Refresh this page for updates – scroll down for links to official health information.
- Victoria records 216 new cases
- New remdesivir treatment used in Victoria
- No new SA cases on Saturday
- SA monitors NSW and ACT cases
- Man arrested in Glenelg after Victoria trip
- SA introduces international arrival cap
- WHO team arrive in China for virus probe
Victorian cases continue to surge
Victoria reported 216 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, down from the 288 new cases registered on Friday.
A man in his 90s died overnight while 49 remain in hospital, including 15 in intensive care, Premier Daniel Andrews said on Saturday morning.
More than 180 of the new cases are still under investigation, with 30 linked to known outbreaks.
It takes the total number of cases in the state to 3560 and the national death toll to 107.There’s a warning of more ugliness to come.
“We will see more and more additional cases, that’s the nature of this,” Mr Andrews said.
He’s called on Victorians not to look for loopholes to get around restrictions, as it was revealed a plateau in the second outbreak’s numbers could be starting already.
Individuals thinking it won’t matter if they don’t comply with the rules will only lead to longer lockdowns, he said.
“It isn’t for them to make that judgement because its not just them who pays the price, we all will because the lockdown will go longer,” he said.
The premier said people were noticeably taking on board the recommendation that they wear masks in public when out and about for one of the four allowed reasons.
“The wearing of masks could well be a really important feature of the next part of our pandemic response,” he said.
Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said he would expect to start seeing a plateau in cases, most likely in the next three to five days, as lockdown measures had some effect.
“The main thing is the mobility data – it’s really showing a very substantial decrease in people’s mobility, their numbers of interactions with other people,” he said.
Single cases are still being recorded among staff in aged care facilities, and Victoria has had more aged care outbreaks than any other state, but the response has meant none have been substantial, he said.
Australia is still pursuing a strategy of suppressing rather than eliminating the virus, but Prof Sutton hopes both could be achieved.
“(Elimination) is not the national decision at the moment … I would hope that we don’t close ourselves of to a re-evaluation and reappraisal of what’s feasible and what the pros and cons are,” Prof Sutton said.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said new testing facilities are being opened across the lockdown area, with the aim being for every person in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire to have a site within 10km of their homes.
Around 20-25,000 Victorians are being tested daily and capacity in the state’s pathology labs has increased to 25,000 tests a day.
Interstate labs are also being used to test Victorian samples.
Victoria Police fined 83 people for breaching restrictions, including a group of 13 people playing poker at a private residence.
COVID drug remdesivir used in Victoria
Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth on Saturday revealed that a drug to treat seriously ill COVID-19 patients has been used in the recent Victorian outbreak, after the Therapeutic Goods Administration granted provisional approval.
Dr Coatsworth said Australia has used the drug both earlier in the pandemic and in recent weeks in Victoria, with the main benefit being reduced hospital admission times and reduced symptoms.
He cautioned it is not ‘a silver bullet’ and it is not yet clear if it has a positive impact on mortality rates.
According to Dr Coatsworth, any medical professional is now allowed to prescribe the drug, but it is most likely to be prescribed by infectious disease doctors and emergency department doctors.
Remdesivir has been provisionally approved for use in adults and adolescent patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms who have been hospitalised.
The drug by US company Gilead Sciences is the most promising treatment so far to reduce hospitalisation time for those suffering from severe infections, the TGA said in a statement on Friday.
The TGA says remdesivir will be available only to patients who are severely unwell, require oxygen or high level support to breathe, and are in hospital care.
However, the drug does not prevent infection or relieve milder cases.
Australia is one of the first countries to approve the use of the drug after the European Union, Japan, and Singapore.
SA to wait and see on NSW/ACT border
South Australia reported no new COVID-19 cases on Saturday afternoon, as the state closely monitors any spread of the virus from Victoria into NSW and the ACT ahead of a planned reopening of borders to both on July 20.
Premier Steven Marshall says the target date remains in place but that authorities will wait to see how things progress.
“We’ve seen today both NSW and ACT with a single case of transmission from someone returning from Victoria,” he said on Friday.
“We’re looking very carefully at the results over the coming days to make sure we don’t lift the borders too early.”
NSW on Friday reported one case involving someone who had driven from Melbourne on the eve of the border closure, reaching a caravan park in the Sutherland area when he tested positive.
Seven new cases were recorded in the state to 8pm on Friday – five of which were in hotel quarantine.
Five cases are now linked to The Crossroads Hotel in Casula, after NSW Health on Saturday confirmed a male patron had passed the virus to household contacts.
The ACT had one new case on Friday linked to four others related to the Melbourne outbreaks.
Queensland opened up travel to non-Victorian states on Friday, with a plane flying passengers from Adelaide to Brisbane.
Arrivals are required to complete a border declaration form, including the giving of consent to mandatory testing for anyone feeling sick.
Tasmania meanwhile has delayed plans to reopen its borders due to the Victorian situation.
Glenelg arrest over quarantine breach
A 35-year-old from Keysborough appeared in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on Friday, after allegedly failing to abide by quarantine rules after returning from Victoria.
South Australian Police attended an address at Glenelg based on a tip-off and spotted the man leaving, so conducted a traffic stop a short distance away.
The man had only made a single night booking at his accommodation as opposed to the required 13 nights.
He was remanded in custody and will reappear on 12 August.
South Australia implemented a hard border with Victoria on Thursday, with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to join patrols in the South East this weekend.
Anyone who has been in Victoria over the past two weeks is also being asked to get tested, regardless of whether they have symptoms.
SA returnees will be handed a mask when they cross the border, which they will be asked to wear when in contact with other people, and will also be required to self-quarantine for two weeks.
There were no new cases reported in SA on Friday, with the state’s total remaining at 443.
But to ensure any infections are quickly detected, mobile testing stations will be deployed across Adelaide next week.
SA will also limit the number of people returning from overseas, introducing a cap of 500 each week.
It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a national review into hotel quarantine arrangements, restricting the weekly number of repatriated Australians to 4000 across the country.
Returning Australians will also be made to pay for their two-week stays.
Marshall said the South Australian state cabinet would meet on Monday to consider putting an immediate charge on all international arrivals.
WHO team arrive in China for virus probe
An advance team from the World Health Organisation has left for China to organise an investigation into the origins of COVID-19, spokeswoman Margaret Harris says.
The virus is believed to have emerged in a wholesale market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, since then closed, after jumping the species barrier from the animal kingdom to infect humans.
The two WHO experts, specialists in animal health and epidemiology, will work with Chinese scientists to determine the scope and itinerary of the investigation, Harris said, declining to name them.
“They have gone, they are in the air now, they are the advance party that is to work out the scope,” she said.
This would involve negotiations on issues including the composition of the full team, she added.
“One of the big issues that everybody is interested in, and of course that’s why we’re sending an animal health expert, is to look at whether or not it jumped from species to a human and what species it jumped from,” Harris said.
“We know it’s very, very similar to the virus in the bat, but did it go through an intermediate species? This is a question we all need answered,” she said.
The World Health Organisation has meanwhile reported a record increase in global cases, with the total rising by 228,102 in 24 hours.
The biggest increases were from the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa.
Deaths remained steady at about 5000 a day.
Dr Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies program, said on Friday it was unlikely that the coronavirus would be eliminated.
“In the current situation it is unlikely we can eradicate this virus,” he told an online briefing from Geneva.
He said that, by extinguishing clusters of infection, the world could “potentially avoid the worst of having second peaks and having to move backwards in terms of lockdown”.
OFFICIAL SOURCES OF ADVICE AND INFORMATION
Local updates and resources
State Government central information
Mental health support line (8am to 8pm): 1800 632 753.
National advice and information
Australian Government Coronavirus information hotline: 1800 020 080
Government information via WhatsApp: click here
Australian Government travel advice: smartraveller.gov.au
Check your symptoms
Free, government-funded, health advice: healthdirect.gov.au
– Reporting by InDaily staff, AAP and Reuters
This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.
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