Australia closes state border for first time in 100 years to halt coronavirus

UNTV News   •   July 6, 2020   •   499

The border between Australia’s two most populous states will close from Tuesday (July 7) for an indefinite period, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday (July 6), following an outbreak of the coronavirus in his state.

The decision marks the first time the border with neighbouring New South Wales (NSW) has been shut in 100 years – officials last blocked movement between the two states in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Melbourne, Victoria’s capital, has surged in recent days, prompting authorities to enforce strict social-distancing orders in 30 suburbs and put nine public housing towers into complete lockdown.

The state reported 127 new COVID-19 infections overnight, its biggest one-day spike since the pandemic began. 53 of those were detected from the public housing towers. It also reported one death, the first nationally in more than two weeks, taking the country’s total tally to 105.

Andrews said the decision to close the border, effective from 11.59 p.m. local time on Tuesday, was made jointly with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Victoria’s only other internal border, with South Australia state, is already closed.

Australia has fared better than many countries in the coronavirus pandemic, with just short of 8,500 cases so far, but the Melbourne outbreak has raised alarm bells. The country has reported an average of 109 cases daily over the past week, compared with an average of just 9 cases daily over the first week of June. (Reuters)

(Production: James Redmayne)

PH logs first fatality from UK COVID-19 variant

Marje Pelayo   •   February 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) reported on Monday (February 8) the country’s first UK- COVID-19 variant fatality.

“As to these 25 cases detected with the UK variant, we have two remaining active cases. We have one who has died and the rest, the 22 have already recovered,” confirmed Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Based on the report, the fatality was an 84-year-old male from La Trinidad, Benguet who succumbed to the disease in January.

The DOH is still investigating as to how the man contracted the virus even when he rarely went outside his residence.

“Apparenlty noong kausap natin iyong regional office namin, they said that this person never went out or seldom. Pero hindi talaga. Nandoon lang daw sa loob ng bahay, walang ibang contact,” Vergeire explained.

“So tinitingnan natin kung ano po ang source of infection. Ano pa ang ibang circumstances,” she added.

Meanwhile, the DOH is thoroughly studying two other cases of the new variant in the Philippines considering that these two never had contact with other cases with the similar variant.

Nevertheless, the DOH said there is not enough evidence yet to declare a community transmission of the said variant in the country.

“Tinitingnan natin dito sa ating current na listahan. Meron tayong dalawa na mukha tayong walang link na makita, but further investigation is still required before we can confirm this,” Vergeire said.

At present, the number of UK COVID-19 variant cases in the country remains at 25. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Quezon City gov’t readies 10 initial COVID-19 vaccination sites

Marje Pelayo   •   January 18, 2021

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte

MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City government is readying the 10 initial locations where inoculation of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines to its constituents will be held.

The designated areas for vaccination are as follows:

  1. Project 6 Tennis Court (District 1)
  2. Batasan Hills National High School (District 2)
  3. NGC Covered Court (District 2)
  4. Aguinaldo Elementary School (District 3)
  5. Dona Josefa Jara Martinez High School (District 4)
  6. Diosdado Macapagal Elementary School (District 4)
  7. Kaligayahan Activity Center (District 5)
  8. Fairview Covered Court (District 5)
  9. Emilio Jacinto Elementary School (District 6)
  10. Culiat High School (District 6)

“Pinili natin ang mga lugar na ito para madaling puntahan ng mga residente ng anim na distrito ng ating siyudad,” said Mayor Joy Belmonte.

“Nagsimula na tayong magtalaga ng vaccination sites para handa na tayo oras na dumating ang bakuna. We have to plan ahead to assure our people that we are doing everything to make these vaccines available as soon as possible,” she added.

Belmonte said the city government is targeting to establish 24 sites, in addition to the three city-run hospitals – QC General Hospital, Rosario Maclang Bautista General Hospital and Novaliches District Hospital.

City Health Department head Dr. Esperanza Arias said they have already identified the other vaccination sites but these are still being evaluated to comply with Department of Health (DOH) standards.

“The vaccination site must have unidirectional workflow or one entry and one exit, comfort rooms and ample space for free movement of staff and observance of minimum health standards,” said Dr. Arias.

Arias added that a standby generator set, an ambulance and presence of Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) personnel are also required, among others.

”For every site, the QC government will designate 22 employees composed of physicians, marshals, vaccinators, counselors, and admin staff,” Arias said.

The city government earlier entered into a tripartite agreement with the AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals Philippines and the national government for the delivery of 1.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

The vaccines are expected to be delivered in the third quarter of 2021.

Brisbane, Australia under 3-day lockdown to prevent spread of COVID-19 strain

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 8, 2021

Australian authorities have implemented a 3-day lockdown in Brisbane to prevent the further spread of the new COVID-19 variant.

This was after a quarantine hotel worker tested positive for the UK COVID-19 variant. The 79 individuals in close contact with the quarantine hotel worker are currently isolated and under quarantine.

Residents are also advised to wear face masks when leaving the house.

Wedding and funeral ceremonies are still allowed but with limited attendees.

Around 2 million residents will have to stay home unless they have to leave due to essential business.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the lockdown will be done “to enable Queensland health authorities to get on top of the UK strain case in Brisbane.”

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