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What we know today, Thursday July 22

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NSW has reported 124 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 – the highest daily number since the outbreak began in Sydney in mid-June – with at least 70 of those people out in the community for all or part of their infectious period.

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NSW records 124 new cases, 70 out in the community

NSW has reported 124 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 – the highest daily number since the outbreak began in Sydney in mid-June – with at least 70 of those people out in the community for all or part of their infectious people.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned cases numbers would rise again.

“There’s no doubt, again, that we anticipate case numbers will continue to go up before they start coming down and we need to brace ourselves for that,” she said on Thursday.

The spike in cases was recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday and was up from 110 the previous day.

The previous high was 112 cases announced on July 12.

Of the 124 cases, 37 were in isolation throughout their infectious period, 22 were in isolation for part of their infectious period and 48 cases were infectious in the community.

The isolation status of 17 cases remains under investigation.

The premier said a record 85,185 people had been tested and that had resulted in higher case numbers.

“I’m expecting case numbers to go up even higher,” she said.

NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty said the new numbers included three workers in two Sydney aged care facilities.

A worker at a southern Sydney aged care home, The Palms at Kirrawee, has tested positive.

“This person wasn’t vaccinated and the residents and staff have been tested. Two staff members at an aged care facility in Belrose have tested positive,” McAnulty said.

Greater Sydney and surrounding regions will have to wait until at least the weekend to see what impact harsher lockdown rules have had and whether the lockdown will end on time.

Berejiklian says the virus must be quashed before restrictions, now in a fourth week, can be lifted.

“From July 31 we hope to be able to explain to the community what we can do in relation to adjusting those settings,” she said.

The lockdown was meant to end on July 30.

Exposure sites grow as SA records two new cases

SA Health has recorded two new COVID-19 cases today after a dozen new exposure sites were listed overnight, as South Australia enters day two of a seven-day lockdown.

Premier Steven Marshall told reporters at this morning’s COVID-19 press conference that today’s two new positive cases are a brother and sister aged in their 20s, who visited the Tenafeate Creek Wines exposure site in One Tree Hill on Sunday afternoon between 1:45pm to 4:30pm.

He said the two new cases were detected after 17,592 test results were provided yesterday – the highest daily number in South Australia since the start of the pandemic.

There are now seven positive cases linked to the cellar door, after five cases emerged on Wednesday afternoon, prompting the state’s chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier to declare it a “super spreader” exposure site.

The Modbury Cluster has now grown to 14 cases, forcing approximately 4000 people into quarantine out of a total 13,610 people who visited exposure sites.

The new cases are expected to increase the number of exposure sites in South Australia beyond the current 71 locations, as the brother and sister are still being interviewed by contact tracers to determine whether they were in the community while infectious.

Their parents were also dining with the pair at the cellar door, but have tested negative.

Spurrier said the seven positive cases linked to the winery were not related to each other, but they were all dining indoors.

“We will be able to obtain CCTV footage (and) we need to find out if there was outside dining areas as well,” she said.

Of the 125 people who visited the Tenafeate Creek Wines exposure site, only 34 people have been tested.

The other exposure site of highest concern, The Greek on Halifax restaurant in Adelaide’s CBD, was visited by 91 people during the period of concern, but only 50 people have so far been tested.

Read the full story here

Treasurer confident of avoiding recession

The Australian economy is set to take a whack from the impact of half of the population being in lockdown, but Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is confident it won’t result in a second recession in as many years.

New figures show employment was already on the slide even before the latest round of lockdowns that take in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

Frydenberg expects the economy will contract in the September quarter with Treasury estimating these restrictions are costing the economy $300 million a day.

Sydney and Melbourne alone account for about half of the economy’s output.

“So it is a big hit to the economy,” Frydenberg told the Nine Network on Thursday.

“We will see it play out in the unemployment numbers. We will see it play out in the growth numbers.”

Asked whether Australia would avoid an economic contraction in the December quarter, Mr Frydenberg noted the economy bounced back much stronger than initially thought after last year’s recession.

“I’m confident that while the September quarter will be tough, as long as we’re able to get on top of the virus, then we’ll continue to see Australia’s strong economic recovery,” he said.

WA shuts border to SA

Western Australia will close its border to South Australia and expand its coronavirus vaccination rollout which is the worst-performing in the nation.

Premier Mark McGowan says the hard border will come into effect from midday on Thursday, locking out any travellers who do not have an exemption.

WA has already closed its borders to NSW, Victoria and Queensland as the eastern states deal with outbreaks of the highly transmissible Delta variant.

“The whole country bar here, Tasmania and the Northern Territory has cases in the community,” Mr McGowan told reporters.

“It’s a very worrying time and we’re going to do everything we can to keep it out.”

A flight from Adelaide carrying 87 passengers was due to arrive in Perth later on Thursday after the hard border comes into effect.

Victoria records 26 new COVID cases, all linked

Victoria has recorded 26 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, all of which are linked, a week into its statewide lockdown.

The health department has confirmed Thursday’s new infections are all linked to the current outbreak, which originated in NSW and now totals 133 cases.

Twenty-four of the 26 cases were in quarantine throughout their entire infectious period.

It is the state’s highest daily total of the current outbreak and follows the 22 cases reported on Wednesday.

But Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton says he suspects the state would already be dealing with 200 to 300 cases if it had not entered lockdown a week ago, citing the highly infectious nature of the Delta variant.

“It is a variant that takes off from dozens to thousands of cases within just a matter of weeks,” he said on Wednesday.

“If we’d locked down today, instead of when we did, we would get thousands of cases in the next couple of weeks. We’d be in a world of hurt.”

Sutton said he believed community transmission had peaked but expected more household cases to emerge.

He also warned the number of people in intensive care could grow, given the severity of the delta variant.

As of Wednesday, there are five people in Victorian hospitals with COVID-19, including a man from Barwon Heads in intensive care.

Some 18,000 primary close contacts are self-isolating across Victoria, while the number of exposure sites has grown to more than 380.

Driver sought over fatal Morphett Vale crash

The alleged driver of a car involved in a fatal hit and run crash in Adelaide’s South has been urged to hand himself in.

Police want to speak with 22-year-old Michael Henley in relation to the crash at Morphett Vale.

They have already arrested a passenger from one of the cars, a 19-year-old man who has been charged with manslaughter, causing death by dangerous driving and impeding an investigation.

He has been refused bail and will appear in Christies Beach Magistrates Court on Thursday.

On Tuesday night a Ford sedan and a white Toyota Hilux collided with a 20-year-old passenger in the Toyota dying at the scene.

The 22-year-old driver of the Toyota was taken to hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

The Ford failed to stop and was later located burnt out in a gully off the Southern Expressway at nearby Reynella.

The state’s road toll for 2021 stands at 59, compared to 52 at the same point last year.

Single person visits allowed under lockdown rule change

South Australians living without a spouse or partner are now allowed to visit a friend, relative or intimate partner at their house under certain conditions, following an overnight change to the state’s lockdown rules in a bid to ease mental health concerns.

SA Police late on Wednesday released a series of amendments to South Australia’s stay at home restrictions.

Under the new rules, a person over the age of 16 who is not living with a partner is able to visit another person – including a friend, relative, support person or intimate partner – at their house.

The visit is permitted if there is one adult in the house at the time, if that person is a sole parent with children, or if the two people were in a relationship prior to the lockdown coming into force on Tuesday.

The general activities direction amendment on intimate partner visits

The amendment adds to the care and compassion reason for leaving home, with the other four reasons being:

SA Police also last night scrapped a mask-wearing mandate for activity outdoors, with the face coverings no longer required for exercise. They are only required in outdoor settings when physical distancing is not possible.

They are still mandatory in public places, health care services, high risk settings, and on public transport.

SA faces coldest day of the year, snow flurries: BoM

Parts of South Australia are potentially facing their coldest day of the year with snow flurries possible in the state’s mid-north and Flinders districts, the Bureau of Meteorology says.

Adelaide has a forecast maximum of 11 degrees today, with 8 to 15 millimetres of rain expected to hit the city.

Mount Barker and Stirling have forecast maximums of 7 and 5 degrees respectively.

Senior meteorologist at the BoM Simon Timcke said temperatures will “really struggle to rise” today once the rain moves in.

“On Thursday, many places across South Australia will potentially experience their coldest day of the year, especially those areas where it will be raining,” Timcke said..

“In the early hours of Thursday morning, it’s not out of the question we could see some snow flurries due to the cold air mass about the higher peaks in the Mid North and Flinders Districts.”

Rainfall ranging from 5 to 15 millimetres is expected in the agricultural areas south of Woomera in the Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas.

“Strong winds will also be about north of the state on Thursday,” Timcke said.

He also cautioned that the cold blast will continue well into the weekend, with a severe weather warning expected in the south for damaging wind gusts.

“This weekend we are forecasting potentially damaging winds, gale winds for the waters, showers and thunderstorms and we’re also looking at the potential for abnormally high tides.”

NSW to wait days to see whether cases fall: premier

Sydney still has days to wait to see if stricter rules will help quash its COVID-19 outbreak and release the city from lockdown, the premier says, after an upturn in new local cases yesterday.

“We need to wait until at least the weekend and early next week to see the impact of those harsher restrictions,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Wednesday.

The state recorded 110 new local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday, up from 78 the previous day.

That figure would have been “thousands and thousands” had Greater Sydney not entered lockdown, now in its fourth week, Berejiklian said.

The premier has said the virus must be quashed before restrictions can be lifted.

But the premier refused to be drawn on whether her government could go harder if case numbers don’t start to turn around.

“In truth, we won’t live as freely as we need to or we would like until vaccination rates increase,” she said on Wednesday.

“That is one thing the NSW government can’t control.”

At least 60 of the new cases were circulating in the community for part or all of their infectious periods.

More than half – 56 – of the new cases were still under investigation and had not been linked to existing clusters when they were announced.

PM warns of lockdown impact on employment

New ABS figures will give a flavour of how Australia’s labour market was performing in the very early stages of July and after the unemployment rate dropped to a decade low of 4.9 per cent the previous month.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release its latest weekly payroll jobs report on Thursday, a rough guide to the monthly official labour force figures.

However, the data won’t capture the full-extent of current lockdowns which are impacting half the nation’s population, with restrictions in Greater Sydney and some parts of regional NSW, as well as Victoria and South Australia.

Greater Sydney and Melbourne alone account for about half of the economy’s output.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned on Wednesday these restrictions will be a heavy blow on the economy in the September quarter, but he is confident of a turnaround in the final three months of the year.

He says the recent fall in job advertising is to be expected in the current circumstances and will have an impact on near-term employment.

“It is impossible to avoid it when you have lockdowns running at the rate we’re seeing across three states right now,” Morrison said.

The National Skills Commission’s final vacancies report for June released on Wednesday confirmed job advertisements posted on the internet fell 0.5 per cent in the month, the first decline since the pandemic low point in April 2020.

However, jobs ads were still 43.8 per cent higher than their pre-pandemic levels.

Meanwhile, Qantas workers have been warned that ongoing COVID-19 border closures across Australia could mean the airline is forced to stand down employees.

In a message to staff, airline CEO Alan Joyce lamented “frustratingly familiar challenges” for his team as more than 14 million people in NSW, Victoria and South Australia are subject to stay-at-home orders.

“We’re not at the point of requiring stand-downs in our domestic operations at this stage,” he wrote.

“But to be honest, we can’t rule it out if multiple states keep their borders closed for extended periods.”

Joyce said he wanted to “share his thinking” as Qantas services took a hit, with numerous cancelled flights.

“NSW is a key part of the Qantas and Jetstar network, so that lockdown has already seen our total domestic flying fall from 90 per cent of pre-COVID levels to around 60 per cent,” he wrote.

“When you add in the Victorian and now South Australian lockdowns, our total flying drops below 40 per cent.”

Brisbane celebrates after 2032 Olympic host vote

Brisbane is celebrating after being awarded the 2032 Olympic Games by the International Olympic Committee in a landslide vote in Tokyo on Wednesday.

With three of the 80 members of the IOC abstaining, 72 voted for Brisbane and just five against in a sweeping show of support.

IOC president Thomas Bach said the bid ticked all of the boxes, while underlined by Australia’s “passionate love for sport”.

“You could feel this during the whole presentation and I could feel it already during my visit a couple of years ago in Queensland,” Bach said.

“It is a project which is absolutely in line with the IOC reforms, it’s a project of sustainable gains in every respect and you could hear and see that today that this was a matter of concern, also for the IOC members.”

The city’s bid had earlier earned praise from the IOC for its high percentage of existing venues encompassing south-east Queensland, support from all levels of government and experience in organising major events.

Despite the IOC claiming it wasn’t a “done deal”, the Tokyo organising committee released an embargoed statement before the vote congratulating Brisbane.

Brisbane was preferred ahead of Budapest, Korea, Doha and Germany’s Ruhr Valley, who had all expressed an interest in hosting the Games.

Australian Olympic Committee boss John Coates believes enthusiasm for the Games will remain high heading into Brisbane 2032.

Tokyo is facing a staggering financial loss with fans locked out and many of the Japanese population against the Games being staged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Coates doesn’t think there is Olympic “fatigue” and believes the Games will be warmly embraced by Australians in 11 years time.

He said many athletes still viewed the Games as the pinnacle of their sporting careers and television ratings may reach record levels.

“I went into the village the other day and there was no fatigue amongst the athletes, there was just absolute excitement that they were here,” Coates said from Tokyo following the announcement.

“For me, that’s always the test – if the athletes still regard this as the most important competition in their lives … then the Olympics is in pretty good shape.

Matildas off to flying start in Olympics

The Matildas have got their Tokyo Olympics campaign off to a near-perfect start, holding off a fast-finishing New Zealand to kick off the tournament with a 2-1 win.

Sam Kerr provided the assist for Tameka Yallop’s opener and scored in an excellent captain’s performance at Tokyo Stadium to secure Australia’s first win under Tony Gustavsson.

The Matildas had entered their Olympics opener winless in five games and after a scratchy start, burst to life and dominated the clash.

In the 20th minute, the Matildas capitalised on their dominance and snatched the lead through some delightful one-touch football.

Yallop pounced on a turnover, worked the ball to Kyah Simon and burst forward.

Simon cleverly headed the ball on to Kerr who flicked it to Yallop, with the midfielder taking a touch then smashing the ball into the roof of the net.

Then, in the 33rd minute, Steph Catley whipped a powerful corner into the near post where Kerr smacked a thumping header home off the crossbar for a commanding 2-0 lead, ending her five-game scoring drought.

Simon spurned a golden opportunity to add a third when she hit a chance straight at New Zealand goalkeeper Nayler in the 47th minute and Kerr put a backheel just wide three minutes later.

It proved to be the tale of the second half as the Matildas had plenty of chances but were unable to extend their lead, largely due to Nayler making several sharp saves and a drop off in intensity.

In the first minute of injury time, the Football Ferns snatched a consolation goal on the counter.

Ria Percival headed a cross back across goal for substitute Gabi Rennie, who nodded the ball home just two minutes into her international debut, forcing the Matildas to scramble to lock up all three points.

The Matildas next face Sweden on Saturday, who are coming off a scintillating 3-0 win over the United States.

-With AAP and Reuters

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