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What we know today, Tuesday August 3

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Queensland has recorded 16 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, taking the number of cases associated with an outbreak in Brisbane to 47, while NSW has reported another 199 cases as Sydney enters its sixth week of lockdown.

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Qld has 16 virus cases, cluster hits 47

Queensland has recorded 16 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 with authorities encouraged that all are linked to existing cases.

The 16 new cases recorded on Tuesday take the total number of cases in the existing west Brisbane outbreak to 47.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young says the 34,718 tests conducted overnight is encouraging for ending a hard lockdown of the state’s southeast on Sunday, but she’s urged people to continue getting tested and to stay home.

“So we do need to continue testing throughout all of those 11 LGAs, and throughout Queensland, it’s really important, so that we can just make sure that we don’t have any other transmission events or any outbreaks happening,” she told reporters.

“So please get tested if any symptoms at all, come forward and get tested, and please don’t move the virus.”

One new case is linked to Indooroopilly High School, four cases are linked to Brisbane Grammar School, two are linked to Brisbane Girls Grammar, three are inked to Ironside State School, five are household or family contacts of existing cases, and one is a neighbour of an existing case.

Young said some of those cases had been infectious in the community for up to five days.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said nine of the 16 new cases are children.

She said people should avoid coming into contact with their neighbours, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help them if they need it.

“We know we’re in lockdown,” D’Ath said.

“If they need a food parcel of their groceries …don’t go knock on their door, give them a call if you’ve got their number and say: ‘Do you need any groceries or items?’.

“Leave a care package at the front door. That’s how you can help. Please don’t go visit your neighbours right now because, as we’ve heard today, one of the new positive cases is a neighbour.”

Young said there are 7995 people in quarantine in Queensland on Tuesday morning, including 4089 in home quarantine.

NSW records 199 new cases, 82 in the community

NSW has reported 199 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 with at least 82 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 August 28, as health authorities battle to contain an outbreak of the virulent Delta strain.

“Again, workplaces and households are the main places where the virus is transmitting so we urge everybody, if you must leave the house, assume everybody that you’re coming into contact with has the virus,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Tuesday.

The premier urged those who live in communities adjoining eight local government areas under stricter lockdown conditions not to enter those areas.

Berejiklian said she wants the state to get to six million vaccinations by the end of August. Some 3.9 million doses have already been provided.

Meanwhile, a major Sydney hospital and two nursing homes are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks as health care workers come under stress while the Delta strain of the virus continues to surge.

Thirty-six staff at Westmead Hospital are reportedly in isolation after a vaccinated colleague who worked three shifts last week while infectious tested positive.

There are now 232 COVID-19 patients in Sydney hospitals.

Former AFL star fined over SA road crash

Former Melbourne and Port Adelaide AFL star Jack Watts panicked, fearing bad publicity for himself and his club, when he left the scene of a road crash, a court has heard.

The case against Watts came before Adelaide Magistrates Court on Tuesday where the 30-year-old entered guilty pleas to three charges through counsel.

He admitted driving without due care and failing to provide his details to police and the owner of a parked car he hit at suburban Fulham.

The incident occurred in September last year, just days before he retired from Port Adelaide and the AFL.

Defence counsel Darren Russo told the court that Watts was extremely embarrassed by his actions and was deeply remorseful.

“In relation to the offending, the defendant was not paying adequate attention … he collided into the right-hand side of the vehicle,” Russo said.

“The long and short of it after that is that he simply panicked.

“He was immediately fearful of bringing adverse publicity to the football club. He was also fearful of bringing adverse publicity to himself.

“He then made a foolish, spur-of-the-moment, decision not to report the matter at that time.”

However, Mr Russo said Watts went to police the next day and also contacted the owner of the car.

The court was told he had since paid for the damage he caused.

It also heard that at the time of the crash he was struggling with what to do with his football career after suffering a severe injury in 2019 when he broke a leg.

He had played 152 games for Melbourne after being selected as the number one draft pick in 2008 and then played 21 games for Port Adelaide after being recruited in 2017.

Watts, who now lives in Melbourne, was not in court for Tuesday’s hearing because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

He was fined $600 but had no conviction recorded and did not have his licence suspended.

SA business confidence falls after a year of recovery

South Australian business confidence has seen its first dip in 12 months amid interstate COVID risks, material shortages and lack of skilled labour in South Australia.

The Business SA – William Buck Quarterly Survey of Expectations for the June quarter has confirmed a 104.5 confidence index, falling 9.5 points from a two-year high in the March quarter.

The June quarter results reflect pre-Modbury cluster conditions but the survey was still influenced by the onset of restrictions, with pre-emptive measures during the nationwide COVID scare emerging at the end of June.

Business conditions also fell from their highest level since before the Global Financial Crisis in the March quarter, which also saw the end of JobKeeper, with a 11.5 point decline to 105.3 points.

Business SA Chief Executive Martin Haese said the dip in conditions and confidence was not surprising.

“During the March quarter, South Australia had a lot to be optimistic about with the success of Fringe festival, increased levels of trade in the CBD and coming off the back of a strong Christmas period,” he said.

“I’m not discouraged about South Australia’s economic position as a result of this decline, I feel as though these numbers are possibly an example of a more stable economy, that will hopefully remain somewhat consistent as we see our way out of the pandemic.”

The survey found 69.2 per cent of businesses in the hospitality, events and tourism sectors were expecting sales to be below 70 per cent of their pre COVID revenue in the September quarter.

It also found that 82.9 per cent of businesses wanted international students to return to South Australia should they be able to prove they have been vaccinated.

In the ‘Business Now’ report, South Australia’s longest-running survey of its kind, many businesses continued to express frustration about the shortage of materials and skilled labour.

June quarter results showed that 57.7 per cent of businesses reliant on physical inputs found it difficult to source inputs, stock and/or materials. This was a 12.7 per cent increase from the March quarter.

William Buck Accountants and Advisors group chairman Jamie McKeough said concerns over labour force availability and material shortages appear to be dampening the overall outlook among SMEs.

Hills naturopath censured over anti-vaccination article

A Mt Barker naturopath has been banned from offering services or advice about COVID vaccinations while an investigation is launched into an anti-vaccination article published in an Adelaide Hills newspaper.

Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner Grant Davies on Monday issued an interim prohibition order against Wayne Liebelt over an article published in the Adelaide Hills Herald newspaper on July 24.

The article said that all COVID vaccines were dangerous and that a “criminal, fraudulent vaccine empire” was trying to “enslave the world”.

Davies said the HCSCC received a complaint from the public about the article, in which Liebelt identified himself as a naturopath and as such was an unregistered health care worker subject to the Code of Conduct for Certain Health Care Workers.

Liebelt was subsequently handed a 12-week interim prohibition order, which came into effect on Friday, July 30, banning him from “providing health services in respect of health education and/or the provision related to COVID vaccinations” and “providing advice in relation to the provision of the specified health service of COVID vaccinations”.

Davies said the same community expectations that applied to registered health practitioners about COVID vaccines should also apply to unregistered health care workers. Liebelt is allowed to continue offering naturopath services during the investigation as long as he does not breach the bans.

Queensland virus cases expected to rise

Queensland is bracing for more coronavirus cases as authorities warn the situation will continue to escalate with concern centred on two schools that have recorded positive cases.

The state is grappling with the most serious threat it has faced since the start of the pandemic after 13 new cases were recorded on Monday, the highest daily total in almost a year.

A snap three-day lockdown impacting millions of people, which was due to end on Tuesday, has been extended by five days to at least 4pm on Sunday.

There are now several high-risk exposure sites including six schools and public transport routes.

Two schools, Ironside State school and Indooroopilly State High School, are of particular concern after several students returned positive tests.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young warned she’s expecting “a lot” of new cases in coming days due to new infections being found in unvaccinated children who are more likely to pass the virus on.

She urged every Queenslander, regardless of where they live, to get tested at the first hint of any symptoms.

Meanwhile, NSW recorded 207 new local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, as well as the outbreak’s 15th death – a man in his 90s.

Real estate boom marches on

Adelaide’s median house price reached a record $540,000 in the June quarter with prices in some suburbs rising more than 70 per cent across the financial year, according to latest figures.

Valuer-General’s price data for the 2021 June quarter show metropolitan Adelaide had a 3.85 per cent increase in the June quarter and an unprecedented rise of 13.21 per cent compared with the June quarter last year.

More broadly, the June quarter data showed that the overall South Australian median price was up 4.44 per cent from the previous quarter and up 9.08 per cent from the same period last year.

Suburbs that experienced the strongest growth over a 12 month period with 10 or more recorded sales in the June quarter were Goodwood (76.86 per cent), Noarlunga Downs (70.61 per cent) and North Adelaide (70.16 per cent).

Other big movers included Fullarton, Linden Park and Glen Osmond.

Real Estate Institute SA CEO Barry Money said the results were significant given the uncertainties that COVID-19 undoubtedly fostered in the minds of vendors and purchasers during the June quarter.

“Suburbs that can demonstrate excellent infrastructure, development potential and locations that appeal to the budget-conscious purchaser will always appeal to buyers and investors alike,” he said.

“It is clear that both supply and affordability continue to dominate the conversations of our REISA members, particularly with first home buyers.

“Booming demand in the housing market with significant limitations in supply will place a continuing burden on first home buyers as well as investors who are keen to add South Australian property to their rental portfolio.”

Lambda COVID-19 variant shows more vaccine resistance

The Lambda variant of the coronavirus, first identified in Peru and now spreading in South America, is highly infectious and more resistant to vaccines than the original version of the virus first detected in Wuhan, China, Japanese researchers say.

In laboratory experiments, they found that three mutations in Lambda’s spike protein, known as RSYLTPGD246-253N, 260 L452Q and F490S, help it resist neutralisation by vaccine-induced antibodies.

Two additional mutations, T76I and L452Q, help make Lambda highly infectious, they concluded.

In a paper posted on Wednesday on bioRxiv ahead of peer review, the researchers warn that with Lambda being labelled a “Variant of Interest” by the World Health Organisation rather than a “Variant of Concern,” people might not realise it is a serious ongoing threat.

Although it is not clear yet whether this variant is more dangerous than the Delta now threatening populations in many countries, senior researcher Kei Sato of the University of Tokyo said “Lambda can be a potential threat to the human society”.

Asian-Australian talent takes centre stage at 2021 OzAsia

Adelaide’s OzAsia Festival has unveiled its largest line-up yet of Asian-Australian talent, with new artistic director Annette Shun Wah’s first full-scale program featuring more than 300 artists across 30 events including theatre, music, comedy, literature and film.

The October 21 to November 7 festival will present 11 world premieres, one of which will be the debut theatre work by author Michael Mohammed Ahmad, whose novel The Lebs was a finalist in the prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award.

Other highlights range from the arts-meets-food event Double Delicious – featuring guests including writer Benjamin Law and television chef Elizabeth Chong –  to a work by Indonesian-Australian artist Jumaadi that reinvigorates the ancient art of shadow play, a music performance at Her Majesty’s Theatre paying tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, and a contemporary dance work that will be streamed online via real-time drone recording.

The festival’s popular Moon Lantern Parade will expand from a one-night event to a four-day experience, while the Lucky Dumpling Market will return to Elder Park.

Read the full story, including an interview with Annette Shun Wah, on InReview today.

– with AAP and Reuters

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