Australia news LIVE: Victorian COVID-19 cases continue to grow; parts of NSW on alert after positive case crossed border

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Quarantine set to stay until next year

Health estimates continued late into the evening last night, taking a deep-dive into the country’s hotel quarantine system and what alternatives were being canvassed by the federal government.

To date, there have been 21 instances where COVID-19 has spread within hotel quarantine, including the most recent incident in WA, the committee heard.

Secretary of the Department of Health Professor Brendan Murphy.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Despite those cases, Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said the system has been “enormously successful”, pointing out that 352,000 people have been through the hotel quarantine system.

Greens senator Rachel Siewert asked if the decision had been made that Australia could live with these escapes of COVID-19 from hotel quarantine, rather than investing in more purpose-built facilities like the Howard Springs centre in Darwin. That facility has been expanded to now take up to 2000 return travellers. So far it has taken about 13,000.

Professor Kelly said at this point in time, the decision to use hotels as quarantine centres still stands despite the fact hotels were not built for that use, but the decision to use hotel quarantine is continually under review.

“Have there been some transmissions within the system? Yes there have. Have there been some escapes? Unfortunately, also yes,” he said.

“The system has operated exceptionally well, given the number of people that we’ve brought back into the country through it.”

Department of Health secretary Professor Brendan Murphy said quarantine was here to stay for some time, and the government was interested in exploring other quarantine options.

“Given the state of COVID around the world, it’s inconceivable that we would get away without some form of supervised quarantine – at least this year and sometime into next year,” he said.

“But it may not be for weeks, maybe for example you could have different forms of quarantine, where vaccinated people from low-risk countries might have a lower period of quarantine.”

UK reports no new COVID-19 deaths

Britain has recorded a welcome COVID-19 milestone.

There were no new COVID-19 deaths across the country on Tuesday. But the UK’s health minister says the virus hasn’t been defeated.

Good news: Britain’s Health Minister Matt Hancock.Credit:AP

Read our full coverage here.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and thanks for joining us. It’s Wednesday, June 2. I’m Broede Carmody.

Here’s what you need to know before we jump into our rolling coverage:

  • Victorian cabinet ministers met late into the night to discuss the possibility of extending the state’s seven day lockdown (which at this stage is due to an end at midnight tomorrow). The state’s cluster is sitting at more at than 50 cases and authorities are particularly concerned about small venues that remain open such as community grocery stories.
  • Parts of NSW are on alert after a positive case from Victoria crossed the border. The exposure sites include places in Goulburn and Jervis Bay and truck stops along the Hume Highway.
  • And there has been an outpouring of support for tennis star Naomi Osaka after she withdrew from the French Open. Fellow athlete Serena Williams has commended Osaka for speaking about her mental health.
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