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What we know today, Sunday August 23

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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 live updates through the day.

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SA nurse tests positive after Victoria mission

A South Australian nurse who volunteered to assist Victoria in managing its COVID-19 crisis has been diagnosed with the virus after returning to Adelaide.

SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the woman is middle-aged and has no symptoms.

Eight nurses who returned with the woman are considered close contacts, however each of them wore masks and PPE at all times and have been quarantining in one of the city’s medi-hotels.

“It really just shows that even with our very, very most experienced nursing staff and wearing all of the PPE [personal protective equipment] required, that this is a very transmissible virus,” Spurrier said.

She added that SA Health was considering introducing quarantine measures for travellers from Queensland, where a cluster of nine COVID-19 cases was traced back to a Brisbane youth detention centre.

The Sunshine State recorded two new cases overnight, both connected to the cluster.

Spurrier warned the cases represent community transmission, and urged any South Australians who have visited the Greater Brisbane or Ipswich areas since the 22nd July to monitor themselves for symptoms and get tested if they develop any.

They should also not visit vulnerable people or attend work in any aged care or disability care service for 14 days.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Sunday ruled out imposing further virus restrictions on businesses.

SA man charged with double murder

A father has been charged with murdering his son and his son’s partner when they visited a rural property southeast of Adelaide.

A man and woman, both 19, were found dead of apparent gunshot wounds after South Australia Police were called to the property northeast of Millicent on Saturday night.

A 46-year-old man was arrested without incident and has been charged with two counts of murder.

He is the father of the 19-year-old man, SA police confirmed on Sunday.

It’s likely the man will face Mount Gambier Magistrates Court on Monday.

Police said the couple, who are from Adelaide, appeared to be visiting the property.

Detectives and forensic experts travelled to the area on Sunday morning and are expected to remain at the crime scene for the entire day.

No other offenders are wanted in connection to the incident.

Masks and video links for federal parliament

Federal parliament will be open for business for the first time in 10 weeks from Monday, although how the two-week sitting will operate will be far from normal.

The House of Representatives and Senate will sit under strict rules covering hygiene and distancing.

Parliament House won’t be open to the public and there will be a limit on staffers and others entering the building.

Members of parliament will for the first time be able to take part in debates and question time via video link under a plan agreed between the major parties.

Behind the scenes of Parliament House and in the public areas of the vast building, politicians and their staffers, journalists and parliamentary workers are recommended to wear masks.

Victoria cases on downward trajectory

Authorities are confident Victoria’s second wave of COVID-19 is on a downward trajectory, after the state on Sunday recorded 17 more COVID-19 deaths and 208 new cases.

Premier Daniel Andrews noted metropolitan Melbourne was halfway through its stage four restrictions while regional Victoria was at the halfway mark of its stage three protocols.

He said the next few weeks would be challenging but urged people suffering lockdown fatigue to “stay the course”.

Andrews said the weekend’s bad weather was an “absolute blessing” and hoped it meant more people stayed at home.

Chief health officer Brett Sutton said although the daily case numbers were “jumping around”, he expected they were on a downward trajectory.

“We’re not going to see 300 and 400 (cases) again in Victoria under my watch, at least,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“We’re applying a strategy that is driving cases down.”

He said restrictions would not be lifted in full until community transmission was eradicated.

It comes as the Melbourne set of The Masked Singer was shut down because several crew members tested positive for coronavirus.

NSW recorded four new cases, including a hotel security guard who worked at Sydney’s Marriott Hotel.

Western Australia recorded one new case, an interstate traveller in hotel quarantine.

Labor on track for NT election victory

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has declared he is “very confident” Labor will retain government, as counting continues today in the Territory election.

Labor is on track to win at least 12 seats in the 25-seat Northern Territory assembly after Saturday’s vote, but could still win a majority as counting continues.

The formal result will be declared on September 7.

“Labor is in front on the votes, Labor is in front on the seats and tonight I can tell you I am very confident Labor will form the next government of the Northern Territory,” Gunner said in a late-night speech.

He paid tribute to health workers, police and other frontline staff who had helped the NT get through the pandemic with only 33 cases of COVID-19 and no deaths making it “one of the safest places in the world”.

“2020 – bloody hell,” he said.

“It’s not over yet. But for me, for our team, the most important battle of 2020 is not a contest between political parties.

“It is a bigger fight, a fight that affects all of us, that requires all our effort to keep protecting Territorians through this crisis, the fight to keep our communities safe.”

On Saturday night, Labor secured 38.9 per cent of the primary vote to the Country Liberal Party’s 31.8 per cent.

Gunner’s team was on track to take at least 12 seats in the 25-seat assembly, despite a 3.3 per cent swing against it.

But Labor scrutineers expected the 13th seat to be secured, delivering a majority.

Despite strict rules on social distancing being the norm across the country, Gunner hugged and shook hands with supporters in Darwin.

Country Liberal Party leader Lia Finocchiaro stepped up to the podium in a positive mood, having lifted her party’s stocks from well above the two seats it took into the election.

It could pick up as many as nine seats, but appeared on track to clinch seven.

The 35-year-old lawyer said she had started a “new generation” for the CLP.

Safe haven in the Great Australian Bight

Flinders Island is to be converted to a safe haven for birdlife and priority mammal species, after the island’s private owners agreed to a conservation agreement over the majority of the land.

Located 30 kilometres off the coast from Elliston, South Australia, the project has received a combined $2.67 million from the State and Federal Government.

The ABC reports that the Woolford family owners agreed to the project, which will restore native habitats and reintroduce species like bandicoots and threatened native rodents.

A baiting program to eradicate pests will be underway by 2021.

South Australian Minister for Environment David Speirs said the project would protect native birdlife.

“Being able to get rid of those cats, rats and mice which prey on the young, in particular, and on the eggs of ground and burrow nesting birds — it’s just going to be a very significant opportunity for us to leave a lasting environmental legacy,” he said.

Power players celebrate after the Round 13 AFL match between Port Adelaide Power and Hawthorn Hawks at Adelaide Oval. Photo: AAP Image/David Mariuz.

Port Adelaide survive Hawthorn scare

Port Adelaide were given a huge scare but eventually put a horror week behind them by grinding out a 10-point win over an understrength Hawthorn on Saturday.

The Hawks kicked the opening three goals at Adelaide Oval, and scores were level at three-quarter time, before Port Adelaide secured a 9.14 (68) to 9.4 (58) victory after young star Zak Butters sliced through a forward-50 stoppage to collect Scott Lycett’s deft tap and kick the sealer with two minutes left.

Indigenous star Sam Powell-Pepper (21 disposals) was a constant threat for Port Adelaide in the competition’s feature Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

The Power’s positive result came after an embarrassing last-start defeat to Geelong and costly COVID-19 protocol breaches by Peter Ladhams and Dan Houston, who were suspended mid-week.

The top rung of the AFL ladder is within sight for Geelong after the premiership fancies survived a big scare in a 28-point win over Adelaide on Sunday.

The Cats entered the match as heavy favourites against the winless Crows.

But it took a final-quarter goal from Tom Hawkins and two more in the dying stages from Mitch Duncan for the visitors to finally break clear in a 9.11 (65) to 5.7 (37) victory at Adelaide Oval.

Trump touts vaccine election conspiracy

United States President Donald Trump is pushing an unfounded conspiracy that a COVID-19 vaccine is being delayed until after the country’s November election.

“The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics,” Trump tweeted on Saturday.

“Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!”

The message was directed at US Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn.

Hahn has repeatedly emphasised that the regulator will stick to its usual stringent scientific processes and has said that it has not faced any pressure to alter its criteria.

Larger clinical studies are under way for several vaccine candidates, involving up to 30,000 subjects.

US government experts, including the government’s infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci, have said they are confident a vaccine could be available in early 2021.

In other election news, the US House of Representatives is set to vote on handing the cash-strapped Postal Service $35bn and blocking policy changes stirring concerns about mail-in balloting ahead of the November election.

With mail-in voting expected to surge during the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump has alarmed Democrats by repeatedly denouncing mail-in ballots as a possible source of fraud.

It comes as US President Donald Trump has been ordered to pay $61,575 to porn actress Stormy Daniels for her legal battle to cancel a deal brokered to keep her quiet about their sexual relationship a decade ago.

– with AAP and Reuters

 

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