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What we know today, Sunday October 18


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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Two SA hotel quarantine COVID-19 cases

South Australia on Sunday reported two new coronavirus cases in people who recently returned from overseas.

The man in his 40s and the woman in her 30s tested positive while in hotel quarantine and remain in isolation.

SA Health report there is no risk to the wider community.

Their cases take the total number diagnosed in SA since the start of the pandemic to 484, but only eight of those are still considered active infections.

More than 2250 tests were conducted on Saturday taking the total to more than 516,000.

It comes as the SA government closely watches NSW case numbers due to the open border between the two regions, with the state reporting just one new locally-transmitted case of COVID-19 on Sunday.

NSW notched a total of five new virus cases in total in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, with four in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

NSW Health said in a statement on Sunday the locally-acquired infection was connected to Great Beginnings childcare in Oran Park.

All staff and children who attended the centre between October 2 and Tuesday have been told to get tested and self-isolate for a fortnight.

Western Australia Deputy Premier Roger Cook meanwhile poured cold water on a potential travel bubble with South Australia on Saturday.

“If we open up our border to South Australia we essentially cede control of our borders to the South Australian government … and that’s not good enough,” he said.

WA recorded three new cases, including two infections linked to the Key Integrity and AL Messilah cargo ships currently offshore of the state.

SA study points to best bone health for kids

Childhood bone health is best supported with 90 minutes of exercise each day along with more than three hours of other light physical activity, a new study has found.

The University of South Australia research, involving children aged 11 to 13, has also pointed to the need for adequate sleep.

The study looked at 804 children and found that the best balance of daily activity to be 1.5 hours of moderate to physical exercise, such as sports or play, 3.4 hours of light physical activity, such as walking or chores, 8.2 hours of sedentary time, including studying and reading and 10.9 hours of sleep.

It used self-recorded logs and body worn accelerometers to map the activity of participants and scans to check on bone densities.

Lead researcher Dot Dumuid said up to 90 per cent of peak bone mass was achieved by age 20 which made development during childhood particularly important.

“Optimising bone health in children is a key protector against osteoporosis, the leading preventable cause of fracture in adults and a major public health problem with considerable economic and societal costs,” she said.

The study also found boys needed an extra 2.4 hours sleep each night than girls to ensure best bone health.

Rookie stars in All Blacks’ Bledisloe rout

All Blacks winger Caleb Clarke has burst into global rugby stardom to help New Zealand get their Bledisloe Cup defence back on track with a 27-7 win over Australia in Auckland.

After a pulsating 16-16 draw in the series opener, the talk this week was whether the Wallabies could end their 34-year losing streak at Eden Park.

They couldn’t – with a multitude of handling errors and paper-thin defence consigning the Wallabies to yet another loss at their least favourite ground.

Veteran All Blacks hooker Dane Coles bristled with energy and the return of Beauden Barrett from injury injected penetrative pace.

But the undoubted star was Clarke, who showed Jonah Lomu-like skills and strength as he bulldozed the Wallabies the defence time and again, announcing himself as a future star in the making.

Clarke, 21, the son of former All Blacks centre Eroni Clarke, was so impressive he left the field to a standing ovation with 12 minutes remaining.

Some COVID-19 limits lifted for Melbourne

Melburnians will be allowed to travel 25km from home and there will be no limits on time spent away from their residence as a part of eased COVID-19 restrictions due to start Monday.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the lifting of some restrictions on Sunday, after authorities confirmed the state had two new cases of coronavirus and no further deaths.

But Melbourne businesses must wait longer for eased restrictions, with Andrews confirming that changes to retail, hospitality and “personal care” services won’t change until November.

“There is some optimism, confidence even, but if things continue this week as they have the last five days, we may be able to bring that forward,” he said of the wait for business operators.

Groups of up to 10 people from two households can gather outdoors and two adults and their dependents will be allowed to visit another property each day.

For months, Melburnians have only been permitted to travel within a 5km radius of their home and only for a maximum period of one or two hours.

Sunday’s eased restrictions do not change mandatory mask wearing whenever Victorians leave home.

Federal health minister Greg Hunt has urged the Victorian government to ease restrictions in line with NSW.

“The epidemiological conditions for a COVID-safe reopening of hospitality, movement (and) family reunions among others, have now been firmly met,” Hunt posted on Twitter on Saturday.

However Andrews said Hunt was not an epidemiologist and accused him of “playing games”, adding that he would not be rushed to lift restrictions.

New trucks and kit to fight SA bushfires

New trucks, new kit and better communications will place South Australia in a better position to fight potentially deadly bushfires this summer, the state government says.

The government is rolling out a $97.5 million action plan following a major review of last season’s fires which devastated parts of the Adelaide Hills and the western half of Kangaroo Island.

The fires destroyed hundreds of homes and other buildings and claimed three lives as they swept through more than 200,000 hectares of scrub and farm land.

“The review was completed and actions initiated immediately, so we can better manage bushfires and the impact they have on our communities,” Emergency Services Minister Vincent Tarzia said.

“The action plan is about safeguarding our future.”

On Sunday, Tarzia delivered a new high-tech fire truck and thermal imaging camera to the Montacute Country Fire Service brigade in the Adelaide foothills.

It’s one of 25 to join the CFS fleet this summer which the minister said would make a significant difference in its ability to protect lives and property.

Another 16 trucks are being refurbished to include sprinkler systems designed to protect firefighters and 55 thermal imaging cameras will be distributed across the state.

CFS Chief Officer Mark Jones said last season’s bushfires were intense and burned quickly, making enhanced safety systems crucial.

“It’s vital that our trucks are fitted to the appropriate safety standards, including the installation of sprinkler systems, so that if our personnel are caught in a fire, they have the optimal chance of remaining safe,” Jones said.

“Increasing the number of trucks with sprinkler systems will increase the number of trucks we can confidently send to major bushfire events.”

Ardern wins in a landslide

Jacinda Ardern has won a historic victory in the New Zealand election, securing a thumping mandate and a parliamentary majority for Labour’s second term.

With 97 per cent of the party vote counted, Ms Ardern’s Labour was on 49 per cent of the vote, giving a return of 64 MPs in the 120-seat parliament, on track to be the biggest single-party haul in at least 50 years.

The opposition National party, led by Judith Collins, is sitting at 27 per cent and heading for a disastrous result.

Ms Ardern arrived at Auckland Town Hall at around 10:30pm local time on Saturday to a rapturous welcome, pledging to govern for all New Zealanders.

“To those amongst you who may not have supported Labour before – and the results tell me there are a few of you – to you, I say ‘thank you, we will not take your support for granted’,” she said.

The landslide has Labour ahead in seats party strategists never expected to claim.

Deputy National leader Gerry Brownlee is on track to lose his blue-ribbon seat of Ilam, a region held by the party since 1946.

Up to two dozen opposition MPs will lose their jobs.

Minor parties the Greens and ACT are on track to secure increased representations in Wellington, while New Zealand First looks set to miss parliament.

Ardern must now decide whether to keep governing with the Greens.

Analysts are inclined to believe Ms Ardern will invite the Greens into the government; efforts to build consensus are one of the hallmarks of her leadership.

Still, with hundreds of thousands of special votes yet to be counted and negotiations on possible roles for the Greens to be considered, a decision could be weeks away.

Ardern has other decisions to make too, including a new foreign minister after the defeat of Winston Peters’ New Zealand First.

NZ First was the third of three parties in the Labour-led government, but will not be returned to parliament after missing the five per cent threshold.

Labor faces Greens push for ACT ‘reset’

Labor and the Greens are set to hold talks this week on forming another minority government in the ACT, with the minor party seeking a policy “reset”.

With the counting of votes from Saturday’s election due to continue well into next week, Labor appears to have won at least 11 seats and the Greens three, out of the 25-seat assembly in the national capital.

The Liberals could hold as few as eight seats, with the Greens securing as many as six if complex preference flows go the minor party’s way.

Labor will notch up 23 years in office by the end of the coming term.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, the second-longest serving political leader in the country, told supporters the year 2020 had pressed the city to the limit, with bushfires, a hailstorm and coronavirus.

“We’ve got through it because we’ve applied progressive values to our government decisions and because we’ve applied compassion and we haven’t left people behind,” he said.

Labor’s primary vote was hovering at just over 38 per cent, while the Liberals polled 33 per cent and the Greens just under 14 per cent.

It is yet to be determined whether Liberal leader Alistair Coe will stand down.

Eagles and Roosters brace for SANFL grand final

North Adelaide and Woodville-West Torrens are preparing to face off in the SANFL grand final at Adelaide Oval today.

The top two sides from the home and away season have made it through, marking the first time the two sides have met in the deciding match.

The two sides will also play off in the reserves decider, while North Adelaide won this year’s SANFLW premiership.

The match begins at 3pm.

It comes after Geelong notched an impressive 40-point win over Brisbane to book a date with Richmond in the season decider of the national competition.

Retiring champion Gary Ablett kicked two goals in the 11.16 (82) to 6.6 (42) victory at the Gabba on Saturday night to help ensure his decorated career lasts into another AFL grand final.

Mitch Duncan, Sam Menegola and Patrick Dangerfield were all important for the Cats and Coleman medallist Tom Hawkins kicked two goals in an entertaining duel with Harris Andrews.

It comes after Richmond knocked out Port Adelaide by six points in a preliminary final slugfest to advance to a third AFL grand final in four seasons.

Girls light candles outside the Paris school where a slain history teacher was working. Image: AP/Michel Euler.

Attacker claims decapitation on Twitter

The 18-year-old who beheaded a teacher outside the school in a Paris suburb where he taught had approached pupils in the street and asked them to point out his victim.

Police shot the Moscow-born attacker dead minutes after he murdered 47-year-old history teacher Samuel Paty in broad daylight in the suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine on Friday.

A photograph of the teacher’s body, accompanied by a message claiming responsibility posted on Twitter, was found on a phone near the assailant’s body.

Anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said on Saturday the Twitter account belonged to the assailant.

The post was removed swiftly by Twitter, which said it had suspended the account because it violated the company’s policy.

Ricard quoted the message as saying: “In the name of Allah the most gracious, the most merciful, … to (President Emmanuel) Macron, leader of the infidels, I have executed one of your hell-hounds who dared to belittle (Prophet) Mohammad.”

Paty had earlier this month shown his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics class on freedom of expression, angering a number of Muslim parents. Muslims believe that any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous.

The attacker, of Chechen origin who had been living in the town of Evreux, northwest of Paris, was not previously known to the intelligence services, Ricard told a news conference.

The anti-terrorism prosecutor confirmed police were holding nine people in custody in connection with the attack.

Merkel urges Germans to stay at home

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked the population to stay at home “whenever possible” as the country’s disease control body announced yet another record increase in the number of new coronavirus infections.

“We have to do everything we can now to ensure that the virus does not spread uncontrollably – every day counts,” Merkel said in her weekly podcast published on Saturday.

“I ask you to refrain from any trip that is not really necessary, any celebration that is not really necessary. Please stay at home – wherever you are, whenever possible,” she said.

Germany is in a “very serious phase” of the pandemic, Merkel said, adding that “the number of new infections is increasing by leaps and bounds every day.”

“The comparatively relaxed summer is over; now we are facing difficult months. How winter will be, how our Christmas will be, will be decided in the coming days and weeks. We all decide that through our actions.”

The president of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, went into quarantine on Saturday after one of his bodyguards tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a presidential office spokeswoman.

Germany recorded 7,830 coronavirus infections in the last 24-hour period, marking a new record as the highest daily figure since the pandemic began, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

Armenia, Azerbaijan agree to new ceasefire

Armenia and Azerbaijan say they have agreed to a new humanitarian ceasefire in fighting over Azerbaijan’s ethnic Armenian-controlled enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan and Armenia had accused each other earlier on Saturday of fresh attacks in violation of a week-old Russian-brokered truce.

The ceasefire had failed to halt the worst fighting in the South Caucasus since the 1990s.

Azerbaijan had said 13 civilians were killed and more than 50 wounded in the city of Ganja by a missile attack from Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia, which supports Nagorno-Karabakh politically and economically and sends volunteers to serve in its army, had accused Azerbaijan of continued shelling.

The fighting is the worst in the region since Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces went to war in the 1990s over Nagorno-Karabakh.

The territory is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but populated and governed by ethnic Armenians.

Both countries announced the ceasefire from midnight on Saturday local time in identical statements.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who mediated the ceasefire talks a week ago, had talked to his Armenian and Azeri counterparts by phone on Saturday and stressed that the truce agreed a week ago must be observed, Moscow said.

– with AAP and Reuters

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