PM urges ‘proportionate response’ as Melbourne COVID cluster grows

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for Victoria to take a ‘proportionate response’ to its growing COVID-19 cluster while inspecting vaccine manufacturing facilities in Melbourne.

There are reports this morning Victorian authorities were up well into the night working out a response to the growing outbreak at Melbourne Airport’s Holiday Inn quarantine hotel, which has grown to 13 cases.

It’s believed a snap lockdown is on the table. However, the Prime Minister refused to confirm the speculation.

“I will not speculate on what the Premier may or may not do,” he told reporters.

“I will let the Premier make his announcements and to weigh up the things that he has to weigh up in making any decisions that they will make here in Victoria.

Mr Morrison would only say he expected a “proportionate response” from Victoria.

“We have dealt with these before, got on top of them before,” he said.

“We have dealt with them in the last few weeks in Sydney and Brisbane and Perth.

“So a proportionate response by the Victorian Government .. that enables tracers to be able to get on top of it and get the same successful result we have seen in other states .. that can and will be achieved here.”

“I know you don’t want to see Victoria go back into what you had to endure last year.

“I can assure you that everyone is doing everything to ensure that is not replicated again on this occasion.

“As other states have demonstrated, you can get on top of this pretty quickly and I have reason for confidence that they can do the same thing by following that same process.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her government was “closely monitoring” the situation.

“We had a phone hookup this morning with the Chief Health Officer and the Deputy Premier, who is the Acting Health Minister at the moment as well, and we understand that the Victorian Government may be making further announcements later on today.

“The Chief Health Officer and Deputy Premier will be updating Queenslanders following that advice and following the Victorian standup.”

It comes after the Prime Minister inspected the facilities of Melbourne-based biotechnology company CSL, which will enter the final stages of manufacturing the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine next week.

Local manufacture of the vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, has been underway since late last year, despite the jab still awaiting approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Mr Morrison said the country’s vaccination program is on track.

“Our vaccination program is on track and it is sovereign,” he said.

“We are doing it here, in Australia, right here in Melbourne,” he said.

“That is something that few prime ministers and presidents around the world can say because we are one of a handful of countries that made the decision to be able to ensure we had this capability here in Australia by Australians.”

If the jab is approved, it’s expected the rollout can begin from late March.

Major delays on busy Gold Coast road after horse float crash

THERE are heavy delays along a busy Gold Coast road after an accident involving a horse float.

It happened outside the community centre along Neilsens Road in Carrara just after 9.00am on Thursday.

All lanes are currently blocked eastbound causing significant delays back towards the M1.

Paramedics were called to the scene and one person was taken to the Gold Coast University Hospital in a stable condition with neck pain.

There were no horses in the float at the time of the incident.

Motorists are being urged to avoid the area until the scene is cleared.

Annastacia Palaszczuk MP

Qld records zero new cases as Australia’s COVID death toll rises

Queensland has recorded no new cases of coronavirus overnight, however the country’s death toll has sadly risen today.

Four people in Victoria have sadly succumbed to the virus in the past 24 hours and passed away, taking the state’s death toll to 293 and the national toll to 379.

The fatalities include a female in her 80s, two males in their 80s and a female in her 90s, with two of those linked to aged care.

The state also recorded 303 new infections today, which is the second-lowest daily increase this month.

Meanwhile, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has congratulated Queenslanders on today’s figures.

“In more good news for Queenslanders today, we have had zero new cases,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Well done Queensland, that is great news and especially the news we want to hear when there are lots of families out and about this long weekend.”

It comes as the two men who tested positive on board a cargo ship off the coast of Townsville yesterday have been moved to hospital.

The Premier says health authorities are continuing to monitor the rest of the crew.

Meanwhile, it’s understood a third case recorded yesterday has been taken off Queensland’s virus tally after being added onto the NSW count.

It was a man in his 30s who tested positive while in hotel quarantine on the Gold Coast after returning from Sydney.

Queensland now has nine active cases.

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‘Concerning video’ found during investigation into Qld rape

Police fear a Queensland man charged with rape may have assaulted other women after they uncovered concerning video on his mobile phone.

Detectives executed a search warrant at the 30-year-old nurse’s home on Mary Street in Brisbane City yesterday, where they took the man into custody.

During the raid, officers allegedly uncovered mobile phones, video recording equipment, prescription drugs and illicit drugs.

The man appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court today, where he was refused bail charged with a string of offences including rape, sexual assault, unlawful stalking, observations or recordings in breach of privacy and supplying dangerous drugs.

It comes after a woman aged in her 20s was allegedly sexually assaulted by the man at his apartment last month.

“It will be alleged a woman aged in her early 20’s attended a Mary Street apartment in late July where she was sexually assaulted after being administered a stupefying drug,” Qld police said.

“Police will further allege that concerning video depicting other young women was located on one of the mobile phones.”

It’s understood the videos were recorded at different times, sparking fears there may be other victims.

Detectives are now appealing for anyone who may have any information to immediately contact police.

Forensic analysis of the mobile phones and recording devices is continuing.

If you have information for Police, please contact Policelink on 131 444 or provide information using their online form 24 hours per day.

You can also report information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or via crimestoppersqld.com.au 24 hours per day. Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation.

Gold Coast Suns player collared shirt

Anderson nabs fourth Rising Star nomination for Suns

THE future looks promising for the Gold Coast Suns, with rising star Noah Anderson named the Rising Star nominee for Round 7.

The 19-year-old was on fire during Saturday afternoon’s win against the Sydney Swans, notching up 15 disposals, five marks, three tackles and his second AFL goal.

It’s the fourth nomination for the Gold Coast so far this season with Anderson’s long-time friend Matt Rowell also scoring a nod (Round 2), alongside Connor Budarick (Round 3) and Izak Rankine (Round 6).

It’s a record-equalling number of nominations for the club, with the Suns also scoring four nominations in their inaugural year in 2011.

Anderson was drafted to the club with the number two pick last year before making his debut in Round 1.

The Gold Coast Suns are currently sitting in seventh on the AFL ladder ahead of Thursday night’s clash with the Western Bulldogs, their first prime time Thursday night game since the club’s inception.