No new local Australian COVID cases, arrivals to lift soon

Australia is approaching another day with no locally acquired cases of COVID-19.

New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia all announced on Saturday that they did not record new local COVID-19 cases during their 24-hour reporting period.

Western Australia, which closed a five-day blockade on Saturday after hotel quarantine workers picked up the virus, has not yet reported the numbers.

However, the Victoria State Government has announced that it will change the hotel’s quarantine staff’s mask policy, review the hotel’s airflow, and avoid repeating two suspicious COVID-19 leaks this week.

Hotel quarantine staff in Victoria have been required to wear face shields and surgical masks during work since Thursday.

Previously, staff wore only N-95 masks.

From Wednesday, the hotel quarantine organizer also established a “buffer” between family groups and other guests, resulting in 140 rooms being removed from the system and food delivery times delayed.

The move follows a suspected case of COVID-19 infection between two separate guest groups at the Park Royal Hotel in Melbourne and workers at the Coronavirus-positive Grand Hyatt.

This move occurs when more stranded Australians are preparing to return when the international arrival limit returns to higher levels.

Victoria will increase its weekly hotel quarantine capacity to 1310 from February 15th after a month-long national “deceleration” on arrival.

New South Wales will return to a weekly cap of about 3,000 from February 15, Queensland will return to 1,000, and SA will return to 530.

NSW Health is currently requiring international travelers returning to Japan to undergo additional tests after appearing in hotel quarantine for 14 days.

Day 16 testing is not required, but it is highly recommended as an enhanced means of protecting the community.

Travelers coming out of the hotel’s quarantine will be contacted by NSW Health’s contact tracer on the 16th day to assess their health and attend a nearby laboratory.

Elsewhere, Western Australia maintains a half-500 cap by the end of the month.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced an increase in the cap after a national ministerial meeting with state and territory leaders on Friday.

The return to more arrivals, suspended by the emergence of infectious UK and South African virus strains, will occur at the same time as the start of the Australian vaccination program.

Hotel quarantine workers, frontline staff, and border officials line up in the first line of Pfizer Coronavirus Jab, along with the elderly and the most vulnerable.

Brendan Murphy, head of the Ministry of Health, said the risk of the virus leaking from hotel quarantine is reduced if workers drink jabs. Later, state borders may also be permanently relaxed.

Professor Murphy was hesitant to give Australia a time frame in which border restrictions could be relaxed, but officials said they would closely monitor how well the population was protected after vaccination.

“We should see a normal trajectory later this year,” he told Congress on Friday.

The government wants most Australians to be vaccinated by late October.

Australia has more than 150 million different vaccines.

-Use AAP

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