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What we know today, Monday December 6


Another four SA COVID-19 cases have been recorded, with another added to the Norwood cluster but an unlinked case which caused concerns at Port Noarlunga has been ruled out as a false positive.

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Four new SA COVID-19 cases

Another four COVID-19 cases have been recorded in SA, including another Norwood cluster case bringing the outbreak number to 25.

SA Health said this afternoon that the new cases were two men aged in their 20s and 60s, and two women aged in their 30s and 50s.

One is listed as locally acquired, two acquired interstate and one from overseas.

SA Health also said that a case that was previously classified as unlinked and spending time in the Port Noarlunga area is now considered a false positive and there is no risk to the public.

SA has recorded 49 new cases since state borders reopened on November 23.

PM urges states to stick to reopening plans despite new variant

Scott Morrison has urged state and territory leaders to stick to reopening plans in the wake of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

There are now 25 cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in NSW – a jump of 10 in a day – with NSW Health saying 11 of the Omicron cases were acquired either overseas or on an international flight.

None of the people infected with Omicron has been admitted to hospital in NSW for treatment.

While the arrival of the variant in Australia has created concern, the prime minister is pushing for jurisdictions to stand firm on border strategies.

It comes amid reports Queensland could reopen its borders early as the state approaches an 80 per cent fully vaccinated coverage rate.

“Ultimately, these decisions are for premiers on public health of that nature,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

“Once you get past 80 per cent it is a game-changer. We have seen that in NSW and in Victoria and the ACT. These states are confidently living with the virus.”

The national vaccination rate for double doses in people 16 years and over is set to hit 90 per cent later this week, according to the prime minister.

It is currently sitting at 88 per cent.

Children aged five to 11 will soon be added to the mix after the medical regulator granted provisional approval for the age group.

Morrison said the rollout of the vaccine for children will be discussed at Friday’s national cabinet meeting with state and territory leaders.

“We are always going to apply the appropriate care in making those decisions,” he said.

“We have ensured that (parents) can have great confidence about the vaccination of their children.”

Final approval of the plan will need to be signed off by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.

Vaccinations for this cohort are expected to start from January 10, in time before the start of the school year.

However, these children may have to wait longer between doses.

Therapeutic Goods Administration head John Skerritt said ATAGI was considering the timing between doses and whether a timeframe of more than the usual three weeks was needed.

Victoria to keep borders open, no “Omicron zero” policy

Victoria has recorded 1073 new COVID-19 infections and another six deaths, as the premier says the state won’t pursue an “Omicron zero” strategy.

The health department confirmed on Monday the state is now managing 16,503 active COVID-19 cases.

There are 310 patients in the state’s hospitals, 90 of whom are in intensive care and 19 requiring ventilation.

The seven-day hospitalisation average has risen by three to 297.

Virus testers processed 56,337 results on Sunday, while 1513 people were vaccinated in state-run hubs.

More than 91 per cent of Victorians over 12 are fully vaccinated.

It comes as Premier Daniel Andrews says the state won’t pursue an “Omicron zero” strategy, despite it being among Australian states yet to record a known case.

South Australia reimposed testing requirements for all arrivals from Victoria, NSW and the ACT on Saturday over concerns about the new strain, and Premier Steven Marshall hasn’t ruled out shutting the border altogether.

Andrews said he and his NSW counterpart Dominic Perrottet texted about the new variant and are aligned on working to keep borders open ahead of Christmas.

“I’ve never been one to criticise other states making what they believe to be the right choice, but we will not be pursuing an ‘Omicron zero’ here,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“We don’t think that makes any sense. It may already be here. The good news so far is whilst it’s more infectious, the evidence suggests it is milder.”

New exposure sites in Adelaide

Two flights from interstate and a restaurant in the eastern suburbs are among the latest locations listed by SA Health as exposure sites.

It comes after South Australia recorded six new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, including two locally acquired infections, two from interstate and one from overseas.

Another case is under investigation by SA Health to determine its source.

All of Sunday’s cases are fully vaccinated.

In an update issued late last night, SA Health said the Istanbul Lounge in Kensington Park has been deemed a close contact exposure location for Sunday, December 5 from 10am to 12pm.

Anyone unvaccinated who was at the Turkish restaurant at the designated time is required to quarantine for 14 days, while vaccinated contacts are required to quarantine for seven days.

SA Health also identified Qantas Flight 741 from Sydney to Adelaide (Rows 21 to 25) as a close contact location.

The flight arrived in Adelaide at 5:30pm on Friday, December 3.

Another interstate flight, Virgin Flight 233 from Melbourne to Adelaide (Rows 21 to 25) was also listed as a close contact location.

The Virgin flight arrived in Adelaide at 5:00pm on Friday, December 3.

The remaining rows on both flights have been deemed casual contact exposure locations, with those affected required to quarantine until they receive a negative test.

In Adelaide, the Fishbank Restaurant on King William Street (Sunday, November 28, 6:45pm to 9:30pm) and Press* Food & Wine on Waymouth Street (Tuesday, November 30, 11:45am to 1:30pm) have also been listed as casual contact exposure sites.

SA Health has also listed a restaurant in Glenelg and a café in Mile End as casual contact locations.

A full list of exposure site can be found here.

There are now more than 78 exposure sites listed in Adelaide, and 99 in total across the state.

The state’s tally of cases since the borders reopened on November 23 now sits at 46, including 42 active cases.

There have been 24 cases linked to the Norwood cluster, after two more were added on Sunday.

As of Saturday, 81.9 per cent of South Australians over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated, while 90.2 per cent have received at least one dose.

COVID jabs for kids by early 2022 after TGA approval

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved the Pfizer vaccine for five to 11 year olds, which Health Minister Greg Hunt expects will start rolling out from January 10.

He said vaccine experts at the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation will give their nod of approval soon after the group’s final checks.

“It is about keeping our kids safe, keeping our families safe, keeping all Australians safe,” Hunt told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

He said many 12- to 15-year-olds have stepped forward for a vaccination in just 11 weeks since their program began.

He added 76.7 per cent in this age group have had one dose, while 67.8 per cent are fully dosed with two jabs.

TGA deputy secretary John Skerritt says the vaccine will be one-third the dose of the adult version but have the same vaccine molecule and will come in a different colour.

“We are confident in the safety of this,” Skerritt told reporters.

“We have joined a number of other countries, although we are among the first.”

Hunt said a children’s Moderna vaccine is also being considered by the TGA.

The decision comes against the backdrop of worries over the new coronavirus Omicron variant.

Hunt said he had been briefed by Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly and his deputy Michael Kidd earlier on Sunday.

“We’re reviewing, daily and weekly, the travel restrictions,” Hunt said.

“There are no plans to change the current proposals,”

Skerritt said more than 40 countries have now reported Omicron infections.

“Early indications are that it provides a milder course of disease, although usually there’s about a two week lag to work out whether there are going to be cases of hospitalisation and severe disease,” he said.

“So that’s why the lead-up period to Christmas and exercising caution is so important.”

Parliamentary committee to examine ambulance ramping 

Ambulance ramping outside the Royal Adelaide Hospital (Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily).

Ambulance ramping in South Australia will be the subject of a parliamentary inquiry after a petition of more than 44,000 signatures calling for more ambulance resourcing was presented to parliament.

The Legislative Review Committee will examine the petition’s request to “provide a long-term sustainable funding stream that provides the resource capacity needed to respond to the escalating demand for ambulance services” and “eradicate the practice of ramping at South Australian hospitals through whatever means necessary, including additional funding”.

It comes as ambulance ramping continues to hit the health system, including last month at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, although the ramping statistics for October and November period are yet to be released.

Labor highlighted the most recent statistics which show ambulances have spent more than 21,000 hours ramped so far this year.

Labor Legislative Review Committee member Zoe Bettison said the committee hoped to hear personal stories about the issue.

“Behind these shocking ramping statistics are real stories of real people suffering medical emergencies and forced to wait outside a hospital or left waiting for an ambulance to arrive,” she said.

“The Legislative Review Committee wants to hear from patients, their families and those on the frontline about what is really going on in our ambulance service.”

Kayaker dies off Coorong

The body of a man has been found washed ashore near the Murray Mouth – one of two drownings in South Australia over the weekend.

Police say emergency services were called to Young Husband Peninsula on the Coorong, just south of the Murray Mouth, shortly after 4pm on Sunday after reports a body had washed up on the beach.

A 36-year-old man from Port Noarlunga was pronounced dead at the scene. His death is not considered suspicious.

The man’s kayak was located nearby along with his Mitsubishi station wagon parked at the Sugars Beach boat ramp.

It comes just a day after a 50-year-old man drowned at Sugars Beach on Saturday morning.

Police say they were called to the Hindmarsh Island beach around 8:40am on Saturday after reports a man and a teenage boy who were fishing on a sandbar were missing.

The 16-year-old boy was able to swim to shore, however, the 50-year-old man was located unconscious in the water by a rescue helicopter.

The man was unable to be revived after being brought to shore by surf lifesavers.

Hamilton wins Saudi GP to set up grand F1 finale

Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in front of second-placed Red Bull driver Max Verstappen (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar).

Lewis Hamilton has won a twice-halted Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to send the Formula One world championship into a winner-takes-all final showdown, with the Mercedes driver and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen level on points.

On a chaotic night in Jeddah, the race took almost as many twists and turns as the rollercoaster season with crashes, safety cars, red flags, claims of dirty driving, penalties, collisions and angry exchanges with race director Michael Masi.

It sets up one of the greatest finales in the history of F1 in the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi next Sunday, with Verstappen nominally ahead in the standings because of race wins.

Hamilton had tried to pass the Dutchman and after the pair touched, Verstappen was told to give his rival first place.

The 24-year-old then slowed down so much when Hamilton tried to overtake again that they came into contact another time.

Verstappen was then given a five-second penalty for the original infringement and seven-times world champion Hamilton, with a damaged front wing, went by to claim his 103rd F1 victory in a wild race.

“I’ve been racing a long time, but that was incredibly tough. I tried to be as tough and as sensible as I could out there, with all my experience over the years,” Hamilton said.

Verstappen, booed by some of the crowd, said: “It was eventful, a lot of things happened that I don’t fully agree with.

“I slowed down, I wanted to let him by, I was on the right but he didn’t want to overtake and we touched.”

Australian Daniel Ricciardo emerged from the drama to finish fifth in his McLaren, behind third-placed Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas and fourth-placed Esteban Ocon for Alpine.

-With AAP and Reuters

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