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What we know today, Tuesday July 13

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“Major incidents” were declared at the Royal Adelaide and Queen Elizabeth hospitals last night as the state’s health system grappled with a surge in presentations to emergency departments.

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‘Major incidents’ declared at metro hospitals

“Major incidents” were declared at the Royal Adelaide and Queen Elizabeth hospitals last night as the state’s health system grappled with a surge in presentations to emergency departments.

In a letter sent to all network staff on Monday night, CAHLN Executive Director of Operations Brendan Docherty said a major incident was called due to “major demand pressure across the network”.

He said patients were presenting with “increasing complexity and acuity” and the Network Incident Command Centre would be meeting every two hours to find ways to ensure emergency patients get access to beds.

The South Australian Salaried Medical Association reported at 9am today that 104 people were waiting for a hospital bed across the health network, including seven people who had been waiting for more than 24 hours.

Premier Steven Marshall said the hospital system was currently experiencing a “very significant” increase in presentations.

“Obviously we are in the middle of a very significant surge in terms of presentations at emergency departments but also the acuity of those cases and the treatment times,” he told reporters today.

It came as the ambulance union said a a six-month-old baby who was vomiting and struggling to breathe had to wait 45 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.

The South Australian Ambulance Employees Association said that at 9:17pm on Monday a triple zero call was received for the baby in Reynella, but an ambulance did not arrive until 10:02pm due to hospital overcrowding.

The case was a priority two lights and sirens emergency with an ambulance supposed to arrive within 16 minutes.

“It would have been heartbreaking and very frustrating for the family for that delay,” the premier said.

“That’s why we’re working extraordinarily hard at the moment to expand emergency department capacity right across the state.”

Second death in NSW, 89 more COVID cases

A man in his 70s has become the second person to die during Sydney’s coronavirus outbreak as NSW recorded another 89 locally acquired cases of the disease.

The man from Sydney’s eastern suburbs died on Monday.

The new cases were diagnosed from more than 49,000 tests. Some 27 of the 89 new cases reported to 8pm on Monday were not in isolation for all of part of their infectious period.

NSW has now recorded 767 COVID-19 cases in the community since June 16, when the Bondi cluster first emerged.

The latest death takes the national tally to 912.

A construction worker who tested positive to COVID-19 in Goulburn in the NSW southern tablelands, is reportedly among the new cases, sparking fears the Sydney outbreak has reached the regions.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Tuesday announced new testing requirements had been introduced for essential workers in an effort to stop them from seeding the virus outside Sydney.

“The key message is: Stay home, do not leave your home unless you absolutely have to, and if you do need to leave your home for essential work, if you live in the Fairfield Local Government area, please get tested every three days,” she said.

“We know how easy it is with the Delta variant for two cases to become 20, to become 100 very, very easily.

“If you happen to have people on your work site or overseeing work or any type of activity… please ask where they live and, if they come from a hotspot area, when the last time was that they got tested,” she said.

Three COVID-19 cases in Queensland

Queensland has recorded three new COVID-19 cases as the State Government opts to keep the NSW border open for now.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says there’s no concern about new three cases, one in hotel quarantine and two in home quarantine.

The two in home quarantine are locally acquired and related to the Greek community centre cluster in Brisbane.

“So when we ask people, when they are a close contact to go in home quarantine, people are doing the right thing and they are being found,” Palaszczuk told reporters.

“So that’s keeping Queenslanders safe. I’m really happy about that.”

Meanwhile, the premier says it’s too early to make a call on the NSW border with no new locally acquired cases or COVID-19 positive sewage testing detected close to Queensland.

She says the Sydney outbreak will be reviewed on a day-to-day basis and the border situation could change at any time

Victoria records three COVID-19 cases

Another Victorian who returned from NSW has tested positive for COVID-19.

The health department on Tuesday confirmed Victoria recorded two locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and one interstate-acquired infection, bringing the total number of active cases in the state to 20.

Two of the three cases were already announced by authorities on Monday.

“The third is another member of their household who has been isolating throughout their infectious period,” the department said.

The family lives in the local government area of Hume and arrived in Victoria on red zone permits.

Three of the four family members arrived on a flight from Sydney on July 4, while the other drove in on Thursday.

They all tested negative shortly after arrival but two became symptomatic and were swabbed again on Sunday, returning positive results on Monday morning.

The flight has not been added as an exposure site as the three family members tested negative two days later and all other passengers remain in isolation as fellow red zone returnees.

Some 23,470 tests were processed in the 24 hours to Tuesday morning, while 14,384 vaccine doses were administered at state-run hubs.

Meanwhile, an apartment complex in Melbourne’s northwest is in lockdown after a group of infectious removalists from NSW visited the site.

Ariele Apartments on Thomas Holmes Street in Maribyrnong was listed as a tier-one exposure site overnight, with anyone who was at the building from 1pm to 11.59pm on Thursday required to immediately get tested and isolate for 14 days.

Contact tracers say this includes anyone who accessed the residential foyer, stairwells, lift, residential floors and car park during that time period.

Anyone who entered the complex anytime from Friday to Monday must get also tested and isolate until they test negative for COVID-19.

Infected NSW removalists stopped at SA service stations

A team of three NSW removalists who spent five hours at a McLaren Vale home stopped at several petrol stations in South Australia on the drive back to their locked-down state, where two of them tested positive for COVID.

The removalists had essential worker exemptions to travel through Victoria and into South Australia.

SA deputy chief public health officer Emily Kirkpatrick told ABC Radio this morning that authorities had interviewed the removalists and were checking security and traffic cameras to determine where the crew may have stopped in South Australia on the journey back to New South Wales.

“The information we have so far is that there were some petrol stations that were stopped at,” Kirkpatrick said, with authorities working on “what the risk assessment is at those locations”.

SA Health was trying to identify any potential exposure sites and would announce any findings as soon as possible, Kirkpatrick said.

The family members who relocated to SA have all tested negative so far and are in quarantine.

SA is now enforcing tighter restrictions people entering SA, including assurances of a suitable location to quarantine for two weeks if permission is granted.

About 950 people returned last week, but Premier Steven Marshall says authorities want to “seriously turn that tap off” with the system no longer a “box-ticking exercise”.

“Exemptions will be approved but on a much narrower basis. There will be a high level of scrutiny,” he said.

The changes come after NSW reported 112 new virus infections on Monday.

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said from Thursday, anyone involved in the freight sectors would be required to have a test upon entering SA and would be subject to stricter rules around their activities.

Those included avoiding contact with other members of the public while in the state.

Stevens said the increased measures for people entering SA would hopefully avoid the need for tougher local virus restrictions.

SA reported two new virus cases on Monday, both involving returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

The state currently has 20 active infections including two people in hospital, a man in his 60s and a man in his 20s.

Both are in a stable condition.

Victoria battles ‘flying embers’ from Sydney virus outbreak

The “flying embers” from Sydney’s worsening COVID-19 outbreak have blown into Victoria, with authorities working to stamp out multiple virus spot fires.

Victorian contact tracers are having trouble nailing down the movements of a Sydney-based removalist team, one of two new COVID-19 scares.

Two of the three-person crew have tested positive upon their return to Sydney after travelling through Victoria and SA for work last week.

Removalists are permitted to enter Victoria under the state’s border permit system.

The workers made a drop-off to a family home in Craigieburn and a pick-up to another in Maribyrnong on Thursday. Both families of four are isolating and have been tested.

The crew is believed to have immediately departed Melbourne and arrived in Adelaide in the early hours of Friday morning.

But Victoria’s COVID Commander Jeroen Weimar said authorities still did not have a complete picture of their movements within the state.

“The initial version of the stories is not quite tying up at the moment,” he told reporters on Monday afternoon.

“It is taking us a little bit longer than we would like. We are also talking to their employer who is providing fuel cards and logbooks and various other bits and pieces.”

There are also two new Victorian COVID-19 cases among a family from the City of Hume who recently returned from Sydney.

Weimar said three of the four family members arrived on a flight from Sydney on July 4 carrying red zone permits, while the other re-entered the state by road last Thursday.

They all tested negative shortly after arrival but two became symptomatic and were swabbed again on Sunday, with the results coming back positive on Monday morning.

Weimar said he was not surprised “flying embers” from the Sydney outbreak had broken containment lines after NSW reported 112 new local cases on Monday.

His main concern over the next 12 to 24 hours rests with pinpointing the removalists’ movements to confirm any additional stops on their route from Sydney to Melbourne and onto Adelaide.

Sydney lockdown relief package on way

A joint NSW and federal government relief package has been hammered out to help people and businesses suffering under the Greater Sydney lockdown, which is set to again be extended after a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday warned there was virtually no hope of lockdown ending as scheduled on Friday as businesses and workers face the prospect of a fourth week with little to no income.

Of the 112 new NSW cases reported on Monday, 84 emerged in southwest Sydney with the area now the epicentre of the outbreak, with authorities desperate to stop people going to work while unknowingly infectious.

The state government has already committed $1.4 billion to help businesses and was reportedly keen to establish a NSW-funded JobKeeper-style program.

The new financial assistance package is expected to be announced as early as today with the federal government COVID disaster weekly payments reportedly to rise to $600 a week, up from $500, for those who have lost 20 hours of work or more.

The joint package will include JobKeeper-style increased cash flow payments for businesses to cover costs and wages, so long as no worker is sacked.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Multicultural Affairs Minister Alex Hawke will have a virtual meeting with community leaders in southwest Sydney on Tuesday to consult on how to better communicate with the community about getting vaccinated and abiding by COVID-19 rules.

Caution urged ahead of UK restriction easing

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged people to show caution when nearly all remaining COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in England next week, saying an increase in cases underlined that the pandemic was by no means over.

England will from July 19 be the first part of the United Kingdom to lift the legal requirement to wear masks and for people to physically distance.

The government says the UK’s vaccination drive – one of the world’s fastest – has largely broken the link between infections and serious illness or death.

But what was once billed as “freedom day” is now being treated with wariness by ministers after a new surge in cases and fears that there could be as many as 100,000 new infections a day over the northern hemisphere summer.

Johnson set a sombre tone, defending his decision to lift most of the remaining restrictions by saying the four conditions the government set itself had been met but also warning the country that more people would die from the coronavirus.

“We think now is the right moment to proceed… but it is absolutely vital that we proceed now with caution and I cannot say this powerfully or emphatically enough – this pandemic is not over,” he told a press conference.

“To take these steps we must be cautious and must be vaccinated.”

Johnson said the final step of easing restrictions next week will be irreversible, as previously pledged, only if people act with caution.

After 18 months of pandemic, governments around the world have been wrestling with how and when to reopen their economies.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte conceded on Monday that coronavirus restrictions had been lifted in the Netherlands too soon and he apologised as infections surged to their highest levels of the year.

The UK has implemented one of the world’s swiftest vaccination programs, with more than 87 per cent of adults having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 66 per cent having received two.

It ranks 20th in the world for per-capita reported deaths from COVID-19.

On Monday the UK reported a further 34,471 COVID-19 cases, up 26 per cent in a week, and six additional deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

Rome Erupts as victorious soccer champs return

Italy’s returning soccer heroes have been celebrated in Rome after their dramatic penalty shootout victory over England in the European Championships.

Europe’s new soccer champions were feted on their return home at the Italian presidential palace and then the premier’s office, with Rome’s streets lined by flag-waving and car-honking fans.

The first Italy team to win the European Championship in 53 years knew it was in for a hectic day when its chartered flight from London arrived at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport at dawn on Monday and a banner on the tarmac read, “Grazie Azzurri.”

Airport workers cheered as the team left the plane.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella had been at Wembley Stadium on Sunday night cheering with Azzurri fans as Italy won the Euro 2020 final following a 3-2 penalty shootout win over England.

Then Mattarella raced back to Rome to be at the Quirinal presidential palace to greet the team. “I’m not a (soccer) commentator,” he said, “but I thought you deserved the victory well beyond whatever happened during the penalty shootout.”

The President also generously praised another of his guests at the palace, tennis player Matteo Berrettini, who reached the Wimbledon singles final before succumbing on Sunday to Novak Djokovic.

From the presidential palace, the soccer players boarded the team bus to go to Premier Mario Draghi’s office, applauded on the streets the entire way.

There was enough joy to go around to even reach the 10th-floor hospital suite of Pope Francis, who, even before the Italian victory, could savour the triumph of the team from his native Argentina, which won the Copa America on Saturday.

For Italians, the championship was a new beginning for their youthful national team and a country that’s been yearning to return to normality after being hit hard and long by the pandemic.

Many Italians saw the European Championship as a relaunch for a country that spent much of the past 16 months in various stages of lockdown.

Italy has recorded more than 127,000 COVID-19 deaths, the highest in the 27-nation European Union.

Shock win could help Roos climb off AFL ladder bottom

North Melbourne is daring to dream of avoiding the 2021 AFL wooden spoon after claiming a shock 10-point win over West Coast in Perth last night.

Things looked bleak for the Kangaroos after opening the season with eight straight losses, which followed on from losing the final eight games of 2020.

But North Melbourne have shot to form since the round 12 bye, beating Gold Coast and West Coast, as well as drawing with GWS.

The Kangaroos also put in fighting efforts against premiership fancies Brisbane and the Western Bulldogs.

The Kangaroos’ shock win over the Eagles at Optus Stadium on Monday night means North Melbourne are now just half a win behind 17th-placed Hawthorn, and six competition points behind Adelaide and Collingwood.

If pundits thought North Melbourne would merely roll over this year and accept the wooden spoon, they should think again.

“I don’t want to finish on the bottom,” Kangaroos coach David Noble declared after the 10.10 (70) to 8.12 (60) win over the Eagles.

“We want to win every game. That’s a fundamental staple. I’d like to finish off the bottom.”

The Kangaroos will be back in action when they take on Essendon at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne on Sunday.

– with AAP and Reuters

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