Coronavirus updates LIVE: Victoria records 113 COVID-19 cases as state’s draft roadmap flags stage four lockdown extension; Australia in recession as nation’s death toll jumps to 678

Summary

  • Victoria recorded 113 new cases on Thursday, and an additional 15 deaths. A draft blueprint has indicated Melbourne’s stage four will be extended for a fortnight, although the state government says the leaked document is out of date.
  • A mystery case in the NSW central west is one of 12 new coronavirus cases in the state on Thursday. Attendees at a western Sydney church have been directed to self-isolate, and alerts have been issued for a number of venues including Chatswood Westfield.
  • ABS data released on Thursday showed Australia had officially entered a recession, prompting the Morrison government to actively consider pulling forward $158 billion worth of personal income tax cuts in next month’s budget.
  • The inquiry into Victoria’s hotel quarantine has heard a security firm that had only four full-time staff was subcontracted to work at most of Melbourne’s quarantine hotels. The heads of security firms are continuing to give evidence today.
  • There have been 25.8 million coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally. The global death toll has passed 858,000.

Britain puts $900 million into rapid COVID tests to 'restore freedoms'

London: Britain is putting £500 million ($909 million) into trials of rapid COVID-19 tests and into population-testing for the disease.

Health Minister Matt Hancock has said he hoped mass testing using faster COVID-19 tests can be rolled out towards the end of the year, adding that they are key to restoring freedoms after months of COVID-19 restrictions.

A traffic sign directs people towards the temporary testing centre on the site at Manston Airport in England.Credit:Getty Images

The funding will be used to expand existing trials of saliva tests and a rapid 20-minute test in southern England, while a new, community trial in Salford, north-west England, will assess the benefit of population-testing, under which people are regularly tested regardless of whether they have symptoms, so that any cases can be picked up before they have spread widely.

"Innovative new tests that are fast, accurate and easier to use will maximise the impact and scale of testing, helping us to get back to a more normal way of life," Hancock said on Thursday.

Read the full story here

Morwell aged care facility among new Victorian cases, 16 new cases at BaptCare Wyndham Lodge

A resident living in an aged care facility in Victoria's Latrobe Valley has tested positive for coronavirus, while one of Melbourne's worst affected homes has seen 16 new cases in a day.

Mitchell House Residential Aged Care Facility in Morwell confirmed the facility is now in lockdown after the positive case was detected.

"All regulatory procedures have commenced and families of all residents have been notified," a spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, BaptCare Wyndham Lodge Community in Werribee has recorded a jump of 16 cases up to 213 since yesterday.

The full daily list the ten worst-affected aged care facilities, and their changes in the last 24 hours:

  • 214 cases have been linked to Epping Gardens Aged Care in Epping (no change)
  • 213 cases have been linked to BaptCare Wyndham Lodge Community in Werribee (+16 than yesterday)
  • 205 cases have been linked to St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner (+2)
  • 162 cases have been linked to Estia Aged Care Facility in Ardeer (+1)
  • 139 cases have been linked to Kirkbrae Presbyterian Homes in Kilsyth (no change)
  • 127 cases have been linked to Twin Parks Aged Care in Reservoir (no change)
  • 123 cases have been linked to Cumberland Manor Aged Care Facility in Sunshine North (no change)
  • 118 cases have been linked to Estia Aged Care Facility in Heidelberg (+4)
  • 117 cases have been linked to Japara Goonawarra Aged Care Facility in Sunbury (+1)
  • 115 cases have been linked to Outlook Gardens Aged Care Facility in Dandenong North (no change)

The Victorian government does not release collated data on all every single aged care facility with active cases – only the top ten.

Multiple food processing facilities among new Melbourne outbreaks

There are three separate food processing plants with new coronavirus cases, the Victorian Department of Health has revealed.

  • Wagstaff abattoirs in Cranbourne
  • Melbourne Seafood Centre in West Melbourne
  • and Fresh Cheese Company in Broadmeadows

Contact tracers are also investigating cases linked to NewCold cold storage facility in Truganina in Melbourne's west.

The DHHS has not revealed how many case have been found at each of the facilities yet.

Victoria moves to temporarily ban evictions

The Victorian government has moved to ban landlords from evicting tenants until as late as April.

Consumer Affairs Minister Melissa Horne introduced the COVID-19 Commercial and Residential Tenancies Legislation Amendment (Extension) Bill 2020 to the State Parliament on Thursday, seeking to extend the moratorium on rental evictions introduced at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The original legislation was designed to end on September 29, but the Victorian government recently announced the moratorium would be extended until December 31.

The bill introduced in Parliament proposes an extension until March 28, with a mechanism to extend until April 26.

In her second reading speech, Ms Horne said the pandemic had "significantly" disrupted the rental market, and that there was a need to continue supporting tenants.

"The economic conditions that jeopardise tenancies are expected to continue regardless of the continuation of Commonwealth financial support for Victorians," Ms Horne said.

“In addition, the public health reasons for limiting unnecessary moves and evictions remain.”

The legislation is set to head to the upper house in mid-September when Parliament returns.

49% of active cases in Victoria are in aged care

The Victorian Chief Health Officer's daily data release has just arrived, and it reveals that 70 of today's 113 new recorded coronavirus cases are still under investigation.

The other 43 have been linked up to known outbreaks. There are 120 fewer active cases in Victoria today than there were yesterday – now down to 2295.

So what do we know about those 2295 active cases?

  • 337, or nearly 15 per cent, are healthcare workers* (+5 than yesterday), and 1121 are either aged care residents or aged care workers (-56 than yesterday). Those aged care cases represent 49 per cent of all active cases.

    *Note: Aged care workers are also included in the healthcare workers tally.

  • 92.5 per cent, or 2125, are in metropolitan Melbourne (-109) and while there are 126 (+1) in regional areas including 38(-2) active cases in Greater Geelong, eight cases in Great Bendigo (+1) and four in Ballarat (-1).
  • 38 cases (or 1.65 per cent) are "mystery cases" with no known source (-12 since yesterday).
  • 34 are cases in residential disability settings

Watch: Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer gives COVID-19 update

Mark McGowan.Credit:AFR

Launching a campaign to encourage Perth residents to take jobs in the regions, Mr McGowan acknowledged federal welfare payments were a disincentive to attracting agricultural and tourism workers.

"It's about ensuring city people understand there's a great lifestyle in the regions," he said.

"We need to get some exemption from losing JobSeeker if you work in agriculture.

"We have to make sure the Commonwealth rewards people, particularly as harvest approaches."

The state's agriculture minister Alannah MacTiernan said there would be no exemptions to WA's 'hard border' arrangements for seasonal workers from interstate.

She said the state would need 7000-8000 workers in the regions during the October-December harvest season.

Government stands by censured Aged Care Minister

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has defended his government's record on aged care after the Senate formally censured minister Richard Colbeck over his performance, with the support of every crossbencher.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese asked Mr Morrison in Parliamentary question time on Thursday why he had not sacked the minister despite "horror stories of neglect in aged care, including a resident with ants crawling in her open wounds, shocking accounts of sexual assaults, untreated maggots in wounds."

Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

The Prime Minister said the "many serious issues that require addressing in aged care, and particularly the unacceptable circumstances that occurred in a number of facilities", were the reason he had called the aged care royal commission.

"It is the very reason why the government, in particular, at the strong urging and recommendation of the Minister for Aged Care, has continued to increase funding for aged care by over a billion dollars every year," Mr Morrison said.

"It is the reason why the Minister for Aged Care came to the cabinet and said we needed to do more in aged care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and did so in response to the plan that was first launched back in March, and flagged in the COVID pandemic plan."

He listed former politicians, including prime ministers, who had been censured by the Senate – John Howard, Paul Keating, Gareth Evans and Graham Richardson – saying "that is not a new thing."

Mr Morrison said only eight per cent of aged care facilities in Australia had been affected by COVID outbreaks, compared with 56 per cent in the United Kingdom and pointed to $1.5 billion in federal COVID-19 funding for aged care.

"The actions that have been put in place by the government has ensured that we have been able to mitigate what has been a terrible blow as a result of COVID-19 across this country, including in the aged care sector," he said.

"Despite the fact that there have been a number of cases in facilities … the rest of the aged care sector has been benefited from the measures that have been put in place."

Hotel quarantine guests checking-out were COVID-19 positive

A couple who authorities said were fine to leave quarantine were discovered to have COVID-19 when they were about to check-out, a Victorian inquiry into hotel quarantine has heard.

Mo Nagi from Unified Security Group speaks at the inquiry.

Unified Security Group's state manager Mo Nagi said a Victorian department advised his guards they could collect a couple who were ready to leave quarantine.

But when they went downstairs to sign off their detention notices, the health department's authorised officer said the couple were COVID positive and shouldn't leave.

"These people shouldn't have been removed as they're COVID positive and shouldn't have left their room," Mr Nagi said the department informed the guards.

He said the guards went into isolation at the hotel after the incident.

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson says he and family have recovered from COVID-19

Pro-wrestler turned Hollywood actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson said in a video message posted on social media on Wednesday that he, his wife and their two young children tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks but that they all have recovered and are healthy.

Johnson, 48, said in an Instagram post that he and his spouse, Lauren, 35, and their daughters, Jasmine, 4, and Tiana, 2, caught the virus about two and a half weeks ago from "very close family friends" whom he said had no idea how they had become infected.

"I can tell you this has been one of the most challenging and difficult things we have ever had to endure as a family, and for me personally," he said in the video.

The actor said his family, like their friends who caught the virus first, had been "incredibly disciplined" about adhering to safety measures to avoid the virus.

The two young girls suffered only "a little sore throat the first couple of days" and bounced back, though Johnson and his wife had "a rough go," he said.

"But I am happy to tell you guys that we as a family are good. We are on the other end of it," he said. "We are no longer contagious, and we are, thank God, we are healthy."

The actor urged people to wear face masks to limit the spread of coronavirus.

"It baffles me that some people out there, including some politicians, will take this idea of wearing masks and make it a political agenda," he said. "It is a fact and it's the right thing to do, and it is the responsible thing to do."

Johnson, who shot to fame in the World Wrestling Federation as the swaggering, boastful grappler known as The Rock, began making a transition to mainstream entertainment in the late 1990s and went on to develop a prolific screen career.

He married Lauren Hashian, a singer-songwriter whose father was the drummer for the rock band Boston, in 2019, the year he officially announced his retirement from wrestling.

Reuters

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