Both the New South Wales and Victorian governments have identified 15 February as the launch date for the Pfizer vaccine in Australia.
The Age today reports that while the federal government is yet to confirm a date for the beginning of the rollout of the vaccine, officials in both states have identified 15 February, a month from now, as the start of the rollout of the vaccine.
The date was reportedly listed in an internal briefing to a major hospital group obtained by The Age, and has since been confirmed by officials in both states.
Victoria is aiming for phase one of the roll-out to deliver 15,000 doses a week of the Pfizer vaccine to frontline workers including staff at hospitals and aged care homes, as well as those working on hotel quarantine operations.
Hello, and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
The thousands of Australians still stranded overseas have been dealt another blow after Emirates announced late on Friday night that all flights to and from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane would be suspended until further notice.
The airline’s decision comes a little over a week after the national cabinet announced it would cut the number of international passengers allowed into New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia by 50% in response to new variants of the virus emerging overseas.
In a statement, Emirates said the decision was “due to operational reasons”. The decision will remove 19 flights per week that the United Arab Emirates carrier had been running.
In other news across the world:
- The number of people who have lost their life after having Covid now exceeds 2 million as another grim pandemic milestone was passed. Johns Hopkins University data shows that the US remains the worst affected country by the virus – followed by Brazil, India, Mexico and the UK – across the world in which more than 7.5 billion people reside.
- Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, said a plane would be sent to India to pick up Covid-19 vaccines in two or three days at most, after the government had announced the flight would leave on Friday. Bolsonaro added there was little he could do about the pandemic in Brazil as a second wave tears through the country and that he “should be at the beach”.
- US president-elect Joe Biden’s incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, has said he expects the country to hit 500,000 Covid deaths next month. In an online interview with the Washington Post, Klain added that he was confident that law enforcement would ensure a safe inauguration for Biden on 20 January.
- Spain has logged a record 40,197 new Covid cases over the past 24 hours, bringing its total number of confirmed cases to 2,252,164. The health ministry said 235 people had died between Thursday and Friday, taking the country’s death toll to 53,314.
- Tunisia said on Friday it recorded 4,170 new confirmed coronavirus cases, a record since the start of the pandemic. Tunisia on Thursday imposed a four-day national lockdown and closed schools until 24 January to combat a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases.
- In Australia, health experts have cautiously given their support for the Victorian government’s decision to go ahead with the Australian Open tennis grand slam. But the government’s decision to push ahead with unique quarantine restrictions for the roughly 1,200 players and support staff arriving for the tournament while thousands of Victorians remain stranded in NSW thanks to border closures has drawn an angry response in some quarters.