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What we know today, Thursday August 13


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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Aged care restrictions kick in as border rules tighten

Aged care workers will only be able to work at one site and must wear masks when they come within 1.5 metres of residents under new restrictions imposed by the SA Government today.

It comes as South Australia today recorded no new COVID-19 cases for the sixth consecutive day.

All aged care providers will be asked to restrict their workers to one site to stop the spread of the disease across facilities.

The new aged care restrictions, which will be phased-in over the next two weeks, apply to workers in public and private residential aged care facilities and are modelled off similar regulations already in place in Victoria and Queensland.

Read the full story here

Meanwhile, communities living close to South Australia’s border with Victoria will face tighter rules while restrictions on gatherings in SA homes will be eased under changes to COVID-19 conditions announced by the Police Commissioner Grant Stevens yesterday.

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.

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 non-licensed 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.

Victorian COVID deaths, cases fall

Eight Victorians have died from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, while 278 new cases have been recorded – the lowest number of new cases in a single day since July 20.

The deaths bring the state’s toll to 275 and the national figure to 361.

The Victorian government has taken over three aged care facilities following coronavirus outbreaks.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the full effects of the stage-four lockdown, which began a week ago, would not be known until next week.

He said it was dependent upon “literally hundreds of millions of individual choices and decisions”.

Deakin University epidemiologist Catherine Bennett said she believed Victoria was beginning to flatten the curve.

“It really looks like we are past the peak now,” she told Nine’s Today show this morning.

She noted active cases of COVID-19 in Victoria dropped on Wednesday for the first time.

“So hopefully this pipeline, if you like, of people being exposed then becoming ill and possibly also triggering workplace outbreaks is now shifting so that we are starting to close down those existing outbreaks,” Bennett said.

“We should see the numbers really drop quite rapidly once these outbreaks are contained.”

Meanwhile, NSW has recorded its first COVID-19 death in more than 10 days after an elderly woman died from the virus.

The woman, in her 80s, is the 53rd coronavirus death in the state.

NSW recorded 12 new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, with four linked to known clusters, three with no known source and five in hotel quarantine.

NZ cluster grows to 21 as election delay flagged

Auckland’s COVID-19 outbreak has swollen to at least 21 people, after health officials today announced 13 new positive tests.

New Zealand has been rocked by the deadly virus’ return into the community this week after 102 days without local transmission.

On Tuesday, the discovery of four cases prompted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to announce a 60-hour lockdown in the country’s biggest city, which began at noon yesterday.

Health officials have moved swiftly to locate, isolate and test close cases since then, resulting in the surge in numbers.

One of the new cases confirmed on Thursday is a student at Mount Albert Grammar, the country’s second-largest school with 3000 pupils.

The student attended class on Monday, and local health authorities said they were contacting and isolating around 100 close contacts they had while at school.

There are also four new cases of employees at two Auckland businesses and eight family members of those employees, all linked to the index case.

Ardern is considering deferring the country’s September 19 election due to the return of COVID-19.

She has postponed the dissolution of Parliament – poised for Wednesday – back to Monday, buying time to consider the decision.

In the meantime, her government is focussed on responding to the country’s first outbreak in three months, and all parliamentary parties have paused their campaigning.

“We’re in the first 24 hours of a response to resurgence. Our immediate focus has been that,” Ardern said yesterday.

“We’re giving ourselves the room to fully consider the implications of a move of (the election) date and what we find out about what resurgence we’re seeing.”

Eight confirmed or probable cases have been identified in south Auckland in the last 36 hours, resulting in a 60-hour lockdown of New Zealand’s biggest city.

Opposition Leader Judith Collins has called for an 11th hour deferral of New Zealand’s election, which is due before November 21.

Ardern has earmarked a cabinet meeting tomorrow for a discussion about a potential election move.

SA unemployment rate defies national trend

Australia’s unemployment rate edged up slightly in July, defying predictions, while South Australia recorded a significant drop in the latest official data.

The national unemployment rate has risen to 7.5 per cent as the Australian economy reels from the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of Australian job seekers topped the one million mark for the first time since records began 42 years ago 

The July result compares with a rate of 7.4 per cent the previous month and 5.1 per cent in February before the pandemic took hold.

The rise in the jobless rate was the result of more people looking for work, even as there was a jump in the number of people employed in the month.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics data released this morning showed the number of people employed in July increased by a larger-than-expected 114,700 positions.

Some of the state data were also surprising, with Victoria’s unemployment rate dropping in July despite COVID-19 restrictions ramping up.

South Australia’s unemployment rate, the highest of all the states and territories in June, dropped almost a full percentage point to 7.9 per cent – better than Western Australia and Queensland, with the latter recording the nation’s worse jobless rate at 8.8 per cent.

Economists had expected the unemployment rate to be as high as 7.8 per cent,  fuelled by a greater number of people seeking work.

The Reserve Bank predicts the unemployment rate to hit 10 per cent by the end of this year and still be around seven per cent in two years.

Central bank governor Philip Lowe will be grilled on this outlook when he faces federal politicians on Friday.

Rising unemployment and the first recession in nearly 30 years is expected to further depress wage increases in the months ahead.

Treasury Wine Estate profit down 25 per cent

Treasury Wine Estate has reported a 25 per cent fall in net profit for the 2020 financial year following challenging conditions in the US and the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Australia’s largest wine company returned a net profit after tax of $315.8 million.

The producer of iconic SA brands including Penfolds, Wynns and Wolf Blass has announced key changes to its US operating model and global supply chain to cut costs this year.

TWE’s new CEO Tim Ford said it had been a unique year for the company, the industry and the markets it operated in.

“Our ability to navigate the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic through 2H20 and continue to deliver profitability and strong cash flow performance is representative of the fundamental strength of our global business,” he said.

“While we have recently seen positive signs of recovery across a number of our key markets and channels, we are cautious on the near-term outlook given the uncertainty that remains around the pace of that recovery.”

Company responsible for Ann Marie Smith’s care banned

Ann Marie Smith in 2012. Image supplied by SA Police.

The company responsible for the care of Adelaide woman Ann Marie Smith when she died has had its registration revoked by the NDIS Commission.

The commission has been investigating NDIS provider Integrity Care since the 54-year-old died in hospital in April from septic shock, multiple organ failure, severe pressure sores and malnourishment.

Integrity Care took two weeks to report her death to the NDIS Commission.

The provider was slapped with a $12,600 fine over its failure to notify the commission within 24 and hours been banned from operating.

NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner Graeme Head said Integrity Care was advised early in June of the commission’s intention to revoke its registration and to ban it from operating over several contraventions of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (NDIS Act).

“There are very clear requirements under the NDIS Act as to how the NDIS Commission takes compliance actions … This includes giving ample opportunity for the party subject to these actions to respond,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

The revocation of Integrity Care’s registration will take effect from tomorrow (August 14), while the ban will come into place from August 21.

Integrity Care will no longer be able to provide NDIS-funded supports and services to NDIS participants as a registered provider and will be banned from providing all supports and services to any person in the NDIS.

The commission’s investigation into Integrity Care is ongoing and further regulatory action may be taken if necessary.

A carer for the disabled woman, Rosemary Maione, 69, was last week charged with manslaughter over Ms Smith’s death. Maione was sacked from Integrity Care in May.

Police allege Ms Smith died of serious criminal neglect and her death was preventable.

City office vacancies remain steady despite virus

The full COVID-19 impact is yet to play out on Adelaide’s office market with latest figures showing only a slight rise in vacancies.

The Adelaide CBD office market vacancy increased marginally from 14.0 to 14.2 per cent, which the Property Council said was mainly due to supply additions.

The city had 11,530sqm of new commercial office space come online in the six months to July 2020.

A-Grade office stock was again the most popular asset class, with vacancy dropping from 11.3 to 10.8 per cent.

Office vacancies are calculated on whether a lease is in place for office space, not whether the tenant’s employees are occupying the space or working from home.

Property Council SA Executive Director Daniel Gannon said upward pressure on vacancy rates caused by COVID-19 would not be seen until at least next year.

“Adelaide has demonstrated over the past six months that it is a comparatively safe, healthy and resilient capital city, with a growing number of competitive national advantages,” he said.

Australian CBD office vacancies increased from 8.3 to 9.5 per cent over the six months.

Russia rejects vaccine criticism

Russia says the first batch of what it claims is the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine will be rolled out within two weeks and has rejected as “groundless” safety concerns aired by some experts.

The vaccine, called “Sputnik V” in homage to the world’s first satellite launched by the Soviet Union in 1957, has yet to complete its final trials and some scientists said they feared Moscow may be putting national prestige before safety.

Scientists from Germany the United States and Britain have queried the wisdom of approving the vaccine before testing is complete.

“It seems our foreign colleagues are sensing the specific competitive advantages of the Russian drug and are trying to express opinions that in our opinion are completely groundless,” Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said the day after President Vladimir Putin announced it had won regulatory approval.

Officials have said that the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, would be administered to people, including doctors, voluntarily in the final trial. Mass roll-out in Russia is expected to start in October.

The Moscow-based Association of Clinical Trials Organisations (ACTO), a trade body representing the world’s top drugmakers in Russia, had urged the health ministry to postpone the vaccine’s approval until the final trial had been completed.

“It’s the ambition, the desire to be first in a field in which, unfortunately, Russia cannot vie for a top spot,” executive director Svetlana Zavidova told Reuters.

“Our task is now to warn the population because we so far don’t understand how they (the authorities) are going to carry out mass vaccination.”

Final trials, normally carried out on thousands of participants, are considered essential in determining safety and efficacy. Only about 10 per cent of clinical trials are successful.

Kamala Harris may prove difficult target for Trump

Photo: David J. Phillip/AP

Joe Biden’s selection of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate in November’s presidential election provides a brand-new target for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign that has struggled to find an effective line of attack against his Democratic rival.

Within minutes of Biden’s announcement on Tuesday, Trump had called Harris “nasty,” “horrible” and “disrespectful,” while his campaign painted her as an extremist who would yank the moderate Biden to the left.

But there is little evidence at the moment that suggests that the public views Harris, a former California prosecutor and attorney general with strong ties to the Democratic establishment, as a radical.

In fact, she’s more liked by Republicans than Biden, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted on August 10-11, just before she was announced as Biden’s pick.

More concerning for Trump: Attacks that could appear sexist or racist against the first black woman on a major party ticket in US history could complicate his campaign’s effort to shore up his standing among suburban women, a critical voting bloc he must win back to get re-elected, strategists on both sides say.

Already, leading Democratic women warned against a replay of Trump’s match-up in 2016 with then Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who was subject to gender-based critiques as the first female presidential candidate.

“If he wants to use misogynistic tropes against Kamala Harris, I think that is deeply challenging for him,” said Neera Tanden, a top aide to Clinton during her presidential bid. “He has no room for error with suburban women.”

Biden and Harris were expected to make their first public appearance together as a team overnight.

Scottish train derailment kills three

Three people have been confirmed dead after a train derailment in eastern Scotland.

The train’s driver and conductor are among the fatalities, while six people have been taken to hospital with a range of injuries.

Dark smoke billowed from the stricken ScotRail train at the bottom of a narrow valley near Stonehaven, just south of Aberdeen, after it came off the tracks.

Two air ambulances and about 30 emergency service vehicles could be seen in a field just above the site of the derailment, which appeared to be difficult to access.

Stonehaven and the surrounding area had been hit by floods in recent days and some reports suggested a landslide may have played a part in the derailment, although that was not confirmed by the authorities.

Finals dream over for Adelaide United

Adelaide United’s hopes of contesting the A-League finals series this season have been dashed after Western United defeated Perth Glory 2-0 last night.

The win puts Western into sixth place – level with Adelaide United on 36 points but with a vastly superior goal difference (+10 to -5).

Adelaide has played all their 26 games while Western has two games to come.

The Reds drew their final game of the A-league season against second-placed Melbourne United 2-2 on Tuesday night to put them three points clear in sixth.

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.

A few showers today, 17C

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting an 80 per cent chance of showers for Adelaide today with falls of up to 4mm and winds northwesterly 25 to 35km/h.

Yesterday’s forecast rain did not arrive in earnest with only 0.2mm falling at the airport in the past 24 hours.

adelaide weather forecast

 – with AAP and Reuters

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