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Coronavirus: What we know today, June 26

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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

Gathering restrictions downgraded

Scott Morrison this afternoon announced the Federal Government had agreed to relax the four square metre rule to allow public gatherings to accommodate one person per two square metres.

He said the relaxing of the restriction would give venues “a bit more room” to take patrons.

South Australia has already moved to allow venues to trade with a density of one person per two square metres from Monday.

Morrison’s announcement followed a meeting with premiers for national cabinet.

He said the meeting agreed to task the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee with developing a road map outlining when the entertainment sector can resume business.

The restarting of live entertainment will be another plank in the government’s plan to restore arts sector jobs, following the announcement on Thursday of a support package.

“One of the key issues was that they need greater certainty about when they can start planning events,” Morrison said.

Arts Minister Paul Fletcher described restrictions on the entertainment sector as an “economic hurdle”.

“What we need to do is work on the protocols so that shows can get started when the public health advice says it’s safe to do that, but there’s also this economic hurdle,” he said.

“If we get through the public health issues, but participants in the sector – be they arts companies, private promoters, producers – haven’t got the capital to fund new shows, then we could be off to a very slow start.”

On Thursday the government unveiled a $250 million package of grants and loans for the sector, with a focus on helping touring artists, actors and producers of the stage and screen.

A large portion of the support – $90 million – is for concessional loans for new productions and events.

Localised outbreaks

National cabinet will also discuss clamping down on localised outbreaks of coronavirus like that occurring in Victoria.

Premier Daniel Andrews described the outbreaks as a public health bushfire.

Despite the spike in Victorian cases over the past week, Morrison continues to push for a broader reopening of the economy, saying Australia is well-equipped to deal with outbreaks.

“There are a few challenges in Melbourne at the moment but as we said, there will be outbreaks,” he said.

“(But) we can’t flick the light on and off and on and off.”

At least one of the clusters of cases among extended family in Melbourne has been associate with a security guard at a hotel where returned travellers have been in quarantine.

Leaders will also discuss these hotel quarantine arrangements on Friday, along with plans in some states to allow international students back into the country.

Thirty fresh virus cases in Victoria

Victoria has recorded 30 COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 1947 after clocking 33 new cases a day earlier.

Seven of the new cases are linked to known outbreaks, five are in hotel quarantine, five from routine testing and 13 are being investigated.

A health worker at the Orygen youth facility has the virus, Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Annaliese van Diemen told reporters on Friday.

A McDonald’s worker has also been confirmed as having coronavirus and is linked to the Wollert outbreak, she said.

There are 183 active cases in Victoria with six in hospital. More than 1700 people have recovered from the virus in the state.

Crows and Port to play in Victoria

The Crows and Port Adelaide have been scheduled to play in Victoria – Australia’s current COVID-19 hotspot on the weekend before border restrictions are due to lift in South Australia.

The round seven schedule released by the AFL yesterday has Adelaide facing North Melbourne on a Saturday night at Marvel Stadium, while Port Adelaide will play St Kilda at the same venue the following day.

Despite SA’s continued strong performance in combatting COVID-19, round seven’s fixture rewards Perth.

Up to 90,000 AFL fans will be able to head to the footy in Perth to attend a western derby and a Friday night blockbuster between Victorian rivals Geelong and Collingwood.

The AFL released its round seven fixture on Thursday, with the Perth hub front and centre of the conversation.

The twilight western derby between West Coast and Fremantle on July 19 is set to attract a capacity crowd of around 60,000.

The Geelong-Collingwood Friday-night fixture falls two days earlier on July 17.

With the WA government not expected to completely lift restrictions on Optus Stadium until July 18, a cap of 30,000 fans is expected to be in place for that match.

But it will still be a bumper result for the AFL, which has already lost millions of dollars after it had to bar fans from attending matches in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Cats and Magpies will spend about three weeks in Perth as part of a rolling hub. Once their time is nearing an end, two other Victorian sides will fly in to replace them.

Geelong and Collingwood players will have to quarantine in a hotel for their first 14 days in Perth, but they have been given permission to train and play during that period.

West Coast and Fremantle players will be allowed to serve their quarantine at home given they are flying in from Queensland where the coronavirus situation is under control.

No new cases in South Australia

There were no new infections in South Australia on Friday, according to SA Health.

More than 146,000 tests have been undertaken in South Australia, with 440 cases reported in total, and none currently active.

However, the Government is expecting to see “a number of new coronavirus cases” in coming days (read more here).

Health Minister Stephen Wade told reporters after a meeting of the state’s Transition Committee and the national cabinet this morning that a planned influx of international travellers into SA in the next week would likely see the state’s record of no new COVID-19 cases since May 26 come to an abrupt end.

“We should expect to see a number of new cases in SA over the next week or so,” Wade warned.

Meanwhile, up to 5500 South Australians will get accredited ‘COVID Clean’ training through a State Government-funded infection control courses aim to educate workers in prevention and preparation.

The training will be rolled out across a number of industries including hospitality, retail, tourism, transport, logistics, security and cleaning services.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation will provide the training through its education centre under a contract with the Department of Innovation and Skills.

In a statement, the federation said the state had been a world leader in crushing the COVID curve and the program would help avoid community transmission in the future.

US virus cases near an all-time daily high

The coronavirus crisis has deepened in Arizona, and the governor of Texas has began to backtrack on reopening, as the daily number of confirmed cases across the US closed in on the peak reached during the dark days of late April.

While greatly expanded testing probably accounts for some of the increase, experts say other measures indicate the virus is making a comeback.

Daily deaths, hospitalisations and the percentage of tests that are coming back positive have also been rising over the past few weeks in parts of the country, mostly in the south and west.

In Arizona, 23 per cent of tests conducted over the past seven days have been positive, nearly triple the national average, and a record 415 patients were on ventilators. Mississippi saw its daily count of new cases reach new highs twice this week.

“It’s not a joke. Really bad things are going to happen,” Mississippi Health Officer Dr Thomas Dobbs said.

Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas, whose state was among the first to reopen, has put any further lifting of restrictions on hold.

He has also reimposed a ban on elective surgeries in some places to preserve hospital space after the number of patients statewide more than doubled in two weeks.

“The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses,” Abbott said.

The US recorded 34,500 COVID-19 cases Wednesday, slightly fewer than the day before but still near the high of 36,400 reached on April 24.

The daily average has climbed by more than 50 per cent over the past two weeks.

Deaths per day in the US are around 600 after peaking at about 2200 in mid-April.

“It is possible, if we play our cards badly and make a lot of mistakes, to get back to that level. But if we are smart, there’s no reason to get to 2200 deaths a day,” said Dr Ashish Jha, director of Harvard’s Global Health Institute.

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

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