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Coronavirus: What we know today, July 9

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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

ADF, police patrol enforce closed SA-Victoria border

The Australian Defence Force has been deployed to assist police monitor South Australia’s “hard” border closure with Victoria, which started at midnight last night.

Australian Defence Force personnel will be stationed at “secondary roads”on the Victorian border and at the police operations centre in Mount Gambier.

The new restrictions allow only South Australians returning home and essential travellers to cross into SA.

Between 6pm and midnight last night, 312 people rushed into South Australia from Victoria before the border closed.

The restrictions apply to everyone arriving by road or air while people living in cross-border communities will be restricted to a 50km radius inside SA.

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said maps were being produced to clearly show the entry limits and anyone from Victoria found breaching the rules could face a $1000 fine or further action.

People living near the border and needing to enter SA to conduct daily activities, like attending school or work, must have a pre-approved essential traveller exemption.

SA embarks on testing blitz

All people who have been to Victoria in the past couple of weeks will be asked to present themselves for a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not, under a new SA testing blitz launched today. 

Anybody returning to SA in the coming days will also be required to take a coronavirus test within 24 hours of their return and again on day 12.

They will be handed free face masks and a pre-signed COVID-19 test referral form at the airport or border check-points, with SA Health to telephone all arrivals within 24 hours to check that they have been tested.

New arrivals will also be required to self-quarantine for two weeks, with police to ramp up surveillance checks to ensure people are properly isolating at home.

To assist with the blitz, the State Government will from today roll out a fleet of mobile COVID-19 testing vans, which will be stationed in areas that are currently not serviced by one of the 50 permanent testing clinics already in operation across SA.

South Australia reported no new virus cases on Wednesday and has only two active infections.

Melbourne begins second lockdown

Melburnians are back in stay-at-home lockdown for six weeks in a bid to contain a second wave of coronavirus cases in the state.

Residents in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, north of the city, can only leave their homes to get food and supplies, receive or provide care, exercise, and study or work.

Premier Daniel Andrews says it’s crucial Melburnians don’t breach the rules and head into regional Victoria, which is largely coronavirus free.

“We are doing the hard work to look at options to accelerate opening up in regional Victoria, that comes with significant economic benefit, for them and therefore the whole state,” he said on Wednesday.

“That is only possible if we continue to safeguard the very low COVID or COVID-free status of large parts of regional and country Victoria.”

Testing revealed infection protocol breaches by security guards working in hotel quarantine prompted the second wave of the virus in the state.

Victoria registered another 165 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the second-highest daily total after a record 191 cases on Tuesday.

The state’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton on Thursday confirmed just 30 of the state’s new cases are linked to known outbreaks, with 135 remaining under investigation.

Queensland bars Victorian entry

All Victorians will be turned away from the Queensland border from Friday.

A surge in new cases of COVID-19 has pushed the state government to harden its stance on visitors from the southern state.

“From noon, July 10, visitors from Victoria will no longer gain access or be able to quarantine in Queensland,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a tweet on Thursday.

“They will be turned around.”

NSW considers moving border

The NSW government will consider establishing a border north of Albury as it responds to the “high-risk situation” caused by an escalating COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has already urged residents in Albury and other border towns not to travel to other parts of the state, warning the widespread community transmission in Victoria is a huge risk for NSW.

“The probability of contagion in NSW given what’s happened in Victoria is extremely high,” Berejiklian said on Wednesday.

The premier said her government will consider either establishing a border north of Albury or making exemption permits more difficult to obtain.

Melbourne flight disembarks in Sydney without checks

NSW Health authorities worked through the night to contact passengers who were allowed to disembark a Tuesday evening flight without a second health screening, hours before the NSW-Victoria border closed.

“There was an issue at the airport where passengers were disembarked when the health screening team were screening another airline,” NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said on Wednesday.

A NSW Health spokesperson later said airline staff hadn’t followed the agreed protocols when they let passengers from Jetstar flight JQ520 leave the gate area before health staff had finished screening an earlier flight.

But NSW Health said the passengers had been screened before leaving Victoria, including temperature checks and ID checks.

“As a result of this breach, flights will now not be allowed to land in NSW until NSW Health teams are in place to screen them,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Move to  cap international flights

The federal government is moving to cap international flights after state premiers warned of pressure on the hotel quarantine system.

When flights to Melbourne stopped as infections rose, other capitals faced rising passenger arrivals who must spend two weeks in hotel isolation.

“I’ll be taking a proposal to national cabinet to slow that down as of this Friday,” Morrison said.

The prime minister is two weeks from outlining the future of coronavirus support payments including JobKeeper wage subsidies and the boosted JobSeeker dole payment.

The six-week Melbourne lockdown is expected to have a major economic impact.

WA border closures to be tested in High Court

Western Australia’s determination to keep its borders closed to all states, not just virus-plagued Victoria, is set to be scrutinised by the nation’s highest court.

It comes as WA recorded two new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, both returned overseas travellers who are in hotel quarantine.

Billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer’s legal challenge against WA’s border closures is before the Federal Court, with hearings listed for next week.

Once the facts of the case are established, it will be heard in the High Court.

The federal government, which opposes WA’s hard interstate border restrictions, is set to give evidence in the matter.

WA Premier Mark McGowan this week wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison urging the Commonwealth to withdraw its involvement, saying it made no sense to challenge WA’s position while also endorsing the NSW-Victoria border closure.

But Attorney-General Christian Porter says it is appropriate for the Commonwealth to provide its view on such matters, noting that Victoria is the only remaining state with significant community transmission of COVID-19.

“The question is whether or not each state is properly adapting its rules and its border restrictions to the problems it’s facing,” Porter said.

“It’s a fluid situation and it’s a matter of assessing evidence from experts before the courts.

“The constitution has provided for the establishment of a nation and part of the core feature of a nation is the ability to move across state borders.”

Porter said it defied logic to claim that it could be unconstitutional to open the WA border to some states but not others.

He rejected calls for Canberra to stay out of the dispute, saying the idea the Commonwealth would not be heard in a constitutional matter was “ridiculous”.

US passes 60,000 daily cases

The United States has reported more than 60,000 new COVID-19 cases, the biggest increase ever reported by a country in a single day, according to a Reuters tally.

The United States faces a bleak summer with record-breaking infections and many states forced to close parts of the economy again, leaving some workers without a pay cheque.

In addition to nearly 10,000 new cases in Florida, Texas reported over 9500 cases and California reported more than 8500 new infections. California and Texas also each reported a record one-day increase in deaths.

It was the second day in a row that US deaths climbed by more than 900 in a day, the highest levels seen since early June, according to the tally.

 The United States has reported over 3 million cases and 132,000 deaths from the virus.

Globally, cases rose to more than 12 million on Wednesday, with 546,000 deaths.

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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