Australia news LIVE: COVID restrictions eased in Victoria; Police continue search for William Tyrrell in northern NSW

Australia news LIVE: COVID restrictions eased in Victoria; Police continue search for William Tyrrell in northern NSW

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Key posts

  • Renewed search for William Tyrrell enters its fifth day
  • Dancing back as restrictions lift in Victoria
  • AstraZeneca unveils antibody treatment, preventative shot for those who can’t get vaccinated
  • This morning’s headlines at a glance
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Renewed search for William Tyrrell enters its fifth day

The renewed search for any clues into the disappearance of missing NSW boy William Tyrrell enters its fifth day today.

William’s foster-mother has emerged as the sole person of interest. Detectives are investigating whether the little boy fatally fell from a second-storey balcony at the home from which he disappeared. Police have spent the week digging and sifting through the gardens beneath that balcony.

Police believe that a Mazda 3 seized in southern Sydney last week – and that previously belonged to William’s foster-grandmother – may have been used to transport the boy’s body to nearby bushland. The foster-grandmother is no longer alive.

My colleague Sally Rawsthorne has all the details.

Dancing back as restrictions lift in Victoria

Bumping and grinding on the dance floor of nightclubs is back in Victoria, alongside standing up to have a beer at the pub and jumping into a sweaty mosh pit at gigs.

Coronavirus restrictions eased at 11.59pm last night (a week ahead of schedule).

The changes were announced as the state recorded 1007 new COVID cases and 12 deaths.

Premier Daniel Andrews said, with Victoria almost at 90 per cent vaccinated, there would be no limits on visitors to the home and no caps or density limits for cafes, restaurants and bars.

“Whether it’s 100,000 people at the MCG on Boxing Day, or a smaller group of people standing up at … the local pub having a beer, this is the COVID-normal that every Victorian has built,” he said.

Masks are no longer required in workplaces, including offices, but will still need to be worn by hospitality and retail workers and retail customers.

More on the new rules here.

AstraZeneca unveils antibody treatment, preventative shot for those who can’t get vaccinated

AstraZeneca has unveiled a new antibody injection that it says works as both a COVID-19 preventative and treatment, and can be used on patients with severely weakened immune systems.

The drug, AZD7442, is derived from antibodies or B cells from people who have recovered from COVID-19 and is fortified with synthetic or manufactured antibodies that last almost three times a long as human ones.

AstraZeneca said the antibody drug reduced the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 by 83 per cent in one of its trials.Credit:Bloomberg

Because the treatment is antibody-based, it doesn’t involve the risk of inducing an anaphylactic reaction like vaccines can. The company said the treatment could be effective for up to 12 months and has not produced any adverse side effects in clinical trials.

Read more about the antibody drug trials here.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and thanks for your company.

It’s Friday, November 19. I’m Broede Carmody and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

Here’s everything you need to know before we get started.

  • Victorians are waking up to eased coronavirus restrictions this morning. Density limits have been scrapped in bars and restaurants, dance floors are back for the first time in six months and an unlimited number of guests are allowed in the home. The changes came into effect at 11.59pm last night. However, masks must still be worn in settings such as transport and primary schools. Isolation rules for COVID-19 contacts outside the home have also been overhauled. Those contacts only have to isolate until receiving a negative PCR test. Fully vaccinated household contacts only need to isolate for seven days instead of 14. Victoria yesterday reported 1007 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths. The state is due to hit its 90 per cent double-dose vaccination target (for people aged 12 and up) in the coming days.

Alyce Merrilees, centre, with friends Eliza Hilmer and Christina Mcdonald celebrate Melbourne’s eased coronavirus restrictions. Credit:Eddie Jim

  • The version of events William Tyrrell’s foster-mother gave for the day the little boy went missing is under new scrutiny. NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller says there is just one person detectives are looking at. Authorities are investigating whether William fatally fell from the second-storey balcony of the home from which he disappeared, and have spent the week digging up and sifting through the dirt of the garden below. The renewed search for evidence is now in its fifth day. Meanwhile, NSW reported 262 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday and three deaths. In terms of vaccines, 91.4 per cent of residents aged 16 and over are now fully vaccinated against the virus.

NSW Police search the gardens below a balcony at the home from which William Tyrrell disappeared.Credit:Wolter Peeters/Supplied

  • AstraZeneca has unveiled a new antibody injection it says works as both a preventative and treatment for COVID-19. In addition, the company says it can be used on patients with weakened immune systems. The drug, which is made from the antibodies of people who have recovered from COVID-19, reduced the risk of contracting the virus by up to 83 per cent in one trial.

AstraZeneca has unveiled a new antibody injection.Credit:AP

  • There were no new cases of COVID-19 reported in the Northern Territory yesterday. However, Chief Minister Michael Gunner says “we are not out of the woods yet”. The current NT cluster stands at 19 cases and authorities are concerned about the spread of coronavirus among the Indigenous population. We’ve learned that an illegal border hopper from Cairns seeded the NT outbreak.

The queue at the Katherine Community Health Centre COVID-19 testing clinic earlier this week.Credit:Krystle Wright

  • Queensland Premier Annastacia Palszczuk says schoolies celebrations are “good to go” on the Gold Coast. Authorities are confident they have contained two local mystery cases of COVID-19. The Sunshine State recorded no new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. In Queensland, 71.6 per cent of residents aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says schoolies can go ahead on the Gold Coast. Credit:Getty

  • And the ACT reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. That’s more than four times Wednesday’s tally of six cases. However, the number of coronavirus patients in Canberra hospitals remains the same. Three people are in hospital and just one person is in intensive care (that person is on a ventilator). The ACT continues to lead the nation in terms of vaccination rates: 96.6 per cent of people aged 12 and up have had two coronavirus jabs.
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