Coronavirus updates LIVE: Victoria enters fourth day of lockdown; WHO grants emergency approval for Astra-Zeneca vaccine

Watch live: Press conference with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian

An early-morning press conference with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and state Education Minister Sarah Mitchell is about to get under way.

The Premier will be making an education-related announcement, but it is likely the topic of COVID-19 will come up during question time.

Watch it live below:

Labor deputy leader Richard Marles.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

But federal Labor is demanding a federal intervention to take the load off the states, arguing the international border is a federal responsibility.

“The federal government needs to explain what its plan is to bring stranded Australians home and what its plan is to deal with the quarantine aspects of that,” Labor deputy leader Richard Marles said on Monday.

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Please Explain: A look at CSL and the making of the COVID vaccine

While we’re on the topic of the Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine (which has been given emergency approval by the World Health Organisation), it’s worth checking out yesterday’s episode of Please Explain.

In it, science reporter Liam Mannix talks with national editor Tory Maguire about the CSL facility in Melbourne, which is where Australia’s vials of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine are being manufactured.

At a press conference yesterday, Health Minister Greg Hunt said the first vials of the vaccine were being produced at the facility, and Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said there would likely be an announcement in the coming days on whether the vaccine had been granted TGA approval.

You can listen to the podcast here:

WHO approves Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

The World Health Organisation has listed AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, widening access to the relatively inexpensive shot in the developing world.

“We now have all the pieces in place for the rapid distribution of vaccines. But we still need to scale up production,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, told a news briefing on Monday (Tuesday AEDT).

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.Credit:AP

The listing by the UN health agency comes days after a WHO panel provided interim recommendations on the vaccine, saying two doses with an interval of around 8 to 12 weeks must be given to all adults, and can be used in countries with the South African variant of the coronavirus as well.

The WHO’s review found that the AstraZeneca vaccine met the “must-have” criteria for safety, and its efficacy benefits outweighed its risks.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca shot has been hailed because it is cheaper and easier to distribute than some rivals, including Pfizer-BioNTech’s , which was listed for emergency use by the WHO late in December.


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Quarantine workers front and centre for first COVID-19 vaccines from Monday

Australia’s coronavirus vaccination program begins on Monday, when quarantine workers become the first in the country to get Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

The first 142,000 Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines landed in Sydney just after midday on Monday and will undergo security and quality-assurance checks, including batch testing, before the rollout begins on February 22.

The first Australian shipment of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Australia on Monday.Credit:AAP

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the delivery was another important milestone in the country’s vaccination program, ahead of the first vaccinations beginning next week.

“With those milestones we give Australians hope and protection,” he said on Monday afternoon.

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Welcome to today’s blog

Good morning and welcome to today’s COVID-19 updates blog. My name is Craig Butt, and I will be at the helm of the blog for most of today.

Yesterday was a busy day for updates with the announcement that 142,000 vaccine doses had arrived in Australia. And about one-quarter of the blog’s runtime was taken up with the Victorian coronavirus update press conference, which went for almost two hours because of all the questions about the state’s five-day ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown.

As always, send me an email if you have something to share or leave a post in the comments section of the blog.

Here is quick summary of the main updates from yesterday:

  • One new locally acquired COVID-19 case was confirmed in Victoria on Monday which is connected to the Holiday Inn Cluster, with a young girl in hotel quarantine also testing positive.
  • Infectious diseases experts remain optimistic Victoria’s snap lockdown could still end on Thursday, despite Premier Daniel Andrews not ruling out extending the circuit-breaker.
  • A fruit shop and a supermarket in the Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows are now considered exposure sites on February 9.
  • Victoria’s second international airport is being put forward as a possible site for a remote quarantine base, complete with outdoor cabins for returned travellers.
  • NSW has recorded no local cases of COVID-19 for the 29th consecutive day. There were no cases in hotel quarantine either, with 15,695 tests done to 8pm last night.

  • Queensland recorded no new coronavirus cases on Monday, with just seven cases remaining active across the state.

  • Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that 142,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have arrived in Australia. Once the vaccine vials have been checked by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, they can then be distributed as part of the first stage of the rollout.

  • Anti-lockdown protesters have clashed with police during a heated exchange at a popular Melbourne shopping strip during day three of the state’s five-day “circuit breaker” coronavirus restrictions.
  • The Gold Coast University Hospital, which managed the first cluster of cases in January 2020, is expected to receive the first vials of the Pfizer vaccine in Queensland next week.

  • NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has again rejected the idea of quarantining overseas arrivals in regional areas, and said people need to realise some level of risk will always exist.
  • Victorian health authorities are contacting now 152 people who arrived into Melbourne on a flight from New Zealand yesterday.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will this week judge how fast England can exit COVID-19 lockdown but the death toll and hospital admission numbers are still too high, says Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

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