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What we know today, Friday July 16

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NSW has recorded 97 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, 29 of which were out in the community while infectious, while Victoria has recorded six new cases on the first day of its latest lockdown.

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NSW records 97 new cases, six new infections in Victoria

NSW has recorded 97 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, 29 of which were out in the community while infectious, while Victoria has recorded six new cases on the first day of its latest lockdown.

The daily number in NSW is up from 65 cases recorded on Thursday and compares to the previous high of 112 cases reported on Monday.

Of the 97 new cases recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday, at least 29 people were out in the community while infectious. The isolation status of five cases remains under investigation.

It brings the total number of people infected since the current outbreak began in Sydney to 1026, with Friday marking exactly a month since the highly infectious Delta strain of COVID was first recorded in city’s east.

Two of Sydney’s major hospitals are now on alert a nurse, after a doctor and a patient were diagnosed with COVID.

A healthcare worker at Liverpool and Campbelltown hospitals has returned a positive test to COVID-19.

NSW Health said the operating theatres at both hospitals had been deep cleaned after a healthcare worker tested positive for coronavirus last night.

Three paramedics in southwest Sydney have now also tested positive for the virus, forcing at least 70 paramedics identified as close contacts into isolation.

Meanwhile, Victoria has recorded six new locally acquired cases of coronavirus with authorities reporting 126 exposure sites across the state.

The health department confirmed there were 10 new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to Friday morning, four of which were already reported by authorities.

All the cases are linked to known outbreaks and bring the total number of active cases in the state to 36.

Some 33,129 tests were processed and 17,188 Victorians were vaccinated at the state-run hubs during the same period.

South Australia this morning shut the border to residents of Greater Melbourne, Geelong and Bacchus Marsh – with queues of vehicles stretching 3km long at the South Australia-Victorian border.

Draft plan to cut SA road deaths

A 10-year road safety strategy, which will focus on driver behaviour and safer cars, will seek to cut South Australia’s road toll in half.

The draft plan hopes to reduce the current three-year average of 96 annual deaths to less than 47 by 2031 and also bring serious injuries down 30 per cent to just over 500.

Road Safety Minister Vincent Tarzia says the targets are the first steps towards achieving the state’s vision of zero lives lost by 2050.

“Our goals are ambitious, but they must be, to put an end to preventable tragedies on our roads,” he said.

The draft strategy will support and enforce safer road behaviour and seek to increase the purchase of safer cars.

It will also address safer road design and maintenance and try to reduce the number of regional deaths, deaths among Indigenous communities and those among young drivers and drivers aged over 70.

The plan further looks at ways of improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

But Labor said the government had a shocking road safety record since coming to office in 2018 with the number of deaths rising in 2019 and 2020.

The toll for 2021 stands at 56, compared to 50 at the same time last year following the death on Thursday of a nine-year-old boy in a crash at Port Kenny on SA’s Eyre Peninsula.

“It is all very well having targets and aspirations, but the fact is that the Liberals have a shocking record on road safety,” opposition road safety spokesperson Lee Odenwalder said.

The government has called for public feedback on its safety plan with the consultation period to close on September 1.

Qld netball teams denied entry into SA

Queensland Super Netball teams have been denied entry to South Australia and will play their derby match in Brisbane on Monday.

All clubs were set to gather in South Australia to finish the season due to the COVID-19 outbreaks in Victoria and NSW.

The Queensland Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning were set to fly to Adelaide on Friday but South Australian authorities on Thursday pushed back plans to reopen to southeast Queensland after three more community COVID-19 cases were recorded in the state.

The Firebirds confirmed Friday that they will now host the Lightning at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena on Monday night, which will complete round 11.

“With the evolving COVID-19 situation across Australia, including the South Australian government extending its restrictions on the Queensland border late yesterday, we will continue to work with the league on securing fixtures for the remaining rounds,” the Firebirds said in a statement.

“The league will continue to work with South Australian government to allow the Firebirds and Lightning to enter South Australia under strict protocols for future matches.”

The Melbourne Vixens, Collingwood Magpies, NSW Swifts and the Giants all left Melbourne for Adelaide on Thursday as Victoria braced for another lockdown.

Basketball star Liz Cambage’s Olympics in doubt: report

Australian basketball star Liz Cambage may be booted from the Olympic team following multiple alleged incidents at the team’s Las Vegas camp.

Basketball Australia (BA) has launched an investigation following reports that Cambage was involved in a physical altercation during a closed-door scrimmage against Nigeria as part of the Opals’ Olympic preparations.

The four-time WNBA All-Star has also allegedly broken team protocols to go out in Las Vegas, where she plays with the Aces in the WNBA.

BA has been contacted for comment while the Australian Olympic Committee is awaiting a report.

“We’ve been informed by Basketball Australia that they are investigating an issue,” Australian chef de mission Ian Chesterman said in Tokyo on Friday.

“We have not received any further report except for that.

“So it will be a matter of them working through with Basketball Australia to see if there”s any resulting decisions that need to be made.”

The loss of Cambage in what was to have been her third Olympic campaign would be a massive blow to the Opals as she is their best player.

Cambage, 29, threatened to boycott the Games earlier this year in a racially-based protest.

The Opals are due face the United States on Saturday (AEST) in Las Vegas before heading to Japan.

Long border queues as new SA restrictions come into force

Queues of vehicles stretching 3km at the South Australian border were reported by police overnight, as the state shut out residents of Greater Melbourne and introduced a range of new internal restrictions effective from today.

Premier Steven Marshall announced shortly after 2pm on Thursday that SA would be shutting its border to people from Greater Melbourne, Geelong and Bacchus Marsh effective from midnight.

The border closure came as two COVID-19 clusters in Melbourne, linked to NSW, reached a total of 18 cases – prompting the Victorian Government to call a five-day state-wide lockdown.

Only returning South Australian residents and essential workers are permitted to enter the state from Greater Melbourne.

SA Police reported just before 10:15pm on Thursday that the queue to get into South Australia at the Bordertown checkpoint was 3km long.

The queues came after police issued a warning to travellers on Thursday afternoon to take extra care if they intended to travel into SA before or after the midnight deadline, as a front of wet and windy weather continues to sweep across the state.

SA Health has so far identified 150 people who have been at exposure sites in Victoria and are currently in South Australia.

They have been ordered into 14 days quarantine.

A further 8705 people who travelled from Victoria to South Australia since July 8 have received SMS messages from SA Health asking if they visited exposure sites.

Another 238 people in SA are in home quarantine after they were identified as close contacts of three exposure sites in Tailem Bend that were visited by two COVID-positive NSW removalists on Friday, July 9.

The premier also announced a raft of new internal restrictions which came into force this morning.

This includes a 50 per cent capacity at all public venues, 150-person cap on private gatherings and compulsory mask-wearing at high-risk settings including aged care and correctional facilities.

A mask mandate has also been introduced for personal care services like hairdressers and beauty salons, but not yet for public transport.

Singing, dancing and shisha bars have also been banned.

The premier said the restrictions would be in place “for as short a period of time as possible”.

South Australia recorded two new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, both reported from a medi-hotel.

Illuminate Adelaide delayed due to weather

Bad weather forced organisers of South Australia’s new winter festival Illuminate Adelaide to delay last night’s opening of its inaugural outdoor event until Saturday.

Illuminate Adelaide was meant to launch last night with Light Cycles, a visual display path through the Botanic Gardens. But forecasts of heavy rain, strong winds and a possible thunderstorm and lightning forced organisers to cancel last night’s and tonight’s events until Saturday.

Ticket-holders will be advised about refunds and exchanges.

Illuminate Adelaide organisers say indoor events – Van Gogh Alive, Adelaide Festival of Ideas, Square Circles VR, Ghost Stories, Sea of Light and Being Different Together – are going ahead as planned, while there are a number of free outdoor events.

Illuminate co-founder and director Lee Cumberlidge said the change was not too disruptive to the festival’s overall schedule.

“We’re going okay … it’s important to us that everybody was safe at our events,” he told ABC Radio on Friday morning.

“We’re reallocating people into other sessions and we’re really excited about Saturday night.”

He said organisers were also reallocating some tickets for indoor events due to South Australian authorities tightening the density cap for indoor venues to 50 per cent.

Victoria awakes to another lockdown

Premier Daniel Andrews hopes Victoria’s fifth lockdown is “short” and “sharp” but cannot guarantee it will only last five days, as more than six million Victorians once again awake to stay-at-home orders.

Victorian authorities made the decision to lock down the state last night after recording two additional local COVID-19 cases on Thursday afternoon, taking the number of infections associated with two separate Sydney-linked outbreaks to 18.

Most of the cases are connected to the NSW removalists who breached their worker permit conditions and spread the virus during a drop-off at the Ariele Apartments in Maribyrnong late last week.

The final straw for authorities was three cases of suspected “stranger-to-stranger transmission” in the MCG members reserve where around 2000 people were sitting at an AFL match between Carlton and Geelong on Saturday.

A positive case also attended the international rugby clash between the Wallabies and France at AAMI Park on Tuesday night, with stadium management working with health officials to identify close contacts.

There are more than 110 exposure sites across Melbourne and regional Victoria, including the MCG and several stores at Chadstone shopping centre.

The same rules that applied during last month’s lockdown have been reimposed, including a 5km travel limit for exercise and shopping and compulsory masks indoors and outdoors.

Andrews said the state’s contact tracers were moving faster than ever but haven’t been able to keep up with the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant.

Despite describing it as a “short, sharp” lockdown, he would not rule out extending the shutdown beyond 11.59pm on Tuesday.

“It may be longer because it depends on what every Victorian does,” Andrews said, adding some parts of regional Victoria could be freed earlier if it is deemed safe.

Several hundred people gathered outside Flinders Street Station on Thursday night to protest the latest lockdown, listening to speeches and chanting “sack Dan Andrews”.

A flare was lit as they marched to parliament. Police confirmed no arrests were made.

Crows call time on baseball venture

The Adelaide Football Club is looking to sell its baseball franchise The Adelaide Giants, calling time on a three-year venture into the sport.

The club says it is currently in talks with prospective buyers and has formally notified Baseball Australia of its intention to sell.

The Crows took full ownership of the baseball franchise in 2018 and rebranded it from the Adelaide Bite to the Giants.

Crows CEO Tim Silvers said the football club’s debt – which was more than $4.5 million at the end of 2020 – has forced the organisation to take a new direction.

“A great deal has changed since the Club acquired the baseball licence and like all professional sporting clubs, we have been heavily impacted by the global pandemic,” Silvers said.

“This has forced us to take on debt and significantly reduce our staffing levels and we are pushing ahead with an 18-month strategic recovery plan.”

He said the club still wants to the see the baseball club’s potential realised and it maintains “an important place in the South Australian sporting landscape”.

Crows chairman John Olsen, appointed in October 2020, indicated as early as November last year the club would be reviewing its non-football ventures.

These activities, pursued under former CEO Andrew Fagan, include ventures into eSports and lifestyle media.

Olsen in January said these ventures “need to be considered in the new environment in which we operate”.

Baseball Australia CEO Glenn Williams said on Thursday the Crows had made a “significant contribution” to the Giants’ growth on and off the field.

“We remain committed to working closely with the Crows to find a new licensee for the Giants who will continue to contribute to growth of the ABL and baseball in South Australia,” Williams said.

NSW braces for COVID case surge

NSW is bracing for a surge in COVID-19 cases as a virus outbreak in Sydney infiltrates the city’s health care system, with at least 70 paramedics isolating and cases linked to two major hospitals and an aged care home.

NSW recorded 65 new local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, but Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned there would likely be a spike in cases on Friday as the number of infected people circulating in the community remains high, despite stay-at-home orders.

Of the new cases, at least 35 people were out in the community for part or all of their infectious period – a number that needs to be close to zero before the lockdown can be lifted.

“It has been a stable number, it hasn’t grown … (but) unless it comes down, we can’t get out of lockdown,” Berejiklian said Thursday.

Sydney and surrounding regions have been in lockdown for nearly three weeks. That was due to end on Friday but will continue for at least another two weeks until July 30.

Infection numbers continue to rise in southwest Sydney, where testing clinics were inundated this week after essential workers from the Fairfield local government area were ordered to get tested every three days if they work outside the area.

Two of Sydney’s major hospitals are on alert after a nurse and a patient were diagnosed with COVID-19.

A pregnant patient and a doctor at Liverpool Hospital, in Sydney’s southwest, was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Wednesday after undergoing a procedure, and a vaccinated nurse who worked at Westmead Hospital in a COVID-19 ward also tested positive.

Flooding in Germany kills at least 42 people

At least 42 people have died in Germany and dozens are missing as swollen rivers caused by record rainfall across western Europe swept through towns and villages, leaving cars up-ended, houses destroyed and people stranded on rooftops.

Eighteen people died and dozens were unaccounted for around the wine-growing region of Ahrweiler, in Rhineland-Palatinate state in western Germany, police said, after the Ahr river that flows into the Rhine broke its banks and brought down half a dozen houses.

Another 15 people died in the Euskirchen region south of the city of Bonn, authorities said.

The floods have caused Germany’s worst mass loss of life in years.

In Belgium, two men died due to the torrential rain and a 15-year-old girl was missing after being swept away by an overflowing river.

Hundreds of soldiers and 2500 relief workers were helping police with rescue efforts in Germany.

Tanks were deployed to clear roads of landslides and fallen trees and helicopters winched those stranded on rooftops to safety.

About 200,000 households lost power due to the floods.

Olympic athletes no COVID risk to locals: IOC president

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach says there is “zero” risk of Games participants infecting Japanese residents with COVID-19 as cases hit a six-month high in the host city.

Bach said Olympics athletes and delegations had undergone more than 8000 COVID-19 tests, resulting in three positive results.

The three cases have been placed in isolation and their close contacts are also in quarantine, Bach said.

“Risk for the other residents of Olympic village and risk for the Japanese people is zero,” he said.

Just over a week before the July 23 opening ceremony, Tokyo reported 1308 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, its highest daily tally since late January.

Postponed last year due to the pandemic, the Summer Olympics have little public support in Japan amid widespread fears about a further spread of COVID-19.

Critics on Thursday submitted a petition against the Games that has garnered more than 450,000 signatures this month, Japanese media reported.

Organisers have imposed Olympics “bubbles” to prevent further transmissions of COVID-19, but medical experts are worried they might not be sufficiently tight.

A number of infections have emerged among visiting athletes and people involved with the Games.

An Olympic athlete under a 14-day quarantine period has tested positive in Tokyo, the organising committees’ website reported on Thursday, without disclosing any details about the athlete.

Eight members of the Kenyan women’s rugby team had been classified as close contacts of a passenger on their flight to Tokyo who had tested positive for coronavirus, their squad said.

The athletes had been isolated as a precaution, but had all tested negative on arrival and were expected to link up with the rest of the players at their residential training camp in Kurume on Friday, the team added.

Tokyo entered its fourth state of emergency earlier this week amid a rebound in COVID-19 cases that pushed Games organisers to ban spectators from nearly all venues.

-With AAP and Reuters

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