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Victorian cases surpass NSW for first time since Delta outbreaks began

Victoria has surpassed NSW for new COVID-19 cases for the first time since the most recent outbreaks of the Delta strain began.

Yesterday, Victoria recorded 867 new coronavirus cases – its highest number since the pandemic began last year. That beat the 863 cases announced by NSW, although revised figures from both state governments reveal the outbreaks actually crossed paths on Monday, when NSW had 806 cases compared with Victoria’s 845.

One epidemiologist in Victoria warned the state needed to drive up vaccination rates in the city’s most vulnerable areas, even as the state reached its 80 per cent first-dose vaccination mark.

From today, having hit that target, Melburnians can once again go boating, play tennis or golf, travel 15 kilometres from home and masks can be removed at playgrounds to eat and drink.

Read the full story here.

NSW health staff told to get vaccinated or be placed on unpaid leave

Thousands of NSW healthcare workers will be placed on unpaid leave if they do not meet tomorrow’s mandatory vaccination deadline, as health officials consider moving doctors and nurses around the state to plug staff shortages.

With 94 per cent of NSW Health’s 140,000 staff having received at least one shot, Health Minister Brad Hazzard says he has no intention to exempt any local health district or hospital from the rules.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard addressing the media at Tuesday’s coronavirus update. Credit:Kate Geraghty

According to a “frequently asked questions” document distributed to hospital staff, workers who do not provide evidence of having one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Thursday will be placed on unpaid leave until they produce evidence of vaccination or a medical exemption certificate.

Staff may be able to apply to access accrued leave entitlements for a short time to enable them to get vaccinated, the document read.

Read more about the policy here.

Brisbane on edge as staff sent home, businesses fear ‘ghost town’

Brisbane employers began sending workers home yesterday afternoon amid fears the CBD could again become a ghost town following the emergence of two new COVID clusters.

The next 48 hours will be critical as authorities decide whether to plunge the city back into lockdown after Queensland recorded four new local cases of coronavirus on Tuesday.

Brisbane could again become deserted as mask rules tighten amid concerns about two emerging COVID clusters.Credit:Tertius Pickard

One case was a truck driver who had been infectious in the community for eight days from September 19.

In a second cluster, a vaccinated Eatons Hill man in his 30s who works at an aviation training facility tested positive after being infectious in the community for three days, with his wife also contracting the virus.

A fourth person tested positive five days after completing 14 days in hotel quarantine.

More on this developing story here.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and thanks for your company.

It’s Wednesday, September 29. I’m Broede Carmody and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

Here’s everything you need to know.

  • Victoria has reached its 80 per cent first dose vaccination target. Some outdoor recreational activities (like fishing, boating and golf) are allowed to resume. Five adults from a maximum of two households are now allowed to gather outdoors if they’re fully vaccinated and the 10km travel radius has been extended to 15km. Personal training is also back for small groups if everyone has both jabs. Victoria recorded a record 867 cases yesterday, more than NSW. And a snap lockdown has been implemented for Gippsland’s Latrobe Valley, in the state’s east.
  • Thousands of NSW healthcare workers will be placed on unpaid leave if they do not meet tomorrow’s mandatory vaccination deadline. Around 94 per cent of NSW Health’s 140,000 staff have received at least one jab. Residents in the regional areas of Port Macquarie, on the mid north coast, and Muswellbrook, in the upper Hunter, entered a week-long lockdown from 6pm last night. Yesterday, NSW recorded 863 new cases of COVID-19 – the second day in a row that its daily tally was less than Victoria’s.
  • Queensland health authorities say the next 48 hours will be critical in containing the state’s latest coronavirus outbreak. Four cases were reported yesterday, including an aviation worker and his wife, a truck driver and a woman who recently left hotel quarantine. Dozens of Brisbane exposure sites, including a Woolworths and McDonald’s, have been added and mask-wearing rules have returned. This weekend’s NRL grand final will shift to Townsville if Brisbane is sent into lockdown.
  • The ACT recorded 13 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. There are now 243 active cases across Canberra and eight people are in hospital. The ACT is due to emerge from lockdown mid-next month.
  • Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is set to unveil his government’s plan to wind-back COVID support payments this morning as vaccination rates across the nation continue to grow. The Morrison government continues to debate net zero carbon emissions but, in NSW, the state Nationals have supported a plan to halve local emissions by 2030.
  • And in overseas news, French President Emmanuel Macron says European nations must be “respected” and boost their defence plans in his first public comments since the unveiling of Australia’s submarine deal with the US and UK.
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