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NSW premier confident in AstraZeneca jab

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No new community cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in NSW since a security guard, who worked at a Sydney quarantine hotel, was diagnosed with the virus on the weekend.

The clean slate for the state comes after 6257 tests were processed in the 24-hours until 8pm on Monday.

NSW health authorities were on high alert after the 47-year-old guard was diagnosed after the state had 55-day COVID-free hiatus.

It isn’t clear how the guard at Sydney’s Sofitel hotel contracted the virus as there were no obvious breaches of health protocols, but he has the same highly-contagious UK strain as an infected returned traveller on the floor he was working.

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It is hoped that the guard was less contagious after receiving the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine but investigations are still under way to determine the source of his infection, NSW Health said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Testing continues on close contacts of the case, who remains asymptomatic. The case’s household contacts have all tested negative and will continue to self-isolate for 14 days,” NSW Health said.

Health alerts have been issued for venues around Hurstville, in Sydney’s south, where the guard had visited.

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Meanwhile numerous countries have suspended their AstraZeneca vaccine rollout after some recipients developed blood clots but NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was “absolutely critical” in the fight against the pandemic.

“The best health advice we’re getting in Australia is that it’s absolutely safe,” she said on Tuesday.

“I have full confidence in the vaccine and I have full confidence in our health experts.”

“I certainly wouldn’t have taken it if I hadn’t done my homework – which I have – and I feel completely safe,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters.

The premier also repeated her call to other state leaders to refrain from imposing travel restrictions.

“There is no reason now for anywhere in Australia to have internal borders,” she said.

“While the vaccine is being rolled out and the level of transmission is low-to-negligible there shouldn’t be any internal borders in our nation.

“We should be moving freely as Australians.”

If just one state closes its border “everybody loses confidence because people don’t want to move around if they think they’re not going to be able to get back home”.

With Easter less than three weeks away people needed certainty in order to make travel plans, the premier said.

“We need to think about how we deal with the virus moving forward, given the vaccine rollout is continuing,” she said.

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Within three weeks NSW will have completed an extra 80,00 jabs and 45,000 new people would have started their vaccine process.

NSW vaccinated frontline workers first because they posed the greatest risk of the virus seeping into the community from hotel quarantine.

“Given we’ve managed that risk, given that other states are managing that risk there’s absolutely no reason for borders to close,” the premier said.

“This is good news because it means we’re reducing the risk of community transmission. This is a good opportunity for our nation to have a reset – for our nation’s leaders and say let’s keep our borders open in the interests of our citizens.”

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