As it happened: Victoria records 41 COVID-19 cases as state’s road map out of stage four lockdown revealed; Australian death toll jumps to 762

Summary

  • Victoria has recorded 41 new cases, the state’s lowest daily tally in two months. Sadly, nine more Victorians have died from the virus. 
  • Melburnians will not be allowed to return to anything resembling normal life until late November at the earliest, with Premier Daniel Andrews outlining what he called a ‘slow, steady and safe’ guide out of strict stage four lockdown. Melbourne’s tough stage four lockdown has been extended for two weeks beyond the original end date of September 13.
  • NSW has recorded four new coronavirus cases, including three healthcare workers at Liverpool and Concord hospitals, who caught the virus from a colleague. NSW is investigating possible surface transmission, as the original infected worker was wearing a mask.
  • Queensland has recorded two new COVID-19 cases, including a hospital worker. The state’s Chief Health Officer has expressed confidence about reopening the state’s southern border before Christmas.
  • Australians will have access to a COVID-19 vaccine progressively throughout next year if trials prove successful, after a $1.7 billion supply-and-production agreement between the federal government and major pharmaceutical companies.

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This is what you need to know from this afternoon's updates:

  • Australia had 48 new cases today, 41 of them in Victoria.
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison ramped up pressure on the Victorian government to act more quickly to trace new coronavirus cases.
  • The global death toll passed 883,300, and cases have passed the 27.1 million mark.
  • The Australian death toll rose to 762.
  • The passengers and crew of luxury yacht Lady Pamela were permitted to stay in Queensland when they complete two weeks of mandatory quarantine despite despite Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk saying she was "disgusted" by their alleged conduct.
  • Fuel refiner warned the company may close its Geelong site permanently if restrictions are not eased by November.

How are Victoria's coronavirus case numbers data tracking against the targets for reopening?

Victoria’s roadmap for reopening stipulates that the state’s 14-day average for new cases must fall below a certain level at each step of the way.

This graph shows where the 14-day average has been tracking since the start of August against the targets set for each stage of reopening:

Will the state meet those targets? Here's an overview of what needs to happen for the state to progress to reach each step along the way, how life will change under each step, as well as whether health authorities and leading epidemiologists think each goal is attainable.

Step one will come into effect on September 13 – the day the stage four lockdown originally would have ended. The main differences under step one will be that singles or single parents will be allowed one nominated visitor, while the nightly curfew will start one hour later at 9pm.

Click here to read on.

Premier says contact tracers now reaching almost all positive cases within 24 hours

Premier Daniel Andrews says Victoria’s contact tracers are now getting to almost 100 per cent of positive cases within 24 hours.

He told the ABC’s 7.30 program there would always be difficulty finding a handful of people but all close contacts were being contacted within 48 hours.

Premier Daniel Andrews speaking to journalists on Monday.Credit:Eddie Jim

“They are national benchmarks,” he said. “We haven’t made our own rulebook here. We are absolutely delivering against the nationally agreed thresholds.”
Mr Andrews’ defence of Victoria’s contact tracing system comes after criticism from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Asked if he would reconsider his position if the hotel inquiry laid the blame for the bungled system at his feet, Mr Andrews said he would “see our state through this”.

“Politics has never mattered less to me. Leadership is not about doing what’s popular. It’s about doing what’s right.”

Mr Andrews promised his government would provide more support to businesses soon. The Premier said the government would spend the coming week consulting different sectors on a support package that meets their needs.

“It’s not about simply imposing that. It’s about listening and trying to craft a package that will be of the greatest impact.”

Morrison pressures Victoria to lift its game on contact tracing

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has ramped up pressure on the Victorian government to act more quickly to trace new coronavirus cases, urging it to embrace the approach in NSW to lift its performance against the pandemic.

Mr Morrison warned of a national cost for the state outbreak and named NSW measures as the best standard in contact tracing, piling pressure on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Worried the Victorian systems were still paper-based as recently as last month, federal officials are urging the state government to replicate the NSW system in order to drive down case numbers.

The Morrison government believes the NSW system has an advantage in the way the public health unit in each local health district conducts the initial calls to those infected, arranging interviews within hours.

Behind the new call is a federal concern that Victorian state agencies and departments have not run an integrated system that allows rapid tracing, leading to duplicated efforts.

"The most important thing is ensuring that we build an integrated tracing capability right across the country that enables a country to remain open despite the threat of outbreaks," Mr Morrison said.

Read on here.

Coronavirus scare sweeps Flemington after Waterhouse staffer feels ill

A coronavirus scare has swept through Flemington as the spring racing carnival begins to hit top gear, with a staff member from the stables of the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott training partnership sent home from work for tests on Monday.

Just eight weeks out from the Melbourne Cup, officials of the Victoria Racing Club, trainers, jockeys and employees of the other stables at Victorian racing's headquarters are on tenterhooks, desperately crossing their fingers that the Waterhouse employee returns a negative result.

Co-trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott are hoping to be all smiles after the Golden Slipper.Credit:bradleyphotos.com.au

VRC officials told Flemington trainers on Monday that a staff member at the champion Sydney trainer Waterhouse's Melbourne base had been feeling unwell and left the workplace to have a COVID-19 test, forcing the stable to shut down.

"On advice from the [Chief Health Officer] the stable has been placed into lockdown until we receive the result tomorrow," an email warning other Flemington-based trainers said.

As a result Waterhouse and Bott's horses cannot be worked at the course nor use the facilities there until the result of the test comes back.

However staff employed by the pair are allowed to visit the stables to feed and look after the animals.

Click here to read on.

Epidemiologists react to Victoria's road map out of stage four lockdown

Epidemiologists have had a mixed reaction to the state government's road map out of the current strict COVID-19 lockdown that has driven down cases but kept Victorians inside their homes.

Jodie McVernon, director of epidemiology at Melbourne's Doherty Institute, described the average of five cases over 14 days as a "very stringent target".

But Grattan Institute health program director Stephen Duckett says modelling shows Victoria's decline is going very well.

Here is our full wrap of epidemiologists' responses.

The world's longest COVID-19 lockdowns: how Victoria compares

When it finally emerges from stage four restrictions, Melbourne will have experienced one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns.

Melburnians have already endured about four months in total under some form of stay-at-home restrictions: eight weeks from late March to early June, when the rest of Australia was also locked down, then another eight weeks on our own since July 8.

Pubs like the Retreat Hotel, in Sydney Road Brunswick, remain closed under Melbourne’s stage four lockdown.Credit:Paul Jeffers

Should Victoria’s lockdown continue to September 28 as forecast, Melburnians will have done about five months under lockdown. But while ours has been tough, it has nothing on some other lockdowns, either for length or severity.

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte warned anyone flouting the curfew could be shot.

Pregnant women and people aged under 21 and over 60 are not allowed to leave the house at all in the Philippines.

Human Rights Watch has complained that police have been using public humiliation and abuse to enforce the rules, including locking some people in dog cages.

To read on click here.

Club cricket 'very hopeful' of seeing first balls bowled by November

Club cricketers from one of Melbourne's biggest competitions are hopeful of donning their whites in late November despite the extension of the Victorian lockdown.

The Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association – one level below Premier Cricket and representing 28 clubs across Melbourne – says it plans to complete an abridged cricket season starting on Saturday, November 28.

Cricket season could still go ahead. Credit:Alamy

It is planning for that first Saturday to be a practice Twenty20 match, followed by 13 one-day matches and finals for the juniors and seniors.

There would usually be seven two-day games and seven one-day games in a regular season, which normally begins on the first Saturday of October.

"We can’t start training [in groups of 10 or fewer] until October 26 under the government guidelines," the association's president Phillip O'Meara said.

"We are going to lose all of October and all of November. It means the two-day games are just about out the door.

Full story here.

False positive at western Sydney school

Lidcombe Public School will resume on-campus learning on Tuesday after NSW Health informed the school that a student, who initially tested positive over the weekend, does not have COVID-19.

Staff and students who were identified as close contacts have been notified and no longer need to isolate and the school has been thoroughly cleaned.

"NSW Health acknowledges that the response may have adversely impacted you and your family," a statement from the NSW Department of Education read.

"They would like to apologise for any inconvenience or distress this may have caused. We remind you that, if you have been tested for COVID-19 and are currently awaiting a test result, please remain in isolation until you receive a negative result."

Australia air travel in 2021: Airline CEOs reveal what's in store

Right now we can only dream of travelling, especially overseas. But according to airline executives there may be cause for optimism.

This story by Josh Dye covers the expectations, fears and hopes of airline bosses. They discuss if and how we might finally be able to book a flight.

Airline chief executives hope international travel can resume soon. Credit:Tamara Voninski

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce hopes testing and a vaccine may help flights resume next year while Virgin Australia boss Paul Scurrah wants to see travel bubbles emerge.

Travel may look a lot different when we're finally able to plan a holiday again. But surely it can't hurt to dream a little.

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