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Coronavirus: What we know today, July 24

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South Australia will strengthen its border closure with Victoria and reintroduce a limit on gatherings following a spike in COVID-19 infections in Victoria and New South Wales. 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

SA residents banned from returning from Victoria

South Australia will further harden the Victorian border by banning SA residents from returning to the state from midnight Tuesday.

It comes as Victoria on Friday recorded 300 new coronavirus cases and a record six deaths.

Previously, South Australian residents were exempt from the ban.

It is up SAPOL to determine whether a person has “significant” reasons to make an exemption for them to travel into SA.

Meanwhile, travellers arriving into South Australia from New South Wales will still be required to quarantine for 14 days, as the eastern state continues to battle with three COVID-19 clusters.

Premier Steven Marshall said no dates have been set on when the New South Wales or Victorian border restrictions would be lifted.

It comes as SA Health ordered about 10 workers at the Queen Elizabeth and Royal Adelaide Hospitals home today in relation to a confirmed COVID-19 case reported yesterday.

Chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier said that the wife of the man aged in his 40s, who travelled from Victoria to South Australia as an essential worker, works at one of the public hospitals on its switchboard.

She said another person, who works at the other hospital on its switchboard, visited the house where both are quarantining on Monday and reported experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

New gathering restrictions

Premier Steven Marshall said Friday’s transition committee meeting decided to reintroduce caps on large gatherings in South Australia following a spike in cases in Victoria and New South Wales. 

From midnight Tuesday, no more than 50 people will be allowed to gather at a house, while funerals and weddings will be limited to 100 people.

“The entire nation now is on high alert,” Marshall said.

“We do not want to go backwards, we do not want to be putting harsh restrictions, lockdowns, back in place, so we’ve got to work hard, we’ve got to protect that border and we’ve got to make sure that South Australians continue to get tested.”

Police clamp down on business compliance

As of midnight Friday, businesses that do not have COVID-safe plans in place, or that are not complying with their plans, will be forced to close until they are able to demonstrate that they are capable of complying.

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said some businesses were taking a “very liberal approach” to their COVID-safe plans and more needed to be done to protect the public against the spread of COVID-19.

However, chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said larger crowds would be allowed at this weekend’s SANFL matches after SA Health approved seven COVID management plans.

She admitted it might not sound fair compared to other restrictions, but “football is outside so that’s lower risk”.

SA Health has received over 100 applications for COVID management plans, but 60 of those are deemed “high risk” and are currently on hold.

Car chase, arrests after Vic border breach

SA Police have chased and arrested the drivers of two cars which crossed the border from Victoria, allegedly refused to stop and were finally brought to a halt 180km away at Tailem Bend, an hour from Adelaide.

Police said that at about 1.30am Friday morning, a silver Holden Captiva and a blue Holden Calais approached the SA border checkpoint on the Dukes Highway at Wolseley.

Officers signalled for the cars to stop but they allegedly sped off towards Bordertown. Patrols followed the cars for a short distance but lost sight of them, so backup patrols and the police helicopter were called in to help with the search.

The cars were seen at a petrol station at Keith before speeding off again toward Adelaide.

Police spotted the cars just outside Tailem Bend and the cars again refused to stop, resulting in a short chase.

But further up the road, other officers had laid road spikes. The Captiva was spiked and stopped, with the Calais stopping as well.

The male drivers and sole occupants – a 25-year-old from Osborn and a 26-year-old from Brooklyn Park –  were arrested and taken to the City Watch House.

They have both been charged with failing to comply with Covid directions, failing to stop and both with driving unlicenced.

They have been refused bail and will appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court today.

Another 300 cases, six deaths in Victoria

A record six Victorians have died from coronavirus, as the state clocks another 300 new cases.

Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed on Friday the deaths were all connected to aged care facilities, with three aged in their 90s and three in their 80s.

The deaths take the state’s toll to 55 and the national figure to 139.

Of the new cases, 51 of those are connected to known and contained outbreaks while 249 are under investigation by the public health team.

There are 206 Victorians in hospital with the virus, with 41 of them receiving intensive care.

Andrews announced 28 teams of Australian Defence Force personnel and authorised officers from the Department of Health will doorknock confirmed COVID-19 cases and undertake contact tracing in person.

Morrison fires warning to world on vaccine

Australia has launched a pre-emptive strike on countries looking to hoard a coronavirus vaccine as the spiralling Victorian crisis continues.

The national coronavirus toll has risen to 139 after a record six deaths in Victoria, where 300 new cases of the disease were detected on Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison discussed a potential vaccine with French President Emmanuel Macron overnight and is confident like-minded countries would make it available if one is found.

“Any country that would hoard a vaccine discovery, I think, would not be met with welcome arms by the rest of the world,” he said on Friday.

“There’s an absolute obligation on whoever finds this to share it with the world.”

Morrison pointed to Australia’s Doherty Institute sharing the first genetic reproduction of the virus with the world as an example.

“We didn’t sell it, we didn’t restrict it, we shared it. We made sure that everybody could get it and we did it as soon as we found it,” he said.

“That’s the attitude, that’s the leadership Australia has shown and that’s what we’d expect from other countries when it comes to a vaccine.”

The announcement comes after federal, state, and territory leaders met on Friday amid a rising tide of concern as Victoria scrambles to control the deadly outbreak.

All governments agreed suppression of the virus – meaning zero community transmission – remains the strategic goal.

The national cabinet also agreed to tighten rules on testing truckies and freight movement over concerns drivers exempt from travel restrictions may spread the disease.

Victoria records $7.5b deficit

Victoria’s budget has plunged into a $7.5 billion deficit for the 2019/20 financial year thanks to the economic despair caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Treasurer Tim Pallas revealed the startling figure in an economic update on Thursday.

“That is, of course, as a result of both social distancing arrangements that impact upon business, the closure of national borders … closure of state borders, as well as dwindling demand for Victoria’s key export sectors.”

As a result, Victoria’s tax revenue has dived to be $2.5 billion lower in 2019/20 and around $6 billion lower in 2020/21 than previous forecasts.

“The reduced revenue and the government’s unprecedented investment in support measures means that the Victorian budget will now likely return an operating deficit of $7.5 billion in 2019/20,” Pallas said.

Victorian youth seeks mental health support

Hundreds of thousands of young Victorians have sought mental health support as the state battle outbreaks of COVID-19.

More than 300,000 young people sought help from the online service ReachOut since restrictions began in the state in March.

“That represents a 25 per cent increase in visitors to the site from Victoria compared to the same period last year,” CEO Ashley de Silva said on Friday.

Melbourne and Mitchell Shire were recently subjected to another round of restrictions after a second wave of infections began.

“Going back into lockdown presents a range of challenges for young people in Victoria,” de Silva said.

“Young people are telling us that they are worried and stressed about things like study, employment and the future and we know that this can take a heavy toll on mental health.”

US passes 4 million cases

The United States has recorded more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 for the third straight day, as the pandemic escalates in southern and western US states.

Fatalities nationwide were recorded at 1,014 on Thursday, with not all states reporting. Deaths were 1,135 on Wednesday and 1,141 on Tuesday.

Even though deaths are rising in the United States for a second week in a row, they remain well below levels seen in April, when 2,000 people a day were dying from the virus.

The US has also passed a total of more than 4 million coronavirus infections since the first US case was documented in January.

The average number of new cases is now rising by more than 2,600 per hour nationwide, the highest rate in the world.

According to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, the US has recorded far more cases and deaths than any other country, with more than 143,800 fatalities due to COVID-19.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention this week said the actual number of infections is likely two to 13 times higher than the reported figure.

France cases surge

France is reporting a sharp increase in coronavirus cases, with more than 1,000 new infections, as the  country heads into its summer break.

Health authorities say cases on the French mainland have surged by 66 per cent in the past three weeks, with a 26 per cent increase in the last week alone.

Concerns about rising cases had already prompted the government to make mask-wearing mandatory in all indoor public spaces this week.

In their daily update on France’s outbreak that has already killed 30,182, health authorities said people aren’t taking as much care to socially distance and that “our recent habits have favoured the spread of the virus for several weeks now”.

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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