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What we know today, Monday July 5

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Two more aged care residents in a northwest Sydney nursing home are among 35 new local COVID-19 cases in NSW, and Australia has named a 472-strong team for the Tokyo Olympics which features a record number of women and Indigenous athletes.

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Aged care residents among 35 NSW COVID cases

NSW has recorded 35 new local COVID-19 cases, including two more aged care residents in a northwest Sydney nursing home and a student at an eastern Sydney primary school.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says 11 of the 35 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday were out in the community during part or all of their infectious period while 24 were in isolation for the entire period they were infectious.

“NSW Health is obviously more concerned with the cases that were in the community during their infectious period for the entire time that we understand they were infectious,” Berejiklian told reporters this morning.

“That is what health will be monitoring in the next few days.

“I know everybody is keen to know what is going to happen beyond Friday’s lockdown, as am I, but what I can tell you with certainty is that the next couple of days will be absolutely critical.”

There have now been 312 local COVID-19 cases since June 16, when the Bondi cluster first emerged.

Among the new cases announced on Monday were two additional cases at SummitCare Baulkham Hills, both women in their 70s, one of whom was not vaccinated.

There were also five new cases connected to flight VA524 from Gold Coast to Sydney, on which an infected air crew member worked, and a student at Rose Bay Public School in Sydney’s east was also dianosed with the virus.

Staff and students – who are on school holidays – have been told to self-isolate until they receive further advice, with school due to resume on Tuesday next week.

Australia finalises Olympic team

Australia’s 472-strong team for the Tokyo Olympics features a record number of women and Indigenous athletes.

The team for the Games starting on July 23 includes 254 women and 218 men, with 16 Indigenous athletes.

The number of female athletes is 40 more than the nation’s previous most at a Games, at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

And the 16 Indigenous athletes is four more than at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Australia’s team is the second-largest to contest an away Olympics, 10 shy of the 482 athletes who contested the 2004 Athens Games.

Australians will compete in 33 sports in Tokyo including all four new Olympic sports of karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing.

At the Rio Games, Australia won eight gold, 11 silver and 10 bronze medals but the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has stopped publicly setting a medal target for the Games.

“The AOC has talked about not setting medal targets and placing unhelpful expectations on these athletes,” Australia’s chef de mission Ian Chesterman said in a statement on Monday.

“Given the events of the past 18 months, this has been the correct path, getting to the start line has been so difficult.

“They don’t need pressure from us.”

Queensland records four more local cases

Queensland has recorded four new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases, which are all linked to existing cases, as it moves ahead with a plan for a quarantine hub.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the four new cases emerged after 13,588 tests across the state.

One case was reported on Sunday, in a close contact of a worker at a Greek community centre in Brisbane.

The second is the child of that case and the third is the partner of a 29-year-old man who tested positive after travelling to the Noosa area last week.

The fourth case is a colleague of the 29-year-old man.

Palaszczuk says contact tracers have linked almost all active cases of COVID-19 in the state.

“Now of course all of these are the alpha strains, so another piece of good news is that we do not believe that the delta variant is circulating in our community which is excellent news, and it’s now two weeks since the Portuguese restaurant outbreak,” the premier told reporters.

The Queensland government has also provided Canberra with specifications for a 1000-bed quarantine facility near Brisbane Airport.

The state wants a Brisbane facility to have 1000 rooms, initially able to host 800 people per fortnight and eventually rising to 1450.

Queensland has provided specifications to the federal government but it is understood the Commonwealth still needs to conduct a feasibility study on its land, and provide the funding.

Three new Queensland cases were also reported in hotel quarantine.

AFL aims to lock in fixtures today

The AFL is hopeful of locking in its round 17 schedule by the end of Monday as the majority of clubs remain in fixture limbo just days out from proposed matches.

A range of interstate travel restrictions have produced hurdles that the league is still trying to navigate, while exemptions from state governments must be secured if some matches are to go ahead as planned.

As it stands, the top-four showdown between Port Adelaide and Melbourne at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night is the only match confirmed.

Essendon and Adelaide are preparing for a Marvel Stadium encounter on Friday night, while Sydney believe they will take on the Western Bulldogs at the Docklands venue on Saturday night.

GWS and Gold Coast are set to play in regional Victoria, while Hawthorn are scheduled to play Fremantle in Launceston.

The Dockers were unable to secure a travel exemption from the Tasmanian government last week but have since spent a week in Melbourne and expect they will now be given the green light.

The Brisbane-St Kilda (Gabba) and West Coast-North Melbourne (Optus Stadium) fixtures are still to be confirmed.

Business leaders call for firm vaccine targets

Business leaders are urging federal, state and territory leaders to set firm vaccination targets to reopen Australia.

The business community has welcomed a four-step plan agreed to by national cabinet to end lockdowns and border restrictions but it is concerned key details are still missing, with no firm dates for reopening or clear thresholds for vaccination rates.

Scientific modelling is underway to determine the vaccine thresholds.

Business leaders want to see realistic and achievable vaccine targets to give people hope after 18 long months of pandemic pain amid concerns political leaders have been extremely cautious and risk averse.

Jenny Lambert from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry warned the national plan could fall apart if state premiers ignored targets and timelines.

“We need to make sure we get open and stay open. We need to be mindful that businesses can’t survive forever,” she told Sky News on Monday.

“We can’t continually go from open to lockdown to open to lockdown.”

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is hopeful the vaccine targets will spell the end to lockdowns and business restrictions.

He wants Australia to get to the stage where coronavirus is treated like other infectious diseases.

“We have to create a society where we live with the virus like we do with the flu on measles and mumps – we don’t want them but we don’t close down the economy because of them,” Joyce told the Seven Network.

“That’s precisely what we’re doing and I think the states are now coming on board with that idea. That sets a nation up in a much stronger place.”

Meanwhile, about 500 GP clinics will start giving the Pfizer jab to patients aged between 40 and 59 this week.

A further 800 GPs are expected to come on board during July and August as the national vaccine program ramps up.

Vaccine supply has been the biggest issue for the rollout, with tens of millions of Pfizer doses set to arrive in Australia over the next six months.

SA restrictions could be eased today

Virus restrictions in South Australia could soon be eased today as authorities continue to monitor COVID-19 cases in other states.

SA’s transition committee will provide an update to the current situation on Monday afternoon after deciding against making any changes at a meeting late yesterday afternoon.

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens says the committee is “closely examining” the situation in all states and territories.

SA beefed up its coronavirus measures about a week ago after cases emerged in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

An NT miner, who returned to Adelaide, also tested positive and passed the infection to the rest of his family.

SA’s virus measures include a reduced density requirement for most venues, mandatory mask-wearing in high-risk settings and a limit of 10 people at family gatherings.

The crowd at Saturday’s AFL game between the Adelaide Crows and the Brisbane Lions was limited to 50 per cent of the usual Adelaide Oval capacity.

At the same time, SA has hard border closures in place with Western Australia, NSW, Queensland and the ACT.

Some of those arrangements are also expected to be reviewed.

AHA SA general manager Ian Horne told ABC radio this morning the expectation was that restrictions for hospitality venues would return to previous levels of 10 days ago from tomorrow.

Three positive cases of COVID-19 were reported in South Australia on the weekend among travellers returned from overseas but there were no further local cases.

The cases reported yesterday include two men in their 20s who acquired their infections overseas and have been in medi-hotels since their arrival.

On Saturday, SA Health announced a male in his 20s who quarantined in South Australia after returning from overseas had returned a positive test.

The man returned negative test results during his quarantine period and has now returned a weak-positive result following his routine day 17 test.

While the source of the case is still under investigation, SA Health says it is highly likely to be historical, given the weak positive result and the results of other tests.

Further tests are being carried out.

Weekend shooting arrest

Police expect to charge a man with attempted murder after a shooting in the northern suburbs at the weekend.

A 27-year-old man presented at the Lyell McEwin Hospital with a gunshot wound to the face just before 7pm on Saturday.

He was rushed to the Royal Adelaide Hospital where he remains in a critical condition.

The shooting occurred on Burwood Road at Munno Para West just before 7pm.

At about 1.45am today, police were called to a single-car crash on Fradd Road at Angle Vale.

A silver Mitsubishi sedan collided with a bollard but the driver had left the scene.

Police recognised the sedan as being involved in the Munno Para West shooting incident.

Patrols quickly set up cordons and searched the area and the driver was found a short distance away. He was searched and found to be in possession of a firearm.

A 31-year-old man of no fixed address, was arrested and is expected to be charged with attempted murder and firearms offences later today.

The two men are believed to be known to each other.

Meanwhile, police are also preparing a report for the coroner following a fatal shed fire at Modbury Heights yesterday.

Police and MFS were called to Currawong Crescent after reports a shed was on fire about 6.30am Sunday.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze and when searching the shed that was also being used as a granny flat they found the body of the occupant,  a 73-year-old man.

The cause of the fire is undetermined but police believe the circumstances are not suspicious.

Regional vaccination sites open

South Australia’s latest mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic will open in Victor Harbor today, the first of three regional clinics to open this month.

The clinic will provide up to 700 vaccinations per week – 500 Pfizer and 200 AstraZeneca.

A clinic at Mount Barker set to open on Monday 12 July and in Gawler before the end of July.

The Victor Harbor Clinic is located at 2 George Main Road, Victor Harbor (Christian Gospel Centre building) and will replace the smaller clinic at Southern Fleurieu Health Service.

The clinic will operate seven days a week, offering Pfizer vaccinations for those aged 16 to 59 from Saturday to Wednesday and AstraZeneca for those 60 and above on Thursdays and Fridays.

Appointments are open at both the Victor Harbor and Mount Barker clinics.

Anxious wait for Sydney nursing home

NSW authorities are waiting to learn if other residents of a Sydney nursing home have caught the coronavirus as families fume at the low level of vaccination among staff.

There is concern for residents of the SummitCare home at Baulkham Hills, even though 96 per cent of its highly vulnerable residents are fully vaccinated.

Three have already been infected after COVID-19 was brought into the home by staff: a man in his 90s, a man in his 80s and a woman in her 80s.

All have had two doses of the vaccine and are said to be in good spirits, with no symptoms.

But SummitCare’s chief operating officer Michelle Sloane admitted only a third of the facility’s workforce have had a shot.

Two of the nursing home’s workers tested positive for COVID-19 during the week. One of them was not vaccinated and SummitCare was unclear about the vaccination status of the other.

At least 140 of the home’s 200 staff members are now in 14 days of self-isolation as NSW starts to see an overall downward trend in new cases.

Meanwhile, NSW Health has issued another 10 COVID alerts for venues across Sydney including a Coles in Maroubra and a Woolworths in Hillsdale, both in Sydney’s east.

Alerts have also been issued for numerous bus routes around Strathfield in Sydney’s west and train routes from Penrith, the north shore line, the Bankstown line and the inner west line.

There were 16 local COVID-19 cases recorded in NSW in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday.

Three of those cases were out in the community during some or all of their infectious period. There have now been 277 local COVID-19 cases reported since June 16.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the dip in case numbers was a good sign, and urged residents to respect stay-at-home orders if they want any hope of emerging from lockdown on Friday..

Queensland hopeful after lockdown lifted

Queensland authorities are increasingly optimistic they have the upper hand on two COVID-19 variants after reporting few new locally acquired cases on Sunday.

All parts of the state are now out of lockdown after cases of the highly contagious delta strain, and the alpha strain, were detected in the state’s southeast.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has told Queenslanders they are not entirely out of the woods but Sunday’s figures are excellent news.

“It appears everything is under control at this point in time so we are very, very relieved about that,” Palaszczuk said as she reminded people in areas that were locked down to keep wearing masks.

Authorities initially reported just two new cases on Sunday – one involving the alpha strain linked to a cluster associated with a Greek community centre and a Portuguese restaurant, the other acquired overseas and detected in hotel quarantine.

Late on Sunday a third case was added – another case of local transmission linked to that same cluster. It will be formally included in Monday’s case numbers.

From Friday, it will be mandatory for everyone to use the Queensland Check In app when they visit businesses including restaurants and bars, cafes, shopping centres, salons, gyms, stadiums, theme parks and universities.

Queensland currently has 47 active cases.

Lockdown orders lifted for Brisbane and Moreton Bay at 6pm on Saturday and a day earlier for nine other local government areas in the southeast, Townsville, and Magnetic and Palm islands.

Aussie rockets into Tour contention with stage win

Australian Ben O’Connor has claimed the biggest victory of his professional cycling career by winning the ninth stage of the Tour de France.

All of a sudden the 25-year-old Tour rookie is in Tour de France podium contention, moving to second overall in the general classification after finishing the gruelling 145km stage in the northern Alps more than five minutes ahead of Italian Mattia Cattaneo.

The West Australian of the AG2R Citroën team is two minutes, 01 seconds behind defending champion Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), who used a late attack to strengthen his advantage in the yellow jersey.

O’Connor – who also won a 2020 Giro d’Italia stage – began the day eight minutes, 13 seconds behind the yellow jersey leader in 14th.

It marks only the second time an Australian has won a Tour de France mountain stage after Simon Gerrans was victorious on stage 15 back in 2008.

“It’s been a wild ride. It’s mind-blowing,” O’Connor told reporters.

“It is what you dream of. There is so much joy. I am just loving every single moment.”

Meanwhile, Australian golfer Lucas Herbert has claimed a three-stroke Irish Open victory, his second win on the European Tour.

Leading the event going into the final round, Herbert carded a four-under par 68 to hold out nearest rivals Swede Rikard Karlberg and American Johannes Veerman.

The victory earned Herbert a place in the British Open at Royal St George’s from July 15-18.

Herbert is projected to jump to world No.54 with the win.

– with AAP and Reuters

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