Coronavirus updates LIVE: Victoria aims for less COVID-19 cases; NSW hopes clusters reduce as Australian death toll jumps to 584

Australia

It is time to praise Victorians; the people, of course, not the politicians who represent them at the national and state level. Victorians are proving more resilient, and cohesive, in the second wave of the pandemic than the rest of the country may appreciate. Community support for the second lockdown remains at remarkably high levels despite the blame-shifting between Scott Morrison and Daniel Andrews and the bomb-throwing from the state opposition.

Nine out of 10 Victorians support the wearing of masks, and seven in 10 support the restrictions of movement, and even the nightly curfew, according to research from Roy Morgan released this week. The only restriction that divides opinion at the margin is the ban on visiting family members in another house (with the exception of delivering care or essential services), but even on this question almost six in 10 (57 per cent) are still in favour.

The citizens of Victoria are proving to be a resilient and cohesive bunch.

The citizens of Victoria are proving to be a resilient and cohesive bunch.Credit:Jason South

The survey coincided with an encouraging report from the Victorian Coroners Court showing the number of suicides has not surged in lockdown. Every life lost remains a tragedy. But the state total in the year to August 26 – 466 – happens to be the lowest since 2017. This figure echoes the trend in New Zealand, where the national suicide rate is also at its lowest level in three years, according to New Zealand’s chief coroner Judge Deborah Marshall.

There are even green shoots of recovery, and not in the place one would expect. Victoria appears to be the only state in the health crisis so far that has been able to shift some economic activity from the capital to the regions. Employment in the rest of Victoria was almost 3 per cent higher in July compared with the same month last year. In Melbourne, it had fallen by more than 4 per cent, based on original data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In NSW and Queensland, both city and country were worse off during the first lockdown. Employment in Sydney dropped by 3 per cent, and by 4 per cent in Brisbane, while the job losses in the rest of each respective state were almost 5 per cent.

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Victoria has recorded 94 cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, with 18 people dying from the virus.

The state’s case numbers have fallen below 100 for the first time since July 5.

We can expect there will more detail shared about the 18 people who have sadly died from COVID-19 at a live update with Premier Daniel Andrews later today.

As a result of today’s Victorian death toll, national deaths from COVID-19 have now surpassed 600.

On Friday, Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said the milestone of falling under 100 cases would show there was reward for the “hard yards” that people have done to drive the numbers down.

“I think it is helpful from a psychological point of view, we are all can have an internal celebration to see it into double figures,” he said.

“But no it doesn’t make a huge material difference, it is just a sign if we get there, and I hope we do, that we are still heading in the right direction.”

More information will be available from the state government later in the day.

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Nineteen $1652 fines have been issued after police converged on an anti-lockdown protest in Dandenong in Melbourne’s south-east.

Victoria Police arrested one man during the fifth night of prohibited gatherings near George Andrews Reserve on Friday night.

Police detain a man in Dandenong on Thursday.

Police detain a man in Dandenong on Thursday.Credit:Joe Armao

A spokeswoman for Victoria Police said officers were “continuing to investigate Friday evening’s protest activity and will consider issuing penalty notices for anyone else found to be in breach of the directions issued” by the Chief Health Officer.

Police arrested a 64-year-old Dandenong man who did not provide his name or address to police while breaching COVID-19 stay at home orders. The man was released after providing identification and fined.

The event’s organiser – a 48-year-old Dandenong man – was later arrested at a residential address in Dandenong and charged with contravening bail conditions and breaching COVID-19 directions.

He was remanded to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Saturday.

On Friday, Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said police will not tolerate “batshit crazy” anti-coronavirus theories and warned people planning on attending protests that their feet “won’t touch the ground” before they are arrested.

Four people at the Republican National Convention in North Carolina this week tested positive for the novel coronavirus, officials said on Friday, even as Republicans played down the US health crisis in re-nominating President Donald Trump.

The party’s convention, which began with one day of events in Charlotte, North Carolina, despite the pandemic that has killed more than 180,000 Americans, ended on Thursday after four days of speeches lauding Trump.

Throughout the convention, Republicans largely abandoned talk of the crisis as if it had abated, instead reminding voters of the robust economy that existed beforehand.

The official Twitter feed of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, where Charlotte is located, said two convention attendees and two event support staff had tested positive and all were “immediately isolated”.

Convention spokesman Michael Ahrens confirmed the four positive tests out of about 1000 administered.

“The RNC had diligent safety protocols in place, including testing all attendees before arriving in Charlotte, and again upon arrival,” Ahrens said in a statement.

On Thursday night, Trump delivered remarks at the White House before a crowd of more than 1000 people seated in chairs centimetres apart, with little evidence of face masks being worn despite health experts’ recommendations.

Vice-President Mike Pence on Wednesday exchanged at least one handshake while greeting supporters during convention activities, a scene that starkly contrasted to last week’s nearly all-virtual Democratic convention.

Reuters

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Celebrity publicist Max Markson is under investigation by the health regulator for promoting a “quantum physics” based medical device that he claims prevents the transmission of the COVID-19 virus and stops its advance in infected patients.

Promotional material for the $1995 “plasma medicine device” claims that it prevented deterioration in the health of infected patients at a hospital in Wuhan, China – the epicentre of the global pandemic – as well as protected passengers during a disastrous cruiseship outbreak.

Celebrity publicist Max Markson

Celebrity publicist Max MarksonCredit:Ellis Parinder

The device was registered with the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration in 2010 as a “therapeutic air ionizer” with an intended purpose “to reduce the severity and frequency of colds and flu … support and assist in immune system recovery … [and] assists breathing by reducing airborne pathogens and dust.”

But the TGA has not registered any products as preventive treatments or cures for COVID-19, with the regulator instead staging a recent crackdown on health and wellness businesses making those kinds of claims about the virus. It confirmed this week the matter was under investigation.

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Speed limits will be cut in half along some of Melbourne’s iconic ‘little’ city streets to increase pedestrian safety when social distancing.

Little Collins, Little Bourke and Little Lonsdale streets will have speed limits dropped from 40 kilometres per hour to 20 kilometres per hour over the coming weeks.

Flinders Lane will be the first street slowed down as part of the new measures, with speed limits reduced on the Spring Street end from Monday.

Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp said this was the first measure to create more space for shoppers and diners to reinvigorate the city, with “people walking will be prioritised over motorists and cyclists”.

“Many of our footpaths are less than two metres wide, so there’s not enough space for people to pass each other safely while maintaining physical distance,” Cr Capp said.

“The changes will ease footpath congestion as people safely return to the city.”

The council said in a statement the current average vehicle speeds along the east to west streets were around 20 to 30 kilometres per hour, and the changes were “not expected” to impact drivers’ travel time.

Shared zone icons painted on the roads will be jazzed up in the process and will depict figures working and shopping across the city.

Health authorities are considering measures to allow single people living alone to visit other households.

Almost 18,000 people have signed a petition calling for Victoria’s lockdown measures to be amended and allow people living alone to have a nominated friend be able visit them.

While those with ‘intimate partners’ are able to travel and see their significant other during stage four lockdown, there is no allowance for those living alone without a romantic partner to have any visitors.

In response to a Twitter user asking about a ‘household bubble’, Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said singles were in a “really hard” situation during the pandemic.

“(The shared bubble is) being talked through and under active consideration,” he said on Friday night.

During New Zealand’s lockdown, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern allowed singles to ‘buddy up’ with another person living alone and visit them for support and companionship.

NSW Health has strongly advised all people who live or work in greater Sydney or the Central Coast to refrain from visiting aged care facilities for 14 days as cases continue to rise.

The state is set to record double-figure increases in COVID-19 cases in coming days amid growing fears about a cluster in one of Sydney’s oldest clubs and new data revealing half of those who have tested positive took three days to self-isolate.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned people who delayed getting tested and self-isolating despite having coronavirus symptoms were dramatically raising the risk of infecting loved ones and the community.

NSW recorded 13 new coronavirus cases from 30,282 tests in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday, making it the first double-digit increase in COVID-19 cases in the state in more than a fortnight. The new cases included six people linked to a cluster at the City Tattersalls Club, taking the number of infections associated with that venue to 14.

The new cases also included four mystery locally acquired ones, two close contacts of previously reported cases not linked to clusters and one person in hotel quarantine.

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A coronial investigation is under way into the cause of death of a COVID-19-positive Victorian man in his 20s widely reported to be the youngest Australian to succumb to the virus.

The review into the man’s cause of death has raised important questions about how Australia classifies coronavirus fatalities and comes as 113 new infections were recorded in Victoria in the past day.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Credit:AP

The state’s death toll climbed to 496, with 12 more deaths, all linked to aged care outbreaks.

Almost two weeks after the young’s man death was reported on August 14, it is yet to be included in the national coronavirus fatalities tally.

At the time of the man’s death, Premier Daniel Andrews would not speculate on whether the man died of or with coronavirus, but he floated the prospect that the Victorian coroner may investigate it.

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New Delhi: India now has the fastest-growing coronavirus caseload of any country in the world, reporting more than 75,000 new infections per day.

Crowded cities, lockdown fatigue and a lack of contact tracing have spread COVID-19 to every corner of the country of 1.3 billion people. This week, authorities said that one-sixth of a tiny tribe on a remote, coral-fringed island had come down with the virus.

A health care worker takes a nasal swab sample to test for COVID-19 in Hyderabad, India.

A health care worker takes a nasal swab sample to test for COVID-19 in Hyderabad, India.Credit:AP

Health experts say the virus reproduction rate is ticking up as more state governments, desperate to stimulate an ailing economy, are loosening lockdown restrictions, which is spreading the virus further.

“Everything right now is indicating toward a massive surge in the caseload in coming days,” said Dr Anant Bhan, a health researcher at Melaka Manipal Medical College in southern India. “What is more worrying is we are inching toward the No.1 spot globally.”

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