Australia news LIVE: NSW and Victorian COVID-19 cases and exposure sites grow; Sydney lockdown extended and masks back on in Melbourne

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Key posts

  • Two new exposure sites for regional NSW
  • This morning’s headlines at a glance
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Two new exposure sites for regional NSW

The Riverina region in southern New South Wales is on high alert after infectious removalists – the ones who travelled from Sydney to Victoria, sparking an outbreak in north-west Melbourne – told state health authorities they’d stopped off at petrol stations in the regional towns of Jindera and Gundagai.

Anyone who visited the following venues during the relevant times is considered a close contact of a positive coronavirus case and must immediately get tested and isolate for 14 days regardless of the result:

  • The Shell Coles Express in South Gundagai on Thursday, July 8 from 1pm to 1.30pm; and
  • The Shell on Urana Street in Jindera on Saturday, July 10 between 11.15am and 11.45am.

For a full list of the NSW exposure sites that came through late last night, visit the state health department’s website.

Sydney hospital COVID scare as south-west’s testing systems struggle

A major hospital in the centre of Sydney’s coronavirus outbreak has been forced to postpone all non-urgent surgery after a patient tested positive to COVID-19, sending dozens of staff into strict isolation as the testing system struggled to cope with the widening crisis.

The operating theatres at Liverpool Hospital, the largest in the city’s south-west, have undergone deep cleaning after the patient, who is believed to have been pregnant and having a C-section delivery, returned a positive test on Wednesday. NSW Health said emergency surgery at the hospital is continuing.

The hospital scare came as the NSW government announced a two-week extension of Greater Sydney’s lockdown and as an outbreak in Victoria grew to 11 cases, with thousands who attended an AFL match at the MCG between Carlton and Geelong being directed to test and isolate and the southern state considering reinstating its own coronavirus restrictions.

Read the full story here.

Victorian authorities to ‘throw the book’ at infectious removalists who breached permit conditions

COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar says health authorities will eventually “throw the book” at the three Sydney removalists who breached their permit conditions, withheld crucial information from contact tracers and spread the highly infectious Delta variant to six other people.

New details of the trio’s trip emerged on Wednesday – more than 36 hours after Victoria’s public health team began interviewing them – prompting Mr Weimar to express “exceptional frustration” at the men’s lack of transparency.

COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar.Credit:Justin McManus

The men arrived in Melbourne on July 8, on a special workers permit for freight drivers to deliver furniture in the City of Hume and pick up another load in the City of Maribyrnong.

Families were at home at both locations and are now isolating. CCTV footage and witness statements revealed the removalists were not wearing masks. The Ariele Apartments in Maribyrnong have been locked down as a result of one of the deliveries. Four people in the building have since tested positive, as well as the elderly parents of one resident.

Read the full story here.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and welcome to another day of our live coverage.

It’s Thursday, July 15. I’m Broede Carmody. Here’s everything you need to know before we get started:

  • Melburnians are waking up to mandatory masks in offices and schools. The new restrictions were announced shortly before midnight last night and authorities are considering whether a lockdown is needed (which would be the city’s fifth).
  • Victoria recorded 11 cases yesterday, with nine linked to a north-west apartment block visited by infectious removalists from Greater Sydney. The other two cases are linked to a family in the City of Hume in Melbourne’s northern fringe. Of those two cases, one is the final family member to test positive and the other is a man who attended the same Coles as one of the family members (who should have been isolating at home). Ten of those 11 total cases will be included in today’s numbers.
  • Greater Sydney’s lockdown has been extended for another two weeks. NSW recorded 97 new coronavirus cases yesterday (with 24 of those infectious in the community), up from 89 total cases the day before.
  • There are 71 COVID-19 patients in NSW hospitals. Twenty are in intensive care. Of those, four are on ventilators. There’s also been long queues at testing sites.
  • And Prime Minister Scott Morrison remains on the defensive after Victoria accused him of being the “Prime Minister for NSW”. Earlier this week, the Commonwealth announced increased emergency payments for Greater Sydney workers who’ve had their hours reduced due to the city’s extended shutdown.
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