World news – Coronavirus updates LIVE: Victorian 14-day COVID-19 case average falls below 50 as state’s regional areas reopen; Australian death toll stands at 824


Symptoms that prompted the University of Oxford and partner AstraZeneca to pause trials evaluating their experimental coronavirus vaccine probably weren’t related to the shot itself, according to documents sent to participants.

Safety reviews were carried out when participants in the Oxford study developed unexplained neurological symptoms including limb weakness or « changed sensation », a participant information sheet posted online by Oxford shows.

« After independent review, these illnesses were either considered unlikely to be associated with the vaccine or there was insufficient evidence to say for certain that the illnesses were or were not related to the vaccine, » the letter reads.

« In each of these cases, after considering the information, the independent reviewers recommended that vaccinations should continue. »

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stood by his government’s plan to increase the country’s weekly international arrivals from 4000 to 6000, saying he does not think Labor’s proposal for a military-led operation is necessary.

« We went through a process with our officials to work out the best way to get people home and it’s on commercial flights through the hotel quarantine system, which the states have been running in most cases extremely well, » he told Sunrise this morning.

With some state premiers claiming they were blindsided by yesterday’s announcement of the change, Mr Morrison declined to answer whether the federal government required the individual states’ permission to increase the cap, noting hundreds of ADF personnel were on the ground in states and territories to assist with the change.

« There are plenty of commercial planes – we just need to lift the cap so they can run the services to Australia. It’s the caps that were stopping the plane. »

The Prime Minister said he expected the increased caps would be in place from next Friday, September 25.

The Victorian inquiry into hotel quarantine with continue today, with Chief Commissioner Shane Patton and his predecessor, Graham Ashton, due to appear.

At yesterday’s hearings, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he knew in April of the significant risks of hotel quarantine but was in the dark about how badly the system was run until media reports six weeks later revealed an outbreak that caused Melbourne’s second wave.

As Clay Lucas and Tammy Mills report, Professor Sutton’s evidence to the state hotel quarantine inquiry on Wednesday exposed that even those in charge of the Andrews government’s pandemic response did not know who was responsible for key aspects of the program.

He gave evidence he was not involved in the decision to hire private security contractors to supervise hotel quarantine and did not find out about it « until after the outbreaks ». It was only in hindsight that he realised how dangerous it was for the state to use a highly casualised workforce with poor job security to fulfil the crucial role of guarding thousands of returned travellers from overseas.

The Victorian Department of Health has added three new locations to it’s lists of high-risk locations for coronavirus exposure today.

It’s been revealed that coronavirus-positive individuals have spent time at Clifton Hill Mitre 10 last Thursday (September 10), Craigieburn Shopping Centre last Friday (September 11) and KFC at Westgate Port Melbourne last Thursday and Friday (September 10 and September 11).

Anyone who has visited the locations listed below are being warned to monitor for any minor symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested straight away if you do start to feel unwell.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a second lockdown would be « disastrous » for the British economy, as he appeared to pour cold water on his earlier optimism of rapid, pregnancy-style coronavirus infectiousness tests by Christmas.

Appearing before the Commons Liaison Committee for only the second time since his elevation into Downing Street in 2019, Johnson said that the science behind the so-called « freedom passport » tests was still some way off.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons in London.Credit:AP

« I don’t want a second national lockdown, » Johnson said. « I think it would be completely wrong for this country and we are going to do everything in our power to prevent it. »

The Prime Minister also expressed fears that a surge in infections, which increased by another 3991 on Wednesday — the highest single-day increase since May — would lead to more deaths.

Experts warn patients kept waiting during Victoria’s lockdown could suffer post-operative complications once elective surgeries are ramped up to clear a backlog of more than 60,000 patients.

The big story for both The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age this morning is an exclusive from Rob Harris that just one fine has been issued and only one provider banned by the nation’s disability watchdog despite more than 8000 complaints being lodged in the past two years.

India’s confirmed coronavirus infections soared past 5 million on Wednesday, testing the feeble health care system in tens of thousands of impoverished towns and villages, AP reports.

The world’s second-most populous country has added more than 1 million cases this month alone and is expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country within weeks, surpassing the United States, where more than 6.6 million people have been infected.

India’s Health Ministry reported 90,123 new cases in the past 24 hours, raising the total to 5,020,359, about 0.35 per cent of the nation’s nearly 1.4 billion people. Its record daily high of 97,570 cases was reported on September 11.

The ministry said 1290 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 82,066, which is the third-highest toll in the world. Experts warned that India’s fatality rate could increase in coming weeks with lockdown restrictions relaxed except in high-risk areas.

NSW will ease restrictions on the NSW-Victoria border today, in light of more relaxed rules coming into force in regional Victoria.

Under the new rules, the NSW-Victoria border zone has been extended to include parts of the NSW Riverina and Victorian alpine region, with the zone now encompassing Pleasant Hills, Lockhart, Benalla, Bright and Mount Beauty.

Victorian residents in the border zone will also no longer need to comply with stay-at-home directions while in NSW or be restricted to entering NSW for a « permitted purpose ».

In a statement on Thursday morning, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard thanked the border communities for their patience.

« NSW-Victoria border communities have been extremely resilient during this one-in-100 year pandemic as we continue to fight the challenges of COVID-19, » he said.

« Having been separated for a number of weeks now, as communities that straddle the mighty Murray, we can talk of moving forward together. »

Good morning and welcome to today’s live blog. This is Mary Ward taking you through the morning’s developments in the coronavirus pandemic in Australia and abroad.

Regional Victorians have woken up to eased restrictions today, as the area enters its third step of reopening. In turn, we have just received news NSW will be easing its border controls with Victoria – more on that in our next blog post.

We learnt yesterday that the federal government is pushing states to increase international arrivals from 4000 to 6000 a week. But WA’s Premier claimed he has never been formally pitched the proposal and NSW’s said she would only increase her cap if Queensland and WA doubled their intake. We expect to hear more on this from the Queensland government this morning.

Amid dropping case numbers, the economic impact of the pandemic continues to be felt: yesterday UNSW and ANU each announced they would shed 200 jobs.

Get our Coronavirus Update newsletter for the day’s crucial developments and the numbers you need to know. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Herald’s newsletter here and The Age’s here.


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