Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly says there has been around a 50 per cent drop in national case numbers over the past week, with “very positive signs out of Victoria today”.
“Cases are mostly, almost exclusively, occurring in Melbourne; there are very few cases now in rural Victoria and continued small numbers of cases in south-east Queensland and in Sydney,” he told reporters on Monday afternoon, adding that the responses in Queensland and NSW indicated the importance of rapid contact tracing.
“And so for all of those reasons I’m positive.”
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has said the 33 historical aged care deaths added to the Victorian total on Monday were identified at the request of the federal government.
“Whilst all of these had been acknowledged through the Births, Deaths and Marriages process, we wanted to make sure that they were recorded in the Victorian public health system and that, as a consequence we’re able to acknowledge to respect, to identify all of those who have lost their lives to COVID,” Mr Hunt told reporters on Monday afternoon.
The Health Minister said the federal government would be investing an additional $563.4 million in its existing coronavirus programs for the aged care sector. That figure includes:
- Continuing the COVID supplement for facilities for an additional six months (to the end of February 2021) at a cost of $245 million. “It assists them … with the ability to develop their workforce, to provide for PPE needs and for other elements relating to the fight against COVID-19,” Mr Hunt explained.
- Extending funding for aged care workers in COVID-19 areas to operate on a single workforce basis (to stop staff from working across facilities) until the end of the financial year at a cost of $92.4 million.
- Expanding short-term home support for people who were residents of aged care facilities but are now being looked after by family. This will now be available until the end of the financial year at a cost of $71.4 million.
- Extending the COVID-19 aged care workforce retention payment with a $154.5 million additional investment.
The popular Noosa Triathlon has fallen victim to the pandemic, with organisers forced to cancel the 38th version of the event, which was due to go ahead later this year.
The five-day festival – which includes 11 events in all – hosts over 13,000 competitors supported by more than 30,000 spectators on race day.
Famous competitors include former Olympic swimmer Jessicah Schipper, former Wallabies player Matt Rogers and veteran Bondi Rescue lifeguard Andrew “Reidy” Reid.
Event organisers made the announcement on social media Monday afternoon, saying Noosa Council had decided to not allow events of 500 people or more until at least February 2021.
“As a result of this decision, the 38th edition of the world-famous Noosa Triathlon that was due to be held between 28 October and 1 November 2020 will, unfortunately, not be able to take place.
“We share in the disappointment of this news as we love producing Noosa Triathlon for you as much as you love racing in it.
“The Noosa Triathlon team will be in touch with all registered athletes tomorrow on next steps and athlete options.
“Thanks for your continued support and we look forward to bringing back the Noosa Triathlon back in 2021.”
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck and Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly will give a coronavirus update at 1pm.
Two people have been charged and 14 issued with penalty infringement notices in NSW over the weekend.
A 24-year-old man allegedly became argumentative with police at Bankwest Stadium, in Parramatta, during the A-League Grand Final on Saturday. Police issued him with a move on direction.
The man allegedly started to walk away but turned around and spat at one of the police officers.
He was arrested and taken to Parramatta Police Station, where he was charged with common assault, not compiling with noticed direction re spitting or coughing and assaulting a police officer on duty.
The man was banned from the stadium and is due to appear at Parramatta Local Court on October 14.
A licensed venue in Mudgee has been fined $5000 after police allegedly found a number of patrons not maintaining social distancing on August 22.
A 29-year-old restaurant licensee in Shellharbour was also fined after receiving prior warnings for not having effectively implemented a COVID-19 Safety Plan on Friday.
In the early stages of the pandemic, weekly spending at cafes in NSW slumped to be 40 per cent lower than what was normal before the crisis. But demand has bounced.
A real-time spending tracker, developed by analytics firm AlphaBeta, a part of Accenture, shows cafe purchases across the state are now higher than before the coronavirus.
“People working from home are taking some of their practices from the office to their home and local cafes are the beneficiaries,” said director of AlphaBeta, economist Andrew Charlton.
Ashley Wilderink, owner of the Brothers Ben cafe in Petersham, says coffee sales during the week are up “a huge amount” compared to before the pandemic.
“So many people are working from home and they’re wanting coffee in the morning and they’re wanting lunch options as well, so that’s definitely gone up for us,” she said.
The Melbourne hotels that detained the first expats and travellers returning to Australia were not given instructions on COVID-19 infection control by the department that contracted them.
The inquiry investigating the failed hotel quarantine program in Victoria this morning heard that instead, it was up to the the hotels association to direct accommodation providers to a federal health department brochure.
The official from the Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions who was in charge of contracting the hotels used for quarantine is before the inquiry today.
Under cross-examination, Unni Menon said his paramount concern was public safety, though his department had no expertise in how to deal with infectious diseases, instead relying on advice from the Department of Health and Human Services.
But the hotels, including the Rydges on Swanston – which quarantined people with COVID-19 and became ground zero for outbreaks – were not provided with specific advice from the Victorian health department about how to manage COVID-19, the inquiry heard.
Instead, Mr Menon said the Accommodation Association of Australia directed him to a Commonwealth Department of Health brochure that was used by the hotels to train themselves and their staff on infection control.
“No formal written instructions were issued to or discussed with hotels on applicable infection control requirements at the time they entered into a formal agreements with the Department; correct?” Arthur Moses SC, the lawyer acting for security firm Unified Security, asked.
“There were no formal instructions that I received, that’s correct,” Mr Menon replied.
More than 100 people have been charged with breaching quarantine or social distancing rules since WA started enforcing its emergency powers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Around half of the 106 charged to August 27 were convicted of failing to comply with a direction – 40 received fines ranging from $300 to $8000, a woman who hid in a truck from Melbourne was jailed for six months, and two men served a month behind bars while a young woman from Adelaide who escaped hotel quarantine received a suspended jail term.
The latest alleged quarantine breach is Perth man Paul Lawrence who arrived in WA from Brisbane on Friday night without an exemption to enter the state. The 53-year-old was discovered at Hotel Northbridge surrounded by pub-goers later that night after telling authorities at Perth Airport he had chest pains and being transferred to Royal Perth Hospital for treatment.
Police Minister Michelle Roberts indicated Mr Lawrence would become the first person in WA hotel quarantine to be fitted with a GPS ankle tracker.
Victorian restaurants, cafes and pubs may be allowed to shift their offerings to focus on outdoor dining as a part of the state’s roadmap to reopening.
Premier Daniel Andrews said stage three and stage two may look substantially different to previous iterations, adding his government was in discussions with the hospitality industry about how to make dining COVID-safe as outdoors settings are known to be less-risky settings for the transmission of coronavirus.
“There will be a substantially different framework [to previous lockdowns]. This will be much more around a traffic light system and will move through different phases, and there will be some elements that might be similar to the stages we went into stage four, but it’ll be very different,” he said.
“When it comes to cafes, bars, restaurants, pubs, I think that the improving weather and the part of the year that we’re moving into does give us some options that we simply didn’t have last time.
“So the notion of more outdoor eating, outdoor service – we’re looking at that very, very closely.”
The Andrews government is hoping to reopen once community transmission is eliminated but acknowledges it may need to loosen restrictions earlier.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said zero community transmission was the aim but said that may not be possible, while Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he hoped there would be about 40 cases per day by Sunday.
“Whether [zero community transmission] is possible, we’ll just have to see that unfold … There will be a point where we have to make a decision,” Mr Andrews said.
“And so, with numbers at x level say by Friday this week, there will be various models, various different options for opening up. They will all come with a risk that we lose some control – none of those models will be 100 per cent safe.”
Dr Sutton said he hoped cases would drop to about 40 or 50 by Sunday when a roadmap will be revealed.
“We’ll see if that’s the case,” he said, adding that so-called mystery cases had dropped significantly.
“The pain that is happening every day now – we’re all fed up with it, absolutely fed up with it. But holding the course, even as we get down to these very low numbers is absolutely critical.
“That means that we can look at a summer that has some familiarity to us, where we can see friends and family, we can go out to dinner, where we can have a Christmas dinner together, where we can enjoy those sunny days.”