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What we know today, Wednesday August 12

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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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Tighter restrictions for border communities – eased restrictions for SA homes

Restrictions on gatherings in South Australian homes will be eased, but border communities will face tougher conditions, in changes to COVID-19 conditions announced by Police Commissioner Grant Stevens today.

Stevens also confirmed that a range of venues – including gyms, shopping centres, cafes, food courts, places of worship and licensed premises – will be required to have a clearly identified “COVID marshal” on premises from August 21. This will be a “visual reminder” to patrons to comply with social distancing and other hygiene measures.

He said 24-hour gyms would not be required to have a marshal on premises around the clock, and further advice would be provided over the next week.

A previous cap of 10 people in private homes will be lifted to up to 10 visitors, in addition to those who live in the home, to a maximum of 20. Other gatherings will be capped at 100.

“Close border communities” will also face much tougher restrictions on travel to South Australia from Victoria, also from August 21.

Stevens said people previously able to move between Victoria and SA for shopping, education, employment or medical care will no longer be able to do so without having successfully applied for approval.

“People who currently have an approval to enter for employment or education, providing or receiving support or obtaining food, petrol, medical or other supplies will not be able to enter South Australia from Victoria,” he said.

They will have to apply for approval under essential travel requirements.

There will be some exemptions for students who are studying years 11 or 12 or farmers whose properties span the border.

SA aged care restrictions to protect elderly

Limiting the movement of workers across multiple sites and forcing people to wear face masks while visiting are among a range of new COVID-19 restrictions set to be imposed by the State Government.

Premier Steven Marshall this morning said the state’s emergency coordinator and SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens would make an announcement within the next 24 hours regarding a “logical tightening” of restrictions in aged care facilities.

Marshall also flagged a new regulation could be imposed to make face masks mandatory at residential care homes.

“We’ve got to constantly look at the restrictions that we have because we know that we have vulnerable communities in those high-density arrangements,” he said.

“They have been very, very dangerous situations in other parts of the country.”

SA Health reported no new cases for South Australia today. Six cases remain active.

Fresh local media blow as NOVA flags job cuts

In the second blow to Adelaide’s media in as many days, commercial radio group NOVA Entertainment is likely to axe jobs from local stations FIVEaa and Nova 919 as the company deals with the economic fallout from COVID-19.

NOVA Entertainment CEO Cathy O’Connor said “some” staff would be forced to go across the country following a 25 per cent drop in revenue.

O’Connor did not confirm how many roles would be made redundant or where, but reports suggest about 70 positions across Australia face the axe.

Staff were informed of the decision yesterday, with the redundancies to be rolled out over the next five weeks.

It follows Network Ten’s announcement yesterday it will cut jobs and centralise the presentation of news bulletins yesterday afternoon.

Adelaide’s 5pm Monday to Friday news will be broadcast from Melbourne and newsreaders Rebecca Morse and Kate Freebairn are among those to be made redundant.

More local jobs are also expected to go, including journalists, camera operators and other staff.

However, the network says it will continue to employ some reporters, camera operators and production staff in Adelaide to cover local news.

Network 10 is also axing local bulletins in Perth and Brisbane as part of the major restructure of its news operations.

State Labor leader Peter Malinauskas expressed disappointment at the Network 10 decision, saying South Australians who have relied on the bulletin for their local news would be disillusioned.

“Local journalism matters to the public,” he said.

New cases spark NZ lockdown

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a 60-hour lockdown in Auckland following four new coronavirus cases. Picture: AAP /Boris Jancic

Auckland has begun a 60-hour lockdown after four new COVID-19 cases reported late yesterday ended New Zealand’s run of 102 days with no community transmissions.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last night announced the lockdown from noon today to midnight on Friday – to allow health officials to contact trace, isolate potential cases and conduct mass testing.

For three months, New Zealanders have enjoyed the return of usual freedoms after an autumn lockdown proved effective in eliminating the deadly virus.

Ardern and NZ’s Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield announced the news in an unscheduled press conference late last night.

Bloomfield revealed four people in one south Auckland family returned positive test results for the deadly virus.

“We have been saying for some weeks that it was inevitable that New Zealand would get another case of community transmission,” he said.

“That time is now and the health system is well prepared.

“The important thing now is that we stop the spread of the virus in our community.”

For the first time, New Zealand will regionalise its response to COVID-19.

Ardern said Auckland would be placed under ‘level three’ while the rest of New Zealand has been placed on ‘level two’ – mandating social distancing and placing caps on gathering sizes.

She appealed to Kiwis – referring once more to the ‘team of five million’ – to act calmly and respect the restrictions.

However, the short-term lockdown still prompted Kiwis to head out to shops; within the hour Radio NZ reported hundreds of people queuing outside supermarkets.

“My request is not to be dispirited or disheartened. When we’ve rolled out our plans before it has worked,” she said.

“Please stay home if you are in Auckland. Be vigilant. We will get through this.”

Around 1.5 million Aucklanders will be asked to stay home within their ‘bubbles’ except for essential workers, or to go to the supermarket or access health services.

The return of COVID-19 to New Zealand has cast doubt over the timing and the result of the country’s September 19 election.

Vic announces record deaths as cases trend down

Another 21 people have died and 410 Victorians have contracted coronavirus.

The single-day record number of deaths takes the state toll to 267 and the national toll to 352.

Victoria’s seven-day case average is beginning to trend downwards as stage three restrictions and the introduction of masks have an impact.

But contact tracers have been unable to push down the number of cases with an unknown source. The overall figure rose to 2903 on Tuesday, up 40 from the day before.

Aged care deaths also show no signs of abating, with Health Minister Jenny Mikakos admitting it might be weeks before COVID-19 starts to loosen its deadly grip on the sector.

“There will be a time lag in terms of the number of fatalities and that will take longer,” she told Victoria’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee on Tuesday.

Today’s deaths surpass the previous record of 19 reported on Monday and again yesterday.

Since the start of the year, about 2500 cases have been confirmed across aged care.

Just 582 of these patients have recovered. There are 122 aged care facilities with active cases.

Of Victoria’s 331 new cases yesterday, 91 are linked to outbreaks or complex cases and 240 are under investigation.

The number of new infections reported in Victoria on Monday and Tuesday were the lowest since July 29.

There are 7880 cases active across the state, with 650 people in hospital and 43 of those in intensive care.

The effect of Melbourne’s stage four lockdown isn’t expected to start showing up until next week.

Another 184 Victorians have been slapped with coronavirus restrictions, including 58 for breaking curfew.

Among those fined were also 24 people fined $200 for not wearing masks in public.

Police checked 19,051 vehicles at checkpoints in the 24 hours to Wednesday morning and issued 16 fines as a result.

There were also 5127 spot checks on people at homes, businesses and public places across the state.

Gupta sells out of ZEN Energy

Whyalla steelworks owner Sanjeev Gupta has sold his company’s stake of South Australian company ZEN Energy back to its original owners, as the British billionaire’s GFG Alliance looks to cut costs globally.

The demerger will return the Zen Energy retail business to its founding shareholders, which includes respected Australian economist Professor Ross Garnaut and prominent SA businessman Raymond Spencer, who are also the owners of Sunshot Energy.

SIMEC Energy, GFG Alliance’s energy division, will retain the existing project development business, including the Cultana Solar Farm, Playford Utility Scale Storage Battery and Middleback Pumped Hydro projects.

GFG Alliance acquired a 51 per cent controlling interest in Tonsley-based Zen Energy in September 2017, renaming the company SIMEC Zen Energy.

Green light for Russian vaccine

Picture: David Cheskin/PA Wire

The World Health Organisation and Russian health authorities are in talks about the possible WHO pre-qualification for its newly approved COVID-19 vaccine.

President Vladimir Putin said last night that Russia had become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, a move hailed by Moscow as evidence of its scientific prowess.

The development paves the way for the mass inoculation of the Russian population, even as the final stage of clinical trials to test safety and efficacy continue.

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told a UN briefing in Geneva that pre-qualification of the vaccine would be subject to close scrutiny.

“We are in close contact with Russian health authorities and discussions are ongoing with respect to possible WHO pre-qualification of the vaccine, but again pre-qualification of any vaccine includes the rigorous review and assessment of all required safety and efficacy data,” he said.

The speed at which Russia is moving to roll out its vaccine highlights its determination to win the global race for an effective product, but has stirred concerns that it may be putting national prestige before sound science and safety.

Speaking at a government meeting on state television, Putin said the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, was safe and that it had even been administered to one of his daughters.

“I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks,” said Putin.

He said he hoped the country would soon start mass-producing the vaccine.

Its approval by the health ministry foreshadows the start of a larger trial involving thousands of participants, commonly known as a Phase III trial.

Such trials, which require a certain rate of participants catching the virus to observe the vaccine’s effect, are normally considered essential precursors for a vaccine to receive regulatory approval.

Regulators around the world have insisted that the rush to develop COVID-19 vaccines will not compromise safety. But recent surveys show growing public distrust in governments’ efforts to rapidly-produce such a vaccine.

More than 100 possible vaccines are being developed around the world to try to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. At least four are in final Phase III human trials, according to WHO data.

Biden selects running mate

Photo: AP/David J. Phillip

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has selected Senator Kamala Harris of California as his choice for vice president.

Harris, 55, becomes the first black woman on a major presidential ticket in US history and providing him with a partner well suited to go on the attack against Republican President Donald Trump.

“I have the great honour to announce that I’ve picked @KamalaHarris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate,” Biden said on Twitter.

In Harris, a senator from California who made her own run for the White House before ending it and endorsing Biden, he gains a deeply experienced politician already battle-tested by the rigours of the 2020 presidential campaign as they head into the final stretch of the November 3 election.

The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, who will turn 78 in November and be the oldest person to become president if he is elected.

Harris will be confirmed as Biden’s running mate at the Democratic convention that begins on Monday, where Biden will also be formally nominated to challenge Trump.

Nervous wait for Adelaide United

The Reds have been in great form since the A-League restart. Photo: AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Adelaide United has drawn its final game of the A-league season against second-placed Melbourne United 2-2.

But it now faces a nervous wait to see if it can cling on to sixth position to qualify for the finals series.

Adelaide was down 2-0 at half-time but Kristian Opseth landed a 78th-minute penalty before Ben Halloran’s 91st-minute strike earned his side a point.

The Reds have been one of the form teams of the competition since the A-League restart, winning two and drawing three under interim coach Carl Veart.

They are currently sixth on 36 points – just three ahead of Western United, who have three games in eight days against Perth, Sydney and Melbourne City, who will all play finals.

Adelaide’s poor goal difference (-5) means their season will realistically be over if Western (+8) beat Perth tonight.

“We’ve done as much as we could so now it’s up to the football gods,” Veart told reporters after Adelaide completed their regular season last night.

“We’ve had a pretty tough run – five games in this short period.”

Crows extend losing streak to 14

Adelaide handed up a half-time lead before losing to Collingwood by 24 points at Adelaide Oval last night.

The loss is the Crows’ 11th straight for the season and extends its club-record winless streak to 14 after also losing the last three matches of 2019.

Adelaide held a nine-point halftime lead but were then overpowered as the Pies booted five goals to none in a match-defining third term.

The Magpies, without injured and rested stars including captain Scott Pendlebury, Adam Treloar, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Darcy Moore and Jamie Elliott, bank a sixth win of the season and rise to seventh on the ladder.

Collingwood forwards Jaidyn Stephenson, Darcy Cameron and Trey Ruscoe kicked two goals apiece but lost key defender Jordan Roughead to concussion.

The Crows were superbly served by Rory Laird who collected a game-high 37 disposals and 10 clearances, Brodie Smith (21 touches) was solid while Tyson Stengle and Elliott Himmelber both kicked two goals.

Forecast rain misses Adelaide

Showers forecast to hit Adelaide this morning have largely missed the city with just 0.2mm falling at Adelaide Airport.

However, heavier falls were recorded in the hills and southern suburbs.

Adelaide received a much-needed 8mm of rain yesterday, the first significant fall of August so far, and more is forecast in the coming days.

The showers and moderate to strong northwesterly winds are expected to hang around on Thursday and Friday.

The latest weather for adelaide

 – With AAP and Reuters

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