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(Australian Associated Press)
LATEST COVID-19 DEVELOPMENTS:
*An inquiry has found the Victorian government’s reticence to overhaul its contact tracing regime cost lives during the state’s deadly second wave of coronavirus.
* The parliamentary inquiry found the previous regime was “not fit to deal with any escalation in cases” at the start of the pandemic and was “significantly overwhelmed” as the second wave took off.
* The return of quarantine-free travel across the Tasman could be possible within weeks, with New Zealand committing to forming a bubble with Australia by the end of March 2021.
* NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the timeline was conditional on Australian government support and case numbers remaining low.
* South Australia will take no chances with its hotel quarantine system after reporting its first COVID-19 case in more than two weeks, Premier Steven Marshall says.
* SA Health says the man in his 40s, who recently returned from overseas, is in hotel isolation and is the state’s only active infection.
* Health Minister Greg Hunt expects to have early assessment of two leading COVID-19 vaccines – one from Pfizer and the other from AstraZeneca – by the end of January ahead of a scheduled national rollout from March.
* Aged care residents in NSW will be able to host as many Christmas visitors as they want as regulations imposed to stop the spread of COVID-19 into the facilities are eased.
* The emotional and mental toll of coronavirus on Australians appears to be easing, with fewer people feeling nervous or overwhelmed.
AUSTRALIAN CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS:
* There were seven new cases recorded in Australia on Friday; three in NSW and one each in Victoria, Queensland, SA and WA. All are in hotel quarantine.
* The national death toll is 908: Victoria 820, NSW 55, Tasmania 13, WA 9, Queensland 6, SA 4, ACT 3. (Two Queensland residents who died in NSW have been included in the official tolls of both states).
GLOBAL CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS:
* Cases: at least 72,647,787
* Deaths: at least 1,618,913
* Recovered: at least 50,865,504.
Data current as of 1700 AEDT December 14, taking in federal and state/territory government updates and Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre.