Australian State Forges Ahead with Reopening Despite Spike in COVID-19 Cases

By Marina Zhang
Marina Zhang
Marina Zhang
October 15, 2021 Updated: October 15, 2021

CCP virus numbers in Victoria remain at near-record highs with the state posting an average of 2,000 new daily infections in recent days.

Dr. Mukesh Haikerwal, former president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), told Nine News, “We’re expecting the peak [in COVID-19 cases] to be in a week or so, and that’s when we’ll see the benefits of the vaccination.”

On Friday, there were 2,179 new cases with a further six deaths from the virus and a total of 21,324 active cases in the state.

Despite the high numbers, federal Labor deputy leader Richard Marles said the state’s premier, Daniel Andrews, was making the right decision to follow through with the state’s reopening plan.

“I think the logic of what we are doing here is to make our way forward and learn to live with the virus, and that’s what’s happening in New South Wales (NSW) as well,” Marles told the Nine Network.

“It’s important that we keep going down a path of opening up.”

Martin Foley, Victorian Minister for Health, announced that from Oct. 19, fully vaccinated individuals from red zones in NSW will be able to enter Victoria without facing 14-day quarantine arrangements, including Victorian residents. However, testing within 72 hours will still apply both, prior to, and after entry into the state’s borders.

These changes were made as projected first-dose and second-dose vaccination rates reach 88 and 63 percent on Thursday.

NSW is also expected to ease restrictions as double-vaccinated rates are expected to reach 80 percent by Saturday.

Premier of New South Wales Dominic Perrottet announced Thursday that from Monday, home gatherings will increase from 10 to 20, outdoor gatherings are also scheduled to increase to 50, pubs will be open for business with no limitations on numbers for weddings and funerals.

He also said that from the start of November all returning “Australians; tourists who want to come back—who want to visit Australia, who want to come into Sydney—hotel quarantine will be a thing of the past.”

“For double-vaxxed people right around the world, Sydney, New South Wales, is open for business.”

Perrottet added that the NSW authorities will be working closely with the Commonwealth government to keep people safe.

Home COVID-19 Testing Kits Available From November

COVID-19 self-testing kits are expected to hit shelves at pharmacies on Nov. 1, for around $15 (US$11).

The drug regulatory body, the Therapeutic Goods Administration approved three China-made, COVID-19 rapid antigen self-tests on Wednesday.

Two of the tests work by assessing oral fluid, while the other uses nasal swabs. All three tests are sponsored by AM Diagnostics and manufactured by the same company; Hangzhou Alltest Biotech Co Ltd.

The oral fluid self-antigen test reports an overall accuracy of 97 percent and the nasal swab reports a total accuracy of 98 percent.

The test is not to be used as a replacement for the laboratory PCR test. Instructions state that if a positive result is found it must be confirmed by a laboratory COVID-19 test.

Australia has fully vaccinated 65.4 percent of its over 16 age group, while 83.6 percent have received their first dose of the vaccine.

Marina Zhang