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What we know today, Sunday October 4


Welcome to your serving of the day’s breaking news from South Australia, the nation and abroad. Follow this post for live updates through the day.

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Push to increase SA virus tests

South Australia recorded one new case of COVID-19 on Sunday, as authorities warn the testing rate is plummeting across the state.

The new case is a man in his 20s who recently returned from overseas and registered a positive test while in hotel quarantine.

The case represents an old infection, however as it hasn’t previously been counted, it will be added to SA’s total case numbers which now stand at 471.

It comes as figures from SA Pathology show that weekly virus testing numbers have fallen from 32,460 in early August down to 15,715 checks during the week of September 21.

The drop has prompted SA Health to urge that South Australians make sure they get tested if they experience symptoms.

Restrictions eased further on Saturday, with standing up and having a drink now allowed in outdoor areas of licensed pubs and restaurants.

SA has also eased measures on the events sector to allow private functions with a maximum of 150 people, including weddings, to have dancing and the service of drinks to people who are standing.

Palmer’s wife promoted to UAP executive

Clive Palmer’s wife has been appointed Queensland deputy leader of his United Australia Party, two days after announcing she would run as a candidate in the state election.

Anna Palmer was revealed as the UAP candidate for Currumbin on Friday, just 28 days out from the election.

The Gold Coast seat is held by the Liberal National Party’s Laura Gerber with a 1.2 per cent margin.

Labor have been considering targeting Currumbin, but Mr Palmer’s intervention could throw a spanner into the works, as the major parties joust for regional votes.

Ms Palmer said Queenslanders need a new deal.

“We need to cut the red tape, eliminate payroll tax and eliminate land tax to make our state stronger,” she said in a statement on Sunday.

Earlier, Ms Palmer said she was running against the Labor government’s handling of compassionate exemptions to its COVID-19 border restrictions.

Apprenticeships to get $1.2b budget boost

Tuesday’s federal budget will include a $1.2 billion package aimed at creating more apprenticeships, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says.

He has told Channel Nine this tops up the $2.8 billion already invested in skills and will help create 100,000 apprenticeships.

“Whether you are a baker or butcher, whether you are a sparkie, plumber or carpenter you are getting support from the Morrison Government,” Frydenberg said.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann explained the new package will from Monday pay half the wages of a new apprentice taken on by a business in the following 12 months.

“This is something we hope will help boost the number of new apprentices in the economy at a very important time,” he told Sky News.

But shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said while any support for apprenticeships and trainees is welcome, this new initiative does not make up for the 140,000 fewer apprentices seen over the life of this government.

“It is no long-term vision for training,” Dr Chalmers told the ABC.

“The government has a lot of form in announcing big numbers, chasing big headlines and then not following through.”

Health Minister Greg Hunter said the budget will also announce Australians with liver cancer, myopia and Parkinson’s disease will have new treatment options under amended Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme listings.

Moratorium lifted on domestic bores in Adelaide

The South Australian government has lifted the moratorium on the drilling of new domestic bores  in Adelaide

The moratorium was imposed in December 2007 to ensure that groundwater levels in the Central Adelaide Prescribed Wells Area weren’t depleted.

Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said conditions had changed since the Millennium drought and the moratorium was no longer needed.

“Since the moratorium was imposed there has been ongoing monitoring of the shallow groundwater levels which have recovered in above average rainfall years since the drought,” he said.

“This will give residents in Adelaide access to a wider range of water sources but also give a boost to local drilling companies who have been impacted by the moratorium.”

Anyone wishing to drill a new domestic well will need to go through the Department for Environment approval process.

When a permit is granted for a new well in Central Adelaide for domestic purposes, it will be mandated that prior to use of the water, the well owner is to arrange for water quality testing to ensure the groundwater being accessed is fit for purpose.

Beach patrols in Victoria to enforce social distancing

Premier Daniel Andrews has reinforced his warning for people to not be selfish and maintain social distancing as they enjoy the outdoors after Victoria recorded one coronavirus fatality and 12 new cases.

The latest death is that of a man in his 80s and linked to an aged care outbreak.

Mr Andrews pleading for people to “stay the course” after large groups at beaches and parks flouted virus restrictions in recent days.

Police patrols will continue at St Kilda Beach after large groups gathered on Friday, raising concerns that such behaviour could trigger another outbreak.

Police said over the last 24-hour period they had issued 104 fines, including 17 for failing to wear a face mask and 11 at vehicle checkpoints.

Coronavirus case numbers continue to be in low figures across the state but mystery cases remain a concern, the state’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton says.

Trump’s symptoms ‘very concerning’

US President Donald Trump has posted a video from  saying he felt “much better” and hoped to be “back soon,” after a day of contradictory messages about his condition following his COVID-19 diagnosis.

In a four-minute video posted on Twitter, Trump, looking tired and wearing a jacket and open-necked shirt, said he “wasn’t feeling so well” when he first arrived at Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre on Friday and that the next few days would be crucial in his fight against the coronavirus.

“Over the next period of a few days, I guess that’s the real test, so we’ll be seeing what happens over those next couple of days,” Trump said, seated at a round table in front of an American flag.

Trump went through a “very concerning” period Friday and the next 48 hours in his COVID-19 treatment “will be critical”, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said on Saturday.

“We’re still not on a clear path yet to a full recovery,” he said.

Meadows’ comments contradicted the assessment offered by Trump’s doctor, Navy Commander Sean Conley, who said Trump is “doing very well” and is fever-free.

Conley triggered widespread confusion by saying that the US President was diagnosed with coronavirus 36 hours before it was revealed to the public, forcing the White House to quickly issue a correction.

He told reporters outside the hospital on Saturday that Trump had not experienced difficulty breathing and had not been given supplemental oxygen on Thursday or while at the hospital.

An anonymous source told the Associated Press that Trump was administered oxygen at the White House on Friday, however.

Conley said Trump had received a first dose of a five-day course of Remdesivir, an intravenous antiviral drug sold by Gilead Sciences Inc that has been shown to shorten hospital stays.

Trump is also taking an experimental treatment, Regeneron’s REGN-COV2, one of several experimental COVID-19 drugs known as monoclonal antibodies, as well as zinc, Vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and aspirin.

Trump was moved to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington DC hours after his diagnosis, an extraordinary development that upended the US presidential race a month before the Nov. 3 election.

He is at high risk because of his age and weight.

A number of other prominent Republicans also tested positive on Friday, including former White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway and Republican Senators Mike Lee and Thom Tillis.

On Saturday, a third senator was diagnosed with COVID-19: Republican Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie also said he tested positive.

City-Bay Fun Run cancelled

The organisers of Adelaide’s City-Bay Fun Run will today announce that the event has been cancelled, with a digital version to be held instead.

Organisers wanted 15,000 participants, however SA Health would only allow 5000 people to enter the 12km race and a further 2000 entrants for the 21.1km half-marathon route.

It is the first time in the 48 year history of the event that it has been cancelled.

All existing 2020 registered participants will automatically receive entry into the 2020 digital and 2021 event, and.

The virtual event will run from 24 October until 30 November 2020.

Participants can complete traditional 3km, 6km, 12km half marathon races whenever is suitable, through use of a phone app which will track a participant’s time, speed and distance.

Swim lesson dropouts prompt safety concern

A nation-wide drop in swimming lesson enrolments because of coronavirus lockdowns is causing concern about water safety.

Royal Life Saving Australia has released data showing a 25 per cent average drop in enrolments across the country for seven to 12-year-olds.

“Royal Life Saving is concerned that COVID‐19 may create a generation of non‐swimmers, who will never be safe around water,” Royal Life Saving chief executive Justin Scarr said.

“Parents should be reminded that learning to swim is not only a partial vaccine against drowning, it boosts a lifelong love of swimming for fun, health and fitness.”

The data excludes Victoria where strict restrictions have prevented swimming pool attendance for months.

Enrolment figures were collected from Royal Life Saving’s partner organisations who run aquatic centres, such as YMCA and Belgravia Leisure.

Scarr said it’s the wrong time to quit swimming lessons.

“If a seven, eight or nine‐year‐old child can’t yet swim 50 metres and tread water for two minutes then they should be in swimming and water safety lessons,” he said.

If cost is a barrier, he encouraged parents to investigate government sport vouchers, enrol their child in subsidised holiday programs or ask grandparents to gift swim lessons for birthdays or Christmas.

Voters in New Caledonia are to choose whether they want independence from France in a referendum Photo: AP /Mathurin Derel.

New Caledonians to decide on independence

More than 180,000 voters in the remote Pacific territory of New Caledonia are set to cast their ballot in a second referendum on independence from France.

After 167 years as a French territory, voters will on Sunday be asked to answer yes or no to the question: “Do you want New Caledonia to gain full sovereignty and become independent?”

Polling stations will officially be open from 8am until 6pm local time with alcohol and weapons restrictions in place to curb potential violence.

The first referendum took place in 2018, with 43.33 per cent of voters opting for independence while 56.67 per cent were opposed.

The result was particularly disappointing for the Kanak people – New Caledonia’s indigenous population.

Many of them have long been hoping for their own country.

Should voters again reject independence this year, another referendum can be called by New Caledonia’s Congress within two years.

New Caledonia was beset with years of violence in the 1980s between pro-independence forces mainly backed by the native Kanak community and pro-French forces largely supported by descendants of European settlers.

It ended with a peace deal in 1988 that provided autonomy in three provinces, two with a Kanak majority.

A 1998 agreement extended that autonomy, recognising historic injustices against the Kanaks, and setting the 2018 deadline for an independence vote, with two additional referendum votes by 2022.

Heavy fighting in disputed region: Armenia

Azerbaijani ground troops have launched a fresh, large-scale attack on the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, according to Armenia’s Defence Ministry,  which spoke of “heavy fighting” despite repeated international calls for a ceasefire.

Troops advanced on the region, held by Christian Armenian separatists, from both the north and the south, said the ministry, which added that three Azerbaijani fighter planes were shot down.

In response, the Defence Ministry in Baku said the city of Terter and several villages in Azerbaijani territory had been fired upon.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

It was not immediately possible to verify the report independently.

World powers have been calling for a ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia since Sunday, when fighting over the region, which is officially part of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan, first re-erupted.

Armenian sources have put the death toll from fighting in the region, where about 145,000 people live, at more than 200, while Azerbaijan most recently said that 19 civilians have been killed and 60 injured.

Cox stars as Magpies stun Eagles

American Mason Cox unleashed an early onslaught and Brody Mihocek provided the late heroics to power Collingwood to a famous one-point win over West Coast in Saturday night’s elimination final at Optus Stadium.

Cox booting three goals in as many minutes in the opening term, before West Coast snatched back the lead in a see-sawing final quarter.

Mihocek kicked two late goals and took an important defensive mark to lift his side to a 12.4 (76) to 11.9 (75) win.

The victory sets up a semi-final showdown against Geelong at the Gabba next Saturday night.

It comes after St Kilda survived a stunning late fightback from the Western Bulldogs to hang on for a three-point win in the Saturday afternoon elimination final.

The Saints prevailed with a 10.7 (67) to 9.10 (64) victory at the Gabba that saw them advance to a semi-final meeting with reigning premiers Richmond.

But they face a nervous wait for the result of scans on a suspected hamstring injury to star ruckman Paddy Ryder, who limped off late in the match and finished it in tears.

 – with AAP and Reuters

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