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What we know today, Wednesday August 5


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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Record, cases, deaths add to Victoria’s virus nightmare

Victoria has reported its worst single day COVID-19 figures to date – 725 new cases and 15 deaths as the state prepares for even tougher restrictions.

The 15 deaths included a man aged in his 30s, taking the state’s death toll from the virus to 162 and the national figure to 247.

The state’s previous record was 723 new cases on July 30, though daily case numbers have consistently been in triple-digits for a month.

The second wave of the virus prompted premier Daniel Andrews to declare a state of disaster and impose stage four restrictions on Melbourne, including a curfew.

From tomorrow, all essential workers in the city will be required to show a permit if pulled over by police to prove they are allowed to leave their homes.

Some workers – like nurses and police officers – can use their official identification, while others have to apply for the permit online, which must be signed by themselves and their employer.

Businesses caught issuing permits to workers who do not meet the requirements face fines of up to $99,123, while individuals can be fined up to $19,826.

Widespread business shutdowns across the retail, manufacturing and construction industries from tomorrow are expected to impact the livelihoods of at least 250,000 Victorians.

They will join another 250,000 stood down since the pandemic began and another 500,000 working from home.

It comes as Victoria introduced tough new penalties for infected people who repeatedly fail to self-isolate, after 3000 doorknocks found 800 people were not home in the past week.

From yesterday, those caught breaching isolation for a second time will be slapped with a $4957 on-the-spot fine.

Adelaide hotel isolation goes wrong

A cleaner at a Walkerville hotel is one of at least two people infected with COVID-19 after a recent arrival from Victoria quarantined at the hotel – but management say SA Health has given it the all-clear to continue trading.

Professor Nicola Spurrier told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning the South Australian man in his 20s, who self-isolated at the Walkers Arms Hotel late last month after travelling back to the state from Victoria as an essential worker, “did the right thing” by choosing to isolate at the hotel rather than at home where he could infect others.

The man was not aware that he was infectious when he arrived at the hotel on July 27, but later developed coronavirus symptoms and tested positive, leading to his departure on July 29.

He was subsequently found to have infected close contacts, including a woman in her 20s who later visited Roma Mitchell Secondary and Thebarton Senior Colleges, as well as three northern suburbs businesses.

Spurrier said he also infected a Walkers Arms Hotel employee.

At about 1pm this afternoon the Walkers Arms Hotel posted on its Facebook page that it had been made aware – after Spurrier’s ABC radio interview and one week after the infectious man was removed from its premises – that a cleaner in its accommodation department had returned a positive test.

Read the full story here

Relief for businesses as false positive announced

A coastal Adelaide co-working space and shopfront can re-open today after its sudden closure late yesterday due to a suspected positive COVID-19 case turned out to be a false alarm.

It was initially believed a fitness class attendee at Summertown Studio in Somerton Park tested positive to COVID-19.

All associated class members and studio staff were also tested and told to self-isolate.

But SA Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier told ABC Radio this morning the case was a false positive and follow-up testing overnight had confirmed the woman did not have the virus.

The false positive comes as South Australia wakes to new restrictions, which kicked in at midnight.

Home gatherings have been limited to 10 people – down from the current limit of 50 – and people are only be allowed to drink alcohol at licensed venues while seated.

The state government has also foreshadowed further changes to density restrictions at licensed venues, football matches and fitness studios.

One other positive test was reported on Tuesday, involving a woman in her 20s linked to the emerging cluster centred on Adelaide’s inner-northern suburbs.

SA Health issued an alert for anyone who visited a fitness centre, a juice bar and a retail carpet outlet on various days last week, urging them to self-isolate and get tested if they develop symptoms.

The alert applies to anyone who visited Fernwood Fitness Centre in Salisbury Downs at 6-8.30pm on August 1, Agha Juice House in Blair Athol at 5-7.30pm on July 31 and Najafi Carpet Gallery in Kilburn at 5-8pm on July 29.

It also extends to two schools and a suburban hotel, but those people are not required to self-isolate unless they develop symptoms.

SA Health reported no new cases of COVID-19 in SA today, with the case linked to the cleaner believed to have been already reported.

There have now been a total of 456 COVID-19 cases in SA since the start of the pandemic.

Two repatriation flights also landed in Adelaide yesterday – an Air India flight with 149 passengers and a Singapore Airlines flight with 123 people – increasing the likelihood of further infections.

Cars on starting grid for city drive through testing centre

An inner-city COVID-19 drive-through testing station alongside the Victoria Park car racing start/finish line will open this morning to help ease the testing burden as Adelaide wakes to new restrictions.

The multi-lane Victoria Park drive-through facility will be in a part of the park lands traditionally used to host car racing teams.

It aims to reduce pressure on existing COVID testing drive-throughs at Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre and the Repat Health Precinct as well as clinics in major hospitals, which have been hit with huge testing queues in recent days.

The state government is also setting up heavy vehicle testing facilities in Port Augusta and Tailem Bend to help the state’s health system deal with ramping at testing clinics and to prevent interstate operators having to come to the city for testing.

“These are really important improvements that we’re making to strengthen that frontline for the men and women who are working here to keep South Australia safe and strong,” Premier Steven Marshall said yesterday.

The state government has also foreshadowed further changes to restrictions that started at midnight including density restrictions at licensed venues and fitness studios.

It has suggested AFL crowds at Adelaide Oval will be cut back to 10,000 after a number of recent local infections but is yet to make an official announcement.

The Adelaide Crows will host North Melbourne at the city venue tonight.

Thousands injured as massive explosion rocks Beirut

A huge explosion in a port warehouse district near the centre of Beirut has killed at least 100 people including at least one Australian and injured at least 2750 others.

The blast occurred just after 12.30am Adelaide time and sent shockwaves across the Lebanese capital, shattering windows and causing apartment balconies to collapse.

Officials expect the death toll to rise sharply as emergency workers dig through rubble across a swathe of the city to rescue people and remove the dead.

The death toll has reached 100 and more victims are under the rubble, the head of the Lebanese Red Cross has told local broadcasters.

George Kettaneh told LBCI TV by telephone that the Red Cross was coordinating with the health ministry for morgues to take victims because hospitals were overwhelmed after Tuesday’s blast.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there were normally 20,000 Australians in the Lebanese capital, but he was unsure how coronavirus restrictions had changed the number.

“I can confirm that there has been one Australia that has been killed, which is terribly devastating,” he told Seven Network this morning.

It was the most powerful blast to hit Beirut in years, making the ground tremble.

“What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe,” the head of Lebanon’s Red Cross George Kettani told broadcaster Mayadeen.

“There are victims and casualties everywhere – in all the streets and areas near and far from the explosion.”

Three hours after the blast, which struck shortly after 6pm local time on Tuesday, a fire still blazed in the port district, casting an orange glow across the night sky as helicopters hovered and ambulance sirens sounded across the capital.

A security source said victims were being taken for treatment outside the city because Beirut hospitals were already packed with wounded.

President Michel Aoun said that 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilisers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures, and he said that was “unacceptable”.

He called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear what caused Tuesday’s blaze that set off the blast.

An Israeli official said Israel, which has fought several wars with Lebanon, had nothing to do with the blast.

New Virgin owner to shed 3000 jobs

A trimmed-down vision for Virgin Australia will result in the carrier slashing about 3000 jobs.

Virgin has been taken over by Bain Capital and says its plan to cut costs, shed aircraft and refocus on domestic and short-haul international travel means it can’t support more than 6000 jobs.

The airline has been hit by the turmoil in the aviation market caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“While these changes are important to manage the impact of COVID-19, they involve some very tough decisions,” Virgin Australia chief executive and managing director Paul Scurrah said this morning.

“We expect approximately 3000 jobs will be impacted as a result of the changes.”

But when the aviation market recovers, Virgin plans to pick up 2000 extra workers, although it warns that might not be for some time.

Queensland flags border closure

Queensland will close its border to NSW and the ACT this week after people continued to flout the state’s mandatory quarantine.

From 1am on Saturday, returning Queenslanders will have to pay for 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine while all visitors will be denied entry, with rare exemptions.

The sunshine state remains open to visitors from South Australia.

Queensland Health Minister Stephen Miles said the lockdown had to include the ACT because there had been cases of people avoiding quarantine by flying in from Canberra.

A man is accused of driving from Sydney to the ACT then catching a flight to Cairns to dodge mandatory quarantine restrictions.

Queensland recorded one new case overnight after an 86-year-old Ipswich woman tested positive.

Meanwhile, three men caught trying to dodge quarantine after travelling from Melbourne have tested negative.

SA snubbed on infrastructure projects

South Australia has been overlooked in a priority list of new projects to help the nation recover from consecutive crises.

Infrastructure Australia has released its updated priority list, which includes 155 proposals worth more than $64 billion.

Rail and road projects in NSW and Western Australia have been added to the list, which also includes the M4 Motorway upgrade in Sydney, the M80 Ring Road upgrade in Melbourne and the Brisbane Metro.

The new projects and initiatives also include various road safety improvements throughout Queensland and an upgrade to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.

No new SA projects have been added to the priority list.

Infrastructure Australia chief Romilly Madew said the list was critical during recovery as it can help steer investments towards projects that will help the economy.

“Australia is planning its recovery from a rolling series of crises: drought, flood, the bushfires and now COVID-19,” she said.

“We want to highlight the most recent priority proposals at a time when our infrastructure investment needs to progress quickly, without jeopardising the quality of those investments.”

The list is usually published in February each year but Infrastructure Australia has released it mid-year for the first time to help decision makers amid the pandemic.

Pedestrian killed in Warradale crash

A woman has died following a crash at Warradale last night.

Police and paramedics were called to Diagonal Road after a Nissan ute hit a pedestrian near Ormonde Avenue.

The pedestrian, a 27-year old woman from the State’s Far North died at the scene. The driver of the ute, a 77-year-old man from Glenelg North, was not injured.

Diagonal Road was closed for several hours while investigators from Major Crash examined the scene but was reopened just before 1.30am this morning.

The woman’s death takes the state’s road toll  this year to 59 compared to 69 at the same time last year.

Defending champ Nadal to skip US Open

Rafael Nadal is the latest high profile player to pull out of the US Open. Picture: The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images

World No.2 Rafa Nadal has confirmed he will not defend his US Open crown this year at Flushing Meadows this month as organisers release the singles entry list for the grand slam.

The Spaniard joins women’s world No.1 Australian Ash Barty in skipping the tournament due to COVID-19 concerns as well as other high profile Australian players Sam Stosur and Nick Kyrgios.

“After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year’s U.S. Open,” Nadal said on Twitter.

“The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don’t have control of it.”

The Madrid Open, which was scheduled to take place from September 12-20, was cancelled on Tuesday due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the Spanish capital.

World No.1 Novak Djokovic, a three-time champion in New York, headlines the men’s list along with last year’s runner-up Daniil Medvedev and other top 10 players including Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.

Nine of the top 10 women’s players, including 23-times grand slam champion Serena Williams and holder Bianca Andreescu, are still on the entry list along with 2018 champion Naomi Osaka.

Organisers said the seedings would be announced closer to the start of the tournament which is scheduled for August 31.

Victory returns Fulham to EPL

Fulham will rejoin the UK’s top flight soccer competition next season after defeating Brentford 2-1 in extra time of the English Championship play-off final at Wembley this morning.

In a tense and subdued west London derby, scores were locked at 0-0 at the end of 90-minutes before Fulham left-back Joe Bryan scored twice in extra time to secure the victory.

The Craven Cottage club will earn around $A246m for bouncing back from English Premier League relegation last season. The result also gives rookie boss Scott Parker his first success of his fledgling managerial career.

 – with AAP and Reuters

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