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What we know today, Monday August 9

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NSW has reported 283 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, with at least 106 of those people in the community for all or part of their infectious period.

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Moderna vaccine gets regulator green light

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine has moved a step closer to going into Australians’ arms with the medicines regulator giving provisional approval.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday announced Moderna had been granted Therapeutic Goods Administration provisional approval, joining Pfizer and AstraZeneca in Australia’s vaccine armoury.

The government has secured 25 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, including the supply of 10 million doses in 2021 and 15 million doses of its updated variant booster vaccine in 2022.

Moderna is seeking to make its vaccine available to Australians as young as 12, but could also use Australia as a trial country for vaccinating children as young as six months.

Around one million doses are slated to arrive next month.

That will ramp up to three million in October, while bigger Pfizer shipments are also on the way with two million doses a week set to land from September.

“This is another important tool tha t we have in our battle against COVID,” Morrison said.

“We’ll have it in our hands and we will have the jabs in our arms starting next month.”

NSW records 283 new local COVID cases

NSW has reported 283 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, with at least 106 of those people in the community for all or part of their infectious period.

An unvaccinated Sydney woman in her 90s in palliative care has also died, taking the death toll from the current outbreak to 29.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday also announced that the Tamworth area will join the NSW Hunter and Armidale regions in snap lockdown.

Greater Sydney and surrounding regions are in lockdown until at least August 28 as health authorities battle to contain an outbreak of the virulent Delta strain.

Of the 283 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, 64 were in the community while infectious and 42 were partly in the community while infectious. Some 71 cases are under investigation.

Kingswood Public School will be closed on Monday for cleaning after a member of the school community tested positive for COVID-19. All staff and students have been asked to self-isolate until they receive further advice.

There are 67 COVID-19 patients in NSW in intensive care, with 29 ventilated.

Meanwhile, thousands of year 12 students from eight coronavirus-hit council areas in western and southwestern Sydney will this week get a Pfizer vaccine jab.

Starting on Monday, the mass vaccination push will take place at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney Olympic Park until the 24,000 students are vaccinated.

NSW Health vaccinated almost 2000 supermarket and food distribution workers with AstraZeneca on a day it dubbed “Super Sunday” at the vaccination hub at Sydney Olympic Park.

Qld reports four virus cases, none in Cairns

Queensland has reported four new community virus cases, none of which were detected in Cairns as the far north enters its first day of lockdown.

Monday’s cases are all linked to the cluster in Brisbane’s west and each has been in quarantine for their entire infectious period.

Cairns and the nearby community of Yarrabah are on high alert after a taxi driver spent 10 days in the community while infectious.

His infection has now been linked to a marine pilot who tested positive last week, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Monday.

“The marine pilot actually travelled in that person’s taxi, so a lot of contact tracing is now happening,” Palaszczuk said.

“It’s great to know that linkage has been done.”

A rugby ground, tavern and supermarket were added to the list of exposure sites in the Cairns area on Sunday afternoon.

Millions fill out Australian census early

More than 2.4 million Australians have completed the census ahead of the official night in a move the government hopes will help stop another major crash.

The 2016 national survey was dogged by an online debacle that saw millions of people locked out of the website.

Australian Statistician David Gruen said there had been a huge response to offering people the chance to complete the census ahead of Tuesday.

“We’ve done it for two reasons – one to reduce the load on census night but the second reason is for convenience,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

With millions of Australians in lockdown on census night, the data is expected to give an unusual snapshot compared to other years.

Gruen is predicting the survey will show a mixture of pandemic-specific information and longer-term trends.

“Clearly there are going to be very big differences depending on whether you’re living in one of the locked-down places or living in perhaps Perth or Adelaide,” he said.

He believes the trend of people moving out of capital cities will be reflected in this year’s census.

“That’s had probably something to do with the effects of the pandemic.”

Questions about whether people are defence force veterans will be included for the first time to give higher quality information about serving and former personnel.

Vic records 11 new linked COVID-19 case

Victoria has recorded 11 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19.

The health department confirmed the cases are all linked to known outbreaks but only one was in quarantine throughout their infectious period.

Some 38,987 tests were processed in the 24 hours to Monday morning, while 17,101 Victorians received a COVID-19 vaccine at one of the state-run hubs.

There are now more than 170 exposure sites across the state, including the Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital in St Albans, which was visited by a positive case for six hours on Friday.

The Maternity Assessment Centre on level three and Dorevitch Pathology on the ground floor have been listed as tier-one exposure sites, with anyone who visited the facilities between 8.15am and 2.45pm and 9.05am to 9.50am respectively required to get tested immediately and then isolate for 14 days.

The cafe in the main corridor has been listed as a tier-two exposure site between 9.20am and 9.50am, with anyone who visited required to get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result

All other visitors to the Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital between 8.15-2.45pm must monitor for symptoms.

SA border shuts to all eastern states

South Australia’s border is now closed to all of Australia’s eastern mainland states with regional Queensland last night added to the list along with Greater Brisbane, NSW and Victoria.

The new border rules for Queensland tightened overnight with regional parts of the state added to restrictions on travel into SA from Greater Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.

From midnight last night, only people from Queensland with exemptions or essential travellers can enter SA.

They will have to self-quarantine for 14 days and submit to COVID-19 tests on days 1,5 and 13 post-arrival.

The statewide extension follows nine new local cases in Queensland yesterday including an unlinked case that has sent Cairns into lockdown for three days.

A nine-day lockdown in south-east Queensland ended yesterday despite the new cases.

SA is also closed to NSW and Victoria.

Victoria’s latest lockdown is due to end on Thursday, but NSW suffered a further 262 virus infections on Sunday as well as a further death, that of an unvaccinated woman in her 80s.

There were two new cases of COVID-19 reported in SA yesterday both in returned overseas travellers quarantining in medi-hotel.

The cases are a woman in her 30s and a child.

A man in his 80s, a woman in her 80s, and a man in his 70s, remain in the Royal Adelaide Hospital in a stable condition.

There are nine active COVID-19 cases in South Australia.

Pfizer vaccine opens up to children today

Young Australians can start getting the Pfizer jab from today, with the first round of eligibility expected to include more than 200,000 12 to 15-year-olds.

Children from 12 to 15 years of age with underlying medical conditions, and Indigenous and remote community children will have access to Pfizer, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

“That’s about 220,000 children”, he told ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.

Children more broadly in that age group, are being considered by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.

“All the advice is they are likely to open that up to kids and school-based vaccination programs are planned with every state or territory,” he said.

Meanwhile, even if Australia gets through its series of lockdowns and there is a high level of vaccination, there is a warning hundreds of domestic airline flights could be grounded this summer.

Australian Aviation Ground Handling Industry Alliance chair Glenn Rutherford says Australia’s economic recovery could be threatened.

That’s because thousands of critical aviation ground operations workers are on the cusp of leaving the industry as they have been excluded from the Australian government’s support package for the rest of the sector.

The $750 a week support package announced last week is designed to protect local aviation jobs and ensure these skilled workers are available when normal flight schedules resume in the coming months

However, only airline staff are eligible, with specialist aviation ground operations staff employed by third party suppliers excluded.

“Without aviation ground operations, planes cannot fly,” Rutherford said.

Peak welfare body, Australian Council of Social Service, says more than one million people are enduring lockdown in financial stress.

Most of them will receive just $44 a day from the JobSeeker dole payment. For some 260,000 young people and students, their payments are even less, at $36 per day.

“With parliament sitting this week, the government can fix our social security system for good to reduce the huge degree of uncertainty and distress people face when lockdowns hit,” ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said.

“We have lockdowns continuing in our two most populated states – it’s never been clearer that we need stable and adequate income support in place so that people and businesses can get through this long-running crisis.”

Port slams racist attack on Aliir

Port Adelaide have slammed a faceless troll who created a social media account just to racially abuse defender Aliir Aliir.

Aliir was abused shortly after his best-on-field effort in the Power’s four-point Showdown win over Adelaide, with the Power releasing a statement on Sunday condemning the post.

“There is nothing brave or courageous about using social media to racially abuse or personally vilify a player,” Port said.

“Racism is divisive and hurtful and has no place in our game or in society more broadly. It has to stop.

“We will continue to challenge and report racism. There is simply no room for it online, in the stands or in our homes. We need to be better.”

The incident comes just days after Adelaide forward Taylor Walker agreed to a six-match ban and a $20,000 fine for the racist comment he made against North Adelaide player Robbie Young at a SANFL game.

The racial slur was reported by a Crows official, with Walker later apologising for his comment.

Walker’s former Adelaide teammate, Carlton forward Eddie Betts, drew the Aboriginal flag and wrote ‘no room for racism’ on tape around his left wrist for the Blues’ game against Gold Coast on Saturday.

“I spoke to him (Betts) yesterday and he said he felt really good about the game, he was excited to be back out there,” Blues coach David Teague said after the match.

“But I do have no doubt that not only Eddie but for a lot of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, they’d be hurt by that (the Walker incident).

“We need to as a nation, as a football community, we need to keep educating and keep looking to improve and get better around racism because it’s not an acceptable level and we need to continue calling it out.”

First million Moderna doses on way

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has promised millions of doses of the Moderna vaccine will be available in the coming months, as hundreds of Sydneysiders continue to be infected by COVID-19 with a rising death toll.

Hunt expects the first million doses of the mRNA vaccine will arrive in Australia next month subject to final approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, due in the next two weeks.

Once approved, supplies are expected to ramp up to three million per month through October to December.

This comes on top of the effective doubling of the mRNA Pfizer vaccines to two million per week, as well as the AstraZeneca type.

This increased supply comes as vaccination rates have doubled from 700,000 per week a month-and-a-half ago to almost 1.3 million over the past seven days.

“What that does show is we can achieve a two million-a-week outcome in Australia,” Hunt told the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.

The TGA is also assessing a new antibody treatment, Sotrovimab, which is expected to be available for use later this year.

“This medicine is not for everybody,” Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told reporters in Canberra.

“It will be mostly aimed at people that are not vaccinated. It will be mostly for people who are at highest risk of severe disease, and it needs to be given early in the treatment course.”

Tokyo hands Olympic baton to Paris

Tokyo has handed the Olympic flag over to Paris as organisers breathed a sigh of relief at the end of the strangest Games in living memory.

Although not without its problems, most notably the absence of fans from venues in the Japanese capital, coronavirus has been a merciful sideshow to displays of sporting greatness.

Now everyone involved will keep their fingers firmly crossed that the Olympics in three years’ time will be able to be held in normal circumstances.

Paris had to stage its show remotely, but it was a memorable spectacle, with La Marseillaise played by musicians across Paris and beyond, including French astronaut Thomas Pesquet in the International Space Station.

French athletes who had starred in Tokyo but were now back home were among those gathered in the Trocadero to watch, although plans to use the Eiffel Tower as a flag pole for the world’s largest flag were scuppered by the weather.

Back in Tokyo, the formalities were completed as the Olympic flame went out, with International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach paying tribute to the athletes.

“You were faster, you went higher, you were stronger, because we all stood together in solidarity,” he said.

“This is a powerful message of solidarity and peace. You inspired us with this unifying power of sport. This is even more remarkable given the many challenges you had to face. In these difficult times, you gave to the world the most precious of things – hope.”

After praising the hosts, who shouldered the costs and the difficulties without being able to enjoy most of the benefits, Bach will now turn his attention towards ensuring the Paris Games continue the good work.

The French capital says it will “set a new standard for inclusive, gender-balanced and youth-centred games”.

Organisers will expand the so-called ‘urban’ program, with break-dancing – known simply as ‘breaking’ for the purposes of the Olympic program – making its Games debut.

Much of the action will take place at the heart of the city and take in its most celebrated sights, although the 2024 surfing will take place thousands of miles away in Tahiti.

The Stade de France will host the ceremonies, Roland Garros will stage tennis and boxing, and the open-water swimming will start off in the Seine, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

The Paris Games, while marginally smaller than Tokyo’s, also aims to be the first to reach a 50% split between male and female athletes, edging the 2021 event which managed 48.8 per cent.

Australia finishes sixth on Olympics medal table

Australia finished its Tokyo Olympics campaign with 46 medals and 17 gold to place sixth on the medal tally – equalling its record from Athens 2004.

The US snuck past China on the final day to lead the Tokyo table with 39 gold from China (38), Japan (27), Britain (22) and Russian OC (20).

Australian swimmer Emma McKeon led the global individual medal tally with four gold and three bronze medals.

Fellow Aussie swimmers Kaylee McKeown (three gold, one bronze) and Ariarne Titmus (two gold, one silver, one bronze) were also high on the list, which included US swimmer  Caeleb Dressel with five gold.

High jumper Nicola McDermott’s silver medal on Saturday night and bronze for the Boomers men’s basketball team were Australia’s last medals of the games.

McDermott’s medal added to track and field bronzes won by Decathlete Ash Moloney and javelin thrower Kelsey-Lee Barber.

The swim team’s nine gold medals at the Tokyo Games surpassed the nation’s previous record of eight golds at Melbourne’s 1956 Olympics.

And the total of 20 medals in Tokyo, including three silver and eight bronze medals, equalled Australian swimming’s record haul at the 2008 Beijing Games.

– with AAP and Reuters

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