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What we know today, Friday August 7


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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Hundreds more isolating in Thebarton cluster

Hundreds more South Australians are being put under self-isolation orders as authorities move to stop the spread of COVID-19 from the Thebarton cluster.

A further 24 close contacts are being put into hotel quarantine today on top of the 70 announced by SA Health yesterday.

The families and housemates of the close contacts are also now being told to self isolate for up to 14 days.

Western suburbs school Thebarton Senior College is at the heart of the following a new infection yesterday that has shut the college and forced all of its 1100 staff and students into 14-day isolation.

A young woman in her 20s was late yesterday confirmed as the fifth infection linked to Thebarton Senior College, a specialist Government secondary school with a large proportion of adult learners.

The Thebarton cluster stems from another woman in her 20s who visited the school – as well as Roma Mitchell Secondary College – while infectious, passing the disease to a close contact who subsequently attended various northern suburbs businesses.

State Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas and his deputy Susan Close are among those self-isolating after meeting with the Thebarton Senior College principal last week.

Chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier said asking families of the close contacts to self-isolate was an additional precaution to safeguard against community transmission.

“This is not just to put a single ring around this … but we are trying to put a double ring around it,” she said.

“That’s going to be quite a large number of people and it will create a lot of work for us to do but we do not want this virus to get away from us in South Australia.”

The state recorded two new cases today but both were overseas travellers that arrived on repatriation flights during the week.

Spurrier said the new cases were in hotel quarantine with mild symptoms and were not of concern.

More than 5600 tests were carried out in SA yesterday.

The latest two cases brings SA’s total to 459.

Gatherings under scrutiny but no new restrictions

There are no new restrictions on the immediate horizon in South Australia following key meetings of state and federal leaders this morning.

The national cabinet – led by Scott Morrison and made up of state and territory leaders and health and economic advisors – met at 9.30am via video link.

South Australia’s transition committee also met this morning.

Premier Steven Marshall said there were no changes resulting from the transition committee meeting.

He said the committee was still looking closely at density requirements at places including churches, home gatherings, fitness centres and aged care facilities.

Previously flagged changes include revisiting density requirements and cutting the number of people at AFL games from about 20,000 to about 10,000.

“However, I do emphasise that we are constantly looking at the level of restrictions we do have in place in South Australia, making sure they are commensurate with the risk and we know that it is a worrying risk just across our border.”

There have been a total of 459 cases reported in SA including two new cases announced today.

The latest round of restrictions kicked in on Wednesday, limiting home gatherings to 10 people – down from the previous limit of 50 – and only allowing people to drink alcohol at licensed venues while seated.

Victoria records 11 more COVID deaths, 450 cases

Healthcare workers are emerging as one of the hardest hit sectors in Victoria, accounting for almost an eighth of active infections as the state recorded another 450 COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths.

The deaths included A woman in her 50s, two men in their 70s, three men and three women in their 80s, and two women in their 90s, taking the state toll to 181 and the national toll to 266.

Of the new deaths, seven are linked to aged care.

While Victoria has seen its second day in a row of cases in the mid-400s, on the back of a record 725 cases on Wednesday, the state continues to see an increasing number of healthcare workers with the virus.

“To date, there are 1527 confirmed cases in healthcare workers,” Premier Daniel Andrews said this morning.

“That’s 139 more than yesterday and there are currently 911 healthcare workers who are active cases.”

There are 7637 active cases across the state.

It comes as two men accused of planning an anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne have had their homes raided and been arrested.

Police vowed to crack down on the protest, planned for Melbourne’s CBD on Sunday, calling it a “blatant breach” of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Facebook event has called on people to protest in opposition to the city’s six-week shutdown and claimed to be part of a broader movement of planned protests.

It had more than 100 confirmed attendees and 400 expressions of interest late on Thursday evening.

If they turn up, Victoria Police said it would not hesitate to hand out $1652 on-the-spot fines or arrest protesters.

NSW youth told to put social lives

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is urging young adults to rein in their social lives after a COVID-positive man attended a football match and six Newcastle pubs at the weekend.

It comes as NSW recorded 11 new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday, including one who attended The Apollo restaurant in Potts Point and eight who are close contacts of known cases.

One case, a female in her 60s from Sydney’s southwest, is still under investigation while one new case acquired in Victoria is in self-isolation.

A man in his 20s, who was confirmed as a case on Thursday, attended several Newcastle venues between July 31 and August 2 including Bennett Hotel in Hamilton, Sydney Junction Hotel in Hamilton and the Wests New Lambton club.

NSW Health wants anyone who attended those venues between specific times to immediately self-isolate for 14 days from the day they attended and get tested.

The man also visited the Greenroof Bar and Restaurant in Hamilton, the Queens Wharf Hotel and Sushi Revolution in Hamilton, and was among 2570 spectators at the Newcastle Jets-Western United match on Sunday at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Anyone who visited those venues on those dates is considered a casual contact.

The man is a close contact of a Newcastle teenager whose diagnosis shut down his high school and sent two football teams into self-isolation.

“We are on a knife-edge and we are about halfway through what is a really critical period,” Berejiklian told Triple M radio.

“To the young people, try and modify the number of places that you go to.”

Two more arrests for COVID breaches

A man who allegedly refused to quarantine and a woman who police said failed to submit a mandatory COVID-19 test are the latest Adelaide residents to be arrested for coronavirus breaches.

SA police announced the two arrests late yesterday afternoon after announcing two other arrests earlier in the day.

Police allege a 28-year-old from the southern suburbs man entered South Australia via the Bordertown checkpoint from Victoria on July 25 and nominated an address to undertake his quarantine

They said a compliance check on August 3 was conducted at his nominated address however, the man was not there. Further investigation led police to Renmark where they located the man the following day and arrested him.

He was charged with failing to comply with a direction, refused bail and appeared in the Berri Magistrates Court on August 5 where he was remanded in custody to reappear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on August 10.

A 43-year-old woman was arrested yesterday morning after allegedly failing to get tested.

The woman flew into Adelaide from New South Wales on July 28.  It will be alleged that she claimed to have tested negative on her day one mandatory test, however, when police checked there was no record of her undertaking a COVID-19 test.

The Sturt woman was refused police bail and was due to appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court late yesterday.

RBA warns against rate cuts, forecasts 10 per cent unemployment

The Reserve Bank views negative interest rates as being an “extraordinary unlikely” course of action in Australia, even though it is predicting the unemployment rate rising to 10 per cent by the end of the year.

In its quarterly statement on monetary policy released this morning, the central bank says negative interest rates would be a stimulatory benefit by putting downward pressure on the Australian dollar.

“But negative rates come with costs too. They can cause stresses in the financial system that are harmful to the supply of credit and they can encourage people to save rather than spend,” it says.

The Reserve Bank also believes at a time when the value of the Australian dollar is broadly in line with its fundamentals and the market is working well, there is not a case for intervention in the foreign exchange market.

The cash rate was cut to a record-low 0.25 per cent in March and has remained there since.

The central bank also entered into a bond-buying program to ensure the economy has sufficient liquidity in the face of sharp downturn from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In its latest forecasts, the RBA expects the interest rate sensitive underlying rate of inflation will remain below two per cent until at least December 2022.

It expects, in what it calls its baseline case, the unemployment rate will hit a peak of 10 per cent in December, rather than the nine per cent rate predicted three months ago.

It then expects a gradual easing to seven per cent by December 2022.

The RBA still expects economic growth will contract by six per cent this year but the recovery will be slower than previously thought.

“The effects of the heightened activity restrictions in Victoria are likely to offset the pick-up in GDP growth in other parts of the economy in the September quarter,” the statement says.

$15.6b JobKeeper extension

Changes to JobKeeper will make it easier for businesses hurt by coronavirus to apply for the scheme after the end of September, according to the federal government.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the changes, along with more Victorian companies joining the scheme, will add another $15.6 billion to the cost of the wage subsidy program.

Previously, businesses and not-for-profits hoping to receive JobKeeper from September 28 to January 3 would have to show a significant fall in turnover in both the June and September quarters.

But under the nationwide changes, they will just have to show turnover has significantly fallen for the September quarter, compared to the same period last year.

Businesses and not-for-profits will have to prove their eligibility again in January, but it will be based off the December quarter rather than the two previous quarters as well.

Frydenberg says Melbourne’s stage four restrictions will have a significant impact on the Victorian and national economy.

“We will continue to do what is necessary to cushion the blow and help Australians get to the other side,” he said on Friday.

Staff who were employed as of July 1 will now be able to access the program.

The payment is currently $1500 a fortnight but will reduce to $1200 for full-time employees from October to December.

It will then reduce again to $1000 until March.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the tighter coronavirus restrictions in Victoria will lead to as many as 400,000 people losing their job or seeing their hours reduced to zero, and a 10 per cent national jobless rate by year’s end.

He said the revised Treasury forecast was for a reduction in real gross domestic product in the September quarter of up to $12 billion.

Anger spills over as Macron tours gutted Beirut

Photo supplied

French President Emmanuel Macron says an international fundraising conference for Lebanon will be held in the next few days after the deadly explosion that devastated Beirut.

Beirut residents vented their rage at Lebanon’s leaders as Macron walked in the damaged streets.

Macron said France would organise a conference with European, American, Middle Eastern and other donors to raise money for food, medicine, housing and other urgent aid.

He also promised that French aid would be given out with transparency and “will not go into the hands of corruption.”

France once governed Lebanon as a protectorate and maintains close ties.

As the crowd shouted “Revolution!” Macron pledged to press for political reform in the former French protectorate.

For many Lebanese, Tuesday’s giant blast was the last straw after years of corruption and mismanagement by a political elite that has ruled for decades.

The blast, which killed more than 130 people, wounded thousands and left tens of thousands homeless, came from a stockpile of 2,750 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate that authorities left sitting in a warehouse for years – despite a customs official’s repeated warnings.

Losses from the explosion were estimated by Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud to be between $10 billion to $15 billion, who said nearly 300,000 people are homeless.

The disaster may also have accelerated the country’s coronavirus outbreak, as thousands flooded into hospitals. Tens of thousands have had to move in with relatives and friends after their homes were damaged, further raising the risks of exposure.

‘Vaccine nationalism’ will not help us: WHO

World Health Organisation head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has made a plea against ‘vaccine nationalism’ saying global economic recovery will come faster if COVID-19 vaccines are made available to all as a public good.

He was speaking in an online panel discussion with members of the Aspen Security Forum in the US, as the world reached 18.9 million cases of infection.

“Vaccine nationalism is not good, it will not help us,” Tedros said in an allusion to the competitive scramble of nations and pharmaceutical researchers to come up with an effective vaccine and order as many doses as possible in advance.

“We must seize this moment to come together in national unity and global solidarity to control COVID-19,” he told Thursday’s forum. “No country will be safe until we are all safe.”

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday it was possible the United States would have a coronavirus vaccine before the November 3 election – a more optimistic forecast than timing put forth by his own White House health experts.

Draw keeps Adelaide United’s finals hopes on track

Adelaide United interim coach Carl Veart says the Reds will go all-out in their last regular season match next week. Picture: David Mariuz/AAP

A crucial point from a 1-1 draw with top side Sydney FC last night has Adelaide on track to hang on to sixth position ahead of this month’s finals series.

The Reds sit sixth with 35 points and one game to play against second-placed Melbourne City on Tuesday.

While they cannot go higher than fifth place, Adelaide can still be overtaken by either Western United (30 points, four games to play) or Western Sydney (30 points, two games to play) – who coincidentally face each other on Friday night.

Western United loom large given their games in hand but Adelaide United interim coach Carl Veart said the pressure was on the A-League newcomers to chase his side down.

“We knew coming in we had five really tough games against five top teams and we knew from past seasons, we need 37-38 points maybe to make the six – (and) this year that might not even be enough,” Veart said.

– with AAP and Reuter

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