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Coronavirus: What we know today, June 21

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Follow this post for rolling updates on the impact of the coronavirus in South Australia, the nation and the world.

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Refresh this page for updates – scroll down for links to official health information.

KEY POINTS

Victoria extends state of emergency

Victoria has recorded 19 new coronavirus cases overnight, prompting the Victorian government to extend the state of emergency for a further four weeks.

After a the fifth day in a row of double-digit increases, Police Minister Lisa Neville said that Victoria Police would abandon a checking and reassurance strategy adopted as cases declined at the start of June for a return to strong-arm tactics.

“While many Victorians are doing the right thing – there are still some who are ignoring the restrictions,” she said.

“Police will continue to be out in force, using their powers to help slow the spread.”

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton urged Victorians to inform authorities of breaches to the guidelines.

He also said officers would keep a close eye on caravan parks and campgrounds during the school holidays.

Two cases announced on Sunday were linked to separate outbreaks in extended families’ households across Melbourne that have seen more than 10 people infected in each cluster.

More than half of the new cases since the end of April have come from family members spreading it to their relatives.

From midnight tonight to July 12, household gatherings will be reduced to five people in Victoria and outdoor gatherings to 10.

The plan for cafes, restaurants and pubs to allow 50 patrons at one time from 20 on Monday will also be put on hold until July 12.

The Victorian cases represented the majority of 25 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed nationally in the 24 hours to Sunday afternoon, according to Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth.

Coatsworth spoke to media after a Sunday meeting of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, where rising case numbers in Victoria were the main focus.

He said the committee determined other states should not follow Victoria’s lead in tightening restrictions but make decisions based on their own situation.

“For those states where restrictions are lifting, that doesn’t imply a lifting of our personal behaviour standards that we have become so used to,” he said.

According to Coatsworth it is more important to avoid hugging and kissing people outside one’s household than to wear masks.


No new cases in South Australia

There were no new infections in South Australia as of Sunday afternoon, according to SA Health.

More than 137,000 tests have been undertaken in South Australia, with 440 cases reported in total, and none currently active.

Aside from the 19 new cases in Victoria, there were five in NSW, all acquired by travellers returning from overseas and in quarantine.

One new case is in Western Australia, also a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

The new infections bring the national total to 7461.

South Australian Health Minister Stephen Wade extended an offer of support to Victoria.

Wade said South Australian authorities are keeping a close eye on the situation, and indicated the lifting of mandatory 14-day quarantines for Victorian visitors planned for July 20 would be delayed if necessary.

“We will not open our borders to Victoria unless it is safe to do so,” he said.

Wade added it was important the nation stood together when outbreaks occurred.

“We share a border with them and have a significant number of Victorians who are essential travellers coming across our border,” he said.

“We are well supplied with personal protective equipment now and that may be something they’d appreciate our assistance with.”

South Australia opened its border to Queensland on Friday, and had already lifted restrictions on people coming from Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

The developments in Victoria may see Western Australia keep its border closed, with authorities there committed to bans until community transmission interstate ceases.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles on Sunday suggested the state’s borders could remain shut well into next month because of the situation in Victoria.

Miles said the state borders will be closed until at least July 10, when the next easing of restrictions is triggered, although the reopening date may even stretch beyond that if Victoria cannot get on top of outbreaks.

He also announced major sporting venues in Queensland can now have 25 per cent capacity, up to 10,000 spectators, including both NRL and AFL matches.

Investigation into how AFL player contracted COVID-19

Essendon could be forced to resume the AFL season without a group of their best players as the fallout continues from Conor McKenna’s positive COVID-19 test.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will advise “close contacts” of McKenna to go into quarantine for two weeks, but an investigation might not be completed until Tuesday.

News Corp reported that McKenna had trained in a small group with Adam Saad, Cale Hooker, Michael Hurley, Matt Guelfi, Jordan Ridley and Mason Redman.

McKenna’s attendance at an open house inspection is reportedly at the centre of an AFL investigation to determine how the Irish defender, who is asymptomatic, contracted the virus.

The 24-year-old faces a suspension if he is found to have broken strict protocols to attend the inspection.

The start times of Adelaide and Port Adelaide’s respective AFL matches on Sunday were adjusted, after the positive COVID-19 diagnosis prompted the postponement of the matchup between Melbourne and Essendon.

Gold Coast and Adelaide’s clash moved from 12:35pm back to 2:35pm ACST, while Fremantle and Port Adelaide’s match starts at 7.40pm, two hours later than originally scheduled.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall spoke with AFL boss Gillon McLachlan about the Essendon case on Saturday, and noted that no offer for SA to become a hub for the competition had been requested or given.

Marshall said the health risks of hosting other teams in a hub outweighed any economic benefits to the state.

Adelaide Zoo reopens

On Friday restrictions eased across South Australia to allow pubs, clubs and restaurants to cater for up to 300 people at a time, with no more than 75 people allowed in any one area, and the one person to every four square metre rule still in place.

Other changes include a move to allow dance and fitness classes to cater for up to 20 people at a time, provided they allow seven square metres for each person.

On Monday, the Adelaide Zoo will reopen, with new social distancing measures in place and requirements to pre-purchase tickets online.

During the shutdown the zoo invested in more than $200,000 worth of upgrades, and will unveil a new Komodo Dragon exhibit and an expanded giraffe enclosure.

Trump ordered slowdown of testing

Donald Trump has told a smaller-than-expected crowd of supporters he had asked US officials to slow down testing for COVID-19, calling it a “double-edged sword” that led to more cases being discovered.

The US president spoke at a controversial campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where many supporters were not wearing face masks.

“When you do testing to that extent, you’re gonna find more people you’re gonna find more cases. So I said to my people slow the testing down, please,” he said.

A White House official said Trump was joking about his call for a slowdown in testing.

Trump also called the coronavirus the “kung flu” in an apparent broadside against Asian culture.

Six staff members involved in setting up the rally, held at an indoor venue against medical guidelines, have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Trump campaign said “quarantine procedures” were immediately initiated and no staff member who tested positive would attend the event.

Tens of thousands of people were expected to converge on Tulsa for the event, with the local health department director asking that the rally be postponed as cases of COVID-19 in the city surge.

Campaign officials say everyone who is attending the rally would be given temperature checks before they pass through security.

They would also be given the option to wear masks and use hand sanitiser at the 19,000-seat venue.

Oklahoma Supreme Court  denied a request that the indoor rally enforce mask usage.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health associate professor Justin Lessler said there was no question that indoor events are more risky than outdoor ones.

“Certainly other aspects, like how tightly packed things are … will make a big difference,” he said.

The Trump campaign acknowledged the risk in a waiver it asked attendees to sign that absolves them of any responsibility if someone should get sick.

Protesters also converged on Tulsa to demonstrate against Trump, with the event to be held just blocks from the site of one of the worst racial massacres in US history one day after mass protests on Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States.

Oklahoma is one of several US states to report record infection rates as cases surge across the south and west of the country.

The US recorded 30,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Global daily infections have risen above 150,000, the World Health Organization warned, with the US and Brazil alone accounting for more than a third of total infections.

Spain lifts lockdown

Spain is finally lifting its lengthy state of emergency, imposed to curtail one of Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreaks.

The country has recorded a death toll of more than 28,000 and more than 245,000 infections.

After 14 weeks at home, Spaniards will be able to travel around the country outside the province where they live.

As of Sunday, tourists from Schengen countries can enter the country, with travellers from everywhere else allowed back as of July 1. 

Some restrictions remain, with football to be followed from people’s homes as league games are played behind closed doors.

Discos may reopen but dance floors are to be cordoned off.

Museums, concert halls, cinemas, cafes and restaurants all still face restrictions on the numbers they can take in, although these will be lifted in stages.

Masks are to be worn on public transport, planes, and in shops and other enclosed public spaces nationwide.

OFFICIAL SOURCES OF ADVICE AND INFORMATION

Local updates and resources

State Government central information

SA Health

Mental health support line (8am to 8pm): 1800 632 753.

National advice and information

Australian Government Coronavirus information hotline: 1800 020 080

Government information via WhatsApp: click here

Travel

Australian Government travel advice: smartraveller.gov.au

Check your symptoms

Free, government-funded, health advice: healthdirect.gov.au

– Reporting by InDaily staff, AAP and Reuters

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.

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