NSW records three locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in hotel quarantine in Sydney



New South Wales has again recorded locally acquired coronavirus cases, after the virus was transmitted in hotel quarantine.  

The state’s health department said three people in one family acquired the virus from a family of four staying in an adjacent room in the Adina Apartment Hotel Town Hall in Sydney’s CBD. 

The two families have been diagnosed with the same viral sequence.  

All guests staying on the same floor have been retested and returned negative results.

Staff who worked on level 12 are in self-isolation and undergoing testing. 

Investigations are continuing into how the transmission occurred. 

New South Wales Health said the families arrived on different days and from different countries.

It is believed the original cases, the family of four, were infectious between Thursday, April 8 and Sunday, April 11.

Both families have been taken to the Special Health Accommodation to be treated until they are no longer infectious. 

Since 8:00pm on Saturday night, there have been no new locally acquired COVID-19 cases in NSW, and 8,088 tests had been reported.

A total of 173,852 vaccines have been administered so far.

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Modi reviews oxygen crisis as cases touch new high: 21.7 lakh


Union minister Prakash Javadekar and Karnataka CM B.S. Yediyurappa tested positive on Friday

New Delhi: As the daily fresh Covid-19 cases went over 2.17 lakhs and the death toll reached 1,185, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday chaired a comprehensive review meeting to ensure adequate medical grade oxygen supply in the country. The meeting took place a day afte. Union minister Prakash Javadekar and Karnataka CM B.S. Yediyurappa were, meanwhile, among those who tested positive on Friday. Mr Yediyurappa has in fact tested positive for the second time in eight months and has been hospitalised.

In the wake of the nationwide surge in Covid-19 cases, the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations on Friday deferred the ICSE Class 10 and ISC Class 12 examinations till further notice. This comes two days after similar action by the CBSE board.

 

During Friday’s meeting, the PM reviewed in detail the current oxygen supply situation and projected use in the coming 15 days across 12 high-burden states — Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. The PM was informed that 4,880 MT, 5,619 MT and 6,593 MT have been allocated to these 12 states for meeting their projected demand as on April 20, April 25 and April 30 respectively. The PM suggested an increase in the oxygen production capacity of each plant. The use of surplus stocks of oxygen in steel plants for medical use was also discussed.

The PM urged officials to ensure seamless and free movement of tankers carrying oxygen throughout the country. The government has exempted all inter-state movement of oxygen tankers from registration of permits to enable easier movement. The PM was told that states and transporters had been asked to ensure tankers move around the clock, with drivers working in shifts to ensure a faster turnaround, and adequate capacity to meet the surge in demand. Cylinder filling plants will also be permitted to operate for 24 hours, with the necessary safeguards. The government is allowing industrial cylinders to be used for medical oxygen after due purging. Similarly, nitrogen and argon tankers will be automatically allowed to be converted to oxygen tankers to overcome the potential shortage of tankers.

The Centre has also decided to double the production of indigenously-made Covaxin by May-June and nearly 10 crore Covaxin doses will be produced per month by September.

 

The Union ministry of science and technology said the capacities of Bharat Biotech Ltd in Hyderabad as well as other public sector units are being upgraded and financial aid is being provided as a grant to the tune of around Rs 65 crores to Bharat Biotech’s new Bengaluru facility, which is being repurposed to increase the capacity of vaccine production. Besides, three PSUs are also being supported to hike the capacity of vaccine production. These are Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd, Mumbai, which will be able to produce 20 million doses per month; Indian Immunologicals Ltd, Hyderabad, and Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Ltd based in UP’s Bulandshahar.

 

On Friday Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and health secretary Rajesh Bhushan reviewed the Covid-19 situation in Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh. These two states, along with Maharashtra, are the three states that have over one lakh active cases. Both Chhattisgarh and UP are reporting a very high number of daily new cases and high deaths due to Covid-19.

The three states have been advised to increase the number of isolation beds, oxygen beds, ventilators/ICU beds, ambulance fleet as per needs, plan for adequate oxygen supply; and focus on mortality reduction by early identification of positive cases and adherence to national treatment protocols. Prohibiting unnecessary travel and crowding in public places through strict and effective enforcement was stressed upon.

 

All states have been advised to make use of the hospitals of key Central institutions, the Indian Railways and public sector units for treating Covid-19 patients.

The ICMR has recommended setting up more testing labs, including mobile labs, in the affected states.  He also advised keeping a vigil and ramping up testing on a continuous basis in districts showing more than a five per cent positivity rate. The affected states were asked to ramp up RT-PCR testing, have timely tracing, containment and surveillance activity to curb the chain of transmission, and strict implementation of containment measures and encourage 100 per cent vaccination of eligible population groups, especially in high-focus districts.

 

The Union health ministry has said various mutations of the Covid-19 virus were found in many countries, including India, besides the UK (17 mutations), Brazil (17 mutations) and South Africa (12 mutations) variants. These variants have higher transmissibility. The UK variant has been found extensively in the UK, all across Europe and has spread to Asia and America. The double mutation (2 mutations) is another variant and has been found in several countries like Australia, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Namibia, New Zealand, Singapore, United Kingdom, USA. The higher transmissibility of this variant is not established as yet.

Officials said the RT-PCR tests used in India do not miss these mutations as the RT-PCR tests being used in India target more than two genes and sensitivity and specificity of RT-PCR tests remains the same as earlier. This clarification came amid reports that RT-PCR tests may be missing out in the detection of mutated variants and are turning “false negative” reports.

 

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US health authorities recommend ‘pause’ on Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine over blood clot cases



It comes as the Australian government ruled out buying the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for now, saying it is too similar to the AstraZeneca drug.

United States federal health agencies on Tuesday recommended pausing the use of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine after six recipients developed a rare disorder involving blood clots.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will hold an advisory meeting on Wednesday to review the cases.

All the six recipients were women between the ages of 18 and 48.

One woman died and a second woman in Nebraska has been hospitalised in a critical condition, the New York Times reported, citing officials. 

The CDC and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in a joint statement that the adverse events currently appear to be extremely rare.  

“We are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” they said. 

As of 12 April, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the United States.

The company’s shares were down three per cent before the opening bell.

The move from the US regulators comes less than a week after Europe’s drugs regulator said it was reviewing rare blood clots in four people in the United States who received the shot.

The Australian federal government has also said it doesn’t plan to use Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine in its current rollout.

The government was in talks with the pharmaceutical giant, which had asked for initial approval for its vaccine from Australia’s medicine regulation.

Pfizer coronavirus approval

Health Secretary Dr Brendan Murphy and Prime Minister Scott Morrison at press conference at Parliament House, announcing approval of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine
AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

But in a statement on Tuesday, a spokesperson for Health Minister Greg Hunt ruled out proceeding with the purchase for now.

“The [Johnson and Johnson] vaccine is an adenovirus vaccine, the same type of vaccine as the AstraZeneca vaccine,” the statement read.

“The government does not intend to purchase any further adenovirus vaccines at this time.”

It comes as the government attempts to ramp up its vaccine supply after receiving new medical advice about the AstraZeneca jab and its link to rare blood clots. Pfizer’s shot is now preferred for Australians under the age of 50.

With reporting by SBS News, AAP. 

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Coronavirus | Over 1.5 lakh new cases for the third consecutive day


As of 11.55 p.m. on Monday, India reported 1,60,695 COVID-19 cases. As many as 864 deaths were also recorded on the day.

The figures do not include cases and deaths from Ladakh U.T. and Manipur. The data is sourced from covid19india.org, an independent aggregator of daily COVID-19 figures.

Only 11.80 lakh tests were conducted on Sunday (and for whom results were made available on Monday), about 2.3 lakh less than Saturday’s but 2.8 lakh more than the previous Sunday.  A total of 25,78,06,986 samples have been in the country as of April 11 since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the ICMR.

The country has so far reported a total of 1,36,86,074 cases and 1,71,073 deaths.

Maharashtra reported 51,751 infections (accounting for nearly 33% of the new cases) on Monday, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 13,604 cases and Chhattisgarh with 13,576 new infections.

Maharashtra also recorded the maximum casualties (258) on Monday. Chhattisgarh followed with 107 new deaths while Uttar Pradesh and Delhi registered 72 new casualties each.

Over 10.45 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered in India as of 7 a.m. on Monday.

Changing hotspots

From 63% of India’s cases between March 15 and 21, Maharashtra’s share reduced to just 42% between April 5 and 11. In the same period, Chhattisgarh’s share increased from 3% to 8%, and U.P.’s share increased from 1% to 7%. Share of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka remained stable in the range of 3 to 5%. Kerala’s share has been decreasing consistently since February. Between February 15 and 21, Kerala’s share in India’s cases was 34%. However, between April 5 and 11, the State’s share reduced to 3%.

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Daily COVID-19 cases breach 1,000-mark in Odisha


Odisha’s daily COVID-19 cases on Friday breached the 1,000-mark after several months. The State reported 1,282 cases, registering a 45% jump over Thursday’s figure.

As many as 879 persons tested positive on Thursday. Sundargarh is the worst-affected district with 224 cases, followed by Khordha with 192. Kalahandi is the third district where cases have crossed the three-digit figure.

Cases have risen in Sundargarh (224), Kalahandi (108), Bargarh (84), Nuapada (82), Jharsuguda (36), Malkangiri (52), Nabarangpur (27) and Koraput (8). These eight districts share a border with Chhattisgarh.

Considering Chhattisgarh to be the source of infection, the Odisha government on Thursday suspended all public transport from the neighbouring State from April 10 to April 30.

Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra also urged Suneet Sharma, Chairman of Railway Board, to cancel from April 10 all passenger trains from Chhattisgarh.

Besides, all passengers travelling to Odisha, from anywhere by train, must have an RT-PCR negative test report of maximum 72 hours before start of journey or second dose vaccination certificate.

“This is to be ensured by Indian Railways. The restriction shall come into force from the boarding date of April 10,” Mr. Mohapatra emphasised.

Meanwhile, the government asked collectors of 16 bordering districts to set up temporary medical centres for providing institutional quarantine facilities for people coming from other States. Border check-posts have been put up to prevent unhindered entry into the State.

Total positive cases in Odisha have risen to 3,46,808. After recoveries of 3,38,890, the total active cases stood at 5,941. The government on Friday reported one COVID-19 death from Ganjam district, taking the State’s toll to 1,924.

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Queensland records four cases of COVID-19 from overseas, no new community transmission cases


There were no new cases of transmission in the community.

The four new cases came from Papua New Guinea, Lebanon and India.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the apparent lack of community transmission showed the Greater Brisbane snap lockdown had worked.

“It underlines how it is better to have to lockdown for three days than for three months,” he said.

There were 75 active cases in hospital on Monday.

Testing numbers took a dip and dropped to 7,500 on Sunday, which was nearly half of the number recorded in the previous 24 hours.

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New virus epicentre as ‘double mutant’ strain tips daily cases past 100k


India has become the new global epicentre of coronavirus as daily new cases surge past 100,000 and a “double mutant” strain takes hold in the vast subcontinent.

And if the virus makes its way to rural areas as feared, the country is set to surpass the rest of the world in COVID-19 case numbers.

On Sunday, more than 103,790 cases were recorded as Indian authorities acknowledged the country was being engulfed by a shocking second COVID-19 wave.

Daily infections have grown almost twelvefold since cases dropped to just a few thousand a day in late winter and authorities eased restrictions.

Photographs of Indian people last weekend showed large crowds congregating and few wearing masks.

This comes a fortnight after a new “double mutant” strain was identified among those infected in the nation’s 1.3 billion population.

More than 12.6 million people have been struck down with COVID-19 and the new wave has put it third, behind the US and Brazil, among the countries hardest hit by the virus.

With India’s overcrowding, poverty and insufficient health system, the situation is expected to worsen.

India’s death toll stands at 165,132, the fourth highest total in the world.

RELATED: Where Australia’s missing 2.5 million vaccine doses are

Crowds continue to gather as infections surge

Politicians are still holding election rallies in different states attended by tens of thousands of people packed in and maskless.

The “double mutant” variant has been detected in more than 200 cases in one of the hardest hit states, Maharashtra in western India.

A throng of people pictured on a beach in the Maharashtran capital of Mumbai last weekend showed little to no social distancing.

Other images from Mumbai show crowds of locals packed into a huge food market.

India’s two approved vaccines, AstraZeneca and Covaxin, which was developed in Hyderabad’s Bharat Biotech laboratory, are effective against mutant variants from the UK and Brazil.

However health officials said the term “double mutant” referred to an entirely new variant that has the characteristics of two already identified strains.

India is ramping up its vaccination program in response to the rising infection numbers. Almost 80 million people have so far been immunised.

RELATED: Labor ramps up criticism over vaccine rollout

People not following ‘COVID-appropriate behaviour’

The extraordinary new surge led to Prime Minister Narendra Modi holding a high-level meeting of his pandemic team.

Dr Randeep Guleria of India’s pandemic task force said the new infectious virus variants combined with “the lack of appropriate COVID-19 behaviour, of not wearing masks, or keeping social distancing … is the cause of this sharp spike”.

Mr Modi tweeted he “reiterated the importance of the five-fold strategy of testing, tracing, treatment, COVID-appropriate behaviour, and vaccination as an effective way to fight the global pandemic”.

Scientists in Maharashtra are now working to see how the double strain may be more resistant to vaccines.

On Sunday, the state, which has a population of around 123 million, recorded its highest single daily case number of 57,704.

Authorities have now imposed restrictions until the end of the month, including a weekday curfew between 8pm and 7am and a complete weekend lockdown.

Schools, colleges, educational institutions, malls, spas, gymnasiums and restaurants will remain closed.

candace.sutton@news.com.au

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Contact tracing sites in Brisbane and Gold Coast expanded following further coronavirus cases


Queensland contact tracers are continuing to work tirelessly to track people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the wake of two further cases of community transmission.

A range of venues across the Gold Coast, Brisbane and further north have been added to the growing list.

Some sites have been removed and other times have been updated, including for Sunday March 28 and Monday March 29. 

Anyone who visited the sites below must quarantine at home immediately for 14 days from the time of contact, and complete an online contact tracing self-assessment or phone 13HEALTH.

Saturday, March 20

Sunday, March 21

Monday, March 22

Tuesday, March 23

Friday, March 26

Saturday, March 27

Monday 29 March 

Dozens of locations are on the list of casual contact sites, that carry a lower risk of exposure.

Anyone who visited these locations is advised to get tested immediately and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Tuesday, March 16

Wednesday, March 17

Thursday, March 18

Friday, March 19

Saturday, March 20

Sunday, March 21

Monday, March 22

Tuesday, March 23

Wednesday, March 24

Thursday, March 25

Friday, March 26

Saturday, March 27

Sunday, March 28

Monday, March 29

Queensland Health has just one low-risk site on their list. 

Anyone who was outside the Westpac at Peninsula Fair shopping centre in Kippa-Ring between 3:00 and 3:30pm on Tuesday, March 23 is asked to monitor for symptoms.

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India records 56,211 new cases of the coronavirus


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MUMBAI — India recorded 56,211 new cases of coronavirus, a slight dip from the country’s record-breaking tallies over the last three days, data from the health ministry showed on Tuesday.

The country’s tally dipped below the 60,000 mark after three days, a Reuters tally showed, with its richest state, Maharashtra, accounting for more than 31,000 of the 56,211 cases reported in the last 24 hours. Deaths in the last 24 hours stood at 271, and 162,114 have died so far in the pandemic, the health ministry said.

Authorities in Maharashtra were considering whether to impose stricter curbs starting Thursday to contain the rapid spread of the virus, but opposition parties and industrialists have opposed a lockdown.

“The people a lockdown hurts most are the poor, migrant workers & small businesses. The original lockdowns were essentially to buy time to build up hospital/health infrastructure. Let’s focus on resurrecting that & on avoiding mortality,” industrialist Anand Mahindra, who heads Mahindra, India’s autos-to-technology conglomerate, said on Twitter on Monday. (Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru and Shilpa Jamkhandikar in Mumbai. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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Greater Brisbane lockdown announced, masks mandatory across Queensland after 10 new COVID-19 cases, four locally acquired


Greater Brisbane will go into a three-day lockdown after recording 10 new cases of coronavirus, four of which are community transmission.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said six of the cases were overseas acquired but four were local — two directly linked to the recent cluster.

The other two cases have an unknown origin.

Greater Brisbane will now go into a three-day lockdown as of 5:00pm today.

This includes the Ipswich, Logan, Redlands, Moreton and Brisbane council areas.

“Two are known cases of one of the previous people, then we have two under investigation but we believe one of them is a nurse from the PA hospital,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Now what this says to us is the fact that there are now more community transmission and these people have been out and about in the community.

“And that is of now concern to Queensland Health and of course concern to me.”

One of the other new cases, a man, had been infectious in the community while in Gladstone from March 25 to 27.

He visited a number of locations including, Gin Gin Bakery, Miriam Vale Star Roadhouse and Caravan Park, Stockland Gladstone Coles and Auckland House.

Masks will be mandatory in any location indoors — except your home, if you have a medical exemption or if you’re doing strenuous exercise — and on public transport and in ride share vehicles.

Outside of Greater Brisbane masks will be required inside and in crowded areas where you can’t socially distance, and on public transport.

People in Greater Brisbane will only be able to leave their homes for essential reasons like grocery shopping, exercise, work and medical care. 

Only two visitors are allowed at homes — outside of Greater Brisbane, gatherings are limited to 30.

Dr Young said schools and childcare centres would remain open for children of essential workers.

Ms Palaszczuk said a three-day lockdown was necessary.

“This is the UK strain. It is highly infectious,” she said.

“This will also enable our health authorities to get on top of the contact tracing.

“This is a huge job now that we have to do because we’ve got more of this community transmission.

“I know this will mean some disruption to people’s lives but we’ve done this before and we’ve got through it over those three days in the past and if everyone does the right thing, I’m sure that we will be able to get through it again.”

Anyone who has been to Greater Brisbane since March 20 needs to follow the lockdown restrictions.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath urged everyone to get tested for any symptoms.

“We have had over 11,000 tests in the last 24 hours so we thank everyone for coming forward for those tests and we want that to continue,” she said.

There was 11,626 tests carried out on 6,130 people yesterday, with the majority from the Brisbane city region.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the new cases meant the department was now dealing with seven cases from the most recent cluster. 

“The initial two gentleman, and now a brother of one of those that we think could be that link between the PA doctor who was infectious two weeks ago and this cluster,” she said.

“Then we have two colleagues of the second new case that tested positive yesterday, and one of those people was in Gladstone for three days while they were infectious.”

She said very late last night she was notified of another case, who was the PA hospital nurse who worked in the COVID-19 ward.

“But I’m not sure that’s where she’s acquired it. We will have to wait for genome sequencing results,” she said.

“Her sister is also positive, and we’re not sure where the transmission has happened there.

“They have recently been in Byron Bay during their infectious period.

“So we now have significant community transmission and significant numbers of venues of concern all through Brisbane.”

They attended a number of venues last Friday and Sunday.

People who were at the Byron Beach Hotel on Friday night and The Farm restaurant on Sunday are being told to get tested and isolate until further notice.

Two new testing clinics are being set up in the town. 

The lockdown restrictions will be reviewed on Wednesday night.

Ms Palaszczuk urged people not to panic buy and said supermarkets were well stocked.

“I know in is a really big call, I know it is really tough,” she said.

“We have Easter coming up, we have school holidays coming up but let’s do it now and let’s do it right, and let’s see if we can come through it at the other end.”

The Premier has declared Greater Brisbane a hotspot and has urged other state and territory leaders to do the same.

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