Hunt applauds NSW and Vic for virus action

Andi Yu and Karen Sweeney
·2-min read

Victoria has been praised for its quick response to fresh coronavirus outbreaks but the state has been urged to let its residents return home.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has also applauded NSW authorities for avoiding a repeat of Victoria's disastrous second wave, noting the NSW outbreak could have been on a "vastly larger scale".

The NSW outbreak has seeded across different Sydney venues, and south to Melbourne according to genomic testing, but a "potentially enormous event" could have occurred, he said describing advice from Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly.

Mr Hunt said Victoria was in a much stronger place this time around, but cautioned any response around border closures had to have a compassionate element.

Victoria's border is now closed to all travellers from NSW, with some Victorian residents complaining that they are unable to make it home.

"We're confident that Victoria will work and find ways to bring people home to their home state," Mr Hunt said, adding Australia had no "domestic passports".

The ACT has shut out non-residents who have been in NSW's northern beaches, Greater Sydney, Wollongong and parts of the Central Coast unless they have an exemption.

Tasmania has barred anyone directly linked to the latest Victorian virus cases. It has also declared Greater Sydney and the Wollongong area as medium-risk zones, requiring travellers to quarantine on arrival, while those from Sydney's northern beaches are barred from entering.

The government is providing $10 million in funding to COVID-19-related trials from its Medical Research Future Fund's Clinical Trials Activity Initiative, Mr Hunt announced on Sunday.

The funded projects include a next-generation vaccine program being developed by the University of Melbourne, which would use a spike protein but not require ultra-cold transportation.

Other trials are looking at infection control, recovery from the virus, and aged care.

The government has now completed all the paperwork for the American Novavax vaccine and is ahead of schedule for its vaccine rollout, Mr Hunt says.

CORONAVIRUS ACROSS THE COUNTRY:

* Victoria reported three new community transmission cases on Sunday.

* Frontline workers have been called back from holidays to boost testing capacity, with large queues including thousands of returned NSW travellers rushing to get tested.

* NSW recorded eight new community cases on Sunday.

* Face masks have become mandatory for many indoor settings in the state.

* WA has reimposed a hard border with NSW and Victoria.

* The Northern Territory has barred entry to all Greater Sydney residents.

* South Australia has re-established a hard border with NSW, plus a 100km buffer for border communities.

* Queensland's border is shut for anyone who has been in Greater Sydney and surrounds in the past 14 days.

* More than 50,000 Australians were tested in the previous 24 hours.

* No Australians are currently on ventilation or in intensive care because of COVID-19.