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What we know today, Monday July 26

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NSW has reported 145 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 with at least 76 of those people circulating in the community for all or part of their infectious period.

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NSW records 145 new COVID cases, 76 in the community

NSW has reported 145 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 with at least 76 of those people circulating in the community for all or part of their infectious period.

Greater Sydney and surrounding regions are in lockdown until at least July 30, while three local government areas in regional NSW are in lockdown until at least 28 July.

Of the 145 new cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, 51 were in the community for the entirety of their infectious period and 25 were in the community for part of their infectious period.

There are currently 44 COVID-19 patients in NSW in intensive care, and 18 of these people are ventilated.

Monday’s tally came from more than 98,000 tests.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her government would this week begin to lay out the “road map” for the coming months, including which restrictions will be retained or discarded.

The NSW crisis cabinet met on Monday morning to work out a strategy to deal with the evolving COVID-19 crisis after a week that saw daily infections soar and an illegal violent street protest in Sydney.

Berejiklian earlier deflected reports the lockdown was likely to extend until mid-September, saying nothing had been decided.

She flagged some restrictions would be necessary until the majority of the population was vaccinated.

However, she did confirm there will be a return of “some construction activity on Saturday”.

The fate of three local government areas in regional NSW areas due to exit a lockdown on July 28 is also unclear.

The premier again expressed her distress about the weekend anti-lockdown protest of about 3000 people in Sydney, saying it had the potential to be a super-spreader event.

Eight people have died during the latest outbreak, which erupted in Sydney on June 16.

Treasurer not budging on JobKeeper

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has again rejected calls for the JobKeeper wage subsidy to be reinstated, saying the current support measures are getting to applicants faster.

But he continues to watch developments, particularly the lockdown in NSW, which is now in its fifth week and looks set to go longer than the planned July 30 cut-off with another 145 local cases reported on Monday.

“Our policies are never set and forget,” Frydenberg told reporters in Melbourne.

“You never know what is around the corner, you need to be flexible, you need to respond to changing circumstances.”

But he said the emergency payments that are available – both income and business support – are very significant and designed to help Australians who are in need.

Trade unions continue to press the case for the return of JobKeeper, as well as calling for small enterprise grants.

The ACTU wants immediate cash grants for small businesses and says current assistance measures are “confusing, inadequate and often administratively burdensome”.

It dismissed as “grossly inadequate” the disaster payments, starting at $375 per week and up to a maximum of $600 for those who have lost more than 20 hours of work.

“The current disaster payment is less than the minimum wage and less than what workers received during lockdowns in 2020,” ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has also appealed for the reintroduction of wage subsidies.

Frydenberg said JobKeeper was introduced when the whole country was in lockdown last year and at a time when the unemployment rate was expected to soar to 15 per cent.

Instead, the jobless rate now stands at a decade low of 4.9 per cent.

“We are seeing with a lengthy lockdown in New South Wales, and the payments we are rolling out, they are faster than what occurred under JobKeeper,” the treasurer said.

“The payments are being made in about 40 minutes.”

Fauci laments US virus situation

The United States is in an “unnecessary predicament” of soaring COVID-19 cases fuelled by unvaccinated Americans and the virulent Delta variant, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert says.

“We’re going in the wrong direction,” said Dr Anthony Fauci, describing himself as “very frustrated”.

He said recommending that the vaccinated wear masks was “under active consideration” by the government’s leading public health officials.

Also, booster shots may be suggested for people with suppressed immune systems who had been vaccinated, Fauci said on Sunday.

Fauci, who also serves as President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, told CNN’s State of the Union that he had taken part in conversations about altering the mask guidelines.

He noted that some local jurisdictions where infection rates were surging, such as Los Angeles County, were already calling on individuals to wear masks in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status.

Fauci said those local rules were compatible with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that the vaccinated did not need to wear masks in public.

More than 163 million people, or 49 per cent of the total US population, are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data. Of those eligible for the vaccine, aged 12 and over, the figure rises to 57 per cent.

“This is an issue predominantly among the unvaccinated, which is the reason why we’re out there, practically pleading with the unvaccinated people to go out and get vaccinated,” Fauci said.

Fauci said government experts were reviewing early data as they considered whether to recommend that vaccinated individuals get booster shots.

He suggested some of the most vulnerable, such as organ transplant and cancer patients, were “likely” to be recommended for booster shots.

He also praised Republicans, including governors Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and Ron DeSantis of Florida, and the second-ranking House leader, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, for encouraging their constituents to get vaccinated.

Their states have among the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

Man serious after stabbing in Port Noarlunga

A man is in hospital with life-threatening injuries after a stabbing in Adelaide’s south.

Police were called to an address at Port Noarlunga early on Monday morning and found a 27-year-old with stab wounds to the abdomen.

He was taken to Flinders Medical Centre where he remains in a serious condition.

Two men aged 21 and 47 were arrested at the scene with one, a 47-year-old, also taken to the Noarlunga Hospital with lacerations to the hands.

Victoria records 11 new cases, all linked

Victoria has reported 11 new local COVID-19 cases as Premier Daniel Andrews warns some restrictions are likely to remain even if the state’s lockdown lifts as planned.

The health department said all the new locally acquired cases had been linked to Victoria’s current Delta strain outbreaks and were in isolation for their entire infectious period.

Another case was recorded in hotel quarantine, with active infections across the state rising to 190.

More than 25,000 test results were received in the 24 hours to midnight on Monday, while almost 14,000 vaccine doses were administered at state-run sites during the same period.

The result will further fuel hopes Victoria’s extended restrictions may be eased as planned at 11.59pm on Tuesday.

Andrews said the state is “well-placed” to end its fifth lockdown this week, though some restrictions are likely to remain for some time.

‘D-day’ for SA ahead of lockdown end

South Australia’s transition committee will meet today to determine which restrictions will be lifted on Tuesday night after a quiet weekend of local coronavirus cases.

Just two new coronavirus cases linked to the Modbury cluster were reported yesterday and one on Saturday.

A returned traveller in hotel quarantine also tested positive yesterday.

Premier Steven Marshall told ABC Radio this morning there had been “no serious escalation overnight”.

Yesterday he said that because all three of Sunday’s cases were in “strict quarantine”, South Australia was “still on track” to lift its lockdown restrictions on Tuesday night.

His comments followed a “record” testing day in South Australia, with 23,719 tests results processed on Saturday.

“Tomorrow is D-Day – we don’t want to see any further numbers, especially numbers that are outside in the community,” Marshall said on Sunday.

“We put ourselves in the best position to have a short, sharp lockdown in South Australia and then on Wednesday (we’ll) get people back to school, get people back to work.”

The State Government will expand its online booking system for testing to include the Repat site from 8am today.

Elizabeth Park shops added to exposure list

SA Health has identified a new Tier 3 exposure site associated with a positive case of COVID-19 in Elizabeth Park overnight.

The exposure site is the Parks Shopping Centre on Yorktown Road on Tuesday, July 20 from 9.30am to 11am.

Anyone who visited the site at this time must get tested immediately and quarantine until they receive their first negative test.

Exposure areas at St Agnes, Surrey Downs, Smithfield, Modbury, Greenacres, and Gawler East have been revised and updated online with new times.

All exposure locations and associated health advice can be found at www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/covidcontacttracing.

SA Health reported three new COVID-19 cases in SA yesterday, one in a returned international traveller in hotel quarantine and two local cases.

They include a man aged in his 70s linked to the Tenafeate Creek Wines cluster, which is now at 10 and a woman in her 40s.

The woman is the mother of a child who tested positive last week after visiting the Greek on Halifax exposure site.

Sydneysiders begin fifth week at home as cases continue to rise

Sydney has entered its fifth week of lockdown after a weekend which saw two deaths, more than 300 new cases across NSW and thousands of unmasked protesters march through the city centre.

Australia’s youngest female COVID-19 death to date will be recorded in today’s death toll — a Sydney woman in her late 30s without pre-existing conditions who died in the early hours of Sunday.

Eight people have died in the current Sydney outbreak. There were 43 people in intensive care, none of whom are fully vaccinated, with 18 ventilated. NSW recorded 141 new local virus cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday from a record of more than 102,000 tests.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said her government will this week start “critical planning” on policy settings after the lockdown’s scheduled end for Greater Sydney and surrounds on Friday.

Three regional NSW areas are locked down until at least July 28.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation on Saturday said everyone 18 and over in Greater Sydney “should strongly consider getting vaccinated with any available vaccine including COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca”.

While Pfizer supplies remain constrained, the NSW government says it has plentiful AstraZeneca, which is manufactured locally and effectively prevents hospitalisation or death.

In NSW, 15.4 per cent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated.

“(Vaccination) won’t stop the spread alone but it will definitely, definitely slow the spread down,” Berejiklian said.

Disquiet over the lockdown erupted dramatically on Saturday afternoon, as thousands marched through Sydney’s CBD in an anti-lockdown protest.

Some 57 people have been charged and 90 infringement notices issued over the action, which Berejiklian says left her disgusted and heartbroken.

‘Tornadoes’ lash state in weekend of wild weather

SES crews were called out to more than 600 jobs across the weekends as rain, hail and several “fast-moving tornadoes” lashed the state, plunging thousands of homes into darkness.

Gusts of up to 135 km/h were recorded on Saturday and the strong winds and rain continued yesterday.

The SES attended more than 400 incidents for wind damage and localised flooding on Saturday and more than 200 yesterday as another cold front moved across the south-east of the state.

Bureau of Meteorology Senior Meteorologist Tina Donaldson said South Australia has again experienced a wet and very windy few days due to multiple low pressure systems and cold fronts since Thursday.

“On Saturday we saw widespread damaging and locally destructive winds, including potentially multiple small and fast-moving tornadoes, causing significant tree and property damage across Adelaide particularly, the southern suburbs,” she said.

“At this stage, looking at radar evidence and damage patterns, they indicate there were multiple small and fast-moving tornadoes along a cold front that moved through around midday. The showers and thunderstorms associated with the front produced narrow paths of damaging to destructive winds,” said Tina Donaldson

At least 10,000 suffered power outages in suburbs including Aberfoyle Park, Grange, Hallett Cove and Unley Park, some of which stretched on to Sunday.

The highest gust recorded in the Adelaide area was 95 km/h at Adelaide Airport on Saturday evening. The highest gust in SA since Thursday was 107 km/h at Cape Borda and 135 km/h Neptune Island.

“Large amounts of small hail settled on the ground could have be mistaken for snow, particularly in the Adelaide Hills region, however, observations suggest small hail was more likely,” Donaldson said.

“Small hail was also reported across the Adelaide metropolitan area.”

The highest rainfall totals in the 24 hours to 9am on Sunday were 42mm at Ashton, 40mm at Lenswood and 33mm at Balhannah, all in the Adelaide Hills. In the city, 12mm was observed at Adelaide’s West Terrace weather station.

“Looking ahead, warmer temperatures are forecast for Monday and Tuesday, with warnings for damaging winds are likely again on Tuesday,” said Donaldson.

Victoria on track to end lockdown this week

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews says the state is “well-placed” to end its fifth lockdown as planned this week, though some restrictions are likely to remain for some time.

The statewide lockdown was called on July 15 due to an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant, which originated from cases in NSW.

Victoria’s lockdown was meant to end after five days, but was extended for a week until 11.59pm on Tuesday.

Andrews on Sunday said he was confident the lockdown wouldn’t be extended again, citing the downward trend in the number of people in the community while infectious.

Victoria recorded 11 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases on Sunday, all of which were linked to known outbreaks and were in quarantine for their entire infectious period.

It brings the total number of active cases to 179 in the state, 17 of which are in hospital including two people in intensive care.

“These numbers are more than promising, but we just have to wait and see what comes through tomorrow and Tuesday to be certain that we can ease restrictions,” Andrews told reporters.

“I will foreshadow, there will still be rules after midnight Tuesday, it’ll be important that we all follow them.”

Victorian cabinet ministers and the public health team will meet on Monday to discuss the new set of restrictions, but Andrews flagged masks will remain compulsory for some time.

“Masks are going to be a feature from now until we get the maximum number of people through the vaccination program,” he said.

There are more than 22,000 people self-isolating across the state after being deemed close contacts of positive cases, while there are more than 380 exposure sites.

Aussie Minjee Lee wins maiden golf major

Australian golf star Minjee Lee has earned the major championship that her talents have long demanded, winning the Evian Championship in France with one of the all-time great comeback performances.

The 25-year-old from Perth, often considered the best woman player never to win one of the five majors, got rid of that unwanted tag at Evian-les-Bains with a flawless final round seven-under 64 and then win a sudden death play-off at the first hole.

Roaring back from a record-equalling seven shots behind on Sunday, she caught up with the week’s stand-out performer, South Korea’s Jeongeun Lee6, as the pair both finished on an 18-under par total of 266.

Lee then fired a six-iron 173 metres across the water at the first playoff hole to within a couple of metres of the pin to defeat Lee6, who’d played magnificently for much of the week before a Sunday wobble.

“I’ve been waiting for this for so long, it just feels unreal to have won, amazing,”

It was another family triumph after younger brother Min Woo Lee’s win on the men’s European Tour in the Scottish Open a fortnight earlier.

A five-time winner on the LPGA tour but without a win on the circuit for two years, the world’s former No.1 amateur Lee was the next tipped for a major breakthrough following Green’s 2019 Women’s PGA victory.

After a brief stopover at her US base in Dallas, Lee’s next stop will be to go for gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

– with AAP and Reuters

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