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What we know today, Friday October 9


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 records one new coronavirus case

SA Health has reported one new COVID-19 case in South Australia this afternoon, bringing the state’s total to 473.

The case is a man in his 20s who tested positive while in quarantine, having recently returned from overseas.

The man is currently in a medi-hotel and is not considered infectious.

SA Health also reports that a woman in her 40s returning to South Australia from overseas has tested positive for the virus, although this positive test will not add to the state’s overall tally since the case was recorded overseas.

President cleared to return to public events

US President Donald Trump will return to the campaign trail this weekend, after his doctors cleared him for public engagements.

White House physician Sean Conley said all of the President’s vital signs are stable, and he has responded well to his course of treatment.

“Today the President has completed his course of therapy for COVID-19 as prescribed by his team of physicians,” Conley said.

“Since returning home, his physical exam has remained stable and devoid of any indications to suggest progression of illness.

“Overall he’s responded extremely well to treatment, without evidence on examination of adverse therapeutic effects.

“Saturday will be day 10 since Thursday’s diagnosis, and based on the trajectory of advanced diagnostics the has been conducting, I fully anticipate the President’s safe return to public engagements at that time.”

With only 25 days before the US election, the President will be keen to make up for ground lost to Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who currently holds a 9.8 per cent national lead in the polls.

Victoria records 11 new virus cases

Victoria has recorded 11 new coronavirus cases and no deaths for the third time in a week.

The state’s death toll remains at 809 and the national figure is 897.

The new cases, confirmed by the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday, bring Melbourne’s 14-day case average to 9.4, a slight drop from 9.7 on Thursday.

Twelve mystery cases have been recorded between September 23 and October 6.

The city needs a 14-day average of five cases, and no more than five mystery cases during the same period, to further ease restrictions on October 19.

Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said it would be a “day-by-day assessment of the situation” as to when further restrictions are lifted.

SA watches carefully as NSW tries to contain virus outbreak

Health authorities are racing to contain at least two COVID-19 outbreaks in Sydney as the number of locally-transmitted cases grow, dashing hopes of the Queensland border reopening next month.

NSW has recorded five new locally acquired cases of COVID-19.

The state recorded 10 new cases in total in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday, bring the overall number of cases in NSW to 4082.

Five of the new cases are returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine while the other five were locally acquired and linked to a known case or cluster.

NSW Health said four of the new locally acquired cases reported on Friday are associated with a private health clinic cluster.

South Australia won’t act immediately on its open border with NSW, but Premier Steven Marshall says local authorities are watching the situation.

Marshall said local health officials would sit down with their NSW counterparts to understand the new infections and the response to the cases.

“At this stage, we don’t plan to make any immediate change to our borders in South Australia,” he said.

“We’ve always acted swiftly to protect the people of South Australia but we haven’t received any information, at this stage, that would make us change our border arrangements.

“We’re always looking at it. We’re always keeping the people of South Australia protected.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian had said it is likely more cases would be diagnosed in coming days and called on residents to be on “high alert”.

Queensland on Wednesday gave NSW 48 hours to find the source of three new cases before restarting the 28-day countdown clock that triggers border re-openings.

“I don’t know where they got that 48-hour deadline concept from and I certainly want to send a very strong message to our health experts in NSW – just continue to do your jobs well (and) ignore those artificial deadlines other governments are imposing on us,” Berejiklian said.

Labor promises big spend on childcare and energy

Anthony Albanese has promised more than $6 billion to slash childcare costs and a $20 billion plan to link Australia’s poles and wires with renewable energy.

The Opposition Leader’s budget reply speech on Thursday night fired the starting gun on policy debate between Labor and the Coalition ahead of the next federal election.

An elected Labor government would spend $6.2 billion over four years overhauling childcare including scrapping the annual child care subsidy cap.

The maximum childcare subsidy would be increased to 90 per cent, cutting costs for 97 per cent of families.

“For millions of working women, it’s simply not worth working more than three days a week,” Albanese told parliament late yesterday.

The Productivity Commission would review the sector with the aim of implementing a universal 90 per cent subsidy for all families.

Albanese said the current arrangements derailed careers and cost workplaces years of valuable experience.

“If I’m prime minister, I will make quality, affordable child care universal,” he said.

Labor would direct the consumer watchdog to design a price regulation mechanism and examine the ties between funding, fees, profits and staff salaries.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese before his Budget reply speech last night. Photo: AAP/Mick Tsikas

An Albanese government would upgrade Australia’s electricity system to better connect the grid to renewables.

The move is designed to create thousands of construction jobs linked to action on climate change and driving down power prices.

“Fixing transmission is technology neutral and will allow the market to drive least cost, new energy production,” Albanese said.

SA renewables projects begin construction

Premier Steven Marshall will today turn the sod on two renewables projects near Port Augusta worth a combined $670 million.

DP Energy and Spanish energy company Iberdrola are spending $500 million on a hybrid wind and solar plant at Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park, while Singapore-based Nexif Energy has already begun the $170 million expansion of its Lincoln Gap Wind Farm.

“During the construction phase of the DP Energy and Iberdrola project, there will be 200 full-time construction jobs and 20 full-time ongoing jobs once the project is complete,” Marshall said.

“Nexif’s expansion will generate 110 jobs during the construction phase and 10 ongoing jobs once operational.”

Nexif says the Lincoln Gap project will ultimately consist of 464MW of wind turbines.

The first stage began in 2017 and 35 turbines are fully operational. With stage two, 24 turbines are under construction with more under development. The project also includes a 10MW grid scale battery storage.

The Port August Renewable Energy Park project will include 50 wind turbines and 250,000 solar modules, with the aim of producing almost 320 megawatts of renewable energy.

Trump rejects ‘virtual’ debate

The fate of the final debates between US President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden has been thrown into uncertainty as the campaigns offered duelling proposals for moving forward with a process that has been upended by the president’s coronavirus infection.

By Thursday afternoon, it was unclear when or how the next debates would proceed or whether voters would even get to see the two men running for the White House on the same stage again before election day on November 3.

The day began with an announcement from the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which decided unilaterally that the next debate, a town hall-style affair set for October 15 in Miami, would be held virtually.

The commission cited health concerns following Trump’s infection as the reason for the change.

Trump, who is eager to return to the campaign trail despite uncertainty about his health, said he wouldn’t participate if the debate wasn’t in person.

Biden suggested the event be delayed a week until October 22, which is when the third and final debate is already scheduled.

The Trump campaign then countered again, agreeing to a debate on October 22 – but only if face to face – and asking that a third contest be added on October 29.

But Biden rejected squaring off that late in the campaign.

ABC News announced later it would host its own town hall where Biden will answer questions from voters on television in Philadelphia next Thursday.

The debate commission, which has the unenviable task of finding common ground between the competing campaigns, did not weigh in on any of the new proposals.

In an interview with Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo shortly after the commission’s announcement, Trump insisted he was in “great shape” and called the idea of a virtual debate a “joke”.

“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” he declared.

The president’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, said Trump would stage a rally rather than debate next Thursday, though it’s not yet clear if he will be well enough to do that.

Kidnapping plot against US governor

The FBI says it has thwarted a plot to overthrow the Michigan state government and kidnap its governor Gretchen Whitmer and had probable cause to charge six men with a failed operation that involved reaching out to a militia group.

The FBI first got wind that a group of individuals “were discussing the violent overthrow of certain government and law-enforcement components” in early 2020, according to an affidavit by special agent Richard Trask released by the FBI on Thursday.

The alleged plot included reaching out to a militia group, which was not named in the affidavit.

Trask said there was probable cause to charge six men – Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta – with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer, a Democrat and frequent critic of Republican President Donald Trump.

In September, Fox posted in an encrypted chat that he did not want a final training exercise to be held in the last week of October because it would not leave enough time to execute the kidnapping before the US election on November 3, Trask said.

“The group agreed to use the time until the final training exercise to raise money for explosives and other supplies,” Trask wrote in the affidavit.

Record daily rise in COVID-19 infections: WHO

The World Health Organisation has reported a record one-day increase in global coronavirus cases, with the total rising by 338,779 in 24 hours led by a surge of infections in Europe.

Europe reported 96,996 new cases, the highest total for the region ever recorded by the WHO.

Global deaths rose by 5514 to a total of 1.05 million.

The previous WHO record for new cases was 330,340 on October 2.

The agency reported a record 12,393 deaths on April 17.

As a region, Europe is now reporting more cases than India, Brazil or the United States.

India reported 78,524 new cases, followed by Brazil at 41,906 and the United States with 38,904 new infections, according to WHO data that lags the daily reports of each country.

According to a Reuters analysis of more recent country data, COVID-19 infections are rising in 54 countries, including surges in Argentina, Canada and much of Europe.

Infections in the United Kingdom have reached record levels with more than 17,000 new cases reported on Thursday.

“We are seeing a definite and sustained increase in cases and admissions to hospital. The trend is clear, and it is very concerning,” said Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director for Public Health England.

France’s new daily COVID-19 infections remained above the record 18,000 threshold for the second day on Thursday with new measures to curb the outbreak expected.

The average number of new infections reported in Belgium has been increasing for seven days straight and Germany reported its biggest daily increase in new cases since April on Thursday.

While India still leads in the globe in most new cases reported per day, new infections are down 20 per cent from its peak.

In the United States, which has the largest total number of cases and deaths in the world, new infections are edging higher along with the most hospitalised COVID-19 patients since early September.

– reporting by InDaily staff, AAP and Reuters

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