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What we know today, Friday November 27


Welcome to your serving of the day’s breaking news from South Australia, the nation and abroad.

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Fire contained north of Adelaide

A bushfire which threatened a number of towns north of Adelaide, as it burnt through grassland and crops, has been contained.

An emergency warning was issued at one stage on Friday for the blaze as it burnt towards Roseworthy, Sandy Creek, Freeling and Lyndoch in hot and windy conditions.

However, the CFS reduced that to a bushfire advice message after establishing control lines around the fire.

There was no immediate indication of any property losses.

The blaze came as temperatures across SA soared, with the mercury hitting 40C in Adelaide and pushed into the mid-40s in some regional centres.

The CFS declared an extreme bushfire risk for the Adelaide Hills, with six other districts considered extreme.

Similarly hot conditions will continue into Saturday, with Adelaide to have a top of 38C, before a cooler, southerly change pushes through.

China to impose duties on Australian wine

China is set to impose significant anti-dumping duties on Australian wine from Saturday.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has determined that Australian exporters have been dumping wine into its market.

“There is dumping of imported wines originating in Australia … (and) it has been substantive,” the ministry said in a statement on its website.

“There is a causal relationship between dumping and material damage and it has been decided to implement temporary anti-dumping measures … in the form of a deposit from November 28.”

The ministry said the “margin ratio” for the deposit would be between 107.1 per cent and 212.1 per cent.

It said the investigation had been conducted in “strict accordance with relevant Chinese laws and regulations and WTO (World Trade Organisation) rules”.

Treasury Wine Estates, which holds over 20 wineries across Australia and is the largest listed alcohol company on the ASX, saw their share price drop 11 per cent after the announcement.

The company requested a trading halt on the ASX.

“TWE requests a trading halt of its securities pending the preparation and release of an announcement by TWE regarding the decision announced today by the Chines Ministry  of Commerce to apply provisional anti-dumping measures to Australian wine imports into China,” Kirsten Gray, TWE’s Chief Corporate Services Officer, wrote to the ASX.

“TWE is reviewing the details of the provisional measures as a matter of urgency in order to update the market.

“The company request that the trading halt be effective immediately and remain in place until the earlier of the commencement of normal trading on Tuesday 1 December 2020, or the release of an announcement by the company in relation to the matter.”

The ASX granted TWE’s request with the company’s trading set to recommence on Tuesday.

Australian Vintage Limited also saw a four per cent drop in their share price.

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud expressed his “extreme disappointment” over the announcement.

“Today’s decision is a seriously concerning development and one which Australia will be vigorously fighting against,” Littleproud said.

“The Australian Government categorically rejects any allegation that our wine producers are dumping product into China, and we continue to believe there is no basis or any evidence for these claims.

“We will continue to work with our wine industry and Chinese authorities as part of the ongoing dumping investigation, but we will of course consider all of our options moving forward.

“Australian wine is hugely popular both in China and across the globe due to its high quality and we are confident that a full and thorough investigation will confirm this.”

NSW also facing potential bushfires this weekend

South Australia is not the only state facing catastrophic fire risks, with a scorching weekend heatwave in NSW set to bring widespread elevated fire risks not seen in the state since last summer’s devastating bushfires.

The Bureau of Meteorology predicts extreme heatwave conditions for much of NSW, with the temperature set to top 40 degrees across the west and in coastal areas.

Sydney is forecast to hit 39C on Sunday, while some records are expected to be broken in western NSW.

NSW Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Peter McKechnie has urged people to have a fire plan ready and prepare their properties.

“This is the first time since the devastating season last year we’ve seen widespread elevated fire danger,” he said today.

“Know what to do if a fire threatens you, know where you’ll go.”

The southwest will experience the worst of the fire conditions on Saturday, before the scorching weather moves through Sydney, the Hunter Region and north coast on Sunday.

McKechnie said grassland areas west of the Blue Mountain ranges were of particular concern, as were the windy conditions.

“These are dangerous conditions, fires will start easily and they’ll spread very quickly,” he said.

Last summer’s bushfires destroyed 2476 homes, claimed 26 lives and burned 5.5 million hectares of land.

Restrictions to lift, border to open with Victoria but international flights delayed

South Australia will ease a raft of restrictions on Tuesday after the state recorded zero new COVID-19 cases overnight from more than 12,000 tests.

Patron caps on all general trade will be removed, although licensed premises will have to take up the government’s new QR code system to be eligible for the new arrangements.

The allowance for funerals will increase to 150 people, weddings and private functions will stay at 150 people although dancing and stand up drinking will be allowed.

Outdoor gathering density will increase to one person per two square metres, while indoor density requirements will stay at one person per four square metres.

Community sport will also get the go ahead from Tuesday.

Masks will still be required in situations where physical distancing is not possible, such as at personal care and residential care facilities.

Restrictions on home gatherings will remain at 10 people.

SA will also ease all of its border restrictions with Victoria on Tuesday.

The moves come after the transition committee met this morning to plot the state’s pathway back to a normal Christmas.

Premier Steven Marshall also announced he has written to the Prime Minister to suspend all international arrivals to Adelaide until December 7.

“I reiterate that we are 100 per cent committed to the national repatriation program and getting Australian citizens back home safely and will continue to work with the Commonwealth on a staged resumption of that mission,” Marshall said.

One person in SA remains in hospital due to COVID-19.

Trump says he will leave White House

US President Donald Trump says he will leave the White House if the Electoral College votes for president-elect Joe Biden.

In the nearest he has come to a concession, Trump said on Thursday if Biden is certified the election winner by the Electoral College he will depart the White House.

Biden is due to be inaugurated on January 20.

The Electoral College is due to meet on December 14.

Trump made the comments at the White House after speaking to US troops during the traditional Thanksgiving Day address to US service members.

Black Friday COVID concerns amid heat, sales

Soaring temperatures and Black Friday sales are expected to put pressure on efforts to quash South Australia’s latest coronavirus outbreak today as people flock to beaches and shops during the 40C conditions.

Thousands of people are expected to flock to Adelaide’s beaches with the city forecast to have a top temperature of 40C.

Social distancing could be equally as difficult in the main shopping precincts as bargain hunters spend up before Christmas.

But Premier Steven Marshall says he’s sure most people will do the right thing.

“The vast majority of South Australians know that we’re all in this together and we’ve got to work together to make sure we stay ahead of this virus,” he said.

“We know that South Australians have listened to the expert health advice and listened to the directions of South Australian police.

“I’m very confident that’s going to continue.”

The so-called Parafield cluster now stands at 31 cases with two added yesterday.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier confirmed a Woodville High School student, who tested positive late on Wednesday, had become infected from a previously identified hotspot.

She said the teenager collected a takeaway order from the Woodville Pizza Bar on November 14, where a person known to be infected was working.

Professor Spurrier said a risk assessment would be done in relation to how infectious the girl was when she went to school on Monday, but all students, teachers and their families had been asked to isolate.

The school has also been closed until further notice for deep cleaning.

The second new case involved a man in his 40s, a close contact of an earlier case who was already in quarantine.

The new infections have raised questions over SA’s plan to lift the virus restrictions imposed because of the cluster as early as next week.

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said a meeting of the state’s transition committee on Friday would consider making changes in the context of the latest developments.

“We’ll take the advice of SA Health, but I think it’s been made pretty clear we’re still aiming for a Christmas that is as normal as possible based on the restrictions we had in place back in mid-November,” he said.

SA remains on track to lift its remaining border restrictions with Victoria from December 1, and will also roll out QR codes at the same time to allow people to check-in at stores and restaurants to enhance contact tracing.

New hot spot locations added

SA Health has updated its long list of hot spots under the Parafield cluster alert with two new locations following yesterday’s new infections.

The latest locations are:

SA Police yesterday afternoon also added Year 9 students at Woodville High who attended school on Monday and Tuesday this week (November 23 and 24) to the list of people asked to self isolate for 14 days.

SA Health says people who visited the two shopping centres do not need to self-quarantine but you should monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if symptoms appear.

The Parafield cluster now stands at 31 cases with two added yesterday – a Woodville High School student and a man in his 40s, a close contact of an earlier case who was already in quarantine.

The full hot spot list can be found here

Hills CFS on red alert as extreme fire risk warning issued

A day of extreme bushfire risk has been declared for the Adelaide Hills with temperatures expected to soar to 40C and go even higher in some South Australian regional centres.

The Country Fire Service has issued severe bushfire ratings for six other districts on Friday while a severe heatwave has been declared for the northwest pastoral region.

The Bureau of Meteorology says Adelaide should hit 40C with the mercury to climb to 46C in some outback towns including Oak Valley and Nullarbor, on the west coast.

Similarly hot conditions will continue into Saturday, with Adelaide to have a top of 38C, before a cooler, southerly change pushes through.

The Adelaide Hills is still recovering from devastating fires last December that burnt thousands of hectares of farm land and destroyed more than 80 homes and 500 outbuildings.

Victoria reaches coronavirus-free milestone

Once overrun with almost 8000 active cases, Victoria has officially eliminated COVID-19 by going 28 days with no new cases.

That is despite elimination having never been the state’s official strategy against the highly contagious and deadly disease.

Victoria has instead pursued a suppression plan throughout the pandemic, but will nonetheless meet the official definition of elimination if no new cases are announced this morning.

Health authorities say 28 days with no new cases means the virus has been eliminated from the community, given that period represents two 14-day incubation periods.

It is a remarkable milestone for Victoria, considering there were 7880 active cases on August 11.

The last COVID-19 patient in a Victorian hospital was discharged on Monday, leaving the state without an active case.

However, the Department of Health and Human Services revealed on Thursday afternoon that more virus fragments have been found as part of its wastewater surveillance testing program.

This time it was detected in a sample from a treatment plant in the Geelong suburb of Corio, with residents of the area and visitors from Saturday to Tuesday urged to come forward for testing.

Hotel quarantine was the ignition point for the state’s devastating second wave, which killed over 750 people and infected more than 18,000 others.

Tasmania will become the latest state to reopen to Victoria today after NSW removed its border checkpoints on Monday.

Queensland will follow suit on December 1.

RAA roasts drivers who leave kids, pets in hot cars

The RAA is warning motorists not to leave loved ones unattended in cars this summer as it reveals the number of children or pets it has freed from locked cars has spiked almost 60 per cent in the past five years.

The number of callouts to RAA patrols to rescue children or pets from locked cars has jumped from 98 in the summer of 2015/16 to 156 last summer.

RAA’s Senior Manager for Road Safety, Charles Mountain, said within 30 minutes of being parked in the sun, the temperature can reach up to 80C inside a car on a 40C day.

He said the colour of a vehicle only makes a small difference to the temperature inside a car, therefore the conditions are still dangerous for children and pets irrespective of the colour.

“Children and pets are particularly vulnerable to heatstroke and dehydration if they’re left in a parked car, even if it’s just for a short period,’’ he said.

“Winding down the windows or parking in the shade doesn’t make that much difference either,’’ he said

“And don’t be tempted to leave them in the vehicle with the motor and air conditioning running as the vehicle could be stolen or accidentally put into motion.“

The majority of RAA callouts are a result of an accidental locking of the car.

Such was the case when RAA patrols were called to free a child and two pets in three different incidents on January 11 this year, when the temperature reached 38.9C

However, Mountain said even relatively cooler outdoor temperatures around 32C can see the temperature inside a car reach 75C.

He said drivers should check the vehicle is empty before locking it, and is urging parents to keep their car keys out of reach of children.

Morrison defends repatriation efforts as SA flights to resume

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has defended efforts to bring a growing number of Australians home, blaming hotel quarantine caps for the bulging list.

There are more than 36,000 people registered to return to the country with the foreign affairs department classifying 8070 as vulnerable.

Labor is urging the federal government to stop pointing the finger at state-run hotel quarantine and do more to help isolate arrivals.

Morrison believes Australia is on track to reach his goal of bringing home the 26,700 people registered in September by December.

“Australia is moving everything we possibly can to get as many Australians home,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“But there are obviously understandable constraints to that because of the caps on quarantine capacity.”

Morrison says South Australia will resume accepting international flights on Monday – despite Premier Steven Marshall saying he wants to suspend overseas arrivals until the state overhauls its quarantine system.

SA initially suspended its share of flights until November 30 and had asked the Commonwealth to extend that until it had received further health advice but Morrison said yesterday that the flights into Adelaide would resume on December 1.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese argues the Commonwealth is responsible for quarantine under the constitution.

He wants air force jets to bring people home to an expanded quarantine system using federal resources to bolster capacity.

“We should be getting more people back, we should be using all the resources at our disposal,” the Labor leader told 3AW.

DFAT officials told a Senate hearing more than 426,000 people have returned since Australia’s borders were closed in March, with 30,000 on government-facilitated flights.

The prime minister said the hotel quarantine system had been incredibly successful, despite the virus spreading to the community in Victoria and SA.

Victoria is on the verge of eliminating the virus if Friday becomes the 28th consecutive day without a new case.

The state will on December 7 restart its hotel quarantine system, which was the source of the deadly outbreak that locked down Melbourne for months.

Korean virus cases on rise, German deaths pass 15,000

South Korea has recorded more than 500 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours while Germany’s fatalities passed the grim milestone of 15,000 and authorities in India’s capital consider implementing a night-time curfew.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said on Thursday the 583 additional cases took the country’s tally to 32,318 including 515 deaths.

South Korea’s daily new confirmed cases exceeded 500 for the first time in about eight months, with the country experiencing a spike in new infections since it relaxed stringent physical distancing rules last month.

To deal with the latest resurgence, the country on Tuesday reimposed tough distancing guidelines in Seoul and some other areas.

Officials say the latest bout is more worrisome because many clusters are linked to schools, private tutoring academics, offices, hospitals and family gatherings.

German’s disease control centre, the Robert Koch Institute, said on Thursday that another 389 deaths were recorded overnight, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 15,160.

Germany has registered 983,588 total cases of the coronavirus after adding 22,368 overnight, the agency said.

Germany embarked on a so-called “wave-breaker” shutdown on November 2, closing restaurants, bars, sports and leisure facilities but leaving schools, shops and hair salons open.

It was initially slated to last four weeks but Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors agreed on Wednesday to extend it through December 20 with a goal of pushing the number of new cases in each region below 50 per 100,000 inhabitants per week.

It’s currently at 140 per 100,000.

Officials in New Delhi are considering a night-time curfew amid the latest coronavirus surge that has battered the Indian capital’s healthcare system and overwhelmed its hospitals.

India’s new overall infections have declined steadily after peaking in mid-September but the situation in the capital remains a concern.

India has recorded 9.26 million cases of coronavirus, second behind the US.

US deaths from COVID-19 surpassed 2000 in a single day on Tuesday for the first time since May and hospitalisations across the country reached a record of more than 89,000 on Wednesday.

Globally, more than 60.37 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus and 1,420,556​ have died.

– with AAP and Reuters
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