Coronavirus live news: Victoria eases restrictions as Adelaide emerges from lockdown and UK records 341 more deaths

1 week ago

South Australia’s chief health officer Prof Nicola Spurrier has revealed the state’s estimated reproduction number was sitting at above 2, and could have been as high as four.

“So that meant to me that every one of our case had passed it on to at least two other people, if not four other people. 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.”

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

That was before they believed they had got on top of it. There are hundreds of people in quarantine still, as close contacts and close contacts of contacts, and Spurrier said she believed in the next few days there will be more cases among those people.

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

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.


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

Premier Daniel Andrews says the Victorian government is currently trialling its QR code system, and will have more to say on it very soon.

“We’re getting close to a fairly detailed IT discussion but as I understand it with some very small modifications to code. We can have a situation where all of those products can speak to our CRM in the end to end fashion. The other thing to remember is and perhaps I should have mentioned this in Lundy’s question, there are many venues using the QR code not just to identify who was in the building but to order, to do all sorts of things that mean there is less movement, this contact between different people. That is a really good thing and we would not want to upset that.”

Anecdotally every business in Melbourne I’ve been to since lockdown ended has had some form of its own QR code system.

More rule changes in Victoria:

Hospitality can have up to 300 patrons, but a maximum of 100 indoors (so 200 outdoors) Gyms can have up to 150 people, with one person per four square metres. Indoor sports and gym groups can have up to 20 people, with one person per four square metres. Indoor pools can host 150 people, outdoor pools can host 300 people. Holiday accomodation can have up to 15 people in the one household. Religious ceremonies can have 150 people indoors, and 300 outdoors. Weddings and funerals can have 150 people indoors and outdoors. Cinemas and small galleries can open up to 150 people per space, with larger facilities able to use 25% of their space. Community venues up to 150 people indoor, and 300 outdoor. Gaming venues up to 150 people, but every second gaming machine will be turned off.

Premier Daniel Andrews says he will make further announcements on 6 December.

Updated at 6.46pm EST

Andrews says masks will still have a big role:

This thing spreads rapidly. Common sense is very important. Carry the mask, because you never know, even outside, when you might need to wear it. Masks have played a very important part in these low numbers, and we just have to see this through and part of playing your part is wearing a mask, absolutely when you are inside, so that you are not spreading this virus unbeknownst to you.

Updated at 6.44pm EST

Victorian restrictions to ease

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has announced the further easing of restrictions.

From 11.59 tonight:

15 visitors, including dependents, in your home each day Outdoor gatherings increased to 50 people Masks will be required inside in all settings; they will not be required outside, but people will need to carry masks and wear if they can’t distance.

From 30 November:

25% of staff will be able to be in offices.

The new rules from 13 December:

30 visitors in a home each day.

Updated at 6.43pm EST

In the United States, the Texas national guard has sent a 36-member team to El Paso to assist morgues in the border region with the number of dead as a result of Covid, AP reports.

Statewide, the Texas health department reported on Saturday a one-day high of 12,597 new virus cases, nearly 20,500 dead since the pandemic began and more than 8,200 virus hospitalisations.

A drone delivers a Covid self-collection test kit to a woman in El Paso.
A drone delivers a Covid self-collection test kit to a woman in El Paso. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

“The Texas military will provide us with the critical personnel to carry out our fatality management plan and we are very grateful to them for their ongoing support,” El Paso mayor Dee Margo said on Friday when the deployment was announced.

The pandemic is blamed for 853 deaths in El Paso county, including more than 300 since October. Prisoners are being paid to move bodies and county leaders are offering $27 an hour for morgue workers.

County judge Ricardo Samaniego, in a letter to governor Greg Abbott asking for support for a 10pm-5am curfew in the county, said mortuaries were being overwhelmed. He wrote that the local medical examiner’s office reported that 234 bodies were being held at the main morgue and nine mobile morgues.

Updated at 6.39pm EST

Daniel Andrews to speak at 10.30

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews will provide an update on the rules to be relaxed at 10.30am.

Updated at 6.33pm EST

More on one of the vaccine candidates from Reuters:

Moderna will charge governments between $25 and $37 a dose of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, depending on the amount ordered, chief executive Stephane Bancel told German weekly Welt am Sonntag (WamS).

“Our vaccine therefore costs about the same as a flu shot, which is between $10 and $50,” he was quoted as saying.

CEO of Moderna Stéphane Bancel.
CEO of Moderna Stéphane Bancel. Photograph: Moderna/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday, an EU official involved in the talks said the European Commission wanted to reach a deal with Moderna to supply millions of doses for a price below $25 a dose.

“Nothing is signed yet, but we’re close to a deal with the EU Commission. We want to deliver to Europe and are in constructive talks,” Bancel told WamS, adding it was just a “matter of days” until a contract would be ready.

Moderna has said its experimental vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing Covid, based on interim data from a late-stage clinical trial, becoming the second developer to report results that far exceeded expectations after Pfizer and its partner BioNTech.

Updated at 6.23pm EST

Police have issued 60 fines and 103 cautions to South Australians caught breaching Covid-19 rules despite the state emerging from lockdown without recording any new fresh local virus cases, AAP reports.

They say both business and individuals caught on Thursday and Friday “blatantly disregarded” safety directions, but most people have been “amazing” in doing the right thing over the past few days.

South Australian police commissioner Grant Stevens
South Australian police commissioner Grant Stevens Photograph: Kelly Barnes/Getty Images

SA’s police commissioner Grant Stevens says his investigators are speaking to a pizza shop worker who lied to contact tracers about his whereabouts, sparking the lockdown.

He is believed to be a 36-year-old Spaniard living in Australia on a temporary graduate visa.

Updated at 6.30pm EST

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews is due to announce the further easing of restrictions this morning. The Sunday newspapers suggest restrictions to be eased will include having to wear masks only when indoors and unable to distance, an increase in visitors to the home of 10 people, outdoor gatherings increasing to 50, pubs and restaurants allowed to have up to 100 patrons indoors and 200 outdoors, and gyms allowed to have up to 100 people.

We will know more in a little while.

The New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian is also due to give a Covid update at 11am.

Focus will also be on South Australia as the state comes out of its lockdown early after health authorities determined the risk of an outbreak was greatly reduced.

Updated at 6.31pm EST

Good morning

Good morning, and welcome to the Guardian’s global coronavirus live blog for Sunday.

I’m Josh Taylor, and I will be bringing you the latest news for the next little while.

Here’s the latest:

Portugal is to ban domestic travel and close schools around two upcoming holidays to try to halt the spread of coronavirus ahead of Christmas. In the UK, 341 more people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the death toll to 54,626. The number of new coronavirus infections in France rose by 17,881 on Saturday, and there were 276 new deaths reported in hospitals over 24 hours. Rapid Covid-19 tests were offered to hundreds in Merthyr Tydfil in Wales as part of a pilot scheme of mass coronavirus testing. On Saturday evening, 560 people had attended the testing centre on its first day, with 554 negative tests and six positive recorded. Russia reported a daily record of 24,822 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, bringing the national tally to 2,064,748. The official death toll is 35,778. Victoria in Australia has recorded zero new cases and deaths for the 23rd day in a row, with expectations this morning that restrictions will be further eased, including relaxing of mask use. South Australia on Sunday has come out of its six-day lockdown a few days early after it was determined the risk of an outbreak was greatly reduced.

Updated at 6.33pm EST

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