Covid 19 Australia: NSW records 1599 cases, Victoria records 450, new outbreak in Queensland

New South Wales has reported 1,599 new local cases of Covid-19, yet another record of daily infections for the state and for Australia.

Eight Covid-related deaths were also reported by NSW Health. Of those deaths, six were men and two were women, none of whom were vaccinated and all of whom had underlying health conditions. The death toll in the outbreak is now 170.

There are currently 1,164 Covid-19 cases admitted to hospital in NSW, with 221 people in intensive care, 94 of whom require ventilation.

There were 114,576 vaccines administered yesterday by NSW Health. Of the eligible population in NSW, 44.5 per cent have now been fully vaccinated and 77.3 per cent have had their first dose.

The new figures come a day after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced her decision to suspend daily press conferences, telling reporters: “I will turn up when I need to”.

As case numbers continue to climb towards 2000 a day and thousands of NSW residents are hospitalised, the Premier said Covid-19 updates would be done by videos of Department of Health officials running through the daily figures. It does not appear there will be the opportunity to answer questions.

The announcement sparked a furious exchange with Channel 7’s Chris Reason, who questioned if it was the right time to abandon fronting the media.

“We’re going to see hospitals come under the greatest stress they have ever seen and you and your ministers are about to cancel this press conference. Are you going into hiding?” he asked.

Berejiklian replied that it was “not tactical to do everything” and that the state needed to “start accepting that we need to live with Covid”.

“Whenever I need to speak directly to the public, I absolutely will, but we also have to make sure that as a government, we normalise the way we do things every day,” she said.

Berejiklian was also asked if she should at least keep holding press conferences until the outbreak’s peak had passed, but the Premier said “we will never know exactly when that is”.

The decision was slammed by journalists on social media.

The ABC’s head of investigations and executive editor John Lyons said it was “appalling”.

“Worst of the crisis is about to hit. There are still serious Q’s whether NSW hospitals will cope. Yet on that cusp she announces an end to daily conferences. Whatever critics made of Vic Premier he fronted every day. Accountability right now is critical,” he said.

Today show presenter Lara Vella also condemned the decision.

“When the government has forced people to not work, get vaccinated, get tested, stay at home etc. The least they can do is provide a live daily update. Especially with cases still so high,” she said.

Victoria

Victoria’s Covid-19 outbreak continues to worsen with the state recording 450 new local cases – the highest number of daily infections since the Melbourne outbreak in September last year.

Of the new cases, only 75 have been linked to known clusters.

40 per cent of eligible Victorians are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and 64.5 per cent of people have received at least one dose.

There are 127 people with the virus in Victorian hospitals, with 33 people in intensive case. According to chief health officer Brett Sutton, 90 per cent of those hospitalised with the virus are unvaccinated, while 10 per cent have had one jab.

Sutton’s team was commissioned last month to produce an NSW-styled roadmap out of lockdown for Victoria, with three government sources telling The Age that the delay in producing a plan has left many increasingly frustrated.

So far, Victorians have only been promised a minor easing of restrictions when the state reaches 70 per cent first dose vaccinations, including extending the travel limit, increasing exercise time, allowing outdoor personal training, reopening skate parks and outdoor gym equipment and increasing construction site capacities.

Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the state needed to come up with a similar plan to NSW, adding they couldn’t “hide under the doona” forever.

“We’ve got to have plans to get out of this. We can’t just exist, we’ve got to live,” he told The Herald Sun.

“[NSW] have put a roadmap forward about how they’re going to get business out of lockdown, not just humans but business as well. I support a lot of what the NSW government has said. Victoria could have a good look at it.”

Queensland

Queensland has today recorded five new local cases of Covid-19, all linked to the same family.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the infections were “contained to the family”, meaning the state would not be going into lockdown.

The announcement comes after a staff member at the Griffith University was revealed as a new infection on Friday night who was related to the 13-year-old girl contracted the virus.

The source of her infection is not yet known, but the St Thomas More College in Sunnybank, in Brisbane’s south, was closed on Friday with the student infectious at school for three days during the week.

Griffith University Vice-Chancellor Professor Carolyn Evans emailed staff on Friday, informing them a staff member had tested positive.

The worker was a family relative of the 13-year-old Sunnybank girl.

Evans advised the positive case attended a meeting in one campus building and visited another on Wednesday.

She said those who also attended the meeting were told of the cases and asked to go home as well as being encouraged to get tested and await advice from Queensland Health.

Both buildings will remain closed over the weekend for deep cleaning.

“We expect Queensland Health to provide some advice to the University community in the next 24 hours and w will share it with you as soon as we do,” Evans said in her email.

“From a business continuity perspective, if you have equipment on campus, you may want to take it with you to prepare for any potential lockdown in South East Queensland.

“I realise that this is likely to be a difficult period for a number of staff, including for those who have children at St Thomas More College. We are committed to continuing to support you.”

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