Drive-through jab clinics may join rollout

Australians could soon receive coronavirus jabs at drive-through hubs, stadiums and shopping centres under an expanded vaccination rollout.

The federal government’s updated Operation COVID Shield campaign reveals plans for mass vaccination sites, which could also include supermarkets and conference centres.

Drive-through vaccination hubs in stadium car parks could be established in mid-August with the first trials next month before being widely used in October.

Jabs at work are slated to start in late September before operating in most states and territories by the end of November.

Commonwealth Bank and Westpac will trial AstraZeneca vaccinations for staff and their families in Sydney’s hot spots from as soon as next week.

A retail pilot, which would include shopping centres and supermarkets, could be up and running in October.

Wesfarmers – which owns Bunnings, Kmart and Officeworks – offered its sites for mass vaccination hubs last month during a meeting with senior government figures.

Schools could also be used from December under state and territory government-run programs if experts approve Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds.

Vaccine rollout commander John Frewen said the measures would help reach the goal to offer all Australians a vaccine by the end of the year.

“What I would really like to see as we get late in the year is the maximum convenience available for people in Australia to get vaccinated,” he told the ABC.

Doherty Institute modelling, adopted by federal and state governments, recommends immunising younger adults to reduce tranmission of the virus.

The institute’s epidemiology director Jodie McVernon said maintaining high vaccination rates in over-60s coupled with immunising younger people could halve the disease burden.

“What we’re advising now is a strategic shift to maximise those benefits by moving to younger groups who are key spreaders of infection,” she told ABC radio on Wednesday.

The modelling also shows the benefits of maintaining high quality testing, tracing and quarantine alongside low-level social distancing when 70 per cent coverage is achieved.

In the first 180 days of an outbreak 16 people would die with strong measures in place, while the toll could reach almost 2000 without effective restrictions.

Prof McVernon said deaths were inevitable once Australia moved to more open phases of the pandemic.

“We’re not going to lie about that but the reality is we can’t avoid COVID forever,” she said.

Australia’s leaders are gunning for a 70 per cent target to significantly reduce the prospect of major lockdowns and 80 per cent to all but end city-wide shutdowns.

Almost one-in-five people over 16 have received both doses of a vaccine.

NSW recorded another 233 new local cases on Wednesday, while a man in his 20s died from the disease at his southwest Sydney home.

A woman in her 80s died in hospital with the two latest fatalities taking the national toll to 927.

Queensland recorded 16 new locally acquired coronavirus infections.

There were no new cases in Victoria, the first day without local transmission since July 12.

© AAP 2021

Unvaccinated man in his 20s dies from Covid-19 in Sydney

New South Wales has recorded its youngest death yet from coronavirus, with a man in his 20s passing away overnight.

It comes as the state reports another 233 local cases in the 24 hours to 8.00 pm yesterday, with at least 47 cases out in the community while infectious.

There were 105,578 COVID-19 tests up on the previous day’s total of 104,536, while 25,470 vaccines were administered.

There were two new deaths overnight, including the man in his 20s and a woman in her 80s.

Authorities confirmed that the young man was not vaccinated against the virus, and his condition is understood to have deteriorated very quickly.

There was a man in his 20s from south-western Sydney, he died at his home yesterday and he was confirmed case of COVID and was isolating at home,” NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said on Wednesday morning.

“He was being cared for by south-western Sydney local health district during his isolation period and he’d reached the day 13, he was being followed up daily by nursing staff and suddenly deteriorated. 

“That death is also being referred to the coroner as I understand it,” Doctor Chant said.

New South Wales’ death toll from this latest outbreak of coronavirus is now at 17, while 71 have tragically passed away in the state since the beginning of the pandemic.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says case numbers are still too high, and don’t show any signs of easing while people are still leaving their homes.

As we have seen, people who are vaccinated are staying out of hospital, are staying out of ICU, are helping reduce the spread because they are less contagious,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“We can’t stress how important it is for people to come forward and get vaccinated and especially for our communities and we are doing a lot of work on the ground in those eight local government areas to make sure people come forward and get vaccinated.

“The vaccine not only protects, again, in protecting your life and if life of those around you but also reduces the likelihood of you spreading on the very use to others.

“Again, I want to stress every time you leave your house you have to assume you have the virus or anybody you come into contact with has the virus.

“And can I just stress to everybody, that if all of us do the right thing, if all of us follow the health rules we will see those case numbers come down but at this stage they are not. 

“We want to see that turn around as soon as possible,” she said.

Authorities are also urging people around the Newcastle area to come forward for testing, after more positive sewerage results came through there.

Also just wanted to highlight the fact that we are very concerned about the fact that we have had a sewerage detection in the Newcastle system,” Doctor Kerry Chant said.

“So there’s been a detection from the Shortland sewerage treatment plant and the Burwood beach sewerage treatment plan and a lower detection in the Belmont sewerage treatment plant.

“These sewage treatment plants serve in the – a number of areas and we will put those in on the website but a particular call out for all of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie but particularly Birmingham Gardens, Shortland, Maryland, Fletcher, Minmi, Cameron Park, Mayfield, Stockton and Fern Bay.

“It is critical that we can get those testing levels up to really understand as soon as possible whether there is any undiagnosed cases there so we can make the best public health decisions,” she said.

Dr Jeannette Young

17 new COVID cases recorded in Qld, lockdown extension possible

Queensland has recorded 17 locally acquired cases of COVID-19, with 16 linked to the cluster in Brisbane.

The majority of infections are connected to various schools in Brisbane or close contacts of previously confirmed cases.

The cluster in Brisbane now stands at 63 infections. There are also 100 active cases across the state, the highest number since the early stages of the pandemic.

“In less than a week this has become our biggest outbreak since the first wave last year,” Deputy Premier Steven Miles said.

The 17th case was the one reported in Cairns late on Tuesday but it is not connected to the Brisbane outbreak.

The Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeanette Young, said he likely caught it from somebody onboard one of the ships he pilots.

“He has acquired the Delta variant, most likely from one of those ships,” she said.

“So I just this morning got the whole genome sequence result back from him. It’s confirmed Delta. It is not the Delta strain that is circulating in Brisbane and it hasn’t clustered with any other known case of Delta in Queensland.

“So now those whole-genome sequence experts will go and see whether it clusters with any other case in Australia or overseas.

“But it’s highly likely he’s acquired this infection while he’s been about his work piloting one of those ships.”

There were 51,479 tests conducted in the last 24 hours, smashing the previous 24-hour testing record of 35,357.

Dr Young also revealed there is the possibility the lockdown won’t be lifted on Sunday as planned if things didn’t get under control.

“When I look at other states and how long it’s taken before they could lift their restrictions. If we don’t do something really, really, really special in Queensland, we’ll be extending the lockdown,” she said.

“So, please, I ask of all of you – try your absolute hardest to stay at home if you possibly can.”

The Deputy Premier said those continuing to leave their homes for reasons not deemed essential were putting the lifting of the restrictions at risk.

We hope that this the just five more days, but every time someone leaves their home they increase the risk that this lockdown may need to go on longer,” Mr Miles said.

“We are still seeing some people going out to shop or to browse for non-essential reasons and while there is an exemption to allow people to leave their homes to get essential – groceries and medicines – that does not extend to other discretionary items.

“The onus is on the individual to have a reason to leave their home, not on retailers or businesses.

“Now, is not the time to buy outdoor furniture. There will be time before summer to get sun lounges.”

Mr Miles also confirmed the Ekka show holiday, due to be held next week, has been cancelled.

“I will be rescheduled to sometime later in the year. We have not yet determined when,” he said.

“Last year, when we delayed the public holiday to create a new special long weekend, we saw Queenslanders flock to tourist destinations, spending money in our hospitality businesses.

“We hope to create a similar opportunity again for Queenslanders to support our local tourism operators and local hospitality businesses.”


Qld’s delta outbreak shifts vaccine advice

Queensland’s growing delta outbreak means the AstraZeneca vaccine is a more viable option for younger Queenslanders, Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young says.

She believes the state is “on the verge” of a large outbreak, and wants 150,000 extra doses of AstraZeneca supplied by the Commonwealth “going into arms this week”.

“The ATAGI advice says when you reach a large outbreak which I think we’re on the verge of…that’s the time to go and have that discussion with your GP,” she said on Tuesday.

“This is the time that people who are under age 60 should be talking to their GP about what is best for them as an individual, GPs know their patients.”

Dr Young denied Queensland had “the highest vaccine hesitancy” in the country, but said she was concerned that a significant proportion of people over 60 still weren’t vaccinated.

Just over 18 per cent of Queenslanders are fully vaccinated, and almost 37 per cent have had their first dose.

Of the 60-69 year old age group, less than 20 per cent have had their second dose

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said GPs and pharmacists would be important as the state tries to increase vaccination rates.

“We still believe that the pharmacies and our GPs are in the best position to roll out the AstraZeneca to the general population,” she said.

“If we can redirect second doses from GPs to pharmacies, we can free up a whole lot of booking spaces with GPs for those first doses.”

Queensland is also asking to bring forward all of its August supply of the Pfizer vaccine as it tries to control the outbreak in the south east.

“We’re supposed to be getting around 84,000 Pfizer vaccines a week, each week of August. We would like to bring that whole supply forward now,” she said.

Meanwhile, opposition leader David Crisafulli said that in June, the federal government roadmap showed 100,000 doses of Astra Zeneca were supposed to arrive in Queensland.

“They werent agreed to, they weren’t accepted, and that’s a mistake,” he said.

Ms D’Ath said she wasn’t aware of the state being offered extra doses in June and said she previously asked the Commonwealth to redistribute supply to GPs.

“We didn’t need it because our frontline workers, and those who are 40 to 60, were being recommended to get Pfizer,” she said.

“There was no point us holding on to AstraZeneca, when GPs were wanting it, needing it, and they were doing the 60 Plus (age group).

© AAP 2021

Dr Jeannette Young

New Covid-19 case detected outside of Brisbane

There are fears Queensland’s coronavirus outbreak is now out of control, with authorities confirming a new case popping up in the state’s far north.

Queensland Health has confirmed a new case of coronavirus has popped up within the Cairns region today.

It comes after 16 new local cases were announced this morning, all linked to the Indoorapilly cluster in the state’s southeast.

Related article: Qld cluster increases to 47 cases after another 16 COVID-19 infections

There are now fears that the rest of the state will have to join the harshest lockdown yet, following news of a case outside of Brisbane.

Authorities are still investigating the new case, and are yet to confirm whether or not it is the Delta variant.

It’s understood they’re also looking into whether or not the case is actually infectious, or if it is a historical infection.