Weekly Wrap Up
- The Australian Bureau of Statistics released its Labour Force data for July which saw the unemployment rate drop to 4.6 per cent, coinciding with lockdowns in NSW and Vic as people put looking for work on hold.
- New Zealand has entered an Alert Level 4 nationwide lockdown following a positive case linked to the Sydney outbreak.
- The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved the submission to rename the AstraZeneca vaccine to VAXZEVRIA with branding expecting to be updated by late 2021.
Foreign developments take centre stage
Following news earlier this week that the Tablian had declared victory on Afghanistan after securing Kabul, the Federal Government released a statement confirming assistance for people who have been granted humanitarian visas and those currently in the process of applying for protection. The Government estimates there are currently over 130 Australians in Afghanistan who need to be brought home. The Prime Minister confirmed there are 3,000 places being made available for Afghan nationals under the humanitarian program this year, signalling that this number might grow as it’s considered a “floor, not a ceiling”.
Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade released a joint statement with a number of countries including the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand expressing concern for the women and girls in Afghanistan and whether their rights and freedoms will be upheld under a new government. The situation will be closely monitored.
COVID lockdowns continue
As NSW continues to report high numbers of COVID cases, Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed lockdown restrictions in regional NSW, which were due to lift this weekend, will now be extended to 28 August in line with the existing order for Greater Sydney. Meanwhile, NSW Police have established Strike Force Alioth to investigate allegations of a vaccination scam running on messaging platform WeChat which saw at least 60 ineligible people make vaccination appointments at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital meant for frontline health care workers. Similarly, ACT has extended its lockdown for an additional two weeks to 2 September as case numbers increase. Data has shown that almost all those infected in Canberra are aged under 40 as a number of local schools and daycare centres are added to the growing exposure sites. ACT Senator Katy Gallagher is one of the 21,000 Canberrans currently in a two-week quarantine after confirming her daughter Evie recently tested positive.
Good news on vaccinations
The Federal Department of Health has reported[PDF] over 50 per cent of Australians aged over 16 have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 28 per cent of Australians aged over 16 fully vaccinated. In a jurisdictional breakdown[PDF] the ACT and Tasmania are ahead of the national average with 56 per cent and 54 per cent of the respective populations having received at least one dose, while Victoria sits on 49 per cent. Prime Minister Scott Morrison applauded the efforts saying one in two eligible Australians has had their first dose marking a major turning point in the national vaccination program.
Federal Parliament will sit next week despite the COVID situation in Canberra with a large majority of MPs to attend remotely.
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