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War of words: Why has Australia’s vaccine rollout been delayed?

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It was expected four million Australians would be vaccinated by now, but supply shortages have caused significant delays to the rollout.Only 920,334 people have had their jabs so far, and the Federal Government has blamed the European Union for holding back millions of doses.Prime Minister Scott Morrison says it’s a “simple fact” that 3.1 million…

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It was expected four million Australians would be vaccinated by now, but supply shortages have caused significant delays to the rollout.

Only 920,334 people have had their jabs so far, and the Federal Government has blamed the European Union for holding back millions of doses.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says it’s a “simple fact” that 3.1 million doses have not turned up, confirming he’s seeking formal approval for the release of the blocked vaccines.

LIVE UPDATES: Mass vaccination hub to deliver 30,000 jabs a week

So how many vaccines have we received from overseas?

At last count, only 870,000 doses of the highly-sought Pfizer vaccine had landed in Australia, out of the 20 million Australia is contracted to receive.

And around 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca have arrived from overseas, despite the Federal Government expecting 3.8 million.

What’s the reason for the hold up?

Europe is keen to hang onto as many doses as possible for its own citizens, even if it comes at a cost of helping other nations.

But overnight, the European Union said it had only blocked the shipment of 250,000 doses to Australia in early March.

The delay in delivery of doses from Europe has led to a war of words.

Why is this causing a fight with the European Union?

This dispute is purely based on semantics.

The Federal Government accused the EU of leaving Australia “cut short” of 3.1 million doses of AstraZeneca.

In response, the EU said it had only formally blocked 250,000, arguing AstraZeneca hasn’t asked for the release of the rest.

Mr Morrison now says he’ll ask again for the “full amount” of doses – 3.8 million – to be released.

Is that likely to happen?

There is a lot of uncertainty over whether any more doses will arrive from overseas, pinning big hopes on the tiny vials being produced at CSL.

The Melbourne manufacturer is yet to reach the target of 1 million AstraZeneca doses produced each week, leading Mr Morrison to further temper expectations.

“There are no absolute guarantees when it comes to this,” he said.


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Devastation grows as crematoriums overflow in India

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Warning: This article contains images which may be distressing to some readersIndia reported a global record of more than 314,000 new infections on Thursday as a grim coronavirus surge in the world’s second-most populous country sends more and more sick people into a fragile health care system critically short of hospital beds and oxygen.The 314,835…

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Warning: This article contains images which may be distressing to some readers

India reported a global record of more than 314,000 new infections on Thursday as a grim coronavirus surge in the world’s second-most populous country sends more and more sick people into a fragile health care system critically short of hospital beds and oxygen.

The 314,835 infections added in the past 24 hours raise India’s total past 15.9 million cases since the pandemic began. It’s the second-highest total in the world next to the United States. India has nearly 1.4 billion people.

READ MORE: Australia cuts direct flights from India after mass COVID outbreak

Fatalities rose by 2104 in the past 24 hours, raising India’s overall death toll to 184,657, the Health Ministry said.

A large number of hospitals are reporting acute shortages of beds and medicine and are running on dangerously low levels of oxygen.

The New Delhi High Court on Wednesday ordered the government to divert oxygen from industrial use to hospitals to save people’s lives.

“You can’t have people die because there is no oxygen. Beg, borrow or steal, it is a national emergency,” the judges said, responding to a petition by a New Delhi hospital seeking the court’s intervention.

The government is rushing oxygen tankers to replenish supplies to hospitals.

Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Thursday that “demand and supply is being monitored round the clock.” He said in a tweet that to address the exponential spike in demand, the government has increased the quota of oxygen for the seven worst-hit states.

Lockdowns and strict curbs have brought pain, fear and agony to many people in New Delhi and other cities.

READ MORE: India’s second COVID-19 wave hits like ‘tsunami’

In scenes familiar across the country, ambulances are rush from one hospital to another, trying to find an empty bed. Grieving relatives line up outside crematoriums where the number of dead bodies has jumped several times.

“I get numerous calls every day from patients desperate for a bed. The demand is far too much than the supply,” said Dr Sanjay Gururaj, a doctor at Bengaluru-based Shanti Hospital and Research Centre.

“I try to find beds for patients every day, and it’s been incredibly frustrating to not be able to help them. In the last week, three patients of mine have died at home because they were unable to get beds. As a doctor, it’s an awful feeling,” Gururaj said.

Yogesh Dixit, a resident of northern Uttar Pradesh state, said earlier this week that he had to buy two oxygen cylinders at 12,000 rupees ($206) each, more than twice the normal cost, for his ailing father because the state-run hospital in Lucknow had run out of supplies.

READ MORE: Twenty-two dead after oxygen tank leaks at hospital in India

He bought two “because the doctors can ask for another oxygen cylinder at any time,” he said, adding that he had to sell his wife’s jewelry to meet the cost.

Makeshift crematoriums overrun

The main cremation ground at Lucknow, the state capital, received nearly 200 bodies on Sunday.

“The bodies were everywhere, they were being cremated on sidewalks meant for walking. I have never such a flow of dead bodies in my life,” said Shekhar Chakraborty, 68.

In Kanpur, also in Uttar Pradesh, 35 temporary platforms have been set up on Bithoor-Sidhnath Ghat along the Ganges River to cremate bodies.

The Health Ministry said that of the country’s total production of 7500 tons of oxygen per day, 6600 tons was being allocated for medical use.

READ MORE: Patient left gasping for air for 10 hours as Indian hospitals buckle

It also said that 75 railroad coaches in the Indian capital have been turned into hospitals providing an additional 1200 beds for COVID-19 patients.

The Times of India newspaper said that the previous highest daily case count of 307,581 was reported in the US on January 8.


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New Zealand pauses travel bubble with Perth

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All travel between New Zealand and Western Australia is on hold due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Perth.West Australian Premier Mark McGowan announced Perth and Peel would go into a three-day lockdown, effective from midnight Friday.An Air New Zealand flight due to leave Perth on Friday night has been cancelled following the announcement.New Zealand COVID-19…

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All travel between New Zealand and Western Australia is on hold due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Perth.

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan announced Perth and Peel would go into a three-day lockdown, effective from midnight Friday.

An Air New Zealand flight due to leave Perth on Friday night has been cancelled following the announcement.

New Zealand COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said any Kiwis affected are asked to follow the advice of Western Australian authorities.

READ MORE: Sydney Airport arrivals from WA to be screened

“As set out in our trans-Tasman bubble protocols, travel between New Zealand and Western Australia has been paused, pending further advice from the state government,” he said.

“New Zealand health officials are in contact with their Australian counterparts and are completing a risk assessment.”

All passengers on an earlier flight from Perth to Melbourne that carried a passenger later found to have COVID-19 have been contact traced and no-one on that flight has travelled on to New Zealand, Hipkins said.

“This is an example of the type of scenario both countries have planned for.”

On Friday evening, flights had been available to book from New Zealand to Perth on Air NZ. The flights flew via other Australian cities.

Where the Melbourne COVID-19 case visited in Perth

The COVID-19 case that has sparked WA’s snap three-day lockdown was moving in the Perth community for several days while presumed to be infectious.

  • Premier Mark McGowan said on April 17, the man stayed with a friend and her two children in Kardinya.
  • On April 18, he visited a swimming pool in the southern suburbs.
  • He also visited Leeming, Northbridge, and stayed at St Catherine’s College.
  • On April 19, he visited Northbridge again, and once more spent the night at St Catherine’s.
  • On April 20, he visited Kings Park and Northbridge.
  • On April 21, he had breakfast at St Catherine’s, and was driven to the airport, where he boarded flight QF778 to Melbourne.


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Hundreds onboard Melbourne flight told to isolate after positive case

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More than 250 passengers onboard a flight from Perth to Melbourne have been forced to isolate after a man on the plane tested positive to COVID-19.It comes as the Melbourne man’s positive case prompts Perth to enter a three-day snap lockdown after he spent five days in the city while potentially infectious.Passengers on Qantas flight…

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More than 250 passengers onboard a flight from Perth to Melbourne have been forced to isolate after a man on the plane tested positive to COVID-19.

It comes as the Melbourne man’s positive case prompts Perth to enter a three-day snap lockdown after he spent five days in the city while potentially infectious.

Passengers on Qantas flight QF778 on Wednesday will be required to isolate for 14 days, the flight being marked as a Tier 1 exposure site by Victoria’s Department of Health.

LIVE UPDATES: Perth to enter three-day snap lockdown after new case detected

“If you were on this flight, you must isolate, get tested and remain isolated for 14 days – unless otherwise formally advised by the Department of Health,” a health department statement read.

“The Department is contacting over 250 individuals on this flight using information obtained from comprehensive flight manifest data, and border permits.

“While the individual returned directly to his home in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, he did pass through the airport.”

https://twitter.com/Melair/status/1385500942145970179

Melbourne Airport Terminal One has been listed as a Tier 2 site, meaning all people who passed through the area between 6.30-7.30pm on Wednesday must get a COVID-19 test.

The Melbourne man’s positive case brings Victoria’s run of 55 days of zero community transmission to an end.

The man tested positive after undergoing two weeks of hotel quarantine in Perth.

He was declared a close contact after quarantining in a room at the Mercure Hotel adjacent to a positive case.

https://twitter.com/Brett_McLeod/status/1385394162967597064?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

READ MORE: Family caught coronavirus from across hotel corridor in Perth

He arrived at Melbourne Airport on the Qantas flight on Wednesday, where he was alerted by health authorities he had roomed next to a positive COVID-19 case.

“It would appear that with a mask, he went straight to the airport and was contacted as he was coming off the plane as a primary close contact,” Health Minister Martin Foley said.

“He was picked up at the airport by his spouse and returned directly home to his residential location in the eastern suburbs where he lives with three household contacts, his spouse and two children.”

It is understood the man isolated separately from his family upon returning home.

He checked in to the Holiday Inn on Flinders Street yesterday, a Melbourne ‘health hotel’ for COVID-19 international arrivals, to isolate away from his family.

The man, who is asymptomatic, then returned a positive test result at 2am today.

“The public health process of interviewing, testing, following up potential exposure sites is now well underway,” Mr Foley said.

His family will be required to isolate for the next 14 days. A friend of the children has also been deemed as a close contact.

Mr Foley assured Victorians the man had done “all of the right things”.

“(He) got his gear, went straight home, sat in the back seat, put his mask on all the way home and stayed separate from the rest of the members of his family,” he said.

“He’s cooperating with our public health team.”

Victoria’s Department of Health is using CCTV to track the man’s movements through the airport to see if he came into contact with anyone.

Mr Foley said the man’s case counted as a local infection as he tested positive in Victoria, despite the virus being acquired interstate.

“As the person was positively tested in Melbourne, this brings an end to our run of … community-free transmission,” he said.


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