LIVE: Sydney 'no longer a hot spot': NT

The Northern Territory has removed the majority of Greater Sydney as a coronavirus hot spot meaning people won't have to quarantine when arriving, it has been revealed.

NT's Acting Chief Minister Nicole Manison made the announcement effective today.

"The Greater Sydney area, including the Blue Mountains along with the Central Coast, will be removed effective immediately," she said.

She added the list of hot spot suburbs in the Northern Beaches area, which will be defined by suburb and postcode, will be listed on the state's coronavirus website.

It comes after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced nine new cases of community transmission in NSW on Thursday, with two still under investigation. The remaining seven were linked to the northern beaches cluster.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Flavio Brancaleone
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Flavio Brancaleone

It came as nine new COVID-19 cases emerged in NSW and two new infections were found in Queensland, and Greg Hunt revealed how a vaccine will be delivered in Australia.

NSW recorded nine new cases overnight, with seven linked to the Northern Beaches cluster.

There were 60,000 people who came forward to be tested over the past 24 hours.

Two new COVID-19 cases have also found in Queensland - one involving a woman in her 20s who arrived in Cairns on a superyacht that sailed from the Maldives.

She is in isolation. The six crew members have remained on the yacht and are being tested.

The other is a man who returned from the Northern Beaches. The man in his 40s initially tested negative but since tested positive.

He has had no contact with the community except close contact with relatives.

The seven cases linked to the Avalon cluster brings the total number of cases to 104.

Six cases are still under investigation in NSW, including two people who are employed as patient-transport workers.

Dr Kerry Chant said all people on-board a Qantas flight from Darwin to Sydney on December 17 have been considered close contacts to a passenger with COVID-19 and have been asked to self-isolate.

The Pfizer vaccine will be transported at -70C.
The Pfizer vaccine will be transported at -70C.

A Qantas crew member contracted COVID-19 who was on-board the flight subsequently tested positive. She said they are investigating another potential case but the current data is preliminary. Everyone who was on-board will be tested.

She said the passenger on the Darwin-Sydney Qantas flight is a South Australia resident who initially tested negative in NSW.

"We're just trying to work at the nature of that test result whether it is a false positive or it is an old infection, it is very scant information," she said.

Victorians have also been advised to not "hug and kiss" anyone from NSW.

Victoria's COVID testing program commander Jeroen Weimar asked people to show some discretion in their Christmas cuddling.

"If you've been to NSW in the last 10 days or you're spending time with people you know have come back from NSW, I would encourage you - let's not hug and kiss right this moment in time," he said.

It comes as it was revealed the COVID-19 vaccine will be trucked around Australia in "super eskies with dry ice" but there will be no shortcuts to getting Aussies the jab, the Health Minister warns.

The federal government has signed a distribution deal with DHL and Linfox to assist the rollout of more than 117 million vaccine doses.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said "super eskies", purpose-built dry ice containers, would be used to transport the Pfizer vaccine at -70C.

The Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) is expected to green-light a vaccine in January, with Australians to receive their first jabs in March.

The UK and US have both issued emergency approvals for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as they face spiralling outbreaks. The US recorded 3401 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, while 744 Britons lost their lives.

But with Australia having the virus under relative control, Mr Hunt insisted there was no need for it to follow suit.

"The public doesn't want to see corners cut. They want to see that we are thoroughly assessing, but we're doing it at a record speed in an utterly comprehensive way," he told 2GB Radio on Thursday.

The two-dose vaccine would be rolled out in monthly rounds, the first focusing on the elderly, health workers and medical workers.

Subsequent rounds would work down the age groups, as young people were less likely to suffer severe impacts from the virus, with the process expected to be completed by October, Mr Hunt said.

"Here we are likely to get a higher take-up of the vaccine than in many other countries because we are a great vaccination nation. But we are because people have complete confidence in the world class leadership and quality of our medical regulator," he said.

FOLLOW OUR LIVE COVERAGE HERE

SYDNEY CLUSTER SPREADS TO SOUTHEAST

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath has revealed there have been two new cases in Queensland, with one linked to Sydney's Northern Beaches cluster.

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said the southeast Queensland resident - a man aged in his 40s - had travelled to the Northern Beaches in Sydney before returning.

Ms D'Ath said the person got tested, returned a negative test, but returned a positive result when tested again.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath. Picture: Liam Kidston
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath. Picture: Liam Kidston

She said that person was in home quarantine when he returned a positive result.

The other confirmed cases is a woman aged in her 20s who was a crew member of a superyacht in Cairns, who along with the rest of the crew is now in quarantine.

She said authorities were concerned about the superyacht case, especially since the crew was not co-operating with police.

A crew member of the Lady E has tested positive to COVID-19. It’s now moored at Cairns Marina. Picture: 7 News Cairns
A crew member of the Lady E has tested positive to COVID-19. It’s now moored at Cairns Marina. Picture: 7 News Cairns

"We are very disappointed …," she said.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said the superyacht came from the Maldives and investigations were under way to determine how COVID got onto the vessel.

The Queensland Police Service has commenced an investigation into the group of 14 guests and six crew members, who are alleged to have arrived on the superyacht at Cairns on December 21.

The 14 guests have been directed into 14-days hotel quarantine in Cairns and are undergoing mandatory COVID-19 testing, while the six crew members remain on board the vessel for marine safety and have been directed to self-isolate.

Dr Young commended the man who contracted COVID from Northern Beaches for immediately quarantining.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young. Picture: Tara Croser.
Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young. Picture: Tara Croser.

"He's followed all the requirements he's been asked to do," she said.

She said he had not been in contact with anyone in the community other than those who lived with him.

Dr Young said although the man was quarantining separately from those he lived with, they were still now in 14-day quarantine.

Dr Young said in Queensland there were 53 close contacts to the Northern Beaches cluster and urged them to remain in quarantine.

"I am concerned that we do have the virus in Queensland," she said.

"We know there were a lot of people who have come back into Queensland from the Northern Beaches area and other parts of Sydney."

Dr Young said action had been taken to reduce wait times at southeast Queensland's COVID testing clinics.

She said the mutant COVID strain detected in the United Kingdom had not been detected in hotel quarantine in Queensland.

Dr Young said the emergence of now two mutant strains had seen security and restrictions increased within Queensland's hotel quarantine program.

Ms D'Ath said today marks 100 days since Queensland recorded a case of community transmission.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said discussions were underway about the cricket test being held in Queensland but stressed a lot of work needed to be done.

"If they've been in a bubble in New South Wales and not come into contact with the general community in Sydney and if they remain in that bubble coming into Brisbane then I think it could be done but there's a lot of work to be done before that decision is made," she said.

Dr Young said players have remained in bubbles while playing in other states.

She said while discussions were happening now, things could "very well change".

Hugging over the festive period is being restricted to close contacts only, with Dr Young saying it might not be the time to hug great grandparents.

"I would restrict that to your close known contacts, so your close relatives, the people who live in your household," she said.

"I would not be doing that in broader groups outside.

"I just think that's a risk that's not necessary.

"If you're having Christmas Day with your close family, then you're having a lot of time with them so you would be deemed a close contact."

She urged everyone to think carefully.

"Maybe it's not the time to hug your great grandmother," she said.

SIX MYSTERY CASES IN NSW

The total number of cases linked to the Avalon cluster now stands at 104, with six of those cases with an unknown source.

"Two of those are the patient transport workers," NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said.

"Two are geographically linked in the sense that they attended a number of the casual venues.

"One is a gentleman in his 20s who resides in the Northern Beaches… and there was also a male in his 40s who worked in the CBD."

ALERT ISSUED FOR SYDNEY'S CBD

NSW Health has issued an urgent alert after the Sydney CBD worker tested positive.

The man aged in his 40s was an office worker in the Hunter and Bligh street area.

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said anyone who has been in the area should have a "very low threshold for testing."

"Anyone who has been in the northeastern part of the city, including the Australia Square, MLC Centre and Chifley Square, should be alert for symptoms and isolate immediately and get tested should even the mildest symptoms develop," she said.

NINE NEW CASES IN SYDNEY

New South Wales has recorded nine new locally acquired coronavirus cases in the past day from an "outstanding" 60,000 tests.

Seven of the new cases are linked to the Avalon cluster and two are under investigation, however one of those mystery cases lives on the Northern Beaches and the other works in the CBD.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she "nearly fell off her chair" when she heard the latest testing numbers.

Watch the Premier's live announcement in the video above and follow the latest information below:

WOMAN COLLAPSES AFTER BREACHING LOCKDOWN

A woman from the Northern Beaches has been caught breaching lockdown after she collapsed at a venue on the south coast while presenting with COVID like symptoms.

The woman - aged 37 - had attended a pizza shop at Sanctuary Point yesterday when she became unwell and lost consciousness.

She was transported to Shoalhaven Hospital, however she declined to be tested and left the facility.

Following inquiries, police attended a home on Edmund Street, Sanctuary Point, and spoke with the woman and three other occupants.

All were directed to self-isolate and the Bilgola Plateau woman was issued a $1000 fine for failing to comply with the Public Health Order.

The pizza store has been closed for cleaning.

COVID-INFECTED VAN IN AGED CARE BREACH

A major breach in protocol has led to a healthcare worker who takes sick returned travellers into quarantine also transporting a Castle Hill ­retirement village resident ­before testing positive to COVID-19, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

The lapse in infection control in the state's international border operation raises serious questions about safety measures for staff working with sick returned travellers.

The breach only became apparent after The Daily Telegraph learned that a resident of Anglicare's Brian King Gardens home had been identified as a "close contact" of a patient transport worker who had contracted COVID-19.

SYDNEY CLUSTER SPREADS TO SOUTHEAST

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath has revealed there have been two new cases in Queensland, with one linked to Sydney's Northern Beaches cluster.

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said the southeast Queensland resident - a man aged in his 40s - had travelled to the Northern Beaches in Sydney before returning.

Ms D'Ath said the person got tested, returned a negative test, but returned a positive result when tested again.

She said that person was in home quarantine when he returned a positive result.

The other confirmed cases is a woman aged in her 20s who was a crew member of a superyacht in Cairns, who along with the rest of the crew is now in quarantine.

The rest of the crew will be tested, Ms D'Ath said.

She said authorities were concerned about the superyacht case, especially since the crew was not co-operating with police.

"We are very disappointed …," she said.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said the superyacht came from the Maldives and investigations were under way to determine how COVID got onto the vessel.

Dr Young commended the man who contracted COVID from Northern Beaches for immediately quarantining.

She said he had not been in contact with anyone in the community other than those who lived with him.

Dr Young said in Queensland there were 53 close contacts to the Northern Beaches cluster and urged them to remain in quarantine.

"I am concerned that we do have the virus in Queensland," she said.

"We know there were a lot of people who have come back into Queensland from the Northern Beaches area and other parts of Sydney."


Ms D'Ath said today marks 100 days since Queensland recorded a case of community transmission.

BORDER WARS 2 ERUPTS

Annastacia Palaszczuk and Gladys Berejiklian have again clashed over border closures while the tourism industry has pleaded with holiday-makers not to cancel on the Sunshine State.

Meanwhile, there are reported the Australian Defence Force has rejected a request to help Queensland's border checkpoints.

Ms Berejiklian is expected to provide an update on NSW case numbers at 10am.

Queensland have been turned back on a request for ADF help on the Queensland border with police to juggle the influx on their own.

Reports say the federal government turned down the request due to a focus on hotel quarantine and planning for high risk weather.

The ADF left the Queensland and New South Wales border in September this year and haven't been back since.

Meanwhile, Chief Superintendent of Queensland Police Mark Wheeler said this morning to expect significant delays on the Queensland and NSW border today.

"Yesterday we saw delays on the M1 of up to 90 minutes at about 3pm and of course the backstreets around Coolangatta and the Tweed were congested so people need to plan for that," Superintendent Wheeler said.

"Traditionally Christmas Eve people do travel going to their destinations, a big reminder though for people coming from the COVID-19 hotspot Greater Sydney you cannot enter via roads."

TOURISM'S PLEA FOR NSW TRAVELLERS

INTERSTATE travellers have been urged to keep their Queensland holiday bookings, with the Sunshine State's crippled tourism industry hoping the borders will reopen in early-January.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said people should stick with their bookings if they're expected to be able to travel, pleading, "We need you".

It comes as another war of words erupted between the Queensland and NSW Governments, with Annastacia Palaszczuk claiming it was a "bit rich" for the southern state to start "blaming" Queensland following its hard border closure to greater Sydney.

The Premier said it wasn't just Queensland who took the "tough measures" of closing the border.

"The health advice of nearly every other health officer across the country was advising their respective leaders exactly the same thing independently," she said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

"These are measures because there has been a cluster outbreak in the northern beaches.

"I think it's a bit rich for New South Wales to start blaming Queensland and Victoria and whichever other state and territory she wants to blame.

"This has happened in New South Wales."

Sneaky way people are crossing into Qld

Warning after Qantas flight COVID case

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian had slammed other premiers, claiming they were causing unnecessary "suffering" by shutting borders to greater Sydney amid the northern beaches cluster.

Queensland recorded one new case of COVID-19 yesterday, which was acquired internationally and detected in hotel quarantine.

Yesterday marked 99 days since the state's last case of community transmission.

Mr Gschwind said tourism businesses had their fingers crossed the border would reopen on January 8 - which would mark 28 days of no unlinked cases across greater Sydney.

He said he was encouraged by NSW's management of the outbreak and grateful Queensland's border closure had been "measured", with the tourism industry "gradually building" its "confidence" that the closure will be reversed around January 8.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind. (News Corp/Attila Csaszar)
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind. (News Corp/Attila Csaszar)

Mr Gschwind urged travellers to not cancel their bookings out of fear.

"Stick to your bookings if for the time you're expected to travel, you can travel," he said.

"We need you."

It echoed comments from Opposition Leader David Crisafulli who urged travellers to not pull the pin on their January, February and March bookings.

Meanwhile the Premier has defended her Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe who was forced to return from leave after just one day amid backlash from industry.

Pressed on whether it was Mr Hinchliffe's decision to return from leave, the Premier said yes.

"I made it very clear to all ministers if they need to come back, they need to come back," she said.

"They're big enough to make their own decisions when they come back."

Originally published as Don't cancel on Qld, visitors urged



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