ms Neville.

“I want to be really clear about this,” she said, “hotel quarantine for the Australian Open is fully funded by Tennis Australia, I’ve triple confirmed that again today.

“I think you know we are asking, for example, Australians returning [home] to contribute to their hotel quarantining costs … so it is appropriate that Tennis Australia similarly do that.”


Premier Daniel Andrews has also been forced to defend the outsourcing of testing and health checks of players and staff to a private contractor involved in the St Basil’s nursing home outbreak, which led to the deaths of 45 residents.

Mr Andrews said Aspen Medical was more than capable of doing the work and it would prevent a drain of public hospital staff.

On Tuesday, Mr Tiley contradicted Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton’s report that two players were among cases of COVID-19 connected to the tournament.

In a health department update just before 5pm, Professor Sutton specified that the new cases “involve two players”.

But Mr Tiley appeared to dispute this, stating “none of them are players”. He suggested some players had cases of viral shedding, as opposed to being actively infectious.

Players including Roberto Bautista Agut and Yulia Putintseva compared life in lockdown to prison, with the latter saying: “In jail, at least you can breathe fresh air two times a day.” Bautista Agut later issued an apology, labelling Australia’s efforts to limit the spread of the virus as “admirable”.

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Local News - Victoria

Four new COVID cases in hotel quarantine, but state extends run of no community transmission

“With such high rates of infections in several of the countries that these players and officials are coming from, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if we found some more positive cases,” University of South Australia epidemiology Professor Adrian Esterman said.


There are six infections linked to the tournament so far, one of which Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said was believed to be a player, plus a seventh in a flight crew member.

At least 72 players – almost one-fifth of everyone taking part – are confined to their hotel rooms in hard lockdown and are unable to train. One of those players, Artem Sitak, said: “most tennis players are happy to do what they need to do to play“.

But others have been less understanding. World No.1 Novak Djokovic issued a list of demands to Australian Open director Craig Tiley, asking for players in hard lockdown to be released early and for as many as possible to be moved to private houses with tennis courts.

The requests were promptly rejected by Premier Daniel Andrews, who said: “The virus doesn’t treat you specially, so neither do we.”

More than 70 players – almost one-fifth of those taking part in the Grand Slam – have been confined to their hotel rooms after they were deemed close contacts of people who had tested positive to the virus after landing in Melbourne.

The lockdown for players considered close contacts means they cannot leave their rooms to train.

Travel restrictions also remain in place for large swathes of regional NSW that have not recorded a coronavirus case for months despite an Andrews government move to relax the hard border closure for people in some parts of Sydney.

Parts of Sydney’s “red zone” were downgraded at 6pm on Monday to orange and all border towns are now green zones, paving the way for some Victorians now stranded in NSW to return home without special exemptions.

Anyone in an orange zone can travel home but must quarantine until receiving a negative test result, while anyone in a red zone cannot enter Victoria.

A western Sydney mayor has said his residents are being treated as “second-class citizens” by Mr Andrews because they’re not able to travel to the southern state under the harsh border restrictions.

Fairfield City mayor Frank Carbone said he cannot see why his local government area is still being treated as a “red zone” given it has not had a new case of COVID-19 for almost 90 days.

“It is quite clear that it seems that if you hold a tennis racket these days, it has a lot more power than having an Australian passport,” Mr Carbone told the Today show on Tuesday morning.

“I don’t want western Sydney to be treated as second-class citizens and I will always stand up for my community because I’m very proud of what Fairfield has achieved. We’ve had the virus before and overcome it.”

Tuesday marks exactly a year since Australian health authorities went public with their concerns about a mystery illness emerging in China that, unbeknown to them at the time, would claim 909 Australian lives.

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Australian News

State records no new COVID-19 cases

Victoria has recorded zero new locally acquired cases of coronavirus on Tuesday as more than 15,000 people were tested in the past 24 hours.

But the Department of Health and Human Services revealed four new infections in returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.

There are 34 active cases of COVID-19 across the state. There were 15,574 tests undertaken in the past 24 hours.

Monday’s four new cases in hotel quarantine were all linked to overseas arrivals associated with the Australian Open.

There are now more than 200 testing centres in operation in Victoria, including a new testing site near gate one at the MCG.

Almost 200,000 tests have been taken in Victoria since the start of the year.

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Australian News

No new local cases, one in hotel quarantine

Queensland has recorded one new COVID-19 case, as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was increasingly confident there was no community transmission in Brisbane.

The new case was acquired overseas and detected in a returned traveller from Brazil in hotel quarantine.

Greater Brisbane remains under a mask mandate and a number of restrictions are in place after a cluster emerged at a hotel quarantine facility.

Residents will have to continue to wear a mask in a number of indoor settings and gatherings remain restricted until at least 1am on Friday, but Ms Palaszczuk said the continued success of containing the outbreak means those restrictions may be eased at that point.

“This is again really, really good news and, of course, we’re waiting until Friday morning, 1:00am — if we keep this track happening now, it’s more than likely that all of those restrictions will be removed by Friday,” she told reporters on Monday morning.

RELATED: CHO confident hotel cluster contained

“So a few more days to go, but thank you to everyone who’s been doing the right thing especially with the mask-wearing and listening to what you can do and you can’t do.”

Queensland’s chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young, encouraged those in the Sunshine State to continue wearing masks even if the mandate is eased later in the week.

“I think it’s a really good habit we should all get into that if you’re in a crowded space, if you can’t maintain social distancing, that you really wear a mask, particularly on public transport and if you’re going into any shopping centres,” she said on Monday morning.

“I think that will help us all as we go forward.”

All guests who were quarantining at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, as well as staff and travellers previously released from the hotel were rushed back into isolation last week amid fears a highly contagious variant of the virus had spread through the facility.

Many have since been released.

The update comes after the state notched a two-week milestone on Saturday since the outbreak at the hotel begun, leaving Dr Young confident the cluster had been contained.

“We are now day 14 since I believe that incident happened at the Grand Chancellor that led to those infections in the hotel,” she told reporters on Saturday.

“We’ve got the people who have been related to the cleaner and her partner. So we need to be very clear we don’t mix those two groups together.

“But this is all very good news. It means that, I believe, due to very quick work by a lot of people and by the people of Greater Brisbane, that there is every chance we have contained this cluster.”

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