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Coronavirus: What we know today, July 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

State Govt to legislate jail time for border breaches

The Marshall Government will today move to amend the Emergency Management Act to insert a maximum two years jail for breaking border restrictions.

“Jail-time for people caught flouting the States tough Covid-19 restrictions comes after discussions with the Police Commissioner, who has advised Government he hoped adding imprisonment as a penalty will help to deter people breaking the rules,” said Attorney-General Vickie Chapman.

“As a Government, we want to send the strongest possible message to those who break the law.

“We can’t be too causal when it comes to protecting our State from the second wave of Covid-19 our Victorian neighbours are currently facing.

“South Australia has come too far to have reckless people coming into our State illegally and unwinding that good work.

“From the very beginning of this pandemic, we have always followed the advice of our health and law enforcement authorities, and this was no exception.

There were no new cases of COVID-10 recorded in SA today, with SA Health reporting no active cases.

374 more Victorian cases, three deaths

Victoria has recorded another 374 cases and three deaths overnight, bringing the number of deaths in the state to 42 and the national toll to 126.

There are now 3078 active COVID-19 cases in the state, with 174 people in hospital, 36 of those are receiving intensive care.

No changes to SA border

South Australia will keep its hard border closure with Victoria in place indefinitely, with Premier Steven Marshall describing the eastern state’s escalating COVID-19 cases as a “concern”.

Travellers from New South Wales and the ACT into South Australia will also still be required to undertake 14 days of mandatory quarantine.

Premier Steven Marshall said after Tuesday’s transition committee meeting that the Government was “very pleased” with the way in which NSW authorities had contained the three clusters currently active in the state.

“Of course, there would be many people that would benefit from this (the border) being lifted at the moment but we cannot do it too early, we cannot do it if it is going to be putting us backwards in South Australia,” he said.

JobKeeper cut and extended

Wage subsidies will be reduced to $1200 a fortnight for full-time workers after September as part of the federal government’s overhaul of coronavirus support.

People working less than 20 hours a week will have their JobKeeper payment cut to $750 a fortnight.

Most businesses will have to requalify for JobKeeper by demonstrating a 30 per cent loss in revenue, with the threshold 50 per cent for major companies.

The new rates will run between September and January next year, with the revenue test to be reapplied at the start of each stage.

From January, JobKeeper will be $1000 for full-time employees and $650 for people working less than 20 hours.

JobSeeker unemployment benefit recipients will be able to earn $300 a fortnight without it affecting their payment.

The coronavirus supplement for JobSeeker recipients will drop from a current $550 to $250 at the end of September, and remain at that rate until the end of the year.

Mutual obligation requirements for people on JobSeeker will return from August 4, with the assets test to be reintroduced from the end of September.

Victorians told to treat masks like underwear

Victorians are being urged to treat their face masks like underwear amid a mad dash for supplies.

Swinburne University of Technology dean of Health Science Bruce Thompson tells AAP that the same rules as for undies should apply – have many and/or wash often.

“Assume your mask is like underwear. So don’t take it off in the middle of public. Don’t fiddle with it in the middle of public, don’t share them with somebody else,” Professor Thompson said on Monday.

“The concept of actually taking your underwear off in public and putting them on a kitchen bench is horrible – but that’s effectively what you are doing.”

He recommended having six to 12 masks ready for use on rotation, just as a person would with underwear.

NSW sets up new border zone for Victoria

NSW has recorded its highest daily number of COVID-19 cases in three months as the state enforces tougher border restrictions for people wanting to enter the state from Victoria.

A border zone will be set up along the Murray River from midnight on Tuesday with all current travel permits to be cancelled.

Residents in the border zone who wish to move between the states will have to reapply and if NSW residents travel into Victoria, they will have to self-isolate for two weeks when they return.

Among the changed permit requirements, staff or students of boarding schools or universities must self-isolate for two weeks and obtain a negative swab before attending school, with cross-border travel only permitted for work, education, medical care, supplies or health services.

Seasonal workers from Victoria are also banned from entering NSW.

The state recorded 20 new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, with three linked to the Crossroads Hotel in Casula, bringing the total number of cases in the cluster to 48.

New outbreaks after Spain lifts restrictions

The prevalence of the coronavirus in Spain has risen three-fold over the last three weeks as authorities struggle to contain a rash of fresh clusters, mainly in the Catalonia and Aragon regions, Health Ministry data indicates.

After registering thousands of cases and hundreds of deaths per day during an early April peak, Spain succeeded in slowing the number of new infections to a trickle.

But since restrictions on movement were lifted and Spaniards relaxed back into daily life, 201 new clusters have appeared, with heavy concentrations in and around the Catalan cities of Barcelona and Lleida.

The occurrence of the coronavirus has jumped from eight cases per 100,000 inhabitants at the end of June, when the country’s state of emergency ended, to 27 per 100,000.

Over the weekend 4581 new cases were recorded, bringing the total to 264,836. More than 28,000 people have died.

“Where measures have been relaxed is where these clusters appear,” Health Minister Salvador Illa said.

“We’re talking about gatherings of extended family and spaces associated with nightlife.”

UK vaccine research promising

A coronavirus vaccine being developed by Britain’s University of Oxford with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca appears to be safe and to produce immunity, researchers say.

An ongoing trial involving 1077 healthy adults found that the vaccine “induced strong antibody and T cell immune responses” up to day 56, the researchers wrote in The Lancet medical journal.

They said the immune responses “may be even greater after a second dose,” according to a trial with a sub-group of 10 participants.

The British government has already ordered 100 million doses of the potential vaccine, which is among dozens of vaccine candidates worldwide.

“The early stage trial finds that the vaccine is safe, causes few side effects, and induces strong immune responses in both parts of the immune system,” the Oxford researchers said.

They said the vaccine produces a cellular immune response, or T cell response, within 14 days of vaccination and an antibody response within 28 days.

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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