- South Australia establishes rapid-response team
- Melbourne curfew remains until October 26
- Rival groups square off at Kentucky Derby
- Evidence of virus in SA wastewater
- South Australia records first case in 12 days
- Tough Father’s Day under restrictions
- Trouble for Port pair after big win
- Toll rises from Bangladesh mosque explosion
- Second typhoon halts cattle ship search
South Australia establishes rapid-response team
A team of nurses is being established with the goal of providing rapid responses to community outbreaks of COVID-19 outside of hospitals in South Australia, as well as other medical needs.
Up to 150 nurses and midwives will be recruited to the team.
Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer, Adjunct Associate Professor Jenny Hurley, on Sunday said the move would ensure South Australia is better placed to respond to outbreaks.
“As part of these nursing/midwifery teams, we are recruiting for additional infection control nurses who will ensure our strong infection control protocols and practices relating to PPE, hand hygiene, environmental cleaning, linen, and waste management are being implemented,” she said.
It comes as an SA Pathology mobile COVID-19 testing clinic opened on Sunday at Angaston Hospital to provide easier access to testing for those in the local community.
South Australia recorded no new cases on Sunday, with more than 400,000 tests undertaken.
Australia’s national death toll is now 753 after Victoria recorded 63 new cases and five more deaths on Sunday, taking the number of state fatalities to 666.
Daily case numbers in the southern state have been tracking steadily down in recent weeks and are now frequently below 100.
NSW recorded 10 new coronavirus cases, including two year 7 students from a prestigious Sydney Catholic school.
Queensland has recorded two more infections while more than 200 hospital staff are in quarantine after being linked to the growing Brisbane Youth Detention Centre and Queensland Corrective Services cluster.
Melbourne curfew remains until October 26
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed some COVID-19 restrictions will soon be eased but Melbourne’s curfew will remain until at least October 26.
Andrews says stage four restrictions will remain in place but from September 14, the nightly curfew will start an hour later at 9pm, instead of 8pm, and run until 5am.
People living alone can nominate a friend or family member who can visit them and two hours of daily exercise will be allowed, including “social interactions” such as having a picnic at a local park or reading a book at the beach.
Further restrictions could be eased from September 28 and the government will consider lifting the curfew entirely from October 26.
“We can’t run out of lockdown. We have to take steady and safe steps out of lockdown to find that COVID normal,” Andrews said on Sunday.
Victorians were warned earlier on Sunday that daily coronavirus cases might not be low enough by mid-September, raising the prospect of more months under lockdown.
University of Melbourne modelling says based on current levels of social distancing, the 14-day case average was likely to be around 63 cases by September 17.
“With so many cases in the community, re-opening at this point will risk a resurgence, undoing all of the gains achieved from lockdown,” the modelling released by the state government overnight on Saturday concluded.
If that happened, restrictions could be “reimposed and last much longer”.
“Keeping Stage 4 restrictions until case numbers are low enough to safely reopen will enable all Victorians to get back to COVID-normal, faster,” the modelling said.
On Friday, Victoria’s 14-day case average was 116.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday warned the Victorian government’s decision to extend it harsh lockdown will come at a cost to both the state and national economy, with further job loses expected.
The Australian Industry Group has condemned the roadmap, saying it only prolongs the pain.
“Today’s so-called Victorian roadmap to recovery is a document of despair for industry and their employees,” Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said.
Rival groups square off at Kentucky Derby
Armed supporters of police and anti-racism protesters have squared off near the famed Kentucky Derby horse race, as duelling demonstrations over racial justice and policing continue to grind on across US cities.
A large group of protesters marched toward the Churchill Downs track chanting “No Justice, No Derby” – a nod to an earlier call by activists for the historic Louisville race to be cancelled.
It was being held without spectators to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
As preliminary events got underway, about 200 members of NFAC – a militia group which has protested against police killings of black people – gathered at a park just outside and were inspecting their weapons.
Louisville has emerged as one flashpoint in a summer of unrest due to the death of Breonna Taylor, a black 26-year-old killed when police burst into her apartment with a “no-knock” arrest warrant in March.
Earlier on Saturday, some of the counterprotesters outside Churchill Downs, brandishing pistols and long guns, squared off with a group of Black Lives Matter protesters and got into shoving matches.
The counter-protesters included about 250 pro-police demonstrators including Dylan Stevens, the leader of a group who goes by the nickname “The Angry Viking.”
In Portland, Oregon – another flashpoint – police arrested 27 people overnight, mostly on charges of interfering with law enforcement or disorderly conduct.
Expanded testing of SA wastewater
Testing of South Australian wastewater will be expanded, after evidence of coronavirus was discovered at two treatment plants.
One of the positive sewerage tests came from a treatment plant at Bolivar, which has a catchment of 700,000 properties, including Adelaide’s CBD where virus patients have been kept in hotels.
The other positive test came from Angaston in the Barossa Valley, covering about 2000 properties.
Prof Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier on Saturday said the results did not necessarily point to community transmission, and further wastewater testing will be carried in days to come.
“We can’t trace that back and say there is definitely people in these areas with COVID-19,” she said.
“It doesn’t mean we have an infectious case out there but we certainly couldn’t rule that out.”
The virus was excreted in faeces for a “prolonged period” after someone tested positive, she said.
Authorities will ramp up testing at Bolivar and Angaston to try and determine the cause of the positive results.
Spurrier added wastewater is being tested in three communities in the remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.
Testing is also underway at a number of SA Water’s other sewage treatment plants.
It comes as restrictions further eased on Saturday, with up to 150 people now allowed to attend weddings and funerals, and restrictions at bars further relaxed.
About 200 people rallied in Adelaide to protest against government coronavirus restrictions, a possible vaccine and privacy breaches.
The peaceful protest, part of a national wave of anti-lockdown marches, started in Rundle Park and from East Terrace along North Terrace to South Australia’s Parliament House.
South Australia records first case in 12 days
South Australia on Saturday registered a new COVID-19 case for the first time in 12 days.
A Victorian woman in her 20s who tried to travel through Adelaide Airport to Alice Springs without correct permission tested positive in hotel quarantine late on Friday.
She had arrived from Melbourne on a Jetstar flight on Thursday along with four of her young cousins.
“We were not expecting this person to be coming into South Australia,” Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier told reporters on Saturday.
“In fact, our normal procedure would have been to book a flight and send her back to Victoria but given she had four young people with her, we elected to put her in a medi-hotel.”
The woman had no virus symptoms and further testing was being done to determine if it was an old infection, Professor Spurrier said, saying the woman likely had no close contacts.
Tough Father’s Day under restrictions
Father’s Day will be quieter for many Australian families this year as tough restrictions across Victoria, gathering limits in other states, and border closures hamper traditions.
Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd on Saturday said today would be a hard Father’s Day for many who would be separated from their dads because of health measures.
NSW Health advised against visiting fathers in aged care homes in Sydney, Blue Mountains or Central Coast on Sunday.
“We understand this will be difficult for many families on Father’s Day, however our priority is to prevent the spread of the virus into the most vulnerable people in the community,” Dr Christine Selvey said.
Trouble for Port pair after big AFL win
AFL ladder leaders Port Adelaide have lost Ryan Burton to injury after what could prove to be a costly 36-point win over North Melbourne.
In his second game back from a quadriceps injury, Burton went down with the same issue before quarter-time at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night, where Port Adelaide notched a comfortable 11.12 (78) to 6.6 (42) victory .
The Power may pay an additional price for the win, with Zak Butters to face match review scrutiny following a high bump on North’s Jy Simpkin during the third quarter.
Simpkin was ordered to the bench and played no further part in the match.
The Kangaroos showed fight and scrapped to stay with Port in the first half.
But the Power’s better ball movement and efficiency in attack were telling as Ollie Wines, Travis Boak and Tom Rockliff controlled the midfield battle.
Wines and key forward Charlie Dixon kicked two goals apiece as Port spread the scoring load.
Toll rises from Bangladesh mosque explosion
The death toll from a suspected gas explosion and fire at a mosque outside the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka has risen to 20.
The explosion on Friday night hit as Muslim worshippers were about to end their evening prayers at the Baitus Salat Jame mosque in Narayanganj district, nearly 25km south of Dhaka.
Thirty-seven victims with severe wounds were taken to Dhaka’s specialist burn and plastic surgery institute.
Among those to die at hospital was the mosque’s imam, doctor Partha Sankar Paul told reporters, adding the death toll could rise further.
Doctors say seven-year-old boy who had burns on nearly 95 per cent of his body died hours after he was admitted to the hospital.
Authorities suspect a gas leak might have caused the explosion.
“Primarily, we are suspecting that gas accumulated from a line beneath the mosque might have caused the explosion,” said Abdullah Al Arefin from the fire service.
Six air conditioners inside the mosque also exploded, he said.
A police bomb disposal unit has collected evidence from the scene to examine the cause of the blast.
The state-run gas transmission and distribution agency, Titas, and the district administration have launched separate probes into the accident.
Second typhoon halts cattle ship search
Japan’s coastguard has suspended its search for crew missing from a cattle ship in the East China Sea due to bad weather from a typhoon.
A third crewman from the Gulf Livestock 1 that capsized in a storm off Japan with a crew of 43, including two Australians and two New Zealanders, and a cargo of nearly 6000 cattle, was found alive on Friday.
The search continued through noon Japan time, without finding more crew but vessels, planes and divers were pulled out due to bad weather, Junpei Sakaguchi, an officer at search and rescue division at the 10th regional maritime safety headquarters of Japan Coast Guard told Reuters by phone.
“We plan to resume the search when sea and weather conditions improve but we don’t know when that would be as it will depend on weather,” he said.
The powerful Typhoon Haishen is approaching southwestern Japan, with weather forecasters warning of heavy rain, huge waves and high tides.
The Gulf Livestock 1 was transporting cattle from New Zealand to China when it sent a distress call from the west of Amami Oshima island in southwestern Japan on Wednesday as Typhoon Maysak lashed the area with strong winds and heavy seas.
The third rescued crewman, 30-year-old Filipino Jay-nel Rosals, was found on a life raft waving for help 2km off Kodakarajima, a small island in Japan’s southern Kagoshima prefecture.
Rescuers also found an overturned orange lifeboat floating off Kodakarajima but no one was found on that boat.
Rosals’ rescue came hours after another crewman died after being pulled unconscious from the water by the coastguard.
– with AAP and Reuters
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