Coronavirus updates LIVE: Race to link ‘mystery’ COVID-19 cases as states close borders to NSW

Summary

  • NSW reported three local cases on Friday – all mystery cases in Sydney’s west. Authorities  have asked Greystanes, Berala, Auburn and Lidcombe residents to get tested. Victoria reported seven local coronavirus cases on Friday.
  • Victoria’s border with NSW closed at midnight. There have been massive traffic jams on the border as thousands of people scrambled to get home. You can check our wrap of current border rules. 
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected calls to rush approvals for a coronavirus vaccine and called for consistency on border closures.
  • NSW household gatherings are now limited to five guests in Greater Sydney, Wollongong, the Central Coast and the Blue Mountains. Masks are mandatory indoors again in Victoria.
  • Residents of the lower part of Sydney’s northern beaches will find out today if they can leave their area’s lockdown, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said.

US deaths top 77,000 in December

While NSW and Victoria have been plunged back into a world of 11am press conferences and venue alert as new local coronavirus cases are detected, numbers abroad continue to escalate at rates almost beyond comprehension.

In December, the US recorded more than 77,000 coronavirus deaths, according to NBC News. That is an increase of more than 40,000 from its previous monthly high – 37,000 deaths recorded in November.

There have now been more than 20 million coronavirus cases in the US and 346,859 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.

Three US states have now recorded cases of the highly contagious coronavirus variant first detected in the UK.

The latest instance of the variant was found in a Florida man in his 20s with no recent travel history, health officials said. The more transmissible version of the virus has also been reported in California and Colorado.

with The Washington Post

NSW has put the country at risk, says Australian Medical Association

Australia’s peak medical group says the NSW government has put the rest of the country at risk by its decision not to go “hard and early” in its response to the outbreak on Sydney's northern beaches, which is suspected to have seeded cases in Victoria.

Victorians have been warned to expect more coronavirus cases in the days to come, as the state’s health authorities attempt to establish how far the virus had spread. Thousands of Victorian holidaymakers were still rushing to get home from NSW as a hard border closure came into effect last night.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has continued to stop short of mandating masks.Credit:Jessica Hromas

Australian Medical Association vice-president Chris Moy said the NSW government was “playing the odds” by relying heavily on the state’s much-vaunted contact tracing system instead of imposing a quick lockdown.

“They have put themselves and put the rest of the country at risk,” Dr Moy said.

  • Read more: NSW put rest of country at risk by ‘playing the odds’ on masks, AMA says

Welcome to our live blog

Good morning and welcome back to our daily coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in Australia and abroad. Thanks for joining us.

This is Mary Ward in Sydney and I will be taking you through this morning's developments. Here's a wrap of how things stand locally as we start the day:

  • NSW reported three local cases on Friday – all mystery cases in Sydney's west. Authorities have asked Greystanes, Berala, Auburn and Lidcombe residents to get tested.
  • Victoria’s border with NSW closed at midnight. There have been massive traffic jams on the border as thousands of people scrambled to get home. Queensland is also monitoring the situation in NSW. You can check our wrap of current border rules. The ACT from today requires exemption certificates from non-residents entering from Greater Sydney, the Central Coast or Wollongong (details here).
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected calls to rush approvals for a coronavirus vaccine and called for consistency on border closures.
  • NSW household gatherings are now limited to five guests in Greater Sydney, Wollongong, the Central Coast and the Blue Mountains. Masks are mandatory indoors again in Victoria, where there were 11 "active" cases on Friday (see here for a map).
  • South Australia recorded four overseas quarantine cases; Western Australia logged two. One man was in court for trying to skip out of quarantine.

Stick with us as we bring you live updates. If something is happening in your community which you think we should know about, please send us a tip.

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