Special PPE squads to protect aged care homes from COVID-19
NSW aged care homes will be the priority recipients of flying squads of PPE trainers to ensure the sector is equipped to handle any coronavirus outbreaks amid ongoing community transmission in the state.
Teams of specialists could be deployed across the country within weeks, offering new or reinforced training in appropriate use of personal protective equipment in-person in the wake of concerns the sector is not properly prepared.
Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed NSW was the state with the "next need" of support after Victoria, partly due to the COVID-19 risk and because the state was "ready" to receive the assistance.
The Daily Telegraph understands NSW is well-progressed in its plan to implement new strategies identified in recent weeks, including the standing up a state aged care co-ordination centre, once National Cabinet formally agrees to the measures this Friday.
Deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth said it was important to make sure infection control training was "reinforced as much as possible" in aged care facilities where residents are at a high risk of dying from coronavirus.
"Personal protective equipment training, the ability to put it on or donning or taking it off, doffing correctly is an important part of wearing the PPE and stopping cross transmission,": he said.
"I would say the best way to learn PPE is face-to-face with somebody teaching you."
Dr Coatsworth said there were a "number of ways" training could be delivered including using "flying squad" AUSMAT teams or local hospital officials.
"There will be a variety of ways that can be done but that would be a desirable thing to happen," he said.
QLD BORDER SLAMMED SHUT
Queensland's borders could stay shut until next year, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk declaring she won't open her state while community COVID transmission in NSW and Victoria is occurring.
Eliminating community transmission is considered the goal of our state's COVID-19 response, but Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant couldn't answer how quickly that could happen.
Getting community spread of COVID-19 to zero would only be achieved with an "incredible" community and business response, Dr Chant said.
"I suppose if I'm an optimist, if everyone works together, I think it is achievable," she said.
The benchmark comes after a newborn baby boy flown to Brisbane for urgent medical treatment was separated from his parents by Queensland's border wall.
The couple from Casino, in the state's north, were told they couldn't travel into Queensland to see their newborn until they had completed 14 days hotel quarantine.
Nevertheless Premier Palaszczuk yesterday said restrictions in Victoria were set to last until "around Christmas time" and border restrictions won't be lifted until Melbourne's outbreak ends.
"We do not have any intentions of opening any borders whilst there is community transmission active in Victoria and in NSW," she said.
The Queensland government's dramatic border threat came as the Prime Minister made a personal plea to Premier Palaszczuk asking for "critical" border changes to stop supermarket supply chains being disrupted, farmers being hurt and preventing people getting health care.
In a letter sent to the QLD Premier, Scott Morrison said farming services and supply chains were at risk of being "unnecessarily or unintentionally" impeded by border restrictions.
Mr Morrison said it was "critical the movement of people, products and services impacting agricultural production be as streamlined" as possible.
The Prime Minister is also seeking more consistent border restrictions between states, though is understood to respect the sovereignty of states to set their own borders.
It is widely expected within government that the matter could be raised in National Cabinet, while similar letters have also been sent to the Premiers of NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
A Palaszczuk Government spokesman said they had received the letters and were considering them.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday called for Queensland to take a "sensible" approach to its borders.
YEAR 12 FORMALS ON HOLD
A ban on school formals because of the pandemic has dealt a body blow to small businesses gearing up for their busiest time of year.
Owner of Sydney hire car service Illusion Limousines, Frank Scicluna, would usually be hoping for six weeks of much-needed revenue from the Year 12 rite-of-passage farewells.
Instead, he's readying for another cash flow hit.
"I'm really concerned. We've already lost Year 10 formals and normally between July and August we have two to three formals a week. Now, there's no work," he said.
Formals along with school graduations and other social events may have been cancelled by the government but but Mr Scicluna still has bills to pay.
"Everyone in the industry is suffering badly. We've still got insurance, rego and maintenance bills to pay. Regardless of whether people are going out or not."
Roxy Lehmann, founder of formal dress hire company Dress for a Night has found herself in a similar situation.
Business was just starting to pick up when the ban was announced. "Already, at the beginning of COVID in the last financial quarter we saw an 80 per cent decrease in revenue, so we were really looking forward to formal time," she told The Daily Telegraph.
Earlier in the year, Ms Lehmann tried to apply for small business assistance, but was told her industry was not eligible. "We were told we weren't an affected industry," she said. "The government needs to consider which industries are hardest hit."
CITY'S A HOT MESS
A shock decision to declare Sydney's CBD a coronavirus hotspot has business owners concerned nervous customers will abandon the city and hamper economic recovery.
Business owners were left scrambling to implement their COVID-19 safe plans in line with the hotspot declaration after NSW Health added the City of Sydney council area to its list on Saturday.
As a result more than 100,000ha of the city are now subjected to "increased testing and surveillance".
Sydney Business Chamber executive director Katherine O'Regan said she expected a significant drop in foot traffic in the CBD.
"People had started to return but in the last few days already it has tapered off again," she said.
NSW recorded seven new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, six of which were locally acquired. Three were linked to the Chopstix restaurant at Smithfield RSL, and two were linked to Parramatta's Our Lady of Mercy College cluster.
Originally published as Special PPE squads to protect aged care homes from COVID-19