Coronavirus updates LIVE: More restrictions to be eased in Victoria this weekend as South Australia opens its border to NSW residents

Summary

  • Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed more lockdown restrictions will be eased this weekend, beyond those he previously flagged, after declaring the Victoria is winning the battle against coronavirus. Victoria recorded 15 cases on Wednesday, bringing Melbourne’s crucial 14-day average down to 29.4.
  • NSW residents can now travel to South Australia without needing to self-quarantine after border restrictions were scrapped this morning. Meanwhile, two leading epidemiologists say it is time to allow residents of regional Victoria to travel interstate. 
  • A rapid test that can diagnose the coronavirus within 15 minutes could offer hope of a COVID-normal future for millions of locked-down Victorians.
  • A huge international study of a COVID-19 vaccine that aims to work with just one dose has begun. The phase three Johnson & Johnson study will be one of the world’s largest coronavirus vaccine trials so far, testing the shot on 60,000 volunteers in the US, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.
  • The tally of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide has passed 31.7 million. The global death toll has exceeded 973,000 after the US reached the grim milestone this week of 200,000 fatalities.

15 minutes to diagnosis: The quick COVID test that could 'change the game'

Reporting team Sumeyya Ilanbey and Noel Towell tell us in an exclusive story this morning that a rapid test which can diagnose the coronavirus within 15 minutes could offer hope of a COVID-normal future for millions of locked-down Victorians.

A Melbourne doctor is in talks with the state government about rolling out nasal swab tests across aged care facilities, which will be subject to tough COVID-19 restrictions until next year.

Peter Walsh with one of the rapid diagnostic tests, which he hopes will roll out in aged care facilities.Credit:Chris Hopkins

Peter Walsh, who has advised the federal government on the pandemic, has described the antigen test as a "game-changer" in containing the spread of coronavirus as the economy begins opening.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved the rollout of the NowCheck COVID-19 Antigen Test in Australia.

But Melbourne’s Doherty Institute – which is studying the performance of a range of rapid tests for the state government – cautioned on Wednesday against "hype", saying the effectiveness of the antigen testing had not been proven in the Australian context.

"They may well have a role to play, but the work is still ongoing," professor of microbiology Deborah Williamson said. "We don’t have any preliminary findings of studies yet."

Dr Walsh has a personal stake in seeing the test distributed in aged care facilities, because he has not seen his mother in her nursing home for several months.

"It’s a game-changer in the testing world," he said. "It takes 15 minutes to complete, requires no additional equipment, can be done anywhere, and it picks up asymptomatic and symptomatic COVID results."

Read more here.

South Australia reopens to NSW

First off this morning, there's significant news for NSW residents. Pack your bags, you can travel to South Australia without having to quarantine.

NSW residents can now travel to South Australia without needing to self-quarantine after border restrictions were scrapped this morning.

The reopening was announced on Tuesday, but South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said it would only go ahead if NSW did not record any community transmission between then and today.

NSW has since recorded two consecutive days with no local cases.

A Qantas flight from Sydney is due to arrive in Adelaide just before 11am, as the airline moves to increase the number of flights on the route next week in light of the border reopening, which has come as both states enter school holidays.

The border change means people from every Australian state and territory bar Victoria are now able to enter South Australia without completing quarantine.

A border zone is in place on the Victoria-South Australia border, but all other residents are not allowed to enter without an exemption.

On Tuesday, Mr Marshall said it was likely the state would first reopen to regional Victoria before Melbourne.

Good morning

Good morning, Welcome to our rolling pandemic coverage on this Thursday, September 24. It's Marissa Calligeros here and I will be with you for much of the day, bringing you the latest developments from across the country and the world.

For those of us who are counting, Melbourne is now 53 days into its extended stage four lockdown. But Premier Daniel Andrews has flagged he's prepared to ease more restrictions this weekend than initially planned. With that in mind, here's a tune to kick off the morning:

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