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Coronavirus: What we know today, July 19

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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

Masks now mandatory in Victoria

Victorians will be forced to wear masks in the locked down areas of Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, after the state recorded another 363 COVID-19 cases and three deaths on Sunday.

Premier Daniel Andrews said masks would be mandatory from Wednesday , with anyone failing to wear one to be fined $200.

“Most of us wouldn’t leave home without our keys, we wouldn’t leave our home without our mobile phone,” Mr Andrews told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

“You won’t be able to leave home without your mask, and then wear it where it is absolutely essential to stop the spread of this virus.”

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt backed the decision.

“It is necessary, and we are sorry that it has reached this point for all those who were affected. But this is about saving lives and protecting lives,” Hunt told reporters near Melbourne.

He also announced the federal government would be providing a further 272 ADF personnel to the state to help with border control and contact tracing, as well as providing one million masks for workers in aged care and disability centres and the provision of five mobile testing teams.

Victorian authorities are kicking off a major inspection and enforcement blitz on at-risk workplaces in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus.

The enforced shut-in of public housing residents at 33 Alfred Street since July 4 ended late Saturday night, meaning they can now leave their homes for food, medicine, exercise, study and work.

However, up to one third of the tower’s residents, who either have the virus or are a close contact of someone who does, will be required to remain in their units.

An inquiry into Victoria’s bungled hotel quarantine scheme will start on Monday led by retired judge Jennifer Coate.

NSW on Sunday reported 18 new COVID-19 cases over 24 hours, and is now limiting international arrivals into Sydney to 350 passengers a day from midnight.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the step was necessary to make sure “passengers returning home do not overrun the capacity of NSW Health and hotel quarantine.”

Queensland has just two active coronavirus cases and another day of zero positive tests.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wants the NSW ‘border’ moved south to ease congestion at checkpoints where local streets have become choked with traffic as motorists face long delays.

Queensland is now a safe haven for Melbourne’s AFL clubs and now the Super Netball season.

All Super Netball teams will relocate to Queensland with games to be played in Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

SA pharmacies offer COVID-19 testing

Coronavirus testing will be available at up to five South Australian pharmacies during a two-week trial.

Health and Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wade says the pilot program will capitalise on the trust pharmacists have within the community.

“People often present to a pharmacy with mild cold or flu-like symptoms to seek advice from their pharmacist or to obtain treatment for symptom relief, and these are the very people we want to get a COVID-19 test,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

“We want to build on our network of more than 60 COVID-19 testing locations in South Australia to make it as easy as possible to get a test.”

South Australia’s chief pharmacist Naomi Burgess said a training program had been developed to train pharmacists in swab collection.

“A number of infection control measures will be put in place, including ensuring pharmacies have enough personal protective equipment, swabs and pathology specimen bags,” she said.

Customers must have a smartphone and register with the SA Pathology Personify website to receive their result.

The service will not be promoted and pharmacists will identify candidates on a case-by-case basis.

It comes as authorities warn people with even mild symptoms not to attend the Monday night AFL game between the Adelaide Crows and St Kilda,

A crowd of up to 25,000 people are being urged to pay with card not cash, keep their distance from fellow fans, and stay in their seats.

South Australia recorded no new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to Sunday afternoon, according to SA Health.

There are no active cases across the state, with more than 188,000 tests undertaken.

Trio arrested after border crossing

Two men and a woman will be charged with breaching COVID-19 directions after they crossed the South Australian border from Victoria at the Yamba checkpoint.

Police say the trio crossed just after 5pm on Saturday, with one of them claiming to need urgent medical attention, although they later failed to attend the nominated medical centre.

Their ute was found at a hotel in Mawson Lakes just after midday on Sunday.

The two men, aged 34 and 35, were found a short distance away in a taxi and the 32-year-old woman was located in Merchant Lane.

The men were taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital for treatment – one for a check-up and the other for a pre-existing ankle injury – while the woman was taken to the City Watch House.

All three are expected to be charged and tested.

The breach comes as Dog Operations join police and Australian Defence Force personnel at border checkpoints.

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens warns on-the-spot fines of up to $1000 will be issued to anyone breaching border restrictions.

“This sends a strong message to anyone thinking about sneaking across the border that they will be caught,” he said.

“They will then be placed in quarantine, and removed from South Australia as quickly as possible.”

Dog Operations will begin at the checkpoint near Renmark and travel to other border checkpoints during the week.

The raise in security comes after four men illegally entered the state in a freight train carriage.

They have since been sent back to Victoria.

Police are now patrolling rail yards to monitor trains entering the state, and are also using drones and number plate detection technology.

Critics attack cancelling of federal parliament

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to cancel the planned sitting of federal parliament early next month has attracted widespread criticism.

Acting on the advice of Prof Kelly, Mr Morrison wrote to the Speaker of the House of Representatives to request that the sitting fortnight commencing August 4 be cancelled.

Parliament was due to sit from August 4 to 13 and will now not meet again until the next planned sitting fortnight starting on August 24.

But Kelly said there will need to be substantially lower rates of community transmission in Victoria, and no worsening of the situation in NSW or other jurisdictions before he was happy with parliament gathering in late August.

This sitting would have been the first opportunity for parliament to debate Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s economic update, including plans for JobKeeper, due on Thursday.

Adjunct professor at the University of New South Wales and strategic health policy advisor Bill Bowtell said it was “unacceptable” the government hadn’t worked out an alternative.

One Melbourne ER nurse questioned why they had not worked out how to use video conferencing.

“I’m at risk of infection. I’m at highest risk of infection. I can’t Zoom in to work. This is a global crisis,” the nurse, who asked not to be named, told The New Daily.

Labor Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said parliament should add extra sitting dates in September to make up for it.

UK pauses release of virus numbers

The United Kingdom has paused its daily update of its COVID-19 death toll after the government ordered a review into the calculation of the data, claiming it might have been exaggerated.

United Kingdom Health Minister Matt Hancock pointed to advice from academics suggesting that Public Health England, the government agency responsible for managing infectious disease outbreaks, calculates the figures in England in a way that might be distorted compared to other parts of the United Kingdom.

The academics said patients who tested positive for COVID-19, but were successfully treated, would still be counted as dying from the virus “even if they had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later”.

“Currently the daily deaths measure counts all people who have tested positive for coronavirus and since died, with no cut-off between time of testing and date of death,” a message on the government’s website said.

“There have been claims that the lack of cut-off may distort the current daily deaths number.”

The United Kingdom government has attracted considerable criticism for its pandemic response, with Britain’s death toll of 45,000 the worst in Europe.

World reports record cases two days in a row

The World Health Organisation has reported a record increase in global COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row, with the total rising by 259,848 in 24 hours.

The biggest increases reported on Saturday were from the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa, according to a daily report.

The previous WHO record for new cases was 237,743 on Friday.

Deaths rose by 7360, the biggest one-day increase since May 10.

Deaths have been averaging 4800 a day in July, up slightly from an average of 4600 a day in June.

Total global coronavirus cases surpassed 14 million on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease that has killed nearly 600,000 people in seven months.

The WHO reported 71,484 new cases in the United States, 45,403 in Brazil, 34,884 in India and 13,373 in South Africa.

India on Friday became the third country in the world to record more than 1 million cases, with epidemiologists warning the country is still likely months from hitting its peak.

Cases in Brazil crossed the 2 million mark on Thursday, doubling in less than a month and adding nearly 40,000 new cases a day.

The United States leads with world with more than 3.7 million cases.

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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