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What we know today, Thursday September 2


NSW has reported a record 1288 new COVID-19 cases and seven deaths, while Victoria’s case numbers have spiked again with another 176 infections reported today.

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NSW records 1288 cases, seven deaths

NSW has reported 1288 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths as the state reaches 70 per cent first dose vaccination coverage.

The seven deaths recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday include a man in his 50s, two people in their 70s and four people in their 80s.

The death toll for the current NSW outbreak is now 107.

There are 957 COVID-19 patients in NSW in hospital, with 160 people in intensive care and 64 ventilated.

One case was recorded in the town of Broken Hill near the South Australian border, while another 18 cases were recorded in Dubbo and five in Wilcannia.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian also announced on Thursday that residents of the 12 local government areas of concern would be able to conduct unlimited daily exercise, rather than the one hour per day current permitted.

This was because NSW has reached 70 per cent first-dose vaccination coverage, with double-dose coverage expected in roughly mid-October.

“It’s been a difficult couple of months and the fact people have heard the messages we’ve been giving and come forward to get vaccinated and hit that 70 per cent first dose is outstanding,” Berejiklian said.

Vic records 176 new cases

Victoria has recorded 176 new coronavirus cases, an increase of more than 50 from the previous day, as authorities shift focus from chasing zero cases to suppressing the outbreak.

It is state’s second consecutive day of more than 100 cases, after 120 were recorded on Wednesday.

Thursday’s cases bring the number of total active cases in Victoria to 1029, the Department of Health reported.

Eighty-three cases have been linked to existing outbreaks, from 48,372 tests, and the source of 93 cases are under investigation.

More than 33,000 people were vaccinated at state-run hubs on Wednesday.

It comes as the Victorian government has conceded efforts to bring cases down to zero have failed, with tough restrictions to remain in place until October.

Authorities have shifted their focus to suppressing the outbreak, keeping the health system from being overwhelmed, while racing to reach higher vaccination coverage.

Scrub fire on Fleurieu Peninsula

Around 120 firefighters are battling a grass and scrub fire in Parawa near Victor Harbor, with crews experiencing wind gusts of up to 70 kilometres an hour.

The CFS says the fire, which is burining within the Waitpinga Conservation Park, near Tunkallila, Illawong and Rymill Road, is approximately 190 hectares in size and travelling “slowly” along vegetation lines in a southerly direction.

No buildings or assets are currently under threat, according to the CFS.

The fire is currently burning through a pine plantation and roadside vegetation, with firefighters reporting “strong [and] erratic” northerly wind gusts of up to 70 km/h

The CFS says road closures are in place and smoke will be visible in the area.

ACT records 12 new cases

The ACT has recorded 12 new coronavirus cases as a lockdown continues in the national capital.

Of Thursday’s cases, half are linked and eight had been in the community for at least some of the time while infectious.

Thirteen people are in hospital, including an unvaccinated man in his 20s in intensive care and requiring ventilation.

The ACT government has brought in rental relief including a moratorium on evictions for residential tenants in arrears because of the extended lockdown.

The lockdown will run until midnight on September 17 due to continued concern about unlinked cases, people infectious in the community and the NSW outbreak.

Qld records one new case

Queensland has recorded a new locally-acquired case of COVID-19 in a truck driver and placed an entire family in hotel quarantine, with some of them unwell after they were believed to have returned from Melbourne.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the truckie, who lives at Windaroo, was picked among 10,433 virus tests in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Thursday.

The man, who is currently in NSW, was infectious in the community around Logan and the Gold Coast between August 28 and September 1.

“We are contacting him to find where he has been in Queensland,” Palaszczuk told parliament on Friday.

“This is an addition to the truck driver reported yesterday.”

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said authorities have also placed an entire Gold Coast family of five into hotel quarantine after the children told their classmates they had been to Melbourne.

She said early indications are the family returned to the state undetected via an inland route without going into hotel quarantine.

D’Ath said it’s a difficult situation because some family members are unwell with symptoms, but they’re not cooperating with health authorities and contact tracers.

“Some of the family members who are unwell, but we don’t know if it’s COVID we have to treat it as if it is,” she told parliament.

“And so, the school is working with us on that and we really do hope the family do cooperate with us because it’s in the best interest of everyone, including their own health, because we really want to make sure if they’ve gotten COVID that we are able to treat them.”

Queensland has already been on alert after another truckie tested positive in NSW after being infectious while in the Sunshine State last week.

New exposure sites listed as infected truckies tracked

SA Health has identified five new exposure sites overnight on top of the four it announced late yesterday afternoon, after another two COVID-positive truck drivers from Victoria and New South Wales entered South Australia.

The arrival of the two infectious truck drivers on Tuesday brings the total number of COVID-positive drivers to have entered South Australia in the past week to five.

The latest TIER 1 exposure sites, which require visitors to immediately quarantine along with household contacts for 14 days since visiting the location, get tested immediately, and get tested again on day 5 and day 13, are:

The following two TIER 2 exposure sites require visitors to immediately quarantine for 14 days since visiting the location, get tested immediately, and get tested again on day 5 and day 13.

The new sites come on top of the initial four sites listed yesterday afternoon:

Health authorities worked into the night contacting people who checked in to the sites using QR codes.

SA Health confirmed this morning that 392 contacts had so far been identified.

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier told reporters yesterday afternoon that, so far, authorities were yet to detect any community transmission in South Australia, but the arrival of the drivers posed a “real risk” and a “wakeup call” to the state.

“We are under extreme time pressure here to protect the South Australian community,” Spurrier said.

“It is just so important that if you receive a SMS as part of the investigations that you follow the instructions.”

It comes after two infectious truck drivers travelled through Port Augusta, Ceduna and Nundroo in the state’s north and west last week, while a third truck driver travelled to Port Wakefield and metropolitan Adelaide on Monday.

Spurrier said all five truck drivers had complied with health directions while in South Australia, including mask wearing.

She said as of about 3.30pm yesterday there were about 240 people who had been identified as close contacts of the drivers and directed into 14-day quarantine.

Adelaide wastewater given all clear after virus scare

Further testing of wastewater overnight has come back negative after routine wastewater testing yesterday picked up two COVID-positive results in the Salisbury local government area and in Adelaide’s south.

Southern suburbs potentially affected included Hallett Cove, Lonsdale, Sheidow Park, Reynella and Morphett Vale.

However, SA Health confirmed this morning that overnight testing had not found any further traces of the virus in wastewater in either site.

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier told reporters yesterday afternoon she was most concerned about the positive result in Adelaide’s southern suburbs as there have not been any recent past cases in the area.

She said the positive result in Salisbury could be traced back to the Modbury Cluster, as cases linked to that outbreak lived in Adelaide’s north.

Spurrier told ABC Radio this morning the southern positive result yesterday was likely caused by someone passing through the area who had previously been infected with COVID-19 and was now shedding the virus.

Nurses in legal bid to improve WCH work conditions

Nurses have launched action in the South Australian Employment Tribunal in a bid to improve staffing levels they say are creating “dangerous conditions” at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital emergency department.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation state secretary Elizabeth Dabars said members were seeking orders to fix “alleged contraventions” of their enterprise agreement.

“Our members have been unable to adequately address these breaches with management and have had no option but to seek this high-level application to protect this vulnerable cohort of patients and provide the quality care they deserve,” Dabars said.

“This move is a crucial next step in the right direction and a direct reflection of the advocacy skills of WCH nurses and midwives seeking positive change for their working conditions and most importantly the safety of paediatric patients.”

It comes after frontline WCH doctors yesterday spoke out, saying a chronic lack of resourcing and staffing was putting children’s lives at risk and that urgent action must be taken before “the system fails completely”.

The ANMF said the enterprise agreement breaches related to:

Treasurer Rob Lucas said he had been advised the Women’s and Children’s Health Network “does not accept the claims made in the ANMF statement”.

“When staffing issues were raised in March this year, I am advised, following discussions between WCHN management and the ANMF, there has been an increase in nursing staff at the WCHN,” he said.

“Given the matter is subject to an application before the SA Employment Tribunal, these issues will need to be resolved in that particular forum.”

A group of emergency department medicos yesterday took the unusual step of publicly voicing their concerns, declaring they’re at their “wits’ end” over a shortage of treatment spaces and medical under-staffing.

They say the WCH paediatric emergency department has just 19 treatment spaces when it should have 32 according to national guidelines and interstate comparisons.

They also say there’s a shortage of 10 full-time training medical officers compared to the average of comparative interstate hospitals.

“Executive are placing all of the clinical risk on the clinicians by leaving the department massively understaffed,” WCH emergency department doctor Davinder Gill said.

“Clinicians are stretched beyond their limit.

“Patients shouldn’t be subjected to this risk.”

The concerned doctors say the situation is “untenable” and are calling on the WCH Board and the Premier to intervene and “fix the situation before it’s too late”.

Premier Steven Marshall yesterday told reporters “we obviously are always reviewing the resources that we have in SA Health”.

“If there are specific issues that need to be addressed then we’re happy to look at them, but I have absolute confidence in the management of the… Women’s and Children’s Local Health Network and also, of course, in their board,” he said.

 – Jemma Chapman

NSW to reach 70 per cent vaccination milestone

A day after reporting the 100th death linked to the state’s spiralling COVID-19 outbreak, NSW is expected to reach a happier milestone – 70 per cent first dose COVID-19 vaccination coverage.

As of Tuesday, more than 6.9 million vaccine doses have been administered in NSW, with 69.3 per cent of the population aged 16 and over receiving at least one dose.

Almost 38 per cent are fully vaccinated.

The number of people in NSW who’ve received at least one jab on average has grown by more than one per cent each day over the past seven, meaning the dose that tips the state over 70 per cent coverage was likely administered on Wednesday.

The milestone all but ensures NSW will reach 70 per cent full vaccination within a number of weeks, triggering the state’s gradual release from lockdown.

At 70 per cent double-dose coverage, vaccinated people in NSW can expect to go out for a meal and attend public events, Premier Gladys Berejiklian suggested yesterday.

Home visits and indoor events are likely to be off the table as they are higher risk.

At 80 per cent – expected in November, Australians overseas will be able to return to NSW without doing hotel quarantine, Berejiklian said, and the state’s residents will also be allowed to travel internationally.

Case numbers are expected to rise further over the next few weeks, before they start to fall.

Infections are currently climbing by more than a thousand each day, with almost 1000 people are in hospital with the virus.

Some 150 are in intensive care – of which 127 are not vaccinated – and 66 are on ventilators.

Four more deaths were reported on Wednesday, along with 1116 new cases, 32 of them in the state’s west and far west.

Victoria boots river towns from NSW border bubble

Premier Daniel Andrews says the Victorian-NSW border could stay shut into 2022, as towns on both sides of the Murray River are booted from the border bubble.

As COVID-19 cases rise across both sides of the Murray River, six Victorian and two NSW local government areas will be tossed out of the border bubble from midnight tonight.

It means residents from Greater Bendigo, Greater Shepparton, City of Benalla, Buloke, Loddon, Yarriambiack, Broken Hill and Edward River will be unable to cross the state lines on a permit.

“With over one thousand cases per day, and a trajectory of exponential growth, the risk that NSW poses to Victoria is bigger than ever,” Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said in a statement last night.

Earlier, Premier Daniel Andrews was asked if the border could remain shut to NSW “well into next year”.

He replied: “Yes. No one is happy about that but again we will have many more options once we get to 80 per cent and once they (NSW) are at 80 per cent.”

It comes as the Victorian government conceded efforts to bring coronavirus cases down to zero have failed, with tough restrictions to remain in place until October.

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

Authorities have now shifted their focus to suppressing the outbreak, keeping the health system from being overwhelmed, while racing to reach higher vaccination coverage.

The state’s current restrictions, which include a 9pm to 5am curfew and a five-kilometre travel limit, will remain until about September 23, when 70 per cent of the eligible population is expected to have received the first vaccine dose.

After hitting that mark, there will be slightly more freedom, including the travel limit expanding to 10km and the time limit on exercise increasing to three hours.

Playgrounds, however, will reopen on Friday for children aged 12 and under with the supervision of just one parent or guardian, who must wear a mask at all times and check-in.

Andrews said regional Victoria, with the exception of Shepparton, where a virus outbreak is still growing, could emerge from lockdown as early as next week.

Ida sparks deadly floods, tornadoes

Former Hurricane Ida is still making her presence known in parts of the US where heavy rains have caused deadly floods and many states are on tornado watch.

The remnants of Ida have blown into New England, dumping rain and causing floods that prompted hundreds of people to flee or be rescued from damaged homes in Maryland and Virginia.

A teenager was killed and two people were unaccounted for in the storm’s wake, and some schools in the storm’s path closed early on Wednesday.

The National Weather Service also tentatively confirmed the touchdown of a tornado in Maryland’s Anne Arundel County, which sits along the Chesapeake Bay.

In Pennsylvania, emergency officials rushed to evacuate about 3000 people downstream from a dam near Johnstown on Wednesday after hours of heavy rains.

Flash flooding knocked about 20 homes off their foundations and washed several trailers away in Virginia’s mountainous western corner, where about 50 people were rescued and hundreds were evacuated. News outlets reported that one person was still unaccounted for in the small mountain community of Hurley.

Water had almost reached the ceilings of basement units when crews arrived at an apartment complex in Rockville, Maryland, on Wednesday.

A 19-year-old was found dead, another person was missing and about 200 people from 60 apartments near Rock Creek were displaced.

Ida became a post-tropical storm Wednesday, losing its swirling centre, but more severe weather and even tornadoes were in the forecast, with a tornado watch issued for the Appalachians from western Virginia to northern North Carolina.

– with AAP and Reuters

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