Coronavirus updates LIVE: Australia’s vaccine rollout to begin on Monday; New Zealand travel bubble resumes

Summary

  • The one-way trans-Tasman travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia resumed at midnight. Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said on Saturday cases in Auckland pose a ‘low risk’ of spread into Australia.
  • Come Monday morning, Sydney’s quarantine and border workers will be among the first Australians to roll up their sleeves to receive the shot at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s new COVID Vaccination Hub.
  • Australia went 24 hours without a case of community transmission throughout the entire country, Health Minister Greg Hunt said yesterday. 
  • Queensland’s Chief Health Officer has indicated the state is highly unlikely to close its borders or impose any more lockdowns in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak now that vaccination is about to commence.

New Zealand travel bubble resumes

The one-way trans-Tasman travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia has resumed, with Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly saying cases in Auckland pose a “low risk” of spreading into Australia.

The travel bubble, in which travellers from New Zealand can arrive in Australia without quarantining, was suspended on February 15.

Australians still need an exemption to travel to New Zealand, and must complete 14 days’ quarantine on arrival.

New Zealand: you can go here again (if you have an exemption and complete two weeks of quarantine).Credit:Getty

Flights out of New Zealand were suspended following new community coronavirus cases emerging in Auckland.

“All passengers travelling from New Zealand on a green zone flight, who have been in Auckland for any period (with exception of the airport for travel) over the last 14-days, will be required to provide evidence at check-in of a negative PCR test conducted within 72 hours of the scheduled flight departure,” a statement from the federal Health Department said.

Mexico’s deputy health minister tests positive for COVID-19

Mexican Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez Gatell, who has spearheaded the country’s response to the coronavirus, said on Saturday that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

The official, who has provided Mexico with almost daily updates on the pandemic, said he is still waiting for the results of another test but is working from home.

“I have COVID-19,” Lopez Gatell, an epidemiologist, wrote on Twitter. Lopez Gatell said his symptoms started on Friday and are mild.

Mexico has reported 2,030,491 official cases of COVID-19 in the country and a total 178,965 deaths. Health authorities have said the real numbers are significantly higher than that.

Thousands of quarantine workers to be fully vaccinated within weeks

Dedicated vaccination clinics will be set up at all of Melbourne’s quarantine hotels in a bid to have thousands of Victorian medical staff, cleaners and other front-line quarantine workers fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within about 10 weeks.

Alfred Health’s pharmacy director, Professor Michael Dooley.Credit:Steven Siewert

The first deliveries of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive at Victorian hospitals on Sunday .

It is predicted the rollout will help stem the persistent leaks of the virus from hotel quarantine in Victoria and the rest of the country.

The Alfred Hospital is overseeing the vaccination of hotel quarantine workers, and the health service’s pharmacy director Professor Michael Dooley said it was hoped the entire quarantine workforce could be vaccinated within roughly eight to 10 weeks.

Each of Melbourne’s 10 quarantine hotels and two health hotels will have their own dedicated vaccination clinics with a coordinating pharmacist, likely operating from early in the morning to late at night.

Professor Dooley said the Pfizer vials were expected to be delivered to The Alfred’s ultra-cold freezer on Sunday, allowing about 60 or 70 nurses and pharmacists on the vaccination teams to receive their own jabs early on Monday, before the rollout moves on to the two health hotels.

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Welcome to today’s blog

Good morning and welcome to today’s COVID-19 blog. My name is Craig Butt and I will be keeping track of Sunday’s coronavirus news and updates.

(Longtime blog readers might be thinking ‘you’re not Roy’ about now, given Roy tends to look after the weekend blogs. I believe Roy is working on the Australian Open blogs at the moment.)

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

Pharmacist Blanko Radojkovic prepares a simulated vaccine at the Sydney Local Health District Vaccination Hub in Camperdown.Credit:Kate Geraghty

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