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- Victorian outbreaks worsen
- Legal advice sought to force travellers to take tests
- Toilet paper limits return
- No new cases in SA
- Hundreds of travellers enter Adelaide hotel quarantine
- SA to target interstate hotspots
- US sets new infection record
- WHO seeks $45.7 billion for pandemic fight
- Virus detected in March 2019 sewage
Legal advice sought to force travellers to take tests
Victoria has 41 fresh coronavirus cases as it notches an 11th day of double digit case numbers.
Eight of the new cases are linked to known outbreaks, one is a returned traveller, 13 are from routine testing and 19 are being investigated.
Victoria has ramped up testing with its focus on 10 suburbs with high community transmission.
More than 736,000 total tests had been done to date on Friday.
The Victorian state government confirmed on Saturday it was seeking legal advice about whether it could make returned travellers in hotel quarantine get tested, a day after it was revealed 30 per cent in Victoria were refusing to do so.
Victoria’s hotel quarantine program tests travellers on arrival and the 11th day, the government said.
Emergency text messages are being sent encouraging people to get tested in Keilor Downs and Broadmeadows, two of the hotspots for outbreaks.
Almost 5000 thermometers are being shipped to Victorian vacation spots as the state enters the school holidays, and testing clinics will be set up on the Great Ocean Road and in the Victorian Alps.
Over the border in NSW, returned international travellers who refuse to have the test on day 10 will now have to spend an extra 10 days in quarantine.
NSW has a two per cent test refusal rate, authorities said on Saturday.
Six new cases were reported in NSW on Saturday, including a man in his 70s from Sydney’s west.
All close contacts of the man, from the Penrith area, have been contacted and the case is under investigation, NSW Health said.
The remaining five new cases are returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
It follows the closure of a school in southwest Sydney after a year 7 student tested positive for COVID-19.
A testing clinic has been set up at Camden Hospital anyone linked to Camden High School who has been unwell or has flu-like symptoms has been urged to get tested.
Meanwhile, supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles reintroduced nationwide toilet paper and paper towel purchase limits after the COVID-19 surge in Victoria sparked hoarding.
Woolworths customers in NSW will be permitted just two packs of toilet paper and paper towels.
Coles enacted nationwide product limits including one pack per shopper of toilet paper and paper towels, and two packs of flour, sugar, pasta and rice.
No new cases in SA as travellers enter hotel quarantine
There have been no new cases of COVID-19 in South Australia as of Saturday afternoon, according to SA Health.
More than 147,000 tests have been undertaken across the state.
After more than a month of no new cases, South Australia’s streak is expected to end with more than 250 repatriated Australians arriving in Adelaide to begin a two-week supervised quarantine.
The passengers arrived at Adelaide Airport on Saturday morning on a flight from Mumbai via Singapore.
Authorities wore face masks and provided hand sanitiser to each of the passengers before they were transferred to the Pullman Hotel in the CBD by bus.
The travellers flew in from the Indian city of Mumbai, via Singapore, and will be the first of several batches of arrivals over the next week.
Health Minister Stephen Wade said interstate evidence suggested about five to 10 per of people returning from the subcontinent were testing positive for the virus.
“So if we were to see similar figures here in South Australia we could expect up to 25 cases,” Wade said.
India on Friday logged a record 17,296 new infections over 24 hours, taking the total number of cases in the country to near half a million.
South Australia has recorded zero new infections since May 26.
A defence force flight is also expected to arrive this weekend from Indonesia via Edinburgh air base.
Defence personnel would be taken to a “secure quarantine location”.
About 800 people in total are expected to arrive in coming days with flights from India, South America and Indonesia.
All those arriving in SA will be tested when they land before spending two weeks in supervised quarantine, and be tested again while in isolation.
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said authorities were working to ensure security guards and others working in the quarantine facilities were complying with the proper use of personal protective equipment.
The failure of security guards to abide by social distancing regulations at quarantine hotels in Victoria was linked to that state’s recent outbreaks.
SA to target interstate hotspots
Premier Steven Marshall has indicated he is sticking to his plan to reopen all borders on July 20 despite continued community transmission in Victoria, and indicated blanket bans will be replaced with more targeted measures.
“We’re gradually moving to put restrictions in place around identified hot spots, rather than blanket restrictions by states or territories,” Marshall said on Friday.
In the move towards a hotspot-based approach, South Australia could consider lifting restrictions for the ACT, Broken Hill and western Victoria sooner than the July 20 date, he said.
What measures remain in place are likely to apply only to those places where COVID-19 cases have spiked.
Health Minister Stephen Wade expressed hope Victoria “could get to positive cases in single figures in two weeks.”
“SA and a number of other states are working with them to bring down their cases but it will take time,” he added.
On Monday, South Australia will move to stage three of lifting coronavirus measures which includes relaxing density requirements for pubs, bars and restaurants with one person allowed for every two square metres.
Large venues such as Adelaide Oval will be free to cater for up to 50 per cent of their normal capacity, provided health officials have approved their COVID-19 safety plans.
The Adelaide Casino will also reopen.
US sets new COVID-19 infection record
The number of COVID-19 cases has by 45,330 in the United States, its largest single-day spike since the pandemic began, taking the number of confirmed infections in the worst-hit country to 2.46 million.
According to The Johns Hopkins University tally, 574 deaths were recorded during the last 24 hours from Thursday evening, taking the overall toll to nearly 125,000.
The new record for daily positive cases piled up amid a fresh outbreak of the pandemic in the states like Florida, Texas, California, and Arizona, which account for nearly half of the new infections across the country.
WHO seeks $45.7bn to fight COVID-19
A World Health Organisation-led coalition fighting the COVID-19 pandemic is asking government and private sector donors to help raise $45.7 billion in the next 12 months to develop and deliver tests, treatments and vaccines for the disease.
Renewing its call on Friday for global collaboration against the pandemic, it said $4.95 billion had been contributed for the coalition to date, leaving a funding gap of $40.64 billion, with nearly $20 billion of that “urgently needed”.
The WHO is working with a coalition of drug-development, funding and distribution organisations under what it calls the ACT-Accelerator Hub.
The initiative is intended to develop and deliver 500 million COVID-19 tests and 245 million courses of new treatment for the disease to low- and middle-income countries by mid-2021.
It also hoping 2 billion vaccines doses, including 1 billion to be bought by low- and middle-income countries, will be available by the end of 2021.
Indonesia, Pakistan and Mexico are among countries grappling with large numbers of infections and strained health care systems.
South Africa, which accounts for about half of the recorded infections on the African continent with more than 118,000 cases, reported a record of nearly 6600 new cases after loosening one of the world’s strictest lockdowns earlier this month.
Virus detected in March 2019 sewage
Spanish virologists at the University of Barcelona said on Friday they had found traces of the coronavirus in a sample of Barcelona waste water collected in March 2019, nine months before the COVID-19 disease was identified in China.
The discovery of virus genome presence so early in Spain, if confirmed, would imply the disease may have appeared much earlier than the scientific community thought.
The University of Barcelona team, who had been testing waste water since mid-April this year to identify potential new outbreaks, decided to also run tests on older samples.
They found the presence of the virus genome in one sample collected on March 12, 2019.
“The levels of SARS-CoV-2 were low but were positive,” research leader Albert Bosch was quoted as saying by the university regarding the study that has been submitted for a peer review.
OFFICIAL SOURCES OF ADVICE AND INFORMATION
Local updates and resources
State Government central information
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
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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