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What we know today, Sunday August 9


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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Two men connected with SA test positive

Two men who had spent time in South Australia tested positive to COVID-19 on Sunday, however SA Health won’t count either towards the state total.

A male in his 30s who travelled to South Australia from Victoria as an essential freight worker received an interstate positive COVID-19 test result whilst in South Australia.

There was one close contact identified who travelled with the positive case.

SA Health concluded that upon entering South Australia, both men followed all necessary protocols, including the wearing of face masks in public, keeping a record of close contacts, and undertaking a COVID-19 test every seven days. They have now returned to Victoria.

In addition, another male in his 30s, who has travelled from NSW, has tested positive to COVID-19 in South Australia. He was a confirmed case in NSW and was released from isolation as per standard national protocols. He was not considered infectious whilst in South Australia and the current result represents an old infection.

The state has now recorded more than 285,000 tests.

South Australia is reporting record rates of Covid-19 testing, prompting capacity issues at the state’s network of drive-through clinics.

South Australia removed the requirement for patients to be referred by a GP to get tested at a dedicated COVID-19 site, with the drive-through testing facilities inundated with interest.

The Hampstead drive-through clinic was closed down as long queues caused traffic disruption. Patients were redirected to the Victoria Park clinic, with capacity issues also seen at the Repat drive-through clinic in Daw Park.

Victoria registers a record 17 COVID-19 deaths

Victoria has recorded 394 new cases of COVID-19 and a record 17 deaths as the state continues to endure stage-four lockdown restrictions.

The 17 confirmed deaths in Victoria due to COVID-19 announced on Sunday – including two people in their 50s – takes the state’s death toll to 210 and the nationwide tally to 295.

Other confirmed deaths on Sunday included four people in their 70s, six people in their 80s and five people in their 90s. Ten of the 17 were linked to aged care outbreaks.

Premier Dan Andrews said more than 2700 confirmed COVID-19 cases around the state are of unknown origin and remain the primary concern of health authorities’.

“Even large numbers in known contained outbreaks are, to a certain extent, less significant than the smaller number of cases where we simply can’t find the circumstance or the point of origin,” Mr Andrews told reporters.

The number of new cases on Sunday is lower than the 466 recorded on Saturday, 450 on Friday, 471 on Thursday and record 725 cases on Wednesday.

Metropolitan Melbourne has been under tough stage-four restrictions for a week but residents won’t see the results of their efforts for another one to two weeks.

Almost 270 Victorians, meanwhile, have been fined for breaching coronavirus restrictions, including a man helping a friend to move a TV across Melbourne.

Victoria Police issued a total of 268 fines to individuals, including 77 for curfew breaches, 38 for failing to wear a face mask when leaving home and 13 for vehicle checkpoint violations.

“There’s just a message for those people again – not only is it the wrong thing to do for your family and every family, it’s also the sort of behaviour that will mean this second wave goes longer than it should,” Mr Andrews said.

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos, meanwhile, declared in a late-night Twitter thread on Saturday she put “every ounce of energy” since January into halting the spread of COVID-19 in the state, but “if it wasn’t enough, then I’m deeply sorry”.

“Let the independent (hotel quarantine inquiry) judge do her job, let the cards fall where they may. I believe there is nothing to fear in seeking the truth. The truth will set you free,” Ms Mikakos said.

Meanwhile in New South Wales, a northern Sydney hospital staffer has been diagnosed with COVID-19 after working a full shift in the emergency department.

The Hornsby Hospital healthcare employee worked on August 6 from 11am to midnight while infectious, the Northern Sydney Local Health District said in a statement on Saturday night, but was wearing a mask at all times while in contact with patients.

The worker was asymptomatic at the time but became unwell after their shift.

Staff in contact with the worker have been identified and told to self-isolate for 14 days, while those who attended the hospital on August 6 are being chased up.

The worker was one of 10 new COVID-19 cases recorded in the state in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday from 31,681 tests, with just one case in hotel quarantine.

NSW residents are now largely confined to their own state after Queensland closed its border, following similar moves by Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters from his electorate in Melbourne, where he too is under ‘stage-four’ lockdown, “it should never have got to this”.

He challenged the states to dig deeper financially to protect the economy and championed the federal government’s $314 billion spend on bracing the nation.

“The states need to do more,” he said.

“They have the balance-sheet strength to do so.”

Federal opposition health spokesman Chris Bowen said any requests for more state assistance should be specific and made through National Cabinet, not via a public slanging match.

Explosive device left at Semaphore Surf Life Saving Club

SA Police have launched an investigation into the planting of a homemade explosive device adjacent to the Semaphore Surf Life Saving Club on Saturday, in the north-west of Adelaide.

Police were called to the Semaphore Surf Life Saving Club on Military Road around 9.30am on Saturday 8 August, after a club member found a small cardboard box which contained a homemade explosive device next to the shed.

Members from the Bomb Response Unit arrived on the scene, where they proceeded to render the device safe before seizing the suspicious package for forensic examination.

Investigations are continuing, and police have called on any witnesses with information about this incident to ring Crime Stoppers.

Nagasaki marks anniversary of atomic bomb

The Japanese city of Nagasaki has marked its 75th anniversary of the US atomic bombing, with the mayor and dwindling survivors urging world leaders including their own to do more for a nuclear weapons ban.

At 11.02am, the moment the B-29 bomber Bockscar dropped a 4.5-ton (4.1-metric tonne) plutonium bomb dubbed “Fat Man”, Nagasaki survivors and other participants stood in a minute of silence to honour more than 70,000 dead.

The August 9, 1945 bombing came three days after the United States dropped its first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the world’s first ever nuclear attack that killed 140,000.

On August 15, Japan surrendered, ending World War II.

Many survivors developed cancer or other illnesses.

At the event at Nagasaki Peace Park, scaled down because of the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Tomihisa Taue read a peace declaration in which he raised concern that nuclear states had in recent years retreated from disarmament efforts.

Instead, they are upgrading and miniaturising nuclear weapons for easier use, he said. Taue singled out the US and Russia for increasing risks by scrapping the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

He said that “the true horror of nuclear weapons has not yet been adequately conveyed to the world at large” despite struggle and efforts by hibakusha, or atomic bombing survivors, to make Nagasaki the last place of the tragedy.

He also urged Japan’s government to quickly sign the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

While Tokyo renounces its own possession, production or hosting of nuclear weapons, as a US ally Japan hosts 50,000 American troops and is protected by the US nuclear umbrella.

The post-WWII security arrangement complicates the push to get Japan to sign the treaty as it beefs up its own military to deal with threats from North Korea and China.

An ageing group of survivors have expressed a growing sense of urgency to tell their stories, in hopes of reaching younger generations.

Australian toddler identified as Beirut blast victim

A two-year-old has been named as the Australian victim killed in the Beirut explosion which ripped through the Lebanese capital earlier this week.

The Department of Home Affairs are helping the family of Isaac Oehlers, who is believed to be from Western Australia.

In a statement released by the Department of Foreign Affairs, the family expressed their grief at the loss of their young son.

“We are heartbroken by the sudden and tragic loss of our beautiful boy following the disaster in Beirut,” the statement read.

“The family would like to thank everyone who has offered comfort and support to us, and would like to express our condolences to everyone in Lebanon who is suffering from this devastating tragedy.

“We request that the media respects our privacy at this difficult time.”

On Tuesday, a huge explosion ripped through Beirut’s port, killing at least 158 people, wounding 6,000, displacing some 250,000 to 300,000 from their homes and inflicting massive destruction across the city.

The blast took place in a warehouse housing some 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate.

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab has proposed early elections as protesters angry over the Beirut port blast stormed ministries, shots were heard and a police officer was killed during clashes that left at least 238 injured.

Protests escalated into clashes between protesters and police as furious residents mourned the victims and called for the removal of what they described as “corrupt politicians.”

Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters, and eyewitnesses said shots were heard near the parliament building.

A police officer was killed after being “attacked” by protesters while “helping people trapped inside Le Gray Hotel” in central Beirut, the country’s Internal Security Force said in a tweet.

Elsewhere, demonstrators raised a huge placard at the entrance of the Foreign Ministry reading: “Beirut is the capital of revolution,” according to the Lebanese privately owned television MTV.

A call to join a march from ground zero of the blast site towards the square in Beirut’s central district asked participants to wear black in a sign of mourning for the victims.

“We want to vent our anger against the ruling class, who knew about the dangerous substance stored inside Beirut port and did nothing,” Roula Ajouz, a participant in the march, told dpa near the blast site.

French President Emmanuel Macron plans to hold an international video conference on Sunday to raise funding for Lebanon, sources close to the presidential office said.

Police officer dragged by vehicle in Elizabeth Downs

South Australian Police are urging witnesses to come forward with knowledge of an incident in Elizabeth Downs on Thursday in which a police officer was allegedly dragged alongside a vehicle.

Just before 9pm on Thursday 6 August, Northern District Police reported a silver Holden sedan  committing traffic offences on Hamblynn Road at Elizabeth Downs.

Finding the car stopped at a service station, police attempted to speak to the driver through an open door when it allegedly reversed, dragging the officer alongside the vehicle.

The occupant of the vehicle then allegedly assaulted the officer, who broke free before the car took off at high speed.

The officer sustained minor injuries and was treated at the scene.

On Friday detectives from Northern District Criminal Investigation Branch found the vehicle in Craigmore.

A 28-year-old man was arrested at the address and charged with endangering life, assaulting a prescribed emergency worker, and driving unlicensed.

He has been refused bail and will appear in the Elizabeth Magistrates Court on Monday.

Police have called for anyone who saw the incident or who may have dashcam vision of the incident on Hamblynn Road, Elizabeth Downs, to contact Crime Stoppers.

It comes as a man is recovering in hospital after having his face spray-painted during a street robbery in Adelaide.

The 20-year-old and his mate of the same age were walking in suburban Christie Downs on Saturday morning when assaulted and robbed by a group of eight people, police said.

“One victim was (hit) in the head with a bottle and punched in the face, while the other victim had his face spray painted,” a police statement said.

The pair suffered minor injuries and were taken to hospital.

The attackers, described as Caucasian and aged in their late teens, took off after stealing a portable speaker.

Trump signs virus relief executive order

President Donald Trump has signed executive orders providing additional financial support to Americans hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, after his negotiators failed to reach a deal with Congress.

Trump on Saturday said the orders would provide an extra $US400 ($A550) per week to the tens of millions thrown out of work during a health crisis that has killed more than 160,000 Americans, less than the $US600 ($A830) per week level passed earlier in the year.

Some of the measures were likely to face legal challenges, as the US Constitution gives Congress authority over federal spending.

“This is the money they need, this is the money they want, this gives them an incentive to go back to work,” Trump said of the lower enhanced unemployment payments.

Republicans have argued that the higher payments were a disincentive for unemployed Americans to try to return to work, though economists, including Federal Reserve officials, disputed that assertion.

Trump also said he was suspending collection of payroll taxes, which pay for Social Security and other federal programs, an idea that he has repeatedly raised but has been rejected by both Democrats and his fellow Republicans in Congress.

His orders would also stop evictions from rental housing that has federal financial backing and extend zero per cent interest on federally financed student loans, he said.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, had pushed to extend the enhanced unemployment payments at the previous rate of $US600 per week approved early in the crisis.

Nearly two weeks of talks between White House officials and congressional Democrats ended on Friday with the two sides still about $US2 trillion ($A2.8 trillion) apart on next steps to address the heavy human and economic toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on the United States, where it has killed more than 160,000 people.

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday offered to reduce a proposed $US3.4 trillion ($A4.7 trillion) coronavirus aid package, which the House passed in May but the Senate ignored, by nearly one-third if Republicans would agree to more than double their $US1 trillion ($A1.4 trillion)  counteroffer.

White House negotiators Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows rejected the offer.

South Korea suffers 46 days of heavy rains

At least 26 people have died after 46 days of heavy rains in South Korea, with the country’s longest monsoon in seven years causing more flooding, landslides and evacuations.

Nearly 5000 people had been evacuated as of Saturday, according to Ministry of the Interior and Safety data, as rains battered the southern part of the Korean peninsula.

Ten people are missing.

About 100 metres of levee collapsed at the Seomjin River in the southern edge of the peninsula on Saturday and flooded the area, an official at the South Jeolla province said, with about 1900 people evacuated in the province including about 500 from around the river.

The country’s forestry agency has raised landslide warnings to its highest level in every region except the holiday island of Jeju.

Five homes were buried in a landslide on Friday from a mountain behind a village in Gokseong, South Jeolla province, killing five people.

Three people have been rescued.

The city of Seoul warned people to stay away from basements, valleys and rivers as further torrential rains were expected on Saturday night.

South Korea’s longest monsoon on record was 49 days in 2013. Current weather forecasts predict that this year’s monsoon may last longer.

In neighbouring North Korea, state media Korean Central Broadcasting also warned of additional heavy rains in areas already hit by floods, according to Yonhap.

Port Adelaide victorious over Richmond

Port Adelaide has defeated Richmond by 21 points in an entertaining contest at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday night.

The 13.15 (93) to 11.6 (72) win solidifies Port’s position at the top of the ladder – a position they have held since after the opening round in March.

Port thrice repelled Richmond fightbacks in a pressure-packed encounter.

The Power booted four goals to none in the initial 14 minutes, only for Richmond to climb off the ropes and hit the front midway through the second quarter.

Port rallied to create a 21-point buffer early in the third term, before the gallant Tigers came again and, courtesy of four unanswered goals, pinched a one-point lead at three quarter-time.

The Power then broke the game, and the Tigers, with another burst of three goals in a tick over four minutes to open the last quarter against a flagging opponent.

The Tigers, playing after a four-day break, didn’t score at all in the final term but coach Hardwick dismissed the short gap between games as a factor.

“We were really happy with effort and intent … I didn’t detect our energy levels went down,” Hardwick said.

Port’s triple club champion Robbie Gray (three goals, 22 disposals) vies for best-afield honours with teammate Travis Boak (31 touches) in a game coach Hinkley described as a “great advertisement for AFL football in a really tough year”.

Richmond counterpart Damien Hardwick praised Port Adelaide’s game style.

“They were very, very good,” Hardwick said of Port.

“I love the way they play. They attack the game.

“If I sit there and look at one of the sides I would pay money to watch, they would be one of those sides.”

In the other Saturday evening match Brisbane beat the Western Bulldogs 14.12 (96) to 12.6 (72).

– with AAP and Reuters

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