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What we know today, Monday June 28


NSW has recorded 18 new COVID-19 cases today, taking the total since the Bondi cluster emerged earlier this month to 130.

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NSW records 18 more local COVID-19 cases

NSW has recorded 18 new COVID-19 cases today, taking the total since the Bondi cluster emerged earlier this month to 130.

All but one is linked to the current cluster and while the eighteenth case was “in the vicinity” of other cases, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Monday.

Around six of the new cases were in isolation for the entire time and more were isolated for some of their infectious period.

The new locally acquired cases were identified from nearly 59,000 tests in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday.

The numbers are lower than the 30 locally acquired virus cases identified the previous day, although the premier has warned they will get worse.

Monday marks the second full day of a two-week hard lockdown for the Greater Sydney, Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour regions.

Sydney’s CBD is a virtual ghost town after workers were ordered to work from home once again after infections numbers rose on the weekend.

Overnight, NSW Health issued alerts for more than a dozen new venues of concern including the T2 domestic terminal and a food court at Mascot, a burger joint at Sydney Olympic Park, a ramen restaurant at Darlinghurst, the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Café at Darling Harbour and Bentley Restaurant and Bar in the CBD.

Coroner calls for changes to correctional services after SA jail death

The South Australian deputy state coroner has called for more work to prevent prisoners killing themselves after the death of an inmate at Adelaide’s Yatala Jail.

Joshua Marek Stachor was on remand for domestic violence charges when he was found hanging in his cell in November 2017.

In his findings on Monday, Deputy State Coroner Ian White raised concerns over the inadequacy of an admission interview conducted on the 30-year-old and the attention given to his mental health issues.

White said a notice of concern should have been raised as, by his own description, Stachor’s mental health was starting to deteriorate and he was suffering anxiety and paranoia.

“If a NOC had been raised it is unlikely Mr Stachor would have been in a single cell,” the coroner said.

“I am not able to find that a NOC would have prevented Mr Stachor taking his own life, but the likelihood of it happening would have been less.”

White also found that the officer who conducted the admission interview with the prisoner had not been properly trained to do so and despite his best efforts was “overwhelmed by the task”.

In his recommendations, the coroner urged the Department for Correctional Services to continue to identify and eliminate hanging points in cells.

He said items that have the potential to act as ligatures should also be classified as contraband.

White said the department should take steps to appoint correctional officers who were specifically dedicated and trained to admit prisoners and should provide them with continuing education.

That should include training on the basics of mental health issues and the common physical signs of mental health problems.

Trans-Tasman bubble may soon return: Ardern

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has foreshadowed the return to state-by-state bubble arrangements after ordering a snap three-day border closure to Australia on the weekend.

On Saturday night, a small number of ministers met and suspended quarantine-free travel with Australia, a move later attributed to fears around the case at a Northern Territory mine site.

Officials have since been manually checking arrivals to New Zealand against staff lists at the mine site to see whether fly-in fly-out workers have landed in Aotearoa.

On Monday afternoon (NZST), the Ministry of Health announced two of around 900 workers had travelled to New Zealand.

Both are isolating. One has returned a negative test; the other’s result is expected on Tuesday.

The trans-Tasman bubble was created on April 21 when New Zealand removed its quarantine requirements to Australia.

Since then, it has suspended travel to NSW, Western Australia and Victoria temporarily in response to outbreaks.

Saturday’s suspension is the first whole-of-country shutdown, and runs contrary to its public plan on how it would manage the border.

While there is no prospect of re-opening to NSW as it contends with its major Bondi cluster, Ms Ardern said a reassessment would take place early this week.

“As we assess … you may see different guidance for different states,” she told TVNZ.

The border to NSW will stay closed until July 7 at the earliest.

US carries out airstrikes in Iraq, Syria

The United States has carried out another round of airstrikes against Iran-backed militia in Iraq and Syria, this time in response to drone attacks by the militia against US personnel and facilities in Iraq.

In a statement, the US military said it targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq. It did not disclose whether it believed anyone was killed or injured but officials said assessments were ongoing.

The strikes came at the direction of President Joe Biden, the second time he has ordered retaliatory strikes against Iran-backed militia since taking office five months ago. Biden last ordered limited strikes in Syria in February, that time in response to rocket attacks in Iraq.

“As demonstrated by this evening’s strikes, President Biden has been clear that he will act to protect US personnel,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

The strikes came even as Biden’s administration is looking to potentially revive a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. The strikes appear to show Biden’s efforts to compartmentalise defensive strikes to protect American personnel, while simultaneously engaging Tehran in diplomacy.

Andrews slams ‘vile’ rumours about fall

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has taken a swipe at his political opponents for weaponising ‘vile’ conspiracy theories about his fall as he returned to work.

Andrews fractured his spine and broke several ribs when he slipped and fell while getting ready for work at a Mornington Peninsula holiday rental on March 9.

The 48-year-old was taken to the Peninsula Private Hospital by ambulance before he was transferred to the Alfred Trauma Centre, and has spent almost four months recovering.

In his absence, various unfounded rumours have circulated online and were fuelled by Shadow Treasurer Louise Staley when she called on Mr Andrews to answer 12 questions about his injury.

Asked why he didn’t put out a statement to put the speculation to bed, Andrews said it was a no-win situation.

“What fed those rumours is nothing I’ve done,” he told reporters on Monday.

“What fed those stories is the vile, wicked nature of people who have put them around.

“And what’s more the vile, wicked behaviour of those who’ve sought to turn them into a political weapon and that is not just one person.”

Andrews said he had been up-front and clear on the circumstances of his fall and refused to mention Staley by name.

“They’re irrelevant to the work I do, and I won’t waste my time or my breath on them,” he said.

“People of this great state passed their judgement on that group of individuals a couple of years ago. They’ll get a chance to make their judgements in another 18 months.”

He added there was no place for American-style “make up your own facts” politics in Victoria and gave an insight into the toll the ordeal has taken on his family.

“What I will say is it is very, very hurtful when kids are being taunted at school. It is very hurtful when you see some of this stuff printed,” Andrews said.

SA set to tighten restrictions amid national outbreaks

Local COVID-19 restrictions are expected to be beefed up today by the state government after SA closed its borders to five jurisdictions to help prevent the virus from spreading further.

Authorities are looking at lowering capacity numbers at venues and home gatherings and also at mask-wearing rules after what Premier Steven Marshall described as a “significant deterioration” in Australia’s fight against the pandemic.

On Sunday, SA closed its border to Queensland, WA, the NT and the ACT effective immediately, after previously locking out travellers from NSW.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said officials were particularly concerned that the cases of community transmission in other parts of the country involved the more transmissible Delta variant of the disease.

“This one is passing like wildfire,” she said.

“At the moment we would say our community is a bit of a tinderbox and we are very concerned that if we get undetected cases it will take off very rapidly.

“This is an enormous wake-up call. This is the biggest threat in South Australia since the first wave.”

Spurrier said officials were considering revising the density requirement for venues such as restaurants, cafes and pubs and would also look at patron caps for particular events.

As well as the border closures, all Victorians will now need to be tested for the virus on the first day they arrive in SA.

However, there remain no restrictions for travellers from Tasmania.

Spurrier urged anyone with even the mildest symptoms to get tested, with hopes of a significant increase in checks in the coming days.

She also called on everyone eligible to get vaccinated to make an appointment.

“If you had been sitting on the fence a bit about whether to get your vaccine or not, it is the time to get off that fence and roll your sleeve up and get vaccinated,” she said.

SA currently has nine active coronavirus infections, all returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

They include three new cases of COVID-19 announced yesterday – a male in his 40s and two female children. All three cases acquired their infections overseas and have been in medi-hotels since their arrival.

Lockdowns spark emergency meetings

An emergency meeting of the national security committee will be held this morning and state and territory leaders will also be summoned to an unscheduled national cabinet hook up as the federal government reacts to widespread restrictions.

“The national security committee of cabinet is meeting in the morning with a specific COVID agenda, particularly to consider the outbreaks,” the prime minister’s office confirmed.

The Northern Territory on Sunday reported four new cases, with the government imposing a 48-hour lockdown for Darwin and surrounding regions following a positive case in a miner.

NSW recorded 30 new local COVID-19 cases, which is the highest 24-hour total in the state since the Northern Beaches outbreak in December.

Total cases connected to the Bondi cluster have ballooned to 110 after Greater Sydney and surrounds entered a 14-day lockdown.

In Western Australia, a woman who returned from visiting Sydney picked up the virus, prompting increased restrictions including indoor mask use.

Three local cases were also recorded in Queensland – including an NT miner who was infectious in the Sunshine Coast community and a couple linked to the existing Brisbane cluster.

The outbreaks have prompted a multitude of border tightening measures, including South Australia’s closure to all jurisdictions except Victoria and Tasmania.

WA also tightened its border for Queensland, NT and ACT residents, while Victoria added Greater Darwin to its “red zone” list.

All states had already locked out Greater Sydney residents.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said Sunday was a challenging day for Australia, while Labor emphasised the government’s failures in establishing permanent quarantine facilities and procuring vaccines.

New Zealand has halted quarantine-free travel with Australia until at least Tuesday.

Fringe delivers $56 million windfall

Adelaide Fringe 2021 delivered $56.39 million in gross economic impact to the South Australian economy during this year’s festival, according to figures released today.

The festival also generated $31.6 million in new net expenditure to the state during the 2021 festival.

The box office revenue totalled $16.4 million from 632,667 tickets sold. Of those, 73,710 tickets were sold to 26,649 tourists visiting South Australia, resulting in 85,337 visitor bed nights.

However, the figures were well down on the 2020 festival, which was completed just hours before the state’s first major coronavirus restrictions were imposed.

The 2020 event delivered $96.7 million in gross economic expenditure including $21 million in ticket sales.

Adelaide Fringe Director and CEO Heather Croall said extensive efforts in preparing for Fringe 2021 and working collaboratively with artists and venues paid off and surpassed all expectations.

“To deliver the only festival of this scale in the world in such an unpredictable climate was incredible,” she said.

“On average we sold 20,000 tickets each day, and including free activities, we saw an average of more than 80,000 people out each night for the 31 nights.”

Andrews back on job after fall

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is set to return to work today, more than three months after fracturing his spine and breaking several ribs in a fall.

Ahead of his return, Andrews and wife Catherine released a video on social media explaining how he slipped and fell while getting ready for work at a Mornington Peninsula holiday rental on March 9.

“As I put my foot on to the first step. I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t really connect with the step it just slid straight off, I became airborne almost,” Andrews says in the four-minute video.

“Then all I can hear is just this almighty crunch.

“When I heard the crunch, I knew. I thought this is serious, we’re in trouble here.”

The couple thanked those involved in Andrews’ recovery, including his personal protective detail, paramedics, doctors, nurses and physios.

He also thanked Victorians for their well wishes and confirmed his plans to run at the 2022 election.

“I’m running and I’m running to win. There’s unfinished business and I’m determined to get it done,” Andrews said.

His deputy James Merlino has been acting premier in his absence, steering the state through a fourth COVID-19 lockdown which left Victorians weary and cost their economy an estimated $1.3 billion.

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien has questioned Andrews’ return date, amid school holidays and a six-week winter break for parliament.

“People will be a little bit cynical about the fact that he only comes back when parliament’s shut down the next five or six weeks,” he told reporters last week.

“It would have been better for Victorians and better for democracy if the premier had been here this week to answer questions about our fourth lockdown, and why Victoria alone has had four lockdowns.”

Finger injury puts Sloane’s season in doubt

Adelaide captain Rory Sloane’s AFL season could be over after suffering a serious finger injury in last night’s 10-point loss to Carlton.

Former Adelaide forward Eddie Betts kicked three goals and almost took mark of the year against his old side as Carlton overpowered Adelaide at Marvel Stadium.

Carlton gave under-fire coach David Teague some relief ahead of the looming review of the AFL club’s football department, producing a much-needed 10-point win the win.

The Blues got off to a slow start at Marvel Stadium on Sunday before flicking a mental switch and taking the game on during a dominant second term to set the platform for a 12.11 (83) to 10.13 (73) victory.

Sloane had 23 disposals and four tackles for Adelaide in a typically hard-working display against the Blues at Marvel Stadium.

But coach Matthew Nicks later revealed the tough midfielder has a “high-grade tendon injury” in a finger.

“Fingers crossed on that but to be honest we’re a bit concerned,” Nicks said.

Crows youngster Lochie Gollant had a similar injury earlier in the year that required surgery and led to about two months on the sidelines.

That recovery time frame for Sloane could see the 31-year-old put on ice in preparation for 2022.

“That’s the fear at the moment if it is the same injury,” Nicks said.

Adelaide wingman Paul Seedsman kicked two goals from 24 disposals and Taylor Walker could have been a match-winner, kicking 3.4 in an entertaining battle with Jacob Weitering.

The Crows dominated the clearances 38-22, with Rory Laird and Ben Keays busy, but lost the inside-50 count (51-54).

Adelaide led by a goal at the first break before Carlton piled on eight goals to three in the second term to burst 34 points clear.

But there were some nervous moments for the Blues in the final quarter when the Crows closed the gap to 10 points.

Adelaide’s Lachlan Sholl missed a simple shot at goal that would have cut the margin to six points with one minute left.

Adelaide will host Brisbane on Saturday while Port Adelaide, which defeated Sydney on Saturday night, is scheduled to tackle Hawthorn in Melbourne.

Dominant Blues smash Maroons to take Origin series

NSW have backed up their thumping game one triumph to seal the State of Origin rugby league series with a 26-0 win over Queensland at Suncorp Stadium.

Blues coach Brad Fittler has urged his side to capitalise on their dominance and push on to the most one-sided series result in State of Origin history following their game two destruction of Queensland.

Josh Addo-Carr scored twice, captain James Tedesco was instrumental at fullback and Latrell Mitchell bagged an intercept try as one of several big first-half plays that set the tone for the match.

It was the first time Queensland has been held scoreless in Brisbane and followed a record 50-6 thrashing of Paul Green’s men in Townsville.

Now a cumulative scoreline of 76-6 leaves Fittler’s side with wiggle room in July 14’s third game to eclipse the previous-best 62-point differential NSW accrued in a 3-0 series victory in 2000.

The Maroons plucked a series win last season but the Blues have now made it three from the last four as they eye their own sustained period of dominance.

NSW scored three tries and bombed another in a decisive 21-minute period to blow Queensland away then desperately snuffed out the Maroons’ best efforts when their own offence dried up in the second half.

“It hurts a lot right now but we’re going to have to shake it off (because) they’re licking their lips for 3-0,” Maroons captain Daly Cherry-Evans said.

“I just hope the silver lining tonight might be that it sparks something inside of us that kicks us into gear.

“It’s tough enough they’ve won the series, let alone (potentially winning) 3-0.”

– with AAP and Reuters

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