Coronavirus updates live: Australian Open players arrive in Melbourne; NSW urges people to celebrate Australia Day within limits; Queensland wants to use mining camps as quarantine

Summary

  • NSW, Victoria and Queensland yesterday recorded no new locally-acquired cases, with some fresh cases in hotel quarantine. 
  • Andy Murray has tested positive for COVID-19, while Tennys Sandgren originally tested positive for COVID-19 in late November and recovered from the virus, presenting fresh challenges for the Australian Open.
  • Queensland has suggested using mining camps in the outback to quarantine returning arrivals to keep COVID-19 out of populated areas. 

Andy Murray tests positive for COVID-19, in doubt for Australian Open

Five-time Australian Open runner-up Andy Murray has tested positive for COVID-19 only days before his planned charter flight to Melbourne.

The three-time grand slam champion is isolating at home near London, the tournament said in a statement.

Andy Murray has tested positive for coronavirus.Credit:AP

Murray had received a wildcard from Australian Open organisers to participate in this year's event, delayed by three weeks and starting at Melbourne Park on February 8.

Murray is a former world No.1 and three-time major champion who has slipped in the rankings in recent years following hip surgery.

After getting the wildcard, Murray pulled out of last week's season-opening event in Florida, putting concerns about contracting COVID-19 ahead of getting more tournament time in before the Australian Open.

Read more: Andy Murray tests positive for COVID-19, in doubt for Australian Open

France tightens national curfew times to control COVID-19 spread

France will bring forward its night curfew by two hours to 6pm and expanding it nationally as of Saturday and strengthening border controls as it tries to slow the spread of coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Friday (AEDT).

"This measure is effective on the health situation," Castex said. He said areas already with the earlier curfew had two to three times fewer new cases than other areas of France.

Castex said the government would do all it could to avoid shutting down schools but that if the epidemic got out of hand it would put the country back under lockdown.

A man pushes his bicycle along a row of closed restaurants in Montmartre, Paris, during a late curfew.Credit:AP

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital has been stable at 24,000 to 25,500 for five weeks. But health officials are worried by the more-transmissible variant first detected in Britain, which now accounts for about 1 per cent of new cases in France.

From Monday all travellers coming to France from outside the European Union will have to show a negative COVID-19 test and self-isolate for a week upon arrival.

"We must do everything to prevent this variant from spreading in France," Health Minister Olivier Veran said.

Overnight curfews have become the norm in swaths of Europe but the 6pm-to-6am restriction is the toughest anywhere in the European Union's 27 nations. Others countries' curfews all start later and often finish earlier.

Reuters, AP, Bloomberg

Read more: France tightens national curfew times to control COVID-19 spread

Record daily German COVID-19 death toll sparks Merkel 'mega-lockdown plan'

Germany has reported a new record number of daily deaths from the coronavirus, prompting calls for an even tighter lockdown after the country emerged relatively unscathed in 2020.

Chancellor Angela Merkel wanted a "mega-lockdown", mass-selling newspaper Bild reported, shutting down the country almost completely for fear of a fast-spreading variant of the virus first detected in Britain.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is reportedly considering a “mega-lockdown”.Credit:Getty Images

She was considering measures including shutting down both local and long-distance public transport, although such steps had not yet been decided, Bild reported.

While the country's total deaths per capita since the pandemic began remain far lower than the United States where more than 385,000 people have lost their lives to COVID-19, its daily per capita mortality rate since mid-December has often exceeded that of the US.

Germany's daily death toll currently equates to about 15 deaths per million people, versus a 13 US deaths per million.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 25,164 new coronavirus cases and 1244 fatalities, bringing Germany's total death toll since the start of the pandemic to 43,881.

The country initially managed the pandemic better than its neighbours with a strict lockdown during the northern spring, but it has seen a sharp rise in cases and deaths in recent months, with the RKI saying people were not taking the virus seriously enough.

Read more: Record daily German COVID-19 death toll sparks Merkel ‘mega-lockdown plan’

Reuters

Good morning

Good morning, I'm Kate Rose and thanks for joining us as we kick off our Friday blog.

Here's a quick rundown of what happened yesterday:

  • The World Health Organisation has warned the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic may be tougher than the first, given how the new coronavirus is spreading.
  • NSW, Victoria and Queensland all recorded no new locally acquired cases, with some fresh cases in hotel quarantine.
  • NSW Health has been in contact with all 10 people from the state who attended the Grand Chancellor in Brisbane, which is linked to six cases of the more-contagious UK strain of coronavirus.
  • Victoria has identified a total of 20 people who stayed at the hotel then travelled to Melbourne, with two travelling on to South Australia.
  • Remote mining camps have been earmarked as possible quarantine facilities for Australians returning from overseas. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is pushing the national cabinet to consider the idea.
  • China is seeing a new surge in coronavirus cases in its northeast. The country has also reported its first death attributed to COVID-19 in months.

And with that, let's get going!

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