Coronavirus updates LIVE: Police step in at Melbourne quarantine hotel, South Australia reconsiders border restrictions, death toll stands at 886


  • Victoria recorded 13 new coronavirus cases and four deaths on Wednesday. Traces of the virus have been found in sewage in the coastal town of Anglesea, prompting authorities to boost testing in the area.
  • The Victorian government has stood down private security in the state’s remodelled hotel quarantine program and sent in police to guard people infected with coronavirus after concerns were raised about poor infection control.
  • NSW and Queensland both recorded no new local cases on Wednesday. A possible link for a Sydney mystery case has been identified, raising the possibility Queensland should bring forward its border reopening date. The South Australian government will discuss the Victorian border at a meeting today.
  • The federal government will promise industry $1.5 billion to sustain local manufacturing as part of a budget plan targeting six priority areas ranging from food to medicine and clean energy.
  • There have been 33.7 million coronavirus cases recorded worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally. The global death toll has passed 1 million.

Thousands of healthcare workers could be wearing ill-fitting masks

Thousands of Victorian healthcare workers could have been provided with masks that don't fit them owing to some of the most popular models used in the state’s hospitals having high failure rates.

Experts say one of the most commonly used brands of masks in Melbourne, colloquially known as the orange duckbill, has a significant failure rate, only fitting an estimated 30 per cent of users.

Australian Society of Anaesthetists president Dr Suzi Nou says she is one of a small proportion of healthcare workers who fit the an orange duckbill mask.Credit:Jason South

Workers at a Melbourne health network have also been told not to throw out some expired N95 masks, as authorities are investigating if it might still be safe to use them, amid ongoing anxiety among doctors about the adequacy of Victoria's supplies of protective gear during a global shortage.

More than 3500 Victorian healthcare workers have caught coronavirus during the pandemic, including 1020 in Melbourne hospitals, with many expressing concern in recent months about the availability of high-quality protective equipment.

  • Read more: Thousands of healthcare workers could be wearing ill-fitting masks

Melbourne's Christmas windows to go ahead

Melbourne's iconic Myer Christmas windows are officially back on, a month after it was announced the 65-year-old traditional was scrapped due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Melbourne City Council passed an urgent motion two weeks ago to negotiate a lifeline funding package with the retailer to make sure the annual Christmas windows display went ahead, which seems to have worked.

The 2019 Myer Christmas windows were based around May Gibbs’ Snugglepot and Cuddlepie books.Credit:Penny Stephens

"We’re excited to announce that with the assistance of the City of Melbourne we will be able to provide the experience in a way that is safe for our staff and the community which has always been our foremost priority," said Myer’s Chief Customer Officer Geoff Ikin.

"Now more than ever Victorians need something to celebrate, and we know the Myer Christmas windows brings excitement and joy to so many."

Mr Ikin said more details would be announced in coming weeks.

Tensions between Myer's management and its largest shareholders have been building in recent weeks following the company's $172 million loss reported in early September.

Berejiklian urged to open up NSW to regional Victoria

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is under pressure by MPs on both sides of the NSW-Victorian border to reopen her state to residents in regional Victoria.

Regional Victoria has recorded a total of four COVID-19 infections in the past 14 days, all linked to known outbreaks, and had just three active cases on Wednesday, prompting Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton to say they would be "COVID-free soon enough".

Premier Gladys Berejiklian is being urged to open the border to regional Victorians.Credit: Renee Nowytarge

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has weighed in on the border push, telling The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald that regional communities needed "more flexibility" as they battled a border shut by Ms Berejiklian since July 7.

"Little by little, some of the measures are being reduced, but we need to do it more and we need to do it faster. And it is the premiers who need to do it faster," Mr McCormack said.

South Australia will be considering whether to reopen its border to regional Victorians today.

  • Read more: Berejiklian urged to open up NSW to regional Victoria

Queensland reopens to 152,000 in northern NSW

Residents in five major northern NSW communities can now cross the Queensland border hassle-free, providing access to essential services such as medical appointments once again, and allowing Queensland workers to return to their jobs.

Today marks the expansion for the Queensland border bubble to include the NSW local government areas of Byron Shire, Ballina, the city of Lismore, Richmond Valley and Glen Innes.

A police checkpoint in Coolangatta on the Queensland-NSW border.Credit:Elise Derwin

But the mayor of a Queensland border town is concerned about the extra 152,000 people from NSW who can come into the state without a pass and the amount of pressure it will put on the crossings, especially with army personnel withdrawing from the border checkpoints on Thursday.

Goondiwindi mayor Lawrence Springborg, the former state LNP leader, said the border bubble expansion was a big jump in numbers of people allowed to travel interstate.

"The ADF on the borders is a matter for the ADF, but the bigger issue here is we will see four or five times more people eligible to move backwards and forwards across the border," he said.

  • Read more: Border communities welcome expanding bubble

This morning's big story: Police step in at Melbourne quarantine hotel

The Victorian government hastily stood down private security in the state's remodelled hotel quarantine program on Wednesday and sent in police to guard people infected with coronavirus after concerns were raised about poor infection control.

Staff employed by Spotless were pulled from the floor of the last remaining "hot" quarantine site – the Novotel in Southbank – mid-shift. The switch came after The Age alerted the government to a healthcare worker's concerns that echoed failings of the first quarantine program overseen by the Health Department.

The emails of Australians stranded overseas were revealed in a DFAT privacy breach.Credit:Peter Braig

Some Australians in the northern hemisphere woke up to the email on Wednesday morning. The department attempted to recall the email six minutes after it was sent, but some recipients had already downloaded it.

DFAT sent an email to the same group about three hours later apologising for the mistake and asking recipients to immediately delete the correspondence.

  • Read more: Stranded Australians’ emails revealed in ‘appalling’ DFAT privacy breach

Welcome to today's blog

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. This is Mary Ward taking you through the morning's developments and the best stories from our mastheads on Thursday, October 1. You can catch up on yesterday’s blog, here.

There are some big revelations in The Age today: security guards have been replaced with police at one of Melbourne’s last quarantine hotels, the Novotel in Southbank. The switch came after The Age alerted the government to a healthcare worker's concerns about the operation that echoed failings of the first quarantine program overseen by the Health Department.

Across the country – and the Tasman – borders and hotspot areas continue to be a talking point. The South Australian government is considering reopening its border to regional Victorians from today, and Queensland health authorities must decide whether a possible link to a cluster in a Sydney mystery case from last week means it should not have reset their community transmission clock, as it reopens to some 152,000 in northern NSW.

We will be bringing you live updates throughout the day. Stay with us.

Sign up to our Coronavirus Update newsletter

Get our Coronavirus Update newsletter for the day’s crucial developments and the numbers you need to know. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Herald’s newsletter here and The Age’s here.

Most Viewed in National

Source: Read Full Article