Coronavirus live news: Americans warned against taking cruises as Australian state of Victoria eases restrictions

1 week ago

That press conference is over. But in other New South Wales updates, this very good boy was spotted recently in a Sydney home:

Helen Sullivan (@helenrsullivan)

good vibes only pic.twitter.com/ZN4ZMd8YMN

November 22, 2020

Back to New South Wales, Australia.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian thinks local councils should not be cancelling Australia Day (26 January) plans, but that they should put Covid-safe plans in place.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

She says:

We’re definitely modifying our plans as a state government but we are still recognising the importance of that day and I would encourage all councils, if they have any concerns to contact NSW Health or Service NSW and we can support you in having a Covid-safe Australia Day. I don’t want people to use Covid as an excuse not to celebrate an important day.

Updated at 8.08pm EST

US CDC advises against all cruise ship travel

Breaking for a moment from Australian news, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Saturday it recommended that all people avoid cruise ship travel as the risk of Covid-19 on liners is very high.

It advised passengers who decide to go on a cruise to get tested three to five days after their trip and stay home for seven days after travel, even if they test negative.

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Photograph: Weizhong/www.truphotos.com/Alamy Stock Photo

Last month the agency issued a framework for a phased resumption of cruise ship operations after a no-sail order issued in March in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic was to expire.

The CDC said earlier that from 1 March to 28 September, data showed “a total of 3,689 confirmed cases of Covid-19 or Covid-like illness cases on cruise ships and 41 deaths”.

Updated at 8.01pm EST

Berejiklian is asked about her approach compared to that of other states. She doesn’t agree with lockdowns in response to a few cases.

We have obviously learned a lot about the virus and how we can handle the pandemic since March when we had the lockdown – February, March – when it first became apparent how serious the situation was. And certainly in the last months, we have learned a lot about our capacity to be resilient.

So it would really depend on the extent that other states were able to control community transmission and keep that down, but what’s been demonstrated to me is that other states are moving very quickly to shut down their entire economies when they have a couple of cases.

Now in that situation I don’t agree with that position, but in that situation it actually means we don’t need to close our borders because none of those communities are able to move around their own states anyway so they won’t be able to come here anyway.

But I want to give everybody certainty whether they’re families that need to see each other, whether they’re businesses that need to keep operating, I want people to feel confident that NSW has a strategy; we’re moving forward. We have a Covid recovery plan which is pretty obvious and I just think having that certainty and that strategy apparent to everybody is really important.

Updated at 8.00pm EST

Still in New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian has reminded people not to lower their guard over summer (I was at Bondi beach earlier this morning and officials were walking around in rashies bearing the cheerful slogan “Socially distanced in the sun”).

Berejiklian:

I know that the residents of NSW will continue to be Covid safe, that’s what sets us apart from the rest of the country – our QR codes, our social distancing, you know, all of us in NSW are really making the effort not to let our guard down and that’s what will continue to keep us safe, and with this border opening we need to be mindful of that even more, not to let our guard down, especially over summer when people are getting together for Christmas and New Year’s, social gatherings will be more frequent. We just have to stay on high alert, but appreciate we have freedoms here in our state ...

Updated at 7.56pm EST

More on the scale of that operation: there were 100,000 police shifts and 40,000 defence shifts.

Between 650 and 800 police and defence personnel were working at any time.

Updated at 7.46pm EST

New South Wales reports local cases; Victoria border to reopen at midnight

In Australia, New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian is speaking.

She says there have been zero new local coronavirus cases overnight, and 11 in hotel quarantine. 12,000 tests were done.

The border between NSW and Victoria will open at midnight.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian and NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian and NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller. Photograph: James Gourley/AAP

Commissioner Mick Fuller has said that 5m cars crossed the border while it was closed. He said:

It’s been a three-month operation, one of the biggest in NSW police history. We had 36 hours to establish border control and that was all about protecting the people of NSW from the virus. In the last three months, with the partnership with defence and other government agencies, I think we have done an outstanding job ...

We had more than 5m cars cross through the border checkpoints. Nearly 500,000 heavy vehicles. We have had, you know, a million permits handed out. We only had a handful of people doing the wrong thing in terms of Covid, but we did see over 1,000 arrests for criminal and other bad behaviour.

Updated at 7.49pm EST

Helen Sullivan

Hi, Helen Sullivan joining you now.

This is the place to be for global pandemic news – including Australian updates.

You can contact me – with questions, comments and stories from your part of the world – on Twitter @helenrsullivan.

I am going to hand you over to Helen Sullivan now.

South Australia’s chief health officer Prof Nicola Spurrier has revealed the estimated reproduction number was sitting at above two and could have been as high as four.

“So that meant to me that every one of our cases had passed it on to at least two other people, if not four other people,” she said. “And in fact at that time and based on that information we had a 99% chance that the wave that was starting off in South Australia was not going to be just a little blip, but it was going to be a very significant wave.”

South Australia’s chief health officer Nicola Spurrier.
South Australia’s chief health officer Nicola Spurrier. Photograph: Kelly Barnes/Getty Images

She said it would have meant South Australia would have 200 cases a day by mid-December.

That was before they believed the state had got on top of it.

There are hundreds of people in quarantine still, as close contacts and close contacts of contacts, and Spurrier believed in the next few days there would be more cases among those people.

She said she would feel confident the second wave has been stopped in a couple of weeks.

Updated at 7.26pm EST

SA opposition calls for end to hotel quarantine

The South Australian Labor leader Peter Malinauskas has written to the premier Steven Marshall calling for an end to medi-hotels for returned travellers – what SA calls hotel quarantine – until a safer solution is found.

South Australia’s Labor leader Peter Malinauskas.
South Australia’s Labor leader Peter Malinauskas. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

The Peppers medi-hotel was the source of the Parafield cluster of cases, which stands at 26 cases.

Malinauskas suggested the federal government should look at potentially having purpose-built facilities for returned travellers, staffed by non-casual workers.

Peter Malinauskas (@PMalinauskasMP)

Below is my letter to Steven Marshall calling for an end to medi-hotels in their current form.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have provided bi-partisan support to the Government on the handling of the health response.

FULL STATEMENT HERE: https://t.co/nmmnF8VV7I pic.twitter.com/Mglzu8RLKQ

November 21, 2020

Updated at 7.14pm EST

South Australia reports one new Covid-19 case.

South Australia reported one new case of Covid-19, but it wasn’t associated with the Parafield cluster, which stands at 26 cases. The new case is a woman in her 20s in hotel quarantine.

South Australian premier Steven Marshall.
South Australian premier Steven Marshall. Photograph: Kelly Barnes/Getty Images

The South Australian premier Steven Marshall provided an update as the state came out of its lockdown overnight:

I know that many South Australians would be absolutely delighted that the stay-at-home order has now been released. This was taken off as of midnight ... but I do need to emphasise we still do have high-level restrictions in place over and above where we were at this time last week.

They’re going to be in place through to 1 December, so we need people to listen, know those restrictions and abide by them very strictly through to the 1 December and any restrictions that might be in place thereafter. I have got to say that we are still not out of the woods.

He says there were 77,000 Covid-19 tests in South Australia this week.

Updated at 7.17pm EST

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