Australia risks never achieving herd immunity to Covid-19 unless it ramps up its strategy for engaging with vaccine-hesitant populations, a former health department chief and an epidemiologist have warned.
While health officials remain confident in the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine, they have told Guardian Australia they are concerned that recent reports about blood clotting will not curb vaccine hesitancy rates.
Health authorities on Monday acknowledged it is “likely” that blood clots developed by a 44-year-old Victorian man last week were linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Deputy chief health officer Michael Kidd noted that his “colleagues overseas appear to be seeing one to two cases” of recipients who develop the condition per one million recipients.
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Oh my, what’s this? More good news? We are getting spoilt here!
Yep, restrictions have officially been lifted in Byron Bay and surrounding northern NSW areas following a four-day run of no community transmissions.
About 200,000 residents in the region were ordered to wear masks in most indoor public areas and limit house gatherings to no more than 30 last Wednesday after a man contracted Covid-19 in Byron Bay after sitting on the table next to an infected woman who travelled down from Queensland.
Huge numbers of people turned out for testing in the area, and these high numbers, combined with no other cases being discovered, allowed NSW Health to lift restrictions as of midnight last night.
They put out this statement on Monday:
These efforts have provided us with the confidence to lift the restrictions, but we are still in a period of increased risk and we urge the community to remain vigilant for the next week.
But the department clarified that close contacts of coronavirus cases are still required to continue self-isolating for 14 days from their date of exposure and get tested again at the end of this period.
Good morning, Matilda Boseley here to kick off the week.
I hope you are all heading out to work or school today well-rested, with bellies full of hot cross buns.
For once there is actually some good news to start the day because it’s looking pretty likely that New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern will announce a start date for the trans-Tasman travel bubble, which would finally pave the way for international tourism with Australia, and even better, this could start as soon as next week.
Now, this free travel plan has been in the works for around 300 years (well, 11 months), and while Australia lifted quarantine requirements for incoming Kiwis in October last year, a scattering of outbreaks, both small and large, across Australia has meant New Zealand was always hesitant to reciprocate.
But now Ardern’s cabinet will meet to sign off a trans-Tasman plan before 4pm their time (2pm for Melbourne and Sydney).
Not only would reciprocal quarantine exemptions allow the cogs of commercial tourism to start turning again (a huge source of income for New Zealand), but it would also free up about half of all the spots in their hotel quarantine program, allowing more Kiwis around the world to return home. In fact, families separated by the Tasman Sea have been among the loudest voices calling for a resumption of normal travel.
But it looks like any travel bubbles plans would be reliant on New Zealand being able to snap the borders shut temporarily in the event of outbreaks.