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What we know today, Sunday December 20


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

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SA imposes Sydney travel ban

South Australian authorities will require all people who have arrived from Greater Sydney area to quarantine for 14 days from 11:59pm on Sunday.

They will be compelled to have three COVID-19 tests. One is required on arrival, the second on day five, and the third on day 12.

Anyone who has visited the Northern Beaches area will be completely barred from South Australia.

Regional New South Wales arrivals must have a test but don’t need to isolate.

SA registered three new COVID-19 cases in international arrivals who are in medi-hotels, but no cases of community transmission.

“With this increasing cluster in New South Wales… you must be very mindful about getting tested,” Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier warned.

Victoria bans Greater Sydney arrivals

Residents of Greater Sydney and the NSW Central Coast will be banned from entering Victoria from 11.59pm on Sunday.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the restrictions applied to people who lived in those communities as well as those who had visited these communities since December 11.

Victorians who have recently visited or are currently in the Greater Sydney or Central Coast areas have been granted an additional 24 hours o return home.

Victoria recorded two new cases of coronavirus within hotel quarantine on Sunday. There were no new local cases recorded, taking the state’s COVID-free stretch to 51 consecutive days.

More than 9700 tests were completed across the state on Saturday.

Cameras to track Kangaroo Island recovery

Hundreds of sensor cameras will be installed at Kangaroo Island and other areas of nature to track the movements of wildlife affected by the Black Saturday bushfires.

The Google-backed An Eye on Recovery project is led by World Wide Fund For Nature Australia (WWF) and Conservation International.

The project will also survey areas in the Blue Mountains, East Gippsland, and South-East Queensland to find where further recovery actions are needed.

Pictures captured by the cameras will be uploaded to an online database to be analysed by Wildlife Insights using artificial intelligence.

WWF Australia is asking the public to upload their sensor camera images of wildlife, especially in bushfire regions, to accelerate the machine-learning process.

To date, 100 rechargeable battery-operated cameras have been set up on Kangaroo Island, with the project set to last a minimum of two years.

Sydney virus outbreak grows to 70 cases

The NSW government has tightened restrictions after the Sydney COVID-19 cluster ballooned to 70 cases.

The state reported another 30 cases in the 24 hours to 9am on Sunday with 28 linked to the cluster on Sydney’s northern beaches.

“While the numbers are higher today than yesterday, the one positive is we still have not seen evidence of massive seeding outside the northern beaches community and our aim, of course, is to keep that in place,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Sunday. 

The government has imposed a number of restrictions for the Sydney metropolitan area to contain the virus until 11.59pm until Wednesday.

Household gatherings have been limited to 10 people and patrons will need to maintain a four-square metre distancing at venues.

Places of worship and hospitality venues attendance will be capped at 300 people.

Singing and chanting at indoor venues is banned and dance floors will only be allowed at weddings.

The new list of cases, released by NSW Health on Saturday night, showed the virus had spread to greater Sydney and other parts of NSW. 

Public health alerts apply to Nomad Restaurant, Cuckoo Callay, and the Strawberry Hills Hotel in inner-city Surry Hills, the Rose of Australia pub in Erskineville and the Sydney Trapeze School at St Peters. 

Of particular concern is the Anytime Fitness in Avalon, where known cases attended over several days while infectious. 

Anyone who attended the gym on or after December 8 is considered a close contact and must self-isolate for 14 days. People who worked out there between November 23 and December 7 should be tested as well.

The lockdown lasts until Wednesday, with people permitted to leave their homes for five basic reasons: to seek medical care, exercise, grocery shop, work or for compassionate care reasons.

COVID contacts attended Adelaide Test

Three cricket fans who were at the Adelaide Oval for the Test between Australia and India have been identified as close contacts of people known to have contracted coronavirus in NSW.

SA Health says all three tested negative for COVID-19.

“All have returned a negative test and will continue their 14 day quarantine in a medi-hotel,” SA Health said in a statement on Saturday.

SA Health said wastewater samples taken from the Adelaide Oval on Friday had returned negative test results.

Ticket holders from the NSW hotspots had been asked not to attend and SA Health conducted risk assessments of attendees who admitted to travelling from NSW since December 11.

SA Health has ordered more than 180 people connected to Sydney hotspots into home isolation.

Contact tracers identified almost 6000 NSW travellers who have arrived in South Australia over the last 10 days.

SA Health on Saturday night issued new urgent warnings over four new Sydney hotspots including Cronulla in the south, Lane Cove on the north shore, Turramurra in the north-east and inner east Woolloomooloo.

South Australia is keeping its border with New South Wales open but has reintroduced its cross-border application process.

Those who visited Sydney cluster sites the Avalon RSL and Avalon Bowlo are not permitted to enter the state.

Anyone travelling from the wider northern beaches area, Sydney’s Penrith or Lavender Bay will be required to self-isolate for 14 days and get tested.

Cars with NSW number plates will be randomly checked.

The northern beaches cluster grew by 23 cases to 40 infections on Saturday.

More cases were diagnosed after the 8pm cutoff on Saturday and will be announced on Sunday, with NSW authorities indicating the outbreak will grow by the same number or more cases.

The Adelaide Oval scoreboard shows India’s lowest Test Score ever. Image: Errey/InDaily

Even Aussies stunned as India fold for 36

Australia have secured a 1-0 lead in their four-Test series against India after skittling the tourists for a record-breaking 36 at Adelaide Oval.

Australia stunned themselves with the ease in which they sealed an eight-wicket win at Adelaide Oval, where Pat Cummins (4-21) and Josh Hazlewood’s (5-8) spells skittled a shellshocked India for their lowest Test total in history.

“A bit stunned,” Hazlewood said. “I’ve been in their shoes before in different series. Getting bowled out for 36 is going to leave a few headaches.”

Tim Paine’s team secured a 1-0 series lead before the dinner break on day three of the pink-ball Test, hauling in a target of 90.

The visitors were out for 36 in their second innings after Mohammed Shami retired hurt, having been struck on his exposed right arm by a brute of a ball from Cummins.

New-look opening pair Joe Burns (51 not out) and Matthew Wade (33) shared a 70-run stand as Australia needed just 21 overs to complete an incredible victory.

Shami was rushed off for scans as captain Virat Kohli prepared to fly out for the birth of his first child.

Kohli struggled to describe his embarrassment, noting “this is not club-level cricket”.

“Literally an hour, you put yourself in a position where it’s impossible to win,” he said. “It really hurts.”

States toughen borders with NSW

States are toughening their borders with New South Wales amid fears the northern beaches coronavirus outbreak in Sydney is spreading.

A meeting of the nation’s health ministers on Saturday prompted announcements from premiers determined to prevent new shutdowns.

WA Premier Mark McGowan took the strictest approach out of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee meeting, reimposing a “hard” border with all travellers from NSW.

Only those with exemptions – such as essential health and freight workers – will be allowed in after 12.01am on Sunday.

“This has been a difficult decision to make especially given the time of year,” Mr McGowan said.

He said NSW health authorities had taken a “whack-a-mole” approach to the outbreak so far.

“They seem to step on a gym here, or a restaurant there,” he said.

“This is causing grief all over Australia so they need to kill the virus in NSW.”

Late on Saturday, Victoria extended its “orange zone” from greater Sydney to include the NSW Central Coast region after positive coronavirus cases were confirmed.

Queensland reintroduced a border pass system from 1am on Sunday.

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein announced travellers from all areas of Sydney would have to quarantine for two weeks on arrival to his state.

The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, scheduled to begin on Boxing Day, has been cancelled because of the Tasmanian restrictions.

Trump contradicts Russia data-breach claim

US President Donald Trump has downplayed the seriousness of a long-running and widespread data breach across the US government, and questioned whether Russia was to blame.

“The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality,” Trump said on Twitter on Saturday.

“Russia, Russia, Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because Lamestream is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of discussing the possibility that it may be China (it may!).”

Trump’s assertion that China may be behind the hacking spree, which has so far affected more than half a dozen federal agencies including the Commerce and Treasury Departments, runs counter to comments by his own Secretary of State and multiple politicians briefed on the matter.

“We can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.

“The cyber hack is like Russian bombers have been repeatedly flying undetected over our entire country,” Republican Senator Mitt Romney said in a tweet on Thursday.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement.

The massive data breach exploited a piece of software developed by network management firm SolarWinds that is widely used throughout the public and private sectors.

The breaches of US government agencies hit the Department of Homeland Security, the Treasury Department, State Department and Department of Energy.

A small number of organisations were also compromised in Britain but not in the public sector, a security source said.

Boeing influenced safety tests: US Senate

Boeing “inappropriately influenced” a test designed to see how quickly pilots could respond to malfunctions on the company’s 737 Max aircraft, United States Senate investigators say.

In a report released on Friday, the Senate Commerce Committee also said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continues to retaliate against whistleblowers and may have obstructed a review of two deadly crashes involving the plane.

The report follows a similarly scathing review of the FAA by a House panel earlier this year.

In a statement, the FAA said the report “contains a number of unsubstantiated allegations” and defended its review of the Max, calling it thorough and deliberate.

“We are confident that the safety issues that played a role in the tragic accidents involving Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 have been addressed through the design changes required and independently approved by the FAA and its partners,” the agency said.

Max planes were grounded worldwide after crashes in Indonesia in October 2018, and Ethiopia in March the following year killed 346 people.

Following a lengthy review, the FAA last month approved the plane to fly again if airlines update a key flight-control system and make other changes.

According to a whistleblower who was an FAA safety inspector, Boeing representatives watched and gave advice to help test pilots in a flight simulator respond to the problem in a few seconds.

The reaction of three flight crews was still slower than Boeing had assumed, according to the report.

COVID ‘cancels’ Xmas for millions in UK

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled Christmas for millions of people across London and south-east England after scientists said that a new coronavirus variant is spreading more rapidly.

Johnson announced that from Sunday areas in the southeast currently in the country’s Tier 3 will be moved into a new Tier 4 – effectively returning to the lockdown rules of November.

Wales will face similar restrictions, while Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the strict travel ban between Scotland and the rest of the UK would now remain in place right throughout the festive period.

All of Scotland will enter Tier 4 for three weeks from one minute past midnight on the morning of December 26.

It comes as Britain and the European Union (EU) are continuing trade talks in Brussels in a last-gasp bid to resolve disagreements over fishing rights and fair competition rules, seen as the main obstacles to a Brexit deal.

With less than two weeks to go before Britain finally leaves the trading bloc’s orbit on December 31, the two sides are under pressure to agree on a new relationship.

Fiji cyclone death toll rises to four

Four people have now been confirmed killed in Fiji during Cyclone Yasa, which passed over the country as a category five cyclone.

Yasa is one of the strongest to ever hit the Pacific, the local disaster authority reported on Saturday.

Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office director Vasiti Soko told reporters in Suva two men, aged 50 and 70, were killed by debris whipped up by 345km/h winds.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said earlier that a three-month-old baby and a 45-year-old farmer were killed as Cyclone Yasa crossed the Pacific Ocean nation on Thursday night and Friday morning.

Thousands of people have been left homeless and crops have been destroyed.

Australia and New Zealand have pledged aid and will fly in emergency tents and supplies.

– with AAP and Reuters
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