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What we know today, Monday November 16


Welcome to your serving of the day’s breaking news from South Australia, the nation and abroad. Today, South Australia’s COVID-19 cluster has grown to 17, with authorities racing to ascertain its size and contain its spread.

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New restrictions imposed from midnight

South Australia will reimpose a series of coronavirus restrictions from midnight tonight, including caps on gatherings and the closure of community sport and gyms, while people are advised to work from home and avoid unnecessary travel, as authorities declare the state now faces a possible second wave of COVID-19.

Premier Steven Marshall said this afternoon that South Australia had not recorded any new positive cases linked to the “Parafield Cluster” since this morning’s announcements, but authorities had decided to impose a series of restrictions as a hard-line measure against the spread of coronavirus.

For the full story, including a comprehensive list of restrictions and advice, go here.

Two COVID-19 cases force Brompton aged care home into lockdown

Anglicare SA has locked down its Brompton aged care home after notifying staff, residents and families that two of its employees are among the 17 locally acquired  COVID-19 cases recorded in SA in the past 48 hours.

In a statement released this afternoon, Anglicare SA said the two employees had not been at the aged care home since Friday and have not worked at any other AnglicareSA residential aged care home.

Both staff members are now quarantined in a medi-hotel.

AnglicareSA said it had closed the facility to all visitors, begun a full clean of the site and undertaken mandatory precautionary testing for all staff and residents. They will be retested at 72 hours and again on day 12.

Residents of the facility in Adelaide’s inner-west are isolating and all staff now working there are wearing full PPE.

The statement said no residents or staff were symptomatic at this stage.

The organisation has also taken the additional precaution of limiting access to all residential care settings for AnglicareSA aged care and disability services locations for the next 48 hours.

It is the furthest south the cluster has spread so far, with all other identified hot spots being in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.

Adelaide International tennis event heading for Melbourne

The Adelaide International Tennis Tournament scheduled for Memorial Drive in January has been moved to Melbourne, as Tennis Australia shifts main summer events to one state in the lead up to the Australian Open as a coronavirus planning measure similar to the AFL’s Queensland hub.

Tennis Australia is copying the AFL hub model by shifting all events to Victoria ahead of the Australian Open to ensure the strongest-possible field for the first major of the year.

Tennis Australia will transfer at least five events usually held in Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra and Hobart to Victoria in a blockbuster summer of action.

The move is a further blow to SA’s major sporting events calendar, with the pandemic forcing the cancellation of the Tour Down Under cycling race, while the Marshall Government blamed falling spectator numbers for the decision to axe the longstanding Supercars race through city streets.

The government and Tennis Australia only last week announced a deal for the event to be held at Memorial Drive for the next ten years as part of a taxpayer-funded stadium upgrade, although it was not confirmed that the 2021 event scheduled for January 10-16 had been locked in.

Read the full story here.

COVID-19 shadow looms over packed summer of cricket

The Australian cricket fraternity is pledging to do everything possible to keep playing as a fresh coronavirus outbreak casts a shadow on the first Test and forces Tim Paine and his Tasmania teammates to self-isolate.

Adelaide is scheduled to host the series-opening Test from December 17.

The city is then due to be a base for some BBL franchises for a block of games starting on December 28.

The Sheffield Shield hub in Adelaide wrapped up last Wednesday but domestic players have still been affected by the SA outbreak.

Paine and Tasmania teammates have been told to self-isolate at home, as per that state’s current health advisory for travellers who have returned from SA since November 9.

Former Australia coach and current Brisbane Heat boss Darren Lehmann said cricketers will make every effort to keep the summer schedule rolling.

“All players in the AFL, the NRL, made it work and their staff and families did,” Lehmann told reporters today.

“So I can’t see that being different in cricket, making it happen for the good of the game.

“First and foremost, we hope that they get to the bottom of that in South Australia and they contain that really well and then we can move forward to the hubs, whatever that may look like.

“You have just got to be flexible. That’s the 2020 model, the way everyone has been able to move quite quickly on the hop.”

Queensland becomes third state to shut door on SA travellers

Queensland will follow Western Australia and the Northern Territory in shutting its borders to South Australian travellers from 11:59 pm (AEDT) tonight.

The border closure means all visitors to Queensland from Adelaide will have to undergo mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she hopes for a good outcome in South Australia, but the new directions are needed due to the large number of flights arriving from South Australia.

“This cluster outbreak is of concern, it’s not like the cost of outbreaks we’ve had in Queensland, but we do really hope that Adelaide does get on top of that very, very quickly,” she told reporters at a press conference this morning.

Victoria declares SA a COVID-19 hotspot, NSW keeps border open

Victoria has declared South Australia a COVID-19 hotspot, with SA travellers set to face sit-down interviews and rapid testing when they arrive at Victorian Airports.

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews said the border between the two states would not be closing, but new arrangements would be in place for South Australians arriving in Victoria.

“In terms of travel, I know that the Northern Territory and Tasmania have declared South Australia a hotspot – we will do the same,” Andrews said.

“Getting from South Australia to Melbourne might take a bit more time at the airport.

“There will be a case by case process where a person who arrives at the airport there will be a sit-down with them [to discuss] symptoms, have you been to any specific locations.

“Rapid testing may be a feature of that, I can’t quite confirm that yet but I’ve asked our public health team to look at that because we don’t want to take any chances at all.”

In NSW, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that while she noted the border restrictions imposed on SA by other states, the NSW Government would not be changing its position.

“The situation in South Australia is very concerning,” Berejiklian said.

“We’re watching the situation closely…we are confident that our border position remains in place, that we accept citizens from all states including Victoria from next Monday.

“But of course it’s an evolving situation, and if that changes we’ll act.

“But at this stage NSW has no intention of changing any of our border policies.”

ASX trading grinds to unexplained halt

Trading has been suspended on the Australian share market and operator ASX is investigating what it’s described as market data issues.

The Australian Securities Exchange stopped trading at 1024 AEDT on Monday after the main index had already risen by more than one per cent.

Equity market transactions were paused and an investigation was underway, an ASX spokesman confirmed.

The ASX has apologised for the disruption and is working to rectify the issue as soon as possible.

Hacking is not believed to be the cause.

The ASX200 was up 79.07 points, or 1.23 per cent, as 6484.3 when trading was suspended.

Northern Territory and Tasmania make border changes for SA travellers

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has declared South Australia a coronavirus hotspot and reinstated supervised quarantine requirements, while Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein has asked all travellers from Adelaide since November 9 to self-isolate.

The moves come after Western Australia reinstated its quarantine requirements on SA travellers yesterday, just 48 hours after reopening the SA-WA border.

Speaking to reporters this morning, Gunner he was being “deliberately cautious” on the border decision given the uncertainty surrounding SA’s new cases.

“We are declaring South Australia a hotspot for the purpose of travel to the Northern Territory effective immediately,” Gunner said.

“That means that people who are arrive here from South Australia this morning will be directed to supervised quarantine or given the option of returning to South Australia, and people who intended to travel here later today in South Australia will need to make a decision now: to stay there, or if they come here, to enter supervised quarantine.

“Because of what we don’t know, we are being deliberately cautious right now.”

Despite the change in border restrictions, SA travellers who enter the NT today or tomorrow will not be charged a $2500 bill to stay in hotel quarantine.

In Tasmania, Premier Peter Gutwein said he would provide a further update this afternoon on whether SA would be elevated to medium risk, which would make hotel quarantine mandatory for SA travellers to the state.

“At this stage, we’re not elevating South Australia to medium risk, which would be the same level as Victoria,” Gutwein said.

“We have a flight coming in from Adelaide this evening, and obviously the Spirit coming back tomorrow morning.

“If there is a need today to elevate to medium risk, I want to flag to those people who are coming on that flight…that it would be sensible I think if they were to defer their travel arrangements at this stage until the situation in South Australia has been worked through and fully understood.”

SA could be looking at March-April level restrictions depending on new cluster numbers: Stevens

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens has warned the public that South Australia could face restrictions on the level of March this year if health authorities cannot get on top of a COVID-19 cluster which has now reached 17 people.

Stevens said these type of restrictions would only be imposed in a “worst-case scenario”, but cautioned that some “hard decisions” would have to be made if the current cluster went beyond 17 people.

“Unfortunately, depending on how significant this spread is, we could be talking about quite wide restrictions that we saw back in March-April,” Stevens told ABC Radio this morning.

“But that’s worst-case scenario, and it’s not a decision that has to be made right now, but we certainly have to be thinking about what the possibilities are.

“You have to also bear in mind that if the community spread has extensively gone beyond the 17 people we know about now, then we have to make some hard decisions and that’s part of the job.”

The commissioner also said a localised approach to tackling new clusters would be the first step taken to manage SA’s new COVID-19 situation.

“We’ve had some success in the past I think with plenty of public notification shutting down key services in particular locations and then encouraging everybody to do the right thing in those areas,” he said.

“That’s been quite successful for us before and I think that’s probably the first step.”

Virus warning as SA cluster grows

The COVID-19 cluster that broke out in the community yesterday after a hotel quarantine worker infected family members has grown to 17.

Chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier told radio FIVEaa this morning that the cluster had grown after rigorous testing over the past 24 hours, with Mawson Lakes School and Preschool and the Hungry Jacks fast food restaurant at Port Adelaide ordered to be closed. Two of the infected people worked in an aged care centre; one of the infected people worked at the Port Adelaide Hungry Jacks.

Thomas More College at Salisbury Downs has also been closed for at least 24 hours.

The breakout prompted Spurrier to call for anyone with even the most mild symptoms to get tested immediately.

She said it was “too early to tell” whether SA might need to go back into some sort of shutdown.

She told ABC radio she was “absolutely certain” that the transmission had originated in an Adelaide medi-hotel and revealed she had growing concerns over the past few weeks about the growing number of people with COVID-19 entering the medi-hotel system in SA from overseas.

Adelaide is now Australia’s worst community transmission hot spot with the latest infections the state’s first locally acquired cases since the “Thebarton cluster”, which broke out in late July.

The new cluster prompted Western Australia to immediately re-impose restrictions on South Australians heading west, forcing them into 14-days of self-isolation upon arrival, less than 48 hours after re-opening the border.

SA Health announced yesterday that the state had four new cases of locally acquired COVID-19 after a worker from a city quarantine hotel was believed to have infected family members.

An 80-year-old woman was diagnosed on Saturday and a woman in her 50s and man in his 60s were diagnosed on Sunday, Spurrier told reporters yesterday afternoon.

“One of those people works in our medi-hotels,” Spurrier said.

“This is where we consider the source to be.

“I am expecting that we will have more cases – this is a wake-up call.”

Spurrier said the infected trio were from a very large family and four relatives were showing symptoms with test results expected later in the day.

The older woman lives independently not in an aged care facility and is now in isolation at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

She is the mother of one of the younger pair, who are in a relationship.

Later on Sunday, authorities said a fourth person linked to the growing cluster in Adelaide had been infected, according to the ABC.

It is reporting that an email from SA Correctional Services chief executive David Brown said an employee at Yatala Labour Prison in Adelaide’s northern suburbs – a close family contact of one of the positive cases reported on Sunday afternoon – had tested positive.

It is not yet known when the employee was last at the prison, or whether they had contact with the prisoners.

Contact tracing is underway on four family members showing symptoms, and on roughly 90 people who were at the emergency department of the Lyell McEwin Hospital in Adelaide’s northern suburbs at the same time as the 80-year-old woman between 5:30pm on Friday and 4:00am on Saturday.

Spurrier said the woman also visited the Parafield Plaza Asian supermarket between 10.30am and 11am on Thursday while infectious.

Anyone who was at the supermarket at the same time should monitor themselves for symptoms.

All staff working at SA’s quarantine hotels will now be required to undertake virus testing every seven days.

The new rule includes police, nurses, concierge, cleaners and security guards.

A 30-year-old man who recently returned from overseas was also diagnosed while in hotel quarantine.

Trump admits Biden ‘won’ in Twitter tirade

President Donald Trump has appeared to acknowledge publicly for the first time that Democrat Joe Biden won the November 3 US presidential election but asserted that it was “rigged”, reiterating his false claims of widespread voting fraud.

Biden defeated Trump by winning a series of battleground states that the Republican incumbent had won in 2016.

The Democratic former vice president also won the national popular vote by more than 5.5 million votes, or 3.6 percentage points.

Trump seemed to acknowledge Biden’s victory in a Twitter post overnight in which he listed unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.

“He won because the Election was Rigged,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday morning, not referring to Biden by name.

“NO VOTE WATCHERS OR OBSERVERS allowed, vote tabulated by a Radical Left privately owned company, Dominion, with a bad reputation & bum equipment that couldn’t even qualify for Texas (which I won by a lot!), the Fake & Silent Media, & more!”

Trump’s campaign has filed lawsuits seeking to overturn the results in multiple states, though without success, and legal experts say the litigation stands little chance of altering the outcome of the election.

Election officials of both parties have said there is no evidence of major irregularities.

Democrats and other critics have accused Trump of undermining public confidence in the American electoral process.

Before the election, Trump had refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.

Trump’s refusal to concede did not change the fact that Biden was the president-elect, but it has stalled the government’s normal process of preparing for a new presidential administration.

Trump has since taken to Twitter again to backtrack, saying “I concede NOTHING!”

The Trump administration’s decision not to recognise Biden as the winner has prevented him from gaining access to government office space and to funding normally afforded to an incoming administration to ensure a smooth transition.

The federal agency in charge of providing those resources, the General Services Administration, has yet to recognise Biden’s victory.

Biden has spent days huddled with advisers as he weighs Cabinet appointments, fields congratulatory calls from world leaders and maps out the policies he will pursue after being sworn in on Jan. 20. He is expected to continue meeting with advisers in private on Sunday.

Biden has won 306 votes in the state-by-state Electoral College system that determines the presidential winner, according to Edison Research, far more than the 270 needed to secure a majority.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of Trump supporters ventured into Washington to echo his claims of election fraud.

The “Million MAGA March,” referring to Trump’s campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again,” drew a crowd of flag-waving supporters to downtown Washington.

“Hundreds of thousands of people showing their support in D.C. They will not stand for a Rigged and Corrupt Election!” the president wrote on Twitter, though most crowd estimates were well short of Trump’s figure.

Australia to build huge vaccine plant

Photo: supplied

The southern hemisphere’s largest flu vaccine manufacturing plant will be built in Melbourne in a bid to sure up its response to future pandemics.

The federal government has struck a $1 billion, 12-year deal with CSL-owned subsidiary Seqirus for long-term access to influenza and fever vaccines, as well as life-saving antivenoms.

Under the new agreement, Seqirus will invest $800 million to develop a high-tech vaccine manufacturing facility near Melbourne airport to replace its more than 60-year-old Parkville site.

Works will start next year – creating 520 construction jobs – with the site expected to be fully operational by mid-2026.

Seqirus is the only company that makes influenza and Q fever vaccines in Australia, while no other firm in the world produces life-saving antivenoms against 11 poisonous Australian snakes, marine creatures and spiders.

The federal government’s current deal with Seqirus had been due to expire in 2024-25, potentially putting Australia at risk of needing to source critical medical products from overseas.

That will now not be a problem until at least 2036.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia needed to guard against future threats while also focusing on the health and economic challenges of COVID-19.

“This agreement cements Australia’s long-term sovereign medical capabilities, giving us the ability to develop vaccines when we need them,” he said.

“Just as major defence equipment must be ordered well in advance, this is an investment in our national health security against future pandemics.”

SA’s deadliest road fatality regions revealed

The Yorke Peninsula/Mid North is the state’s deadliest rural region contributing 129 fatalities to South Australia’s road toll in the past decade, according to figures released by the RAA.

The Murray Mallee was next worst at 110 deaths, followed by Limestone Coast with 86.

A survey of more than 560 members also found that distracted drivers, such as those using mobile phones, was a major road safety concern for 42 per cent of respondents, narrowly behind drink and drug driving (43 per cent).

The RAA figures are being released today to raise awareness of potential dangers during National Road Safety Week, which began yesterday.

RAA Senior Manager Safety and Infrastructure Charles Mountain said higher speeds on country roads coupled with the long distances often travelled increased the risk and severity of distractions.

He said a recent RAA study found driver distraction contributed to almost half of all SA road deaths in the past five years.

“You need to be fully concentrated on the task at hand when driving, because at 110km per hour just a two-second glance at your phone, stereo or crying child means you’ll travel around 60 metres blind to what’s around you,” Mountain said.

Hamilton equals F1 record with seventh championship

Britain’s Lewis Hamilton shed tears of joy as he won a record-equalling seventh Formula One world championship in Turkey and became the most successful driver in the sport’s history.

The Mercedes ace put on a masterclass in wet and slippery conditions to take a record-stretching 94th career win at the Istanbul Park circuit and secure the title with three races to spare.

Ferrari great Michael Schumacher is the only other driver with seven titles to his name, a number once thought unlikely to be matched, but most of the German’s records have passed to Hamilton.

So crushing was the win that Hamilton lapped sole rival and teammate Valtteri Bottas with 12 laps to go. The Finn, who had to finish at least sixth, spun repeatedly and ended up 14th.

Hamilton already had more race wins, pole positions and podium finishes than anyone in the history of the sport but, despite starting a season-low sixth, the 35-year-old was determined to add to the tally.

“That’s for all the kids out there who dream the impossible. You can do it too man, I believe in you guys,” he whooped over the radio after taking the chequered flag.

The Briton finished 31.6 seconds clear of Racing Point’s second-placed Mexican Sergio Perez, after passing him with 22 laps to go, in a race run behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Seven is just unimaginable but when you work with such a great group of people and you really trust each other, there is just no end to what we can do together,” said Hamilton, who has yet to sign a new deal for 2021 but is set to stay.

“I feel like I’m only just getting started.”

Hamilton’s 10th victory of 2020, and fourth in a row, took his points tally to an insurmountable 307 with Bottas on 197.

Johnson tames Augusta to win Masters

Golfer Dustin Johnson has become the first world No.1 since Tiger Woods in 2003 to win the Masters. The American shot a tournament-record 20 under to defeat Australian Cameron Smith, who finished in a tie for second with Korea’s Sungjae Im.

Johnson withstood a fierce early challenge from Smith to close with a four-under-par 68 to finish as a five-stroke winner over Smith and Im, who both closed with steely 69s.

His total was the equal-lowest under-par score in major championship history, while Smith is the first player ever to shoot four rounds in the 60s at the Masters.

Johnson had held the 54-hole lead on four previous occasions in major championships and lost all four times. The win is his second major to go with his 2016 US Open title.

Justin Thomas finished fourth on 12 under par.

– with AAP and Reuters
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