Some good news from the NSW central west, which has been plunged into a week-long lockdown after cases from Sydney found their way into the region.
The federal opposition wants welfare recipients living in lockdown areas automatically bumped onto higher Covid-19 disaster relief payments.
It also wants the federal government to automatically move people back onto jobseeker and waive the waiting period when the lockdowns end.
Currently, people receiving the dole or other government payments aren’t eligible for disaster relief and have to choose one or the other.
But AAP reports Labor’s social services spokeswoman Linda Burney says it should be simplified.
If a worker is entitled to a higher payment, they should receive it, automatically. People should not have to jump through hoops to get the assistance they have been promised.
The MP made the push with disability spokesman Bill Shorten and emergency management spokesman Murray Watt.
The trio demanded the Coalition government give an “iron-clad guarantee” the waiting period would be waived for people moving back onto jobseeker from the disaster payment.
The scheme provides up to $600 a week for people in hotspot areas who have lost at least 20 hours of work in a seven-day period, and $375 for those who have lost between eight and 19 hours.
Meanwhile, the jobseeker rate is $310.40 a week for single people with no children and $282.70 for someone in a relationship, excluding the rental supplement.
The dole rises to $333.75 for single people with children and as well as for those aged 60 or older if they’ve been on the payment for nine months straight.
Advocacy groups have repeatedly called on the government to expand disaster payments to people on welfare, so they don’t have to choose.
Queensland is the first cab off the rank this morning. I’ll start my finger stretching exercises.
Cases may be rising – and we expect them to rise again today – but the Australian is reporting this morning the NSW emergency cabinet will consider loosening restrictions on some parts of greater Sydney depending on weekend case data.
The emergency cabinet is reportedly considering leaving hard restrictions in place for the south-western Sydney epicentre, while easing them for places such as the Central Coast and Shellharbour where few cases have been recorded.
Greg Hunt says TGA has approved Pfizer for use in 12-15 year olds
Health minister Greg Hunt has been on Channel 7’s Sunrise and has confirmed that news that Australia’s drug regulator the Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved Pfizer for 12 to 15 year olds.
He’s also revealed teenagers who are immunocompromised or have underlying medical conditions will be moved up into phase 1b of the rollout, meaning they will be eligible immediately.
Hunt told Sunrise that following the TGA’s approval, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (Atagi) will now consider the drug. He said Atagi was “well advanced” in its review, and would likely make a decision by “mid-August”.
“The early advice I have is they will fast-track vaccines for 12-15 year olds who are immunocompromised or have underlying medical conditions,” he said.
“They would be immediately added to phase 1b and would be able to book in.”
Former federal treasurer Wayne Swan has helpfully offered his take on the prime minister Scott Morrison’s apology over the country’s slow vaccine rollout yesterday.
After increasing pressure, Morrison apologised, a day after he repeatedly declined to say sorry for the government’s missteps.
But the former Labor treasurer wasn’t convinced. Swan told Nine’s Today show this morning Morrison was “getting a gold medal for blame shifting”.
Essentially, the performance yesterday was just dreadful. People said that he issued an apology. He didn’t. It was a half apology that was forced. It wasn’t sincere, and it didn’t go to the core of the problem.
If he was going to go out and say, ‘Let’s wipe the slate clean, let’s look at what’s gone wrong here,’ which is the decisions they [the government] have taken not to purchase the correct volumes and types of vaccines, then people might take him seriously.
Forty-one workers at a Melbourne hospital have been temporarily stood down after a fellow staffer worked a shift while infectious with Covid-19.
AAP reports the employee of Casey Hospital, a 229-bed facility in the city’s outer south-east, returned a positive test on Tuesday.
Monash Health, the public health service that manages the hospital, confirmed the case on Thursday night. The staffer worked one shift during their infectious period, forcing 41 hospital employees to stay home as they await test results.
But the worker wore PPE during the shift, doesn’t have a front-facing role, and is not thought to have had any interaction with patients.
From the desk of things you might have assumed were already happening, NSW Health staff will be able to park for free at public hospital carparks during the current Covid-19 restrictions.
NSW Health deputy secretary Phil Minns said the – temporary – measure will be available to health staff from the next NSW Health pay cycle. He said:
In situations where the government advises that the community should seek to avoid the use of public transport, relief from parking charges for NSW Health staff will be introduced at NSW Health facilities.
All NSW Health staff required to attend work at NSW Health facilities for the duration of the period where public transport services are compromised, will have access to free parking.
We hope this action brings some peace of mind to all our health staff at this challenging time.
NSW Health has addressed false social media rumours suggesting supermarkets will be forced to close as Sydney’s lockdown continues.
In a statement last night the health department said it had “been made aware of false reports circulating on social media, suggesting supermarkets are closing for four days next week”.
“NSW Health can confirm this is not the case, and reminds people to only use trusted and credible sources for information on Covid-19,” the department said.
Queensland flight attendant tests positive for Covid-19: reports
The ABC is reporting that a flight attendant who travelled between Longreach and Brisbane in Queensland has tested positive to Covid-19.
Everyone who travelled between Brisbane and Longreach on Qantas flights QF 2534 and QF 2535 on Sunday, 11 July has been asked to get tested and quarantine at home.
We’ll hear more about that from the state’s chief medical officer Dr Jeannette Young later this morning.
As cases continue to rise in NSW, the calls for the state to adopt measures used in Victoria during its long 2020 lockdown are increasing.
In this piece from my colleague Melissa Davey though, Jeremy McAnulty, the executive director of NSW Health’s Covid-19 public health response branch, says he does not think there is a need for mandatory outdoor mask wearing rules.
“In my observation and through talking to people, I don’t think mask-wearing is the issue,” he said.
“We know that transmission is very much less likely outdoors, and indoor transmission is much higher.”
Read the full story here:
Good morning. My name is Michael McGowan, filling in for Matilda Boseley. I’ll be taking you through this morning’s breaking news.
Late last night the New South Wales health department announced it had found fragments of Covid-19 in Byron Bay’s wastewater in the far north.
The sewage treatment plant serves about 19,000 people in Byron Bay, Wategos, Suffolk Park, Sunrise, and Broken Head. There are no known cases in the Byron region, and NSW Health called the finding “of great concern”.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday warned cases in the state were expected to rise again today. It comes as my colleague Sarah Martin and I reveal today the state has taken up just 145,000 of the almost 1 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine allocated to it by the Commonwealth, leaving vaccinations to either stockpile or be directed overseas.
With three states in lockdown and National Cabinet meeting today there is plenty to get to.