Australia COVID LIVE updates: Cases continue to grow across the nation as states and territories set sights on vaccination targets

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International border to open for states hitting vaccine targets

States that fully vaccinate 80 per cent of people aged 16 and older will be able to resume international travel, as the Prime Minister said a new deal will double Australia’s vaccine supplies for September will speed up reopening.

National cabinet also discussed which other restrictions can be dropped once double dose targets are reached, and considered home quarantine for vaccinated return travellers, but no decisions have been made.

While people from Victoria and NSW may be able to go overseas within months, they will not be able to travel to Western Australia until next year. WA Premier Mark McGowan said he will keep his border shut until well after 80 per cent of the state’s eligible population is fully vaccinated.

In a vaccine swap with Britain, Australia will get a further 4 million Pfizer doses this month, on top of the 500,000 doses from a deal with Singapore announced earlier this week.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the UK deal doubles the number of Pfizer doses available in September. Throughout the month, Australia will receive more than 9 million doses of Pfizer alongside 1 million Moderna doses and continued AstraZeneca supply.

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System overload: Why Victoria’s health network is on its knees

It was the type of tragedy that should never happen in Melbourne. A young mother was rushed to the Werribee Mercy Hospital by ambulance but instead of getting the critical emergency care she needed she was forced to wait.

The 27-year-old had recently given birth when she suffered from a suspected postpartum hemorrhage – a serious but treatable condition that can lead to excessive blood loss and a severe drop in blood pressure. By the time she was accepted by the hospital, reportedly more than an hour after arriving at the emergency department, she could not be saved.

The Victorian hospital system is facing an emergency crisis of its own.Credit:Dylan Coker

The death in June last year, confirmed by The Age this week, is one of a number of “adverse events” being reported. The system, according to the people who work within it, is struggling to cope with unprecedented demand during the global pandemic.

An Age analysis of performance data has found that virtually every part of the service is deteriorating: from ambulance response times and access to mental health beds, to dental waiting lists and the number of hospital patients receiving urgent treatment. Patients are arriving sicker after putting off care or having their surgeries delayed due to the pandemic.

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Surge plan to add more workers to COVID fight

Sydney firefighters and more paramedic graduates are on standby to bolster the NSW COVID-19 response as the state prepares for the biggest surge in cases since the start of the pandemic, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian expecting a peak in the next fortnight.

The state recorded 1431 cases on Friday and 12 deaths, the highest numbers recorded in a 24-hour period since the pandemic began. Ms Berejiklian foreshadowed the healthcare system would probably operate differently in the near future.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned repeatedly that October will be “the worst month for our hospital system”. Just how much worse remains unclear.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

In an email to staff seen by the Herald, NSW Ambulance chief executive Dominic Morgan said contingency surge workforce plans developed last year were now being reviewed.

“Given the potential for continuing increased demand, we are likely to see increased numbers of patients transported to hospital with Covid-19,” Dr Morgan said, adding some options include accelerating more graduates into the workforce, cancelling annual leave and partnering with other emergency service organisations.

A Fire and Rescue NSW spokesperson said “it does not have medical transport capabilities” but is preparing to provide other assistance.

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Good morning

Good morning. I am Laura Chung and I’ll be taking you through this morning’s events. Let’s start with yesterday’s key points.

  • West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has flagged the state’s border is likely to remain shut to NSW, Victoria and the ACT for the rest of the year. During a COVID-19 update on Friday, the Labor leader delivered a broadside to the Morrison government and eastern states in the grips of coronavirus outbreaks over the national plan to ease restrictions once 70 per cent of people aged over 16 are fully vaccinated. He said the plan was “madness” and should be revisited.

Queues were lengthy for day-13 testing in Shepparton, in Victoria, on Thursday. Credit:Eddie Jim

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia would receive 4 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine this month, in a swap deal with the UK similar to the one announced with Singapore earlier in the week for half a million doses. The deal is designed to bring forward the country’s supply of the vaccine as it races to inoculate 70 to 80 per cent of people aged over 16. “The plane’s on the tarmac now, it will be leaving tomorrow and those doses will be coming over the course of the next few weeks,” Mr Morrison said.
  • NSW recorded 1,431 new cases of COVID-19 in the community and 12 more deaths on Friday. It is the highest number of cases and deaths ever recorded in one day in Australia. Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned that “the next fortnight is likely to be our worst in terms of the number of cases” but said “it is not the number of cases we need to be focusing on but how many of those cases end up in our intensive care wards and hospitals and how many people we have vaccinated”.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has foreshadowed the healthcare system would probably operate differently in the near future.Credit:Photo: Kate Geraghty

  • A woman in her 30s from south-western Sydney died at home on Wednesday after being tested on Tuesday. Investigations are under way into the source of her infection. She was not vaccinated. A man in his 70s who acquired his infection at the St George aged care facility in Bexley died at St George Hospital. A woman in her 70s who acquired her infection at Westmead Hospital has died at the hospital.
  • Victoria recorded 208 new, locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and one in hotel quarantine. This is the state’s highest daily figure in more than 12 months. Of the 208 local cases, 96 are linked to known outbreaks. The majority, 112 cases, are under investigation.
  • The ACT recorded 18 new cases of COVID-19. Of those, thirteen are linked to known cases and five are still under investigation.
  • Queensland has recorded no new cases of coronavirus, as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she “stands by” her comments about the potential risks to unvaccinated children aged under 12 when restrictions begin to ease around the country.
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