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What we know today, Friday July 30

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NSW has reported 170 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, at least 52 of which were circulating in the community during their infectious period, as authorities reveal people are dying of the virus before their case is detected.

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NSW records 170 new cases, 52 in the community

NSW has reported 170 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, at least 52 of which were circulating in the community during their infectious period, as authorities reveal people are dying of the virus before their case is detected.

It comes after the state recorded a record 239 local virus cases in the previous 24-hour period.

“Today’s number is considerably less than yesterday,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Friday.

“We expect to see those numbers bounce around and what we do need (to see) is not just the stabilisation but of course the numbers to go down.”

There are 58 COVID-19 patients in NSW in intensive care, with 24 ventilated.

The 170 cases came from more than 95,000 tests conducted in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said some families are presenting to hospital with family members who are severely ill or have died from COVID-19 before authorities are aware of their case.

“Very sadly, we are seeing more families coming in with a family member who is presenting not alive but dead,” he said.

“That is a terrible situation.

“We are hearing some families, particularly in south-west Sydney and western Sydney, are staying at home when they have symptoms and not coming out and getting tested.”

NSW Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant urged members of the community to not have any hesitation to come forward for testing, warning that COVID-19 patients “can deteriorate quite quickly”.

“I’m just struck by the tragedy of it, that we’ve had a number of people that are presented to hospital severely unwell and sometimes dead,” she said.

“There shouldn’t be any barriers to people ringing an ambulance, coming to healthcare, getting tested.

“I want to reassure the community that you will be treated with dignity and respect.”

It comes as the military prepares to join NSW Police in the areas worst hit by Sydney’s outbreak to ensure residents are complying with lockdown restrictions.

Greater Sydney and surrounding regions are in lockdown until at least August 28 as health authorities battle to contain an outbreak of the virulent Delta strain

Defence Minister Peter Dutton earlier said people shouldn’t be intimidated by the presence of 300 ADF personnel in the streets of eight western and southwest Sydney council areas.

“All of us feel for those in lockdown in NSW, we want people to be out of lockdown and back to their normal lives as quickly as possible,” Dutton told reporters on Friday.

“I want the presence of the ADF personnel to be a message of reassurance.”

Police will also target businesses across the city breaching public health orders, including those in the construction industry allowed to reopen from Saturday.

Their efforts will be supported in the coming days by the ADF members, who begin deploying on Friday for training before commencing work on Monday.

Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told ABC radio on Friday the presence of the ADF would help officers double their workload, particularly for checking close contacts are isolating.

The military has already supported hotel quarantine policing, logistics in the Police Operations Centre and compliance during a 2020 border operation.

The two million people in the eight western Sydney local government areas, covering places like Fairfield, Cumberland and Canterbury-Bankstown, can’t leave those areas unless they are essential workers.

Masks are also mandatory at all times – including outdoors.

Vic mystery case linked to NSW removalists

Victoria’s mystery case has been traced back to the apartment building visited by three Sydney removalists that sparked the state’s Delta coronavirus outbreak.

But it remains unclear how the testing site traffic controller became infected.

Deputy Secretary Kate Matson on Friday confirmed genomic sequencing of the case, a Moonee Valley testing site worker, showed it was connected to Maribyrnong’s Ariele apartment complex outbreak.

She says health authorities are continuing to trace the man’s work, social and household contacts, with 48 out of 58 of his testing site colleagues returning negative results thus far.

The young man also visited his partner at a Newport apartment building while infectious, with residents tested and in isolation.

It’s believed he had not been vaccinated despite being eligible as a frontline worker.

It comes as Victoria reported three new local COVID-19 cases on Friday, including a previously reported infection.

Two of Victoria’s new local COVID-19 cases are linked to existing outbreaks at schools, Bacchus Marsh Grammar and Trinity College, while another is linked to an apartment complex in Richmond.

All were in isolation for their entire infectious period.

More than 43,500 test results were received in the 24 hours to Friday morning, while about 19,000 vaccine doses were administered at state-run sites during the same period.

There are 200 active cases in Victoria, down five from Thursday.

South Australia’s transition committee on Thursday opted not to reopen the border to Victoria despite the eastern state lifting its lockdown on Wednesday.

Premier Steven Marshall indicated yesterday that South Australian authorities were eyeing reduced border restrictions with Victoria “in the coming weeks”.

Giddey drafted pick 6 in NBA draft

Adelaide 36ers star Josh Giddey will begin his NBA career with the Oklahoma City Thunder after being taken at pick No.6 in the NBA draft on Thursday.

The NBL Rookie of the Year impressed scouts after an average of 10.9 points, 7.6 assists, 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 28 games for the Adelaide 36ers, becoming the youngest Australian to register a triple-double in the league.

The 18-year-old was tipped to go as high as No.7 after impressing scouts who travelled to Australia and also watched him in action for the Boomers in a pre-Olympic exhibition game against Nigeria earlier this month.

But he exceeded even that projection and now joins fellow Australians Luc Longley, Ben Simmons, Dante Exum, Thon Maker and Andrew Bogut as a top-10 NBA draft pick.

“Best situation in my opinion,” Bogut tweeted.

“Bulk minutes are there and the keys to the team from the PG spot will be in his hands!”

Giddey wasn ‘t selected in the final 12-man squad for Tokyo, but has been earmarked by coach Brian Goorjian to play a key part in the future of the program alongside Josh Green, who was taken with pick 18 by Dallas Mavericks last season.

The 200cm point guard has been working with Australian basketball great Andrew Gaze, who played alongside the youngster’s dad Warrick at the Melbourne Tigers. His mum Kim also played for the Melbourne Tigers in the WNBL.

The draft is being held later than its traditional late-June slot for the second straight year due to the COVID-19 pandemic that interrupted the 2019-20 season.

Qld detects unlinked COVID case

Queensland has recorded an unlinked locally acquired case of COVID-19 in a high school student in western Brisbane.

The 17-year-old girl, who’s an Indooroopilly State High School student, tested positive on Thursday night after suffering a headache.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath says the case is yet to be linked with any existing outbreaks in the state.

“This is an unknown, unlinked case at this stage. Until we get more information, masks are more important than ever,” she said on Friday.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young says the teenager’s family are being tested, but they haven’t travelled anywhere recently.

“I’m struggling to understand how she’s acquired it, so we’ll have to wait until we get whole genome sequencing results back later today,” Dr Young told reporters.

The girl is in hospital as a precaution and the school has been closed for deep cleaning.

Contact tracers are now working out which students and teachers need to self-isolate or go into quarantine.

SA exposure site downgraded as authorities urge caution

SA Health has downgraded the status of the Burnside Village exposure site as authorities urge South Australians to complete their quarantine periods to prevent any flare-up of local virus cases.

The state yesterday recorded two new COVID-19 cases associated with the Modbury cluster, bringing the total number of cases associated with the outbreak which prompted a seven-day lockdown to 21.

One of the cases is a woman aged in her 80s, who is staying with her COVID-positive husband in the Tom’s Court medi-hotel after he contracted the virus at the Teneafeate Creek Winery exposure site.

The other case is a man in his 40s who is the father of two adult siblings who also tested positive after visiting the winery.

Both new cases were in hotel quarantine during their infectious period.

SA Health late on Thursday updated the advice for the Burnside Village exposure site.

The whole shopping centre – which was listed as an exposure site for Sunday, July 18 from 1:05pm to 2:30pm – has been downgraded from a tier one to tier two location.

SA Health says anyone who was at Burnside Village at the specified date and time must still complete 14 days of quarantine, but “your household members now have the option of coming out of quarantine if they can move to a separate location (e.g. stay with other family)”.

Deputy chief public health officer Dr Emily Kirkpatrick said the advice was downgraded after a review of CCTV footage.

“It’s giving out advice that’s probably only going to affect a small number of people,” Kirkpatrick told ABC Radio this morning.

“It’s those people who can move away or can separate them from their families.

“What our intentions were was to try and not have as many people in quarantine who didn’t need to be in quarantine now that we’re out of this lockdown period.”

She urged anyone confused about the advice to visit SA Health’s contact tracing and exposure locations site.

SA Health also advised on Thursday that two tier three exposure sites at the Aberfoyle Hub Shopping Centre were “added in error” on Wednesday and have since been removed.

Around 20,000 people in South Australia visited the more than 80 exposure sites dotted across Adelaide, with 5000 people in directed quarantine.

Kirkpatrick said authorities were not surprised about the two new cases recorded on Thursday.

“These were two cases that we were expecting – it was likely based on their exposure that they had had to both the initial case and also to the other family members as well,” she said.

“It is certainly possible that we’ll see some of our close contacts … who are still within a medi-hotel at the Pullman – they may test positive.”

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said Thursday’s new cases show that people can still become ill and emphasised the need for everyone in directed home quarantine to complete their 14 days.

“Even at this late stage, it is still possible for people to become positive,” Spurrier told reporters on Thursday.

“You can be highly infectious, even if you haven’t had any symptoms yourself.”

Spurrier said the growth in the number of cases in NSW also continues to pose a real risk to South Australia with thousands of people seeking to return home from NSW and overseas.

Premier Steven Marshall said some exemptions had already been granted but officials would continue to take a careful approach.

Pre-lockdown business confidence at record high

Business confidence in South Australia was at its highest level ever recorded just before last week’s state-wide lockdown was enforced, according to the latest BankSA State Monitor survey.

The phone survey of 300 small business owners, conducted from July 6 to 12, found business confidence increased 4.7 points from the last survey in February to reach 134.6 points.

BankSA says it is the highest confidence level ever reached since the State Monitor was introduced in 1997, although the results were taken just a week before South Australia’s seven-day state-wide lockdown came into force last Tuesday, July 20.

But BankSA state general manager business banking David Firth said the positive momentum is expected to continue despite the temporary business shutdown.

“Because the lockdown was so short, and there were financial support measures provided by the government, we expect the impact on confidence to be limited,” he said.

“There might be a slight dip in confidence as the challenges of the pandemic continue, however South Australia has managed outbreaks incredibly well and this will continue to support confidence.”

Consumer confidence dipped 3.1 points but is still the second highest rating recorded since October 2010 according to BankSA.

“We did see a decrease in consumers’ confidence in their own financial position over the coming 12 months,” Firth said.

“However, in other measures that have seen a reduction – such as household likelihood to be considering major purchases and feeling about own household situation – they are still at high levels with more respondents positive than not.”

Regional business confidence also recorded a 3.3 point dip along with a 6.8 point drop in rural consumer confidence.

However, both still remain in positive territory above the benchmark rating of 100.

Leaders mull new vaccination modelling

National cabinet will today start charting a course to fully reopen Australia based on new vaccination rate modelling from the Doherty Institute, but leaders are cautioning that the nation is still a fair way off from making lockdowns a thing of the past.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will on Friday chair a national cabinet meeting of state premiers and territory chief ministers.

Leaders will be presented with new Doherty Institute modelling which calculates immunisation coverage needed to avoid lockdowns and restart international travel.

Morrison has tempered expectations of a concrete outcome like setting a “freedom day” similar to the United Kingdom’s widespread dropping of restrictions.

“You don’t just pick a day and, you know, get some fireworks,” he told 3AW.

“That’s not science. It’s not medicine. It’s not policy.”

The prime minister said the infectious disease modelling would be considered alongside Treasury’s economic advice to inform the path out of restrictions.

“Now, will we get there in one meeting? No, I don’t think we will. If we do, great,” he said.

He remains confident a vaccination rate will be determined at some stage.

“There’ll be a straight answer on that. But I won’t be making it up, I won’t be pulling it out of the air.”

About 17.7 per cent of people aged 16 and over have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine with a record 201,470 shots administered in the past 24 hours.

South Australia sits in line with the national average with 17.9 per cent of people aged 16 and over fully vaccinated, according to the latest vaccination data from the Federal Government.

Around 40 per cent of the same cohort have received a first dose, with a total of 844,675 vaccines administered in South Australia since the rollout began on February 22.

Premier Steven Marshall said the point where Australia no longer needs lockdowns is “some time off” but national cabinet needs to start the discussion.

“The good news in some ways is that we do lag behind the northern hemisphere by a couple of months,” Marshall told reporters on Thursday.

“So we can monitor what they’re doing and their pathway out of this situation and learn the lessons that they’re probably experiencing at the moment.”

National cabinet will also receive an update on virus data, the vaccine rollout and the code for truckies to move around the country.

Free scooter rides for jab appointments

E-scooter company Neuron Mobility will provide free rides in Adelaide for people travelling to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

The initiative, launched today, will provide 10,000 Australians with free transport to travel to their nearest COVID vaccination clinic or GP and is worth $100,000, according to the Singaporean start-up company.

Neuron – which operates 1,150 e-scooters and 300 e-bikes across Adelaide, Norwood Payneham, St Peters, Sturt, Port Adelaide and West Torrens – said the offer extends to all cities in Australia where the company operates.

“Through this initiative, we want to provide greater access to safe transport options for every Australian who is eligible to get vaccinated,” Neuron Mobility CEO Zachary Wang said.

“In particular, we want to take this opportunity to support frontline workers and vulnerable members of the community who are the first priority to receive their vaccinations.”

The company currently charges a $1.00 unlock fees for all scooter rides and then $0.45 for each minute after.

Neuron said individuals could access the free rides by downloading the Neuron app and following the vaccination prompts.

-With AAP and Reuters

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