Daily News Round-up

February 12, 2021

FRIDAY, February 12

Melbourne has just gone into a 5 day lock down in response to the growing COVID crisis stemming from the quarantine hotel outbreak. This of course then follows on with Australian states making their own decisions on the closure of their borders.

QLD: Border closed to Greater Melbourne for 14 days.

NT: Greater Melbourne declared a Hot Spot.

SA: Press Conference being held at 1:30pm QLD Time.

WA: Border closed to Greater Melbourne for 72 hours.

NSW: No update.


What you can leave the house for: Shopping for what you need, when you need it. Care giving for compassionate reasons. Essential work or permitted education where that cannot be done from home.

In terms of exercise: Exercise for two hours per day, with your household members, your intimate partner, or one other person who is not from your household or your partner.

You must stay within 5km of your home: other than for permitted work, or if you need to go shopping for things you need when you need them, and you cannot access those things that are, again, common sense tells you if they’re essential, if they can’t wait until Thursday, then you would be permitted to be beyond the 5km limit.

Masks must be worn everywhere in Victoria other than in your home.

Private gatherings are not permitted. No visitors to anyone’s home.

Public gatherings are not permitted. If you can work from home, then you must work from home.

Schools will close but will remain available over those three days – Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday – for vulnerable children or for the children of those who are permitted to go to work, those who can’t work from home.

Child care and early childhood centres will remain open.

Places of worship are closed other than for broadcasting of services. Religious gatherings and ceremonies are not permittedFunerals can involve no more than 10 people. And that applies indoor or outdoor. Weddings are not permitted unless on compassionate grounds.

An eight-and-a-half-hour window at a busy Melbourne Airport cafe has been added to the list of Victoria’s exposure sites as the Government works to get on top of a growing coronavirus outbreak, reports the ABC.

There are now 13 cases linked to the Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport hotel, and hundreds of people have been considered close contacts.

Five of those cases were announced by the Victorian Department of Health yesterday, and included four household primary close contacts of previous cases.

The department added Brunetti cafe, at Melbourne Airport’s Terminal 4, to its list of Tier 1 exposure sites late last night.

Anyone who visited the cafe between 4:45am and 1:15pm on Tuesday has been asked to get tested and remain isolated for 14 days.

Victorian Government authorities held meetings last night and have more planned this morning to discuss how to tackle the outbreak.

A department source told the ABC that everything was on the table and all options were being discussed by authorities, but no final decisions on the response have been made yet.

Authorities were happy with the fact that all new cases have been contained to close contacts but were watching the outbreak closely, the source said.

The department this morning confirmed five cases would be included in the Thursday reporting period.

Genomic testing confirmed that the first six cases in the outbreak had the UK variant, and authorities had a “working assumption” that all cases associated with the Holiday Inn cluster were the same.

Victoria’s coronavirus testing commander Jeroen Weimar yesterday said authorities were “right on the heels” of the outbreak, but said the more infectious variant made it more challenging.

“This is a bit different, it’s the UK variant, we don’t yet know everything about it and we have to be on our guard,” Mr Weimar said.

But he said there was some cause for confidence.

“I’d say we’re alert but not alarmed. We are right on top of this,” he said yesterday afternoon.

Melbourne Airport’s Terminal 4 is a busy domestic terminal that hosts local and budget airlines, including Jetstar and Regional Express.

Jetstar said it was working with the Melbourne Airport and health authorities as investigations into the outbreak continue.

Brunetti underwent a deep clean overnight.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he supported Victoria and believed any response to the outbreak should be “proportionate” and “targeted”.

“They need to get on top of this quicky and I believe they will, as other states have,” Mr Morrison told radio station 3AW.

The Prime Minister pushed back against suggestions that hotel quarantine should be moved to regional areas, saying it would create another set of risks to deal with.

“You’ve got transfer risks, you’ve got workforce that you have to have in place in those situations, you’re further away from major hospitals,” he said.

“It’s not just a room and a bed — it’s like saying that the way to fix hospital waiting lists is to just go down the bed factory and buy more beds.”

The growing cluster yesterday led the RSL to call off Melbourne’s Anzac Day march for the second year in a row.

Organisers said it would not be in the public interest to hold a large event with crowds due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

Scaled-back versions of the dawn service and other commemorations will be held throughout the state.

The chief executive of RSL Victoria Jamie Twidale said there would still be a dawn and commemorative service, but the details were still being worked out.

“It matters not how we remember, only that we do,” he said.

But the Victorian Opposition said the decision to cancel the Anzac Day march in Melbourne was made prematurely.

Opposition spokesman for veterans Tim Bull said organisers should have waited longer to see if the march could be held safely.

“There may have to be some specific limitations put in around the march, around distancing, and the numbers that attend,” Mr Bull said.

“But we need to assess it at the right time to make that decision, and I don’t think making a decision 10 weeks out is the right time.”


Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, says a British tabloid has been held to account for its “dehumanising practices” after she won a privacy claim against the paper for printing extracts of a letter she wrote to her father.

Meghan 39, the wife of Prince Harry, sued publisher Associated Newspapers after its Mail on Sunday tabloid printed parts of the handwritten letter she sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, in August 2018.

Last month, her lawyers asked Judge Mark Warby to rule in her favour without the need for a trial which could have pitted her against her father, who gave a witness statement on behalf of the paper and who she has not seen since her wedding in May 2018.

Mr Justice Warby ruled the articles did breach her privacy, but said some issues relating to her copyright of the letter would have to be settled at a trial.

The newspaper said it was considering an appeal.

“After two long years of pursuing litigation, I am grateful to the courts for holding Associated Newspapers and The Mail on Sunday to account for their illegal and dehumanising practices,” Meghan said in a statement.

She said the tactics of the paper and its sister publications had gone for too long without consequence.

“For these outlets, it’s a game. For me and so many others, it’s real life, real relationships, and very real sadness,” she said.

“The damage they have done and continue to do runs deep.”

Meghan wrote the five-page letter to Mr Markle after their relationship collapsed in the run-up to her glittering wedding to Harry in May 2018, which her father missed due to ill health and after he admitted posing for paparazzi pictures.

‘Triple-barrelled’ assault

In two days of hearings last month, her lawyers said printing the “personal and sensitive” letter was a “triple-barrelled” assault on “her private life, her family life and her correspondence” and plainly breached her privacy.

The paper argued the Duchess intended the letter’s contents to become public and it formed part of a media strategy, pointing out she had admitted in court papers discussing it with her communications secretary.

The Mail, which published extracts in February 2019, said it did so to allow Mr Markle to respond to comments made by Meghan’s anonymous friends in interviews with the US magazine People.

“For the most part they did not serve that purpose at all,” Mr Justice Warby said in his ruling.

“Taken as a whole the disclosures were manifestly excessive and hence unlawful. There is no prospect that a different judgment would be reached after a trial.”

He said the Duchess had a reasonable expectation the letter’s contents would remain private and the Mail had “interfered with that reasonable expectation”.

The judge said while the printed extracts were an infringement of copyright, there needed to be a trial to decide who owned the copyright because of the involvement of senior royal aides in its drafting.

“We are very surprised by today’s summary judgment and disappointed at being denied the chance to have all the evidence heard and tested in open court at a full trial,” the paper said in a statement.

“We are carefully considering the judgment’s contents and will decide in due course whether to lodge an appeal.”

There will be a hearing on March 2 to discuss next steps in the case.

Meghan and Harry’s relations with Britain’s tabloid press collapsed after they got married, with media intrusion a major factor in their decision to step down last March from royal duties and move to the United States with baby son Archie.


Australia’s onshore-vaccine capacity has received a boost, with the AstraZeneca vaccine to reach its final manufacturing stage in Australia next week, news.com reports.

Drug manufacturer CSL has confirmed the first two million doses produced at its Melbourne facility are on track for release by the end of next month, subject to approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday morning will tour the facility, where 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab will eventually be manufactured.

CSL chief scientific officer Andrew Nash said he was “incredibly proud” of the development.

“Reaching this milestone would not have happened without around-the-clock work from our skilled team … with ongoing support from AstraZeneca,” he said.

“While the work isn’t over, we are incredibly proud to be on the cusp of delivering a locally made vaccine for Australians.

But Dr Nash warned “some of the most critical work is still to come”, with each batch to undergo an “extensive quality check process” conducted by CSL, AstraZeneca and the TGA.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended the AstraZeneca vaccine to immunise against COVID-19 on Wednesday.

The WHO recommended its use in people over 65 despite some fears over its efficacy in that age group.

The AstraZeneca vaccine would account for the bulk of Australia’s vaccine rollout under the government’s plan.

It argued producing the majority of Australia’s vaccines onshore reduced vulnerability on overseas supply chains.

The development comes just a day after the European Commission confirmed it had rubber-stamped the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine to Australia.

Australia had ordered 20 million doses of the jab, the only vaccine approved for use by the TGA.

But there were fears their arrival could be delayed after the European Union placed export controls on vaccines produced within its territory, including the AstraZeneca and Pfizer jabs.


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