‘We have to find a way to live and love, otherwise, we’ll all go insane.’
Brigid Delaney says goodbye to 2021 and helps us process this cooker of a year. A must-read today I reckon.
An 83-year-old man has died after a light plane crashed on Christmas Eve on a beach in central Queensland.
Paramedics and a rescue helicopter were dispatched following the crash just after 8am on Friday at Ball Bay, about 50km north of Mackay.
Police confirmed the man, a passenger on the plane, died at the scene.
The pilot was airlifted to hospital with minor injuries.
Queensland police’s forensic crash unit is working together with the Australian Transport Safety bureau to investigate the cause of the crash.
The incident follows the death of four people in a light plane crash north of Brisbane less than a week ago.
Professor Angela Webster, an epidemiologist from the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health was just on the ABC.
She was asked if we are all going to have to get boosters for the rest of our lives.
I think it’s an interesting question – to which she gave an insightful answer. Here it is:
“I don’t think that’s the case. What we need to try and do globally is make sure that everybody has had access to vaccination so we can dampen the amount of infection that is circulating.
“We know that coronavirus will mutate into new strains when it has a lot of opportunity, when it has a lot of infection around – that’s how the changes take place and that’s how we got Delta and Omicron.
“There will be other variants that may become threats, or may not. And it’s likely that over time we will need to tweak the vaccinations, which is quite easy to do, and roll out slightly different versions like we see with seasonal flu vaccines.
“I imagine we may reach a situation when coronavirus is less pandemic and more endemic, in the background rather than sweeping around the world as it is at the moment, when we will see we need boosters perhaps yearly to adjust to any different strains that are emerging.”
With that, I will pass the blog on to the highly capable Cait Kelly who will keep you entertained and informed this afternoon. A very Merry Christmas Eve for those who celebrate – I’m off to play Paul Kelly’s album on repeat.
So case numbers are in for NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, The ACT and South Australia. We are still waiting on the Northern Territory and Western Australia (WA detected a case in a Queensland backpacker yesterday).
SA brings forward boosters to 26 December
Marshall welcomes the reduction of the interval between second vaccination and the booster shot.
From 26 December, mass vaccination clinics in South Australia will be available to ensure all those who are eligible can receive a booster shot until the rollout expands on 4 January.
In addition, people who have had two shots of AstraZeneca and are working in “high risk” settings on the frontline who would normally be eligible on 4 January can receive a booster shot.
We need to take action. One of the things that we announced late yesterday is that we would no longer make it illegal to sell the rapid antigen tests here in our state. It has been in use for some weeks now in certain settings – medical settings, dental settings, aged care settings. Also settings in specific sectors that we’re very concerned about, for example, in food distribution and also in the mining sector, so it has been in widespread use in South Australia.
Now, it is going to be made available to the people of our state. We strongly emphasise to every single person that you use this test for what it is – for its intended purposes which is a screen, a surveillance test for people that are not symptomatic. If you have any symptoms, the only option is to isolate ahead of a PCR test. That’s our strong advice. So the PCR is still suitable for all of those people with symptoms, or close contacts of known cases. But the rapid antigen test is suitable as a screening test and they will be made legal in South Australia as of last night and you’ll start to see those filtering through to stores almost immediately.
Omicron accounts for majority of South Australia’s cases
There are eight people being treated in hospital in SA including one person – a man in his 30s – in intensive care.
Marshall says of 484 new cases reported on Wednesday, 50% of new infections weren’t fully vaccinated. Some 70% of cases in the state are the Omicron variant, of the sample that have been tested.
South Australia records 688 new cases
SA has reported 688 new Covid cases overnight from just over 20,000 tests.
If we don’t take action, there is going to be a significant problem for our country. It will overwhelm our health system, not because it is more severe, but just because of the sheer volume of people who are likely to become infected with this variant of concern. Now, South Australia has confronted the situation like this before by working together – we have been able to get through it and we’re going to need all South Australians to continue to work with us through this Omicron outbreak which is occurring right across the country. We have already seen today significant increases in other jurisdictions. This has been the picture right across the country, right across the world, for the last couple of weeks.
SA premier Steven Marshall is up. The state is looking at the situation with Omicron “very, very carefully” and is concerned at the “very significant increase” in transmissability.
“We do have to take action.”
‘This is a government by echo’
Albanese says the “only explanation” for reducing the booster interval on 4 January and again on 31 January is because of capacity constraints.
The government once again hasn’t been ahead of the game when it comes to preparing for the action that is required based upon our own health advice and based upon international experience. This announcement today, which is quite extraordinary given Greg Hunt’s comments yesterday afternoon, follows a very consistent pattern. That pattern was followed with regard to wage subsidies and JobKeeper.
Labor says something constructive, the government ridicules it and trashes it and a day or two later, they announced it as their own policy. I want everyone to acknowledge what masterstroke it is that they have come up with. The fact is that this government is always behind. It is always playing catch up … whether it is the rollout of the vaccine, whether it is purpose-built quarantine, the rollout of the booster, on so many issues relating to this pandemic, the protection of people in aged care, the workforce issues that need to be dealt with, this government … is always concentrating on the politics, rather than on the response that is required in the national interest. This is a government by echo. Labor says something, then we wait a couple of days to hear it back from the government as if it is its own idea.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese is up. He is less than amused at Hunt’s booster announcement today.
Yesterday in this very room, I said one of the lessons from overseas is that we need to reduce the time between the 2nd dose and the booster. There are two reasons for that. Firstly, we are way behind with the rollout of the booster. As of the 22 December, Australia was 20th out of 21 advanced economies, with regard to the rollout of booster shots. Only Japan, that has just started to commence rolling out the booster, was behind us in the developed world. Secondly, as we know from the signs and medical evidence, that all the reports from overseas as well as from here is that boosters will be very important, particularly for the Omicron variant of this pandemic.
I said that yesterday as a constructive suggestion. The government’s response, even though state governments, including South Australia and New South Wales … have all called for the same thing. Greg Hunt’s response was quite extraordinary yesterday afternoon. He said that this was utterly irresponsible, utterly inappropriate … well, less than 25 hours later, he is not only calling for it, he is announcing it.
South Australia’s premier Steven Marshall will give a Covid update soon alongside the chief public health officer and SA police commissioner.