Coronavirus Australia latest: the week at a glance

Nino Bucci
·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Here are all the latest developments in the coronavirus pandemic in Australia. This is Nino Bucci and it’s Friday 23 October.

Most interstate travel should be allowed by Christmas

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, announced on Friday that all interstate travel should resume by Christmas, with the exception of Western Australia.

Speaking after a national cabinet meeting, Morrison said state and territory leaders had made the commitment to reopen for the summer holiday period.

At the same press conference, the country’s chief medical officer, Prof Paul Kelly, provided an update on national Covid-19 cases.

There are slightly more than 200 active Covid-19 cases in Australia. Only 19 people are in hospital and nobody is in intensive care. Kelly said 80% of the cases are overseas-acquired.

International travel bubble possible, with new quarantine measures

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Morrison also made clear during the cabinet meeting that he wanted quarantine-free international travel to New Zealand by Christmas, and raised the possibility that other low-risk nations could be included in a travel bubble.

A trial operating from early December will also allow seasonal workers and international students to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine outside of a supervised hotel setting.

The federal government also aims to have all 26,000 Australians registered to return home back in the country by Christmas, and may use electronic bracelets rather than adhering to existing hotel quarantine measures.

Victoria may again ease restrictions as case numbers drop

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, expects to announce a further reopening of businesses on Sunday, as the state notched a week with few new cases.

The majority of hospitality and retail restrictions stayed in place this week, but hairdressers who were allowed to reopen were swamped.

Despite an outbreak linked to a primary school in Melbourne’s north, and fears cases could spread near Shepparton, Victoria even recorded a day where there may have been zero new cases.

Australia records possible case of Covid-19 reinfection

One of the few cases in Victoria this week, however, could represent the first instance of an Australian contracting Covid-19 twice.

Only six cases of reinfection have been reported in the 40m cases recorded worldwide.

The Victorian man first tested positive to the virus in July, and then again in October.

In many cases, it is unclear whether a second positive test is truly reinfection or merely dead virus being shed, but Andrews said an expert panel did not believe the second case was related to shedding, so it was being treated as reinfection.

Cox Plate backlash prompts crowd rethink

The decision to allow crowds at two race days, including at the Cox Plate on Saturday, was reversed within hours.

Andrews admitted his government did not anticipate the backlash, which came after stern warnings not to breach restrictions on AFL grand final weekend.

He also confirmed the backflip was not due to health concerns about allowing 500 racehorse owners on the Moonee Valley racetrack.

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