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What we know today, Friday October 2

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In today’s breaking news, Donald Trump tests positive to COVID-19, New Zealand’s one-way travel bubble, Barry Humphries delivers an ode to Adelaide, the Royals chat with the KI community, and more. Follow this post for live updates through the day.

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Two new coronavirus cases in SA

South Australia has two new COVID-19 cases, taking the state’s total to 470.

The man and woman, both in their 20s, are recently returned overseas travellers who tested positive while in quarantine.

Officials said the man tested positive on his day one test and the woman tested positive on day nine after showing symptoms of COVID-19.

SA Health said the pair had been in medihotels since their arrival into SA and represented no public health risk.

The pair had not been travelling together and would remain in isolation.

Trump and first lady test positive to COVID-19

US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania have tested positive for Covid-19 and will quarantine, he wrote on Twitter on Friday.

Trump’s positive test comes just hours after the White House announced that senior aide Hope Hicks came down with the virus after traveling with the president several times this week.

Trump is 74 years old, putting him at higher risk of serious complications from a virus that has now killed more than 200,000 people nationwide.

“Tonight, (at)FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” Trump tweeted early on Friday.

Trump announced late Thursday that he and first lady Melania Trump were beginning a “quarantine process” after Hicks came down with the virus, though it wasn’t clear what that entailed. It can take days for an infection to be detectable by a test.

The diagnosis marks a major blow for a president who has been trying desperately to convince the American public that the worst of the pandemic is behind them even as cases continue to rise with less than four months before Election Day.

And it stands as the most serious known public health scare encountered by any sitting American president in recent history.

Read more here.

New Zealanders to be allowed to travel to some states

New Zealanders will soon be allowed to visit NSW and the Northern Territory when Australia opens its first international border since the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison finalised a deal with his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Arden on Friday, paving the way for flights to restart from October 16.

Transport Minister Michael McCormack said health officials had assessed New Zealand as a low risk of transmitting the disease to Australia.

“This is the first stage in what we hope to see as a trans-Tasman bubble between the two countries,” the deputy prime minister told reporters in Canberra.

South Australia is likely to be the next jurisdiction included.

But Australians hoping to cross the Tasman will have to wait a little longer, with the New Zealand government not yet satisfied with Australia’s infection rates.

Kiwis will be exempt from quarantine when arriving in Australia, provided they are not in a designated hotspot.

NSW and the NT were included in the bubble after accepting the federal government’s hotspot definition.

That means New Zealanders in places with more than three new cases over three days will be banned from quarantine-free travel to Australia.

It signals intensified pressure on states to bow to the Commonwealth definition, which could also trigger interstate borders reopening.

The government predicts exempting New Zealand arrivals from quarantine will free up 325 hotel quarantine spots a week for returning Australians.

Barry Humphries delivers “Ode to Adelaide”

Australian comedy legend Barry Humphries has declared his love for Adelaide in a three-minute YouTube video posted by the London-based Agent General for South Australia.

The 86-year-old comedian, who was born and raised in the suburbs of Melbourne, said he remains fond of his home town but has to confess that Adelaide is “his favourite Aussie city”.

The poem includes references to various Adelaide suburbs, including Gilberton, Hindmarsh, Sefton Park, Semaphore, Springfield, Unley Park and Glen Osmond, and pays tribute to Adelaide personalities past and present, including FIVEaa presenters Jeremy Cordeux and Bob Francis, ballet dancer Robert Helpmann, artist Jeffrey Smart and cricketing legend Sir Donald Bradman.

Humphries’ SA connections include a stint as director of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

According to The Australian, Humphries is yearning to return to Australia from the UK, but fears tightening lockdown and travel restrictions in London will prevent him from making it back.

Victoria records two virus deaths, seven new cases

Victoria has recorded another two coronavirus deaths, taking the state toll to 802 and the national figure to 890.

There are seven new cases, as Melbourne’s 14-day average drops to 12.8 and the regional figure to 0.2.

From September 16-29 there were 14 cases with an unknown source in Melbourne and none in regional areas.

The latest numbers come as health authorities confirm two workers in the state government’s revised hotel quarantine program were on duty while infectious.

The Department of Health and Human Services says the workers, among nine who have tested positive since the program was overhauled, were asymptomatic at the time.

The DHHS also says the latest positive case was in late August.

On Thursday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he was confident in the program, despite reports subcontracted staff were hurriedly stood down due to infection control concern

Millions of fruit flies to descend on Adelaide

Almost 100 million sterile fruit flies are set to be released across Adelaide as agricultural officials fight a string of fruit fly outbreaks across the state.

The sterile flies will be released across Blair Athol, Croydon Park, Angle Park, Rosewater, Semaphore Park, Pooraka, Campbelltown and Klemzig.

Authorities are hoping the sterile flies will mate with the current wild fly population, eventually overwhelming them.

South Australian Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham said the move will support both primary producers and backyard growers.

“With eight outbreaks across metropolitan Adelaide we must use every tool at our disposal to defend against this devastating plant pest,” Basham said.

“Our fruit fly status gives our food producers a market advantage around the world and enables them to grow fruit without the need for pesticides or costly treatments.

“Not only can fruit fly be devastating for our primary producers but as we are seeing right now it has a huge impact on everyday backyard growers.”

The move comes after Queensland successfully completed the first ever drop of sterile male fruit flies from a plane earlier this year.

We’re good enough to win the flag, says triumphant Hinkley

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley says his players know they’re good enough to win an AFL premiership.

The Power are two wins from capturing the club’s second flag after downing Geelong by 14 points in a qualifying final on Thursday night.

Port secure a home preliminary final, after holding top spot for the entire home-and-away season.

But Hinkley says the stirring win over Geelong won’t overly alter the confidence of his squad.

“I don’t think it will change too much because I think they had strong belief,” he said.

“We had strong belief at the start of the year, right through.

“We have had great belief in each other and we just knew that sticking together was going to be really important.

“It has been a challenging season so far, still with bigger challenges to come we hope.

“But they just stuck together at it. We don’t not believe, we do believe.

“We believe in us. We believe in us as a football club. We believe in us as a community.

“We know we’re good enough.”

The Power’s qualifying win at Adelaide Oval came with injury concerns, with Xavier Duursma concussed and Todd Marshall hurting a shoulder.

Duursma was knocked out in a marking crash with Geelong’s Mark Blicavs, with Hinkley praising the second-year player for keeping focus on the football ahead of the collision.

And Marshall left the field just 10 minutes into the game after landing heavily on his right shoulder.

He missed the rest of the first term but returned to the fray with the shoulder strapped.

Hotels push for fast easing of COVID-19 restrictions

South Australia’s hoteliers are hoping all restrictions on standing drinking will be eased in the coming weeks.

The state’s transition committee yesterday signed off on easing of restrictions, coming into effect on Saturday.

Under the changes, patrons of licenced venues will be able to drink alcohol while standing up in outdoor areas but drinking inside venues will remain seated only.

Restrictions will also be eased on private functions held at licenced venues, with dancing and drinking while standing allowed for events such as weddings of up to 150 people – regardless of whether they are held indoors or outdoors.

Under current restrictions, dancing is not permitted and people must remain seated while drinking.

Australian Hotels Association SA Branch CEO Ian Horne welcomed the easing of restrictions but said the sector was hoping for more to come in the next few weeks.

“Well certainly our ambition was really to remove all of the restrictions and to allow everyone to stand up, but we recognise that SA Health and the transition committee are cautious, so we see this as a good stepping stone,” Horne told InDaily.

“In particular, we are delighted with the easing of restrictions for functions, because that includes everything from weddings to birthday parties, corporate network events, cocktail functions, and that’s the single area where literally millions of dollars of pre-booked functions have been cancelled because the consumers or the organisers simply didn’t see sit-down as being an option.

“So that immediately will inject significant revenue and restore a significant number of jobs.”

He said this week’s moves should be a stepping stone to restoration of all stand-up options, including within premises.

“We would hope that an ambition of the next couple of weeks for continuing review is not unreasonable.”

Royals hail Kangaroo Island community spirit

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have praised the Australian “community spirit” as they spoke to those on Kangaroo Island who suffered in bushfires which had a devastating effect on the koala population.

The couple described the fires that had blighted Kangaroo Island in January as “terrifying” and William characterised it as a “monster”.

About 48 per cent of Kangaroo Island was affected by bushfires over the course of several weeks, leading to the loss of two lives and significant damage to people’s homes and livelihoods.

KI wildlife park owner, Dana Mitchell during her video call with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Photo: Kensington Palace/PA Wire

A video chat released by Kensington Palace overnight shows William and Kate speaking to five local business owners and emergency personnel about how they were impacted by the fires and the steps they are taking to rebuild their lives.

“It’s fantastic to hear about the community spirit in Australia as always, which is what Catherine and I see when we come down there,” William said.

“Aussies are very good at looking after each other and it’s fantastic to see that you’re all pulling together.”

He said he hoped to travel to Australia once the COVID-19 pandemic is under control and they were able to travel again.

Dana Mitchell, co-owner of the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, told the Cambridges how the koala population had also been hit, leaving them visibly shocked and saying “wow”.

They got a chance to meet koala Grace, who is being looked after at the island, and appeared shocked after learning the koala population had decreased from 60-80,000 to an estimated 5-10,000 since the fires.

“That’s devastating,” William said.

William and Kate praised the efforts of all those who had worked to tackle the spread of the fire, including Captain Mike Swayne, who spent five weeks fighting the blaze as a volunteer for the South Australian Country Fire Service.

He told the Cambridges of how “hard going” the fires had been, saying he had been firefighting for 20 years and had never seen weather like it.

“It must have been terrifying,” William said.

“How many of you were having to tackle this monster?”

Swayne said he had come to see it as a “great example of humankind coming to aid others” and praised his wife for her support.

Stephanie Wurst, a farmer who lost her home and farm as well as half her livestock, told the couple it was a “pretty traumatic time looking back at it now” and said “we’ve had so much support”.

The couple told the group: “I do hope all of you feel that you’ve got that support you’ve got someone you can speak to and somewhere you can go to receive support whether it’s financial or whether it’s just having a chat. Please do look after yourselves.”

William said they looked forward to visiting Australia.

“Hopefully Catherine and I when the world goes back to whatever normality we have in the future, we can come and visit you all and see Kangaroo Island for ourselves,” he said.

Aged care royal commission calls for urgent changes

Urgent changes have been called for in aged care as the Federal Government’s pandemic preparedness for the sector is again under the spotlight.

The royal commission into aged care has made six recommendations to the government, declaring that some of its coronavirus preparations were insufficient.

Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck says the government has accepted all six and announced $40.6 million as an initial response.

The money will go towards the serious incident response scheme and to training aged care nurses.

The commission’s special report released on Thursday outlined urgent measures needed to safeguard the sector and improve residents’ quality of life.

The report has pointed to the essential need of clear leadership and communication.

“Confused and inconsistent messaging from providers, the Australian government, and state and territory governments emerged as themes in the submissions we have received,” the report says.

“All too often, providers, care recipients and their families, and health workers did not have an answer to the critical question: who is in charge?”

The commission has called for immediate federal funding to ensure elderly residents can be visited by friends and family, as well as the rollout of infection experts at homes.

More than 665 aged care residents have died from coronavirus in Australia, with outbreaks affecting some 220 facilities.

Italy virus caseload hits five-month high

Italian authorities have reported more than 2500 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily figure in more than five months.

A total of 2548 people tested positive for the virus on Thursday compared to 1851 on Wednesday.

It was a number not recorded since the second half of April, Health Ministry data showed.

“Things are starting to look worse. Please be careful, keep a distance, wear masks, avoid indoor crowded spaces, wash your hands,” Roberto Burioni, a leading virologist, commented on Twitter.

Veneto in the north and Campania in the south were the regions that reported the most new infections – 445 and 390 respectively, followed by 324 in Lombardy.

In recent weeks, Italy had won plaudits for keeping infection rates at a significantly lower level compared to many other European countries.

But the government and health officials called for continued vigilance against the risk of a new spike in cases amid concerns that September school re-openings could contribute to this.

Goalkeeper Izzo leaves Adelaide United

Adelaide United’s goalkeeper Paul Izzo has left the A-League club for Greece.

Izzo has signed a contract with Super League Greece 2 side Xanthi FC, coached by former Western Sydney and Perth tactician Tony Popovic, with United receiving an undisclosed transfer fee.

The 25-year-old Izzo’s transfer comes after sterling domestic seasons and also three FFA Cup wins.

“It is always hard to see the best talent leave the club and in our opinion, Paul is the most talented goalkeeper in Australia,” United’s football director Bruce Djite said in a statement on Thursday.

“Paul has had over three successful years here as our number one goalkeeper and has been an instrumental member of the team.

“However as a club we believe in fostering talent and subsequently supporting those who wish to pursue careers abroad.”

Date set for Assange extradition decision

A British judge says she will give her decision early next year on whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be extradited to the United States to face charges including espionage.

The US authorities accuse Australian-born Assange, 49, of conspiring to hack government computers and of violating an espionage law in connection with the release of confidential cables by WikiLeaks in 2010-2011.

Judge Vanessa Baraitser told London’s Old Bailey Court at the conclusion of hearings from witnesses in the case that she would deliver her verdict on January 4.

Assange’s lawyers argue that the charges are politically motivated, that his mental health is at risk, that conditions in US prisons breach Britain’s human rights laws, and that he and his lawyers were spied on while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy.

The legal team representing the United States have countered that many of those arguments are issues which should be addressed in a trial and that they have no bearing on extradition.

“It’s a fight for Julian’s life, a fight for press freedom and a fight for the truth,” Assange’s partner Stella Moris, with whom he had two children while in the embassy, said outside the court on Thursday.

Assange made headlines in 2010 when WikiLeaks published a US military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff.

The site later published vast troves of US military records and diplomatic cables.

– Reporting by InDaily staff, AAP, PA and Reuters

 

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