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What we know today, Wednesday September 1

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Victoria has recorded 120 new coronavirus cases, the first time the state has reached triple COVID-19 figures since last year.

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Victoria records 120 new cases

Victoria has recorded 120 new coronavirus cases, the first time the state has reached triple COVID-19 figures since last year.

The last time Victoria’s case numbers exceeded 100 was on September 2 last year, when 110 cases were recorded.

Sixty-four of Wednesday’s cases are linked to existing virus outbreaks, leaving 56 potential mystery cases.

Victoria has also recorded its first deaths in the current outbreak, after the health department revealed two women aged in their 40s and 60s died at home on Tuesday.

Premier Daniel Andrews will unveil on Wednesday a roadmap out of the state’s sixth lockdown, which will detail modest changes and the number of COVID-19 cases the state can live with until 80 per cent of eligible Victorian adults are double vaccinated.

Cabinet ministers met on Tuesday night to discuss the roadmap and case number thresholds put forward by Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton and his team.

The changes could include ending a ban on playgrounds, lifting the COVID-19 curfew in Melbourne and increasing the 5km limit on personal travel from homes.

Andrews said he would not be reopening schools immediately, although he flagged an announcement would be made to prioritise year 12 students for vaccinations ahead of exams in October.

It is the state’s second COVID-19 roadmap after a four-step plan to return to normality was unveiled on September 6 last year.

Once Victoria reaches the 80 per cent vaccine target set by national cabinet, Andrews said the national plan would replace it.

NSW records 1116 COVID-19 cases, four deaths

NSW has reported 1116 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and four deaths.

The four women who died in the 24 hours until 8pm on Tuesday were in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, were not vaccinated and had underlying health conditions.

“September is the month when we’re asking everybody to get ready,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Wednesday.

“Get vaccinated if you’re an individual. If you’re a business, start dusting off your COVID-safety plan. Make sure your employees are vaccinated so we can get back to life at 70 per cent double-dose vaccination.”

Berejiklian said NSW residents could enjoy international travel from 80 per cent double-dose vaccination, predicted for November.

Meanwhile, the number of returning Australians allowed to fly in to Sydney Airport each week will be halved to 750 to allow health staff to be diverted back to the state’s hospital system.

ACT records 23 new cases

The ACT has recorded 23 new COVID-19 cases following the extension of Canberra’s lockdown for another fortnight.

Concerns about continued unlinked infections and people unknowingly out and about with the virus, means lockdown will run until at least September 17.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said 14 of Wednesday’s cases are linked and 11 had been in quarantine throughout their infectious period.

He earlier warned restrictions could not ease significantly until at least 80 per cent of the eligible population had been vaccinated.

The outbreak in NSW, which has recorded its fifth straight day of 1000-plus new local cases, means Canberra remains vulnerable.

To soften the blow of another two weeks of lockdown, the ACT is relaxing some restrictions including allowing small weddings, funerals and outdoor gatherings.

Economic growth slows, worse to come

The Australian economy grew by a slower 0.7 per cent in the June quarter compared to three months earlier and ahead of a widely expected sharp deterioration caused by coronavirus lockdowns, particularly in NSW and Victoria.

The national accounts released on Wednesday showed this compared with an upwardly revised 1.9 per cent expansion in the March quarter.

“Domestic demand drove growth of 0.7 per cent this quarter which saw continued growth across household spending, private investment and public sector expenditure,” ABS head of national accounts Michael Smedes said.

“Lockdowns had minimal impact on domestic demand, with fewer lockdown days and the prolonged stay at home orders in NSW only commencing later in the quarter.”

However, exports detracted from the growth result.

The annual growth rate was a whopping 9.6 per cent reflecting the economy’s past glories of a strong recovery from last year’s recession and as the steep seven per cent contraction seen in the June quarter 2020 dropped out of the equation.

Economists expect a steep economic contraction in the September quarter of as much as four per cent.

The solid recovery in Australia’s manufacturing sector all but ground to a halt in August as a result of coronavirus lockdowns in the nation’s two most populous states.

Victoria records 120 new cases

Victoria has recorded 120 new coronavirus cases, the first time the state has reached triple COVID-19 figures in almost a year.

The last time Victoria’s cases numbers exceeded 100 was on September 2 last year, when 110 cases were recorded.

Sixty-four cases have been linked to existing virus outbreaks, leaving 56 potential mystery cases, with 56,501 people tested for COVID-19.

Victoria has also recorded its first deaths in the current outbreak, after the health department revealed two women aged in their 40s and 60s died at home on Tuesday.

More South Australians in quarantine following NSW COVID scare

A total of 225 people in South Australia are now in quarantine after attending exposure sites visited by three COVID-positive truckies from NSW over the last two weeks.

Authorities remain on high alert after a third truck driver came through South Australia on Monday, travelling through Oodla Wirra in the state’s mid-north and then stopping in Port Wakefield and metropolitan Adelaide.

That came after two other infected truck drivers came from New South Wales and travelled through Port Augusta and Ceduna on August 21, before doing a truck exchange at Nundroo in the state’s west.

The three drivers have triggered a total of 17 exposure sites across the state.

This includes the Port Wakefield BP at 22 Snowtown Road, owned by On the Run, and the Metcash Distribution Centre at 50 Port Wakefield Road, Gepps Cross.

SA Health advised late last night that 225 people are now in quarantine, up from 150 yesterday.

Of the 225 in quarantine, SA Health said 72 per cent have so far returned a negative test with the remaining test results to come through today.

Health authorities are following up a further one hundred people to determine whether they need to go into quarantine or undergo testing.

It comes as one in three people in South Australia over the age of 16 have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to the latest federal government vaccination data, 34.2 per cent of South Australia’s population over the age of 16 is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Nationwide, 35 per cent of Australia’s eligible population had had two shots.

But South Australia ranks sixth in the nation for percentage of eligible population fully vaccinated, only ahead of Queensland (31.7 per cent) and Western Australia (31.5).

It is also ranks sixth for percentage of eligible population to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, at 56.1 per cent.

The latest data from the Melbourne Institute’s vaccine hesitancy also shows South Australia remains the most vaccine hesitant state in the country, with 23 per cent of the population unsure or unwilling to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Six people in Main South Road taxi crash

Six people have been taken to hospital after their taxi crashed into a brick wall on Main South Road, with a part of the Southern Expressway closed to northbound traffic.

Police say they were called to the corner of Seaford Road and Main South Road in Old Noarlunga shortly after 2am on Wednesday after the taxi crashed into the brick wall in front of a local business.

The passengers – two 16 year old girls, an 18 year old woman, a 14 year old boy and a 26 year old man – were taken to the Flinders Medical Centre with non-life threatening injuries.

One of the occupants was trapped and had to be cut from the vehicle.

The 20-year-old driver was also taken to hospital with minor injuries and police say he will be subject to mandatory blood tests.

Main South Road is currently closed to northbound traffic between Griffiths Drive and Seaford Road while police investigate the crash.

Motorcyclist critical after northern suburbs crash

A motorcyclist is in hospital with life-threatening injuries after colliding with a car in Davoren Park last night.

Police say they were called to the scene on Heytestbury Road near Studley Street shortly after 5:30pm on Tuesday, following reports of a crash between a Toyota sedan and a Suzuki motorbike.

The motorcyclist, a 32-year-old man from Davoren Park, suffered life threatening injuries and was taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

The driver of the car, a 24-year-old man from Daveren Park, and a female passenger were not injured.

Heytestbury Road has since been reopened to all traffic after Major Crash investigators attended the scene.

Late last night, police said investigations into the crash are continuing.

2021 Tarnanthi Festival to showcase work by 1000 artists

This year’s Tarnanthi Festival will feature new works by almost 1000 contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists aged between 13 and 89, from stories shared on salvaged car parts to an augmented-reality experience transporting visitors to the APY Lands.

The Art Gallery of South Australia today unveiled details of the 2021 festival, which will open on October 14 with a livestreamed performance by electronic duo Electric Fields with Antara inma singers and First Nations Dance Collective – Tjarutja.

Continuing until January 30, 2022, Tarnanthi will feature work by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from across Australia – including painting, photography, weaving, sculpture, film, installations and multi-media works – with more than 30 exhibitions at venues in Adelaide and throughout regional South Australia.

The Tarnanthi Art Fair, a popular annual event in which all proceeds go to artists and their community-run art centres, will this year be presented as an online-only event, with dates to be confirmed. Read the full story on InReview.

Victoria to unveil path out of lockdown

“Modest” changes to Victoria’s latest coronavirus lockdown are set to be announced as the state’s premier concedes it may be difficult to drive cases down to zero again.

It comes after the Victorian health department late on Tuesday revealed two women, aged in their 40s and 60s, died at home after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

They are the first COVID-related deaths recorded in Victoria since November 30 last year, and will take the state’s overall toll to 822 when officially tallied on Wednesday.

As the state struggles to drive down the now-deadly Delta variant outbreak, Premier Daniel Andrews will on Wednesday unveil a roadmap out of the state’s sixth lockdown.

The government is expected to detail “modest” changes and the number of COVID-19 cases the state can “live with” until 80 per cent of eligible Victorian adults are double vaccinated.

“If we can’t achieve zero, despite our best efforts, how many cases can we tolerate? It will need to be a low number,” Andrews said on Tuesday, as the state reported 76 new cases.

The changes could include ending a ban on the use of playgrounds, lifting the COVID-19 curfew in Melbourne and increasing the 5km current on travel from homes.

Andrews said he would not be reopening schools immediately, though he flagged an announcement would be made to prioritise year 12 students for vaccinations ahead of exams in October.

He also indicated it was too early to allow greater freedoms to the 34.65 per cent of Victorians 16 and over that are fully vaccinated.

Cabinet ministers met on Tuesday night to discuss the roadmap and case number thresholds put forward by Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton and his team.

It is the state’s second COVID-19 roadmap after a four-step plan to return to normality was unveiled on September 6 last year.

Once Victoria reaches the 80 per cent vaccine target set by national cabinet, Andrews said the national plan would replace it.

Biden defends final Afghanistan withdrawal

US President Joe Biden is defending his handling of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, including the frantic final evacuation from Kabul airport.

In remarks at the White House on Tuesday, Biden said the US government had reached out 19 times since March – prior to his public announcement that he was going to end the US war – to encourage all American citizens in Afghanistan to leave.

He acknowledged that 100 to 200 were unable to get out when the airlift ended on Monday.

Biden asserted that his administration was ready when the US-backed government in Kabul collapsed in mid-August and the Taliban took over.

But the airlift that began on August 14 has been heavily criticised by many as initially unorganised and chaotic.

Biden said that 5,500 Americans eventually got out, and that “arrangements” will be made to get the remaining Americans out if they so choose.

AFL push for vaccines after grand final call

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan is confident full crowds will return to Victoria at some point next season but recognises high COVID-19 vaccination rates will be crucial for that to happen, after the league relocated the grand final from the MCG for the second year in a row.

McLachlan on Tuesday officially announced that Perth’s Optus Stadium would host this year’s grand final, after the Victorian government conceded a crowd at the MCG would be impossible amid the state’s coronavirus outbreak.

The South Australian Government put in a bid to host to host the event at Adelaide Oval but would only allow a maximum of 30,000 fans to attend – half of Optus Stadium’s maximum capacity.

The AFL is yet to launch a large-scale vaccination campaign, like the NRL’s from earlier this month, but McLachlan said it was communicating with players and staff and would “aggressively” encourage fans to get vaccinated.

Some players, including Richmond’s Tom Lynch and Hawthorn’s Chad Wingard, have already posted on social media about having their first shot.

“At the moment we’re going through a process where we are having a very comprehensive communication plan with all of our players – male and female – (and) our staff and we’re doing it in specific cohorts,” McLachlan said.

“When that’s finished and obviously we’ve got to have supply and get a rollout, for those who want to, I think you can feel comfortable that we’ll be aggressively pushing and advocating for everyone to get vaccinated.

“Because if you want to get back to here (Marvel Stadium with) full houses, if you want to save your local coffee shop or your local butcher or all these small businesses that are suffering, there is only one way out.

“This is really clear – there’s only one way out because it’s mandated by every state government and the federal government now, that’s the only way. The way out is vaccination, so that’s what we’ve got to do.”

McLachlan emphasised Victorians were “getting vaccinated and we’ve got a plan out of here” (the current situation), and towards attending the football again.

“We’ll get back there (to full crowds),” he said.

“I’d say to all Victorians frankly, not just football supporters, I’ve been living here, we know how hard it’s been and how much we miss going to Marvel and the MCG and frankly how much we miss community football.”

-With AAP and Reuters

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