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What we know today, Thursday July 30

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Victoria has recorded 723 new cases and 13 deaths overnight and extended compulsory masks to all of the state. Welcome to your serving of the day’s breaking news from South Australia, the nation and abroad. Follow this post for breaking news through the day.

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New SA case, record virus surge in Victoria

A man who had recently returned to South Australia from Victoria has become the state’s 449th confirmed coronavirus case, SA Health has revealed today.

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier today confirmed the new case, but insisted the man in his 20s – who had been granted essential traveller status to cross the border – had “absolutely done the right thing… he got tested and is now in a medi-hotel in isolation”.

He is stable with mild symptoms after arriving back in the state on July 26.

“He realised of course he needed to quarantine, and organised to go into a hotel and make sure he was quarantining safely,” Spurrier told reporters, adding the case had one close contact who was also now in quarantine.

“This shows that our system here in SA is working,” she insisted.

“I am very confident this is not posing any risk at all for South Australians but what it clearly does show is a very real risk in Victoria, particularly with a very high case number today [and] with that level of community transmission.”

Spurrier said she was “very, very concerned” about the situation in Victoria, saying: “I know many South Australians are seeking that essential traveller status so that they can go to Victoria and return, but I’m urging all South Australians about any need to travel to Victoria at this time.”

Victoria has recorded 723 more COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths, Australia’s biggest single-day numbers.

The deaths take the state toll to 105 and the national figure to 189.

Today’s spike follows a fall in the number of new infections reported on Tuesday and Wednesday and is more than double yesterday’s figure of 295.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the latest fatalities were three men and three women in their 70s, three men and two women in their 80s, and two men aged in their 90s.

The dire numbers prompted the premier to announce a ban on visitors for residents of the Colac-Otway, Greater Geelong, Surf Coast, Moorabool, Golden Plains, and the Borough of Queenscliffe local government areas from Friday.

Andrews also said the mask directive issued to residents of metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire would be extended to all of regional Victoria from midnight on Sunday.

“These are preventative steps … it will be inconvenient for some, but at the end of the day, keeping those numbers very very low is about protecting public health, protecting vulnerable people, protecting every family,” he said.

The first of five Australian Medical Assistance Teams, which provide disaster relief in critical health situations, will arrive in Victoria on Thursday.

They will join some 1400 Australian Defence Force personnel already on the ground in the state.

Up to 50 nurses from South Australia will head to Victoria to help ease strains on the local health system from tomorrow.

SA Health ‘failed’ in disability care

A damning report by South Australia’s health complaints watchdog has found SA Health failed in its delivery of services to people with a disability in acute settings.

The Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner (HCSCC) today released a public summary about the investigation, which finds SA Health was in breach of the HCSCC’s five guiding principles.

Commissioner Associate Professor Grant Davies said the investigation found that aspects of services posed an “unacceptable risk” to the health and safety of people living with a disability.

He began the investigation after receiving complaints about the provision of health services to people living with a disability in SA public hospitals and care facilities.

“The evidence shows there was a failure in service delivery,” Davies said in a statement today.

“Every South Australian is entitled to have their rights respected when using a health or community service.”

He said SA Health had accepted the findings and expressed concern over the failings.

The commissioner released a summary, but not the full report, produced by an independent expert.

The investigation covered complaints about the treatment of people with a disability in SA public hospitals and care facilities between 2015 and 2017, with the report finding the complaints were substantiated.

“I find the systemic delivery of acute services by SA Health hospitals to people with disabilities to be in breach of the HCSCC Charter’s five guiding principles and three of the rights, namely Diversity, Decision making capacity and Genuine Partnership,” the summary says.

“I am satisfied, based on the historical evidence before me, the systemic delivery of acute services by SA Health hospitals at that time, posed an unacceptable risk to the health or safety of members of the public with disabilities and their family and carers.

“However, I consider the various initiatives and actions taken by SA Health as outlined in this report are reasonable and will adequately resolve the systemic concerns identified in the investigation. “

Marshall defends ‘pork barrelling’ scheme

Premier Steven Marshall has defended a Liberal scheme to allocate project funding to “target seats”.

InDaily revealed yesterday that Marshall Government MPs had been briefed to formally submit a “wishlist” of infrastructure projects designed to explicitly target seats the party hopes to win at the 2022 state election – with the process being overseen by outgoing Speaker Vincent Tarzia, who was yesterday sworn in as the state’s new Police Minister.

A Joint Party Paper dated March 2020 details a project – understood to have been dubbed “Project Wishlist” – which assesses infrastructure priorities in Liberal-held and “target seats”, to be unveiled in the weeks leading up the March 2022 election.

The scheme, labelled as “pork-barrelling” by Liberal insiders and the Opposition, appears to be at odds with Steven Marshall’s vow that his establishment of Infrastructure SA to vet spending priorities would take politics out of infrastructure spending.

“Infrastructure SA will end the current practice of Labor Ministers deciding infrastructure investment based around political considerations and replace it with decisions based on economic imperatives,” then-Opposition Leader Marshall said before the last state election.

Speaking today, Marshall said the Liberal Government had always consulted with people in seats about what was important to them at the local level.

“This is not new to political campaigning and we put all of those projects out ahead of every election,” he told reporters this morning.

“There is a big difference between projects that are promised in the lead up to the election and basically what occurred with Labor over 16 years in government where they completely neglected all of country SA and any seat that they didn’t think they’d have a political opportunity in.

“And I think, by contrast, I mean any reasonable person would look at our performance in terms of projects where we’ve invested heavily in seats that we would never stand a chance in.”

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said it should be condemned, arguing: “This sort of pork-barrelling is what drives South Australians crazy.”

He noted a leak appearing so soon after the swearing-in of three new ministers yesterday, which followed days of controversy over parliamentary entitlements that prompted the resignations of three members of the Marshall cabinet on the weekend.

“This internal division within Steven Marshall’s Liberal Party really undermines the ability of good government to be delivering jobs in SA,” Malinauskas said.

Read the full story here.

Another MP resigns amid expenses scandal

The expenses scandal has claimed another Marshall Government scalp, with Liberal MP Adrian Pederick standing down from his position as government whip.

Three ministers resigned last weekend, with the Legislative Council president also signalling a move to quit, as Premier Steven Marshall attempted to rule a line under the country member allowances scandal which has dogged the Government for weeks.

However, the issue continues to fester, with the ABC reporting last night that Pederick, who says he lives at Coomandook in his country electorate, also maintains a substantial home at Mount Osmond in the Adelaide Hills.

The ABC reported that Pederick’s wife works as a teacher in the Adelaide Hills and that his children attend a school in Adelaide.

This morning, the Premier said Pederick had told him he would resign his position as whip – a role that involves maintaining the discipline of party members in parliamentary voting and other business.

Read the full story here.

Adelaide Oval will host a neutral AFL match between Melbourne and North Melbourne on August 9, four days after the Demons play the Crows at the venue. Picture: AAP/Julian Smith

Adelaide Oval to host Demons v Roos

Adelaide Oval will host a “neutral” AFL clash due to border restrictions interstate.

The round-11 AFL clash between Melbourne and North Melbourne was originally scheduled to be played on Sunday August 9 at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena but that venue was ruled out after Tasmania elected not to open its border to Queensland.

Melbourne play the Crows at Adelaide Oval on August 5 and will remain in South Australia in the lead-up to their game four days later against the Kangaroos.

The Demons are the designated “home” team for the round-11 match.

Dwelling approvals fall to eight-year low

The number of dwellings approved fell 4.9 per cent nationally in June, in seasonally adjusted terms, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

Approvals in South Australia fared slightly better, falling by 4.6 per cent while private sector house approvals in the state fell 2.3 per cent.

“The impact of COVID-19 was evident on dwelling approvals in June,” said Bill Becker, Assistant Director of Construction Statistics at the ABS.

“Falls were recorded in all states, and across both detached and attached dwellings.”

The value of total building approved rose 7.3 per cent in June, in seasonally adjusted terms.

The value of non-residential building rose 17.8 per cent, while residential building rose 0.1 per cent. The ABS said residential building value was buoyed by an 11.4 per cent increase in the value of alterations and additions to residential buildings.

Land tax relief scheme extended

The State Government will extend its land tax relief scheme for residential and commercial landlords with tenants impacted by COVID-19 until the end of September.

Under the scheme, eligible landlords can receive up to a 25 per cent reduction on their land tax liability on affected properties – provided they pass on the full benefit to their impacted tenants.

Impacted tenants may include, gyms, clothing retailers, medical and dental practices, motels and hotels, restaurants, cafes, beauty salons and hairdressers.

Teen quarantine dodgers spark spike fears

Eastern states authorities fear a spike in COVID-19 clusters following a quarantine breach by two Brisbane teens as cases spread to Sydney’s densely populated eastern suburbs.

Queensland is bracing for its first community transmission cases since May after the 19-year-old girls returned to Brisbane from Melbourne via Sydney with the virus and have since visited a number of Queensland restaurants and bars.

They are under investigation for allegedly giving false information on border declarations and have reportedly been fined $4000 each.

Three people tested positive to COVID-19 in Queensland yesterday including the two teens, sparking a criminal investigation into how the girls bypassed mandatory hotel quarantine despite returning from a declared hotspot.

The pair returned from Melbourne, via Sydney, on July 21 and spent eight days in the community before testing positive. One of them is a cleaner at a school.

NSW yesterday reported 19 new cases including two in hotel quarantine.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will ban all visitors from Sydney from Saturday.

“I’m absolutely furious that this has happened,” Palaszczuk said of the breach.

“We need people to tell the truth … we do not want a second wave here. We do not want widespread community transmission.

“These two have been out in the community and hopefully it has not spread but time will tell.”

Euro infections on rise again

Several European countries ramped up restrictions on Wednesday in a bid to contain rising coronavirus infections.

The number of new coronavirus infections in France rose by 1392 on Wednesday – the highest daily tally in a month – taking the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 185,196.

French health authorities said that, leaving aside the continuous decline of people in ICU units, all COVID-19 indicators showed “an increase of the viral circulation”.

Italy has extended its state of emergency, testing for returning travellers has started in Germany and Britain’s largest tour operator extended its suspension of trips to Spain.

Dutch authorities bucked the trend, with the government announcing on Wednesday it will not advise the public to wear masks because the evidence of their effectiveness was unclear.

US deaths from the coronavirus have surpassed 150,000, a number higher than in any other country and nearly a quarter of the world’s total, according to a Reuters tally.

Of the 20 countries with the biggest outbreaks, the United States ranks sixth in deaths per capita, at 4.5 fatalities per 10,000 people.

Only the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Peru and Chile have a higher per capita rate, the tally shows, with US deaths making up nearly 23 per cent of the global total of 660,997.

Brazil’s coronavirus outbreak has set daily records with both 69,074 new confirmed cases and 1595 related deaths, as the world’s second-worst outbreak accelerates toward the milestone of 100,000 lives cut short.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Health Ministry on Wednesday confirmed a daily record of 2104 new coronavirus cases – the highest number the country has recorded over 24 hours.

More than 16.83 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 660,997​ have died.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were detected in China in December 2019.

US places TikTok under official review

Picture: AP/ Evan Vucci

The US Government has placed Chinese-owned social media app TikTok under official review following previous threats by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to ban it

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the app owned by Chinese firm ByteDance is being reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the US (CFIUS).

The US administration has recently stepped up measures against Chinese tech firms, warning that these companies present a security threat.

“TikTok is under CFIUS review and we’ll be making a recommendation to the president on it this week,” Mnuchin told reporters alongside President Donald Trump.

“We’re looking at TikTok,” Trump said.

TikTok has insisted it does not share user data with the Chinese government and stresses its US-related bona fides, including its chief executive being a US citizen and its large operations in the country.

TikTok allows users to create short videos, often with some basic effects and music, which have become increasingly popular, particularly among a younger demographic.

Barty opts out of US Open

Australian tennis player and world No.1 Ashleigh Barty has withdrawn from the US Open in a massive blow to the New York grand slam.

Not comfortable about travelling during the coronavirus pandemic, Barty is the biggest name yet to opt out of the August 31 to September 13 major because of the global health crisis.

“My team and I have decided that we won’t be travelling to the US and Western and Southern Open and the US Open this year,” Barty said.

“I love both events so it was a difficult decision but there are still significant risks involved due to COVID-19 and I don’t feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position.

“I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and I look forward to being back in the US next year.

“I will make my decision on the French Open and the surrounding WTA European tournaments in the coming weeks.

Barty joins fellow Queenslander and 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur on the sidelines after Stosur announced this month she would skip the event.

 – with AAP and Reuters

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