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Home / Latest News / Coronavirus updates LIVE: Victoria records just 70 cases; restrictions to be loosened on NSW-Victoria border; Australian death toll hits 657

Coronavirus updates LIVE: Victoria records just 70 cases; restrictions to be loosened on NSW-Victoria border; Australian death toll hits 657

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is due to give a coronavirus update at 11.30am. Meanwhile, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is still giving her press conference at Albury, as she announces changes to the NSW-Victoria border.

You can continue to watch Ms Berejiklian, or tune into the Victorian update, using the videos below. You may need to click “do not play” on the video you do not want to watch, depending on your settings.

Victoria’s testing rates have dropped too low, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has said, with the state recording a net increase of 58 cases overnight after 12 cases were reclassified.

Professor Sutton told today’s press conference the state was on the right pathway but could be compromised by low testing rates, which dropped to 10,000 tests received in the past 24 hours. For context, today NSW recorded 13 cases from more than 14,000 tests.

“That’s not enough. I know there’s more respiratory illness out there,” he said.

“We’re certainly on the right pathway here. Cases continue to be driven down because of everything that everyone is doing and because of the restrictions.

“We have to hold the course. These are low numbers [and] it can cause complacency for people who think ‘I don’t need to test – there’s not enough virus out there’, but testing is the pathway for us to drive these numbers down. If we don’t know that there are cases in the community, if we can’t identify people and they’re not aware themselves, then they’re going to put their close family and other close contacts at risk.”

Professor Sutton said it was too early to say whether the state would move out of stage four at the scheduled end date of September 13. He said it was unlikely the state would have below 10 cases per day by that time, but stressed the main criteria was driving down cases of community transmission with no known source.

“If we know where every case in Victoria is today, we could end [the lockdown] in a week,” he said.

Professor Sutton said active healthcare worker cases would be in single figures soon.

The state government has begun high-level consultations with business leaders on the pathway to easing restrictions that will be announced on Sunday.

Premier Daniel Andrews said his Jobs Minister Martin Pakula had engaged in a “very significant” meeting on Monday night that included about 150 peak bodies, business owners and trade unions.

Mr Pakula said various industry-specific taskforces were set up to continue the dialogue as the state reopens. The industry taskforces include construction, creative industries, sport and tourism, manufacturing, community organisations, agriculture, retail, professional services, transport and freight and food and grocery.

Mr Pakula said he informed the parties of the criteria the government would use to determine the set of rules when the state likely moves out of stage four restrictions on September 13.

“The overwhelming view of those groups so far is the need for certainty, and the need to ensure that as we ease restrictions we head in one direction, rather than out and back again,” Mr Pakula said.

“There’s a very clear understanding that, despite the pressure on their members, that this needs to be done in a way that is safe, in a way that does not lead to another set of outbreaks … [where] there might be some need for restrictions to be re-imposed.”

After attending the meeting, the Australian Industry Group said many Victorian businesses will struggle to get more than a highly restrictive “orange” light under the proposed traffic light system, as we reported earlier today.

New Zealand has detected 14 new cases of coronavirus, comprising nine in returned travellers and five in the community.

Seven of those nine cases in travellers are people who returned to New Zealand from India, one came from Qatar and one from the United States. The five new community cases are all epidemiologically or genomically linked to the Auckland cluster.

Of the nine cases in returned travellers, five are in managed isolation and quarantine facilities in Christchurch, three are in Auckland and one is in Wellington.

The five cases in Christchurch all arrived on a flight from India, via Fiji, on August 27.

Two of the Auckland cases arrived from India on August 23, while the other arrived from Qatar on August 25.

The Wellington case arrived from the US on August 18.

Minister for Research, Science and Innovation Megan Woods said the relatively sharp rise in the number of people testing positive on their return to New Zealand showed “that COVID is growing, not slowing, around the world” and that planes had arrived from countries where the number of COVID-19 infections was high.

The United States and India have the highest and third-highest number of cases in the world and in India, in particular, the spread of the virus is accelerating rapidly.

All people returning to New Zealand are tested on day three and then again on day 12. If a person declines a test on day 12, they can be kept in managed isolation and quarantine for 28 days.

Woods reassured Kiwis concerned about the arrangements in place in MIQ facilities, saying that everyone in the facilities were treated as if they had COVID-19 so personal protective equipment was being worn and social distancing was maintained.

She said that there had not been a community case of COVID linked to a quarantine facility to date and that “we have not had an outbreak”.

The fourteen new cases bring the total number of active cases in New Zealand to 132, with 33 of those cases in returned travellers and 99 community cases.

A total of 123 people are linked to the Auckland cluster are in a quarantine facility, and 79 of those people have tested positive.

Ten people are in hospital because of the disease, with two of those people in intensive care.

A total of 13 community cases are considered to have recovered.

Air Commodore Darren Webb said the deployment of an extra 500 New Zealand Defence Force members to managed isolation and quarantine facilities was still underway.

The deployment was the largest for the NZ Defence Force since the deployment to East Timor in 1999.

As Premier Daniel Andrews’ press conference gets underway, let’s cast our minds back to yesterday’s update with the news that a plan to reopen the state will be unveiled on Sunday.

Here is what we know so far about the “traffic light” system which will be used to categorise businesses. As we reported earlier, Tim Piper from the Australian Industry Group said it appears many businesses will struggle to get more than an “orange light”.

The Victorian government says it will release a separate “regional road map” to guide tourism operators and businesses out of stage three lockdown.

While Melburnians are subject to another 12 days of strict stage four restrictions, including an 8pm to 5am curfew and a ban on travelling more than 5 kilometres from their homes, regional Victoria is under slightly less strict stage three restrictions.

“Regional Victoria and Melbourne are experiencing this virus in different ways. That’s why we needed a dedicated regional road map to plan for – and protect – regional Victoria,” Mr Andrews said in a statement.

“We want to open up the whole of our state in a steady and safe way. Because no matter your postcode, we’re in this together.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has begun his daily media conference by confirming there are 70 new cases today, the lowest daily total since July 3, and an additional five deaths.

There have been 570 deaths in the state and there are now about 2519 active cases in Victoria, a drop of about 80 from yesterday.

The deaths include two women in their 70s, two women in their 80s, and one woman in her 90s. Two of the five occurred prior to Monday but have only recently been reported to the Health Department.

About 10,150 tests were recorded in the past 24 hours and 11 cases have been added to the total of those with no known source of infection.

There are now 421 people with COVID-19 in Victorian hospitals, 32 fewer than yesterday, including 20 in intensive care, one fewer than yesterday.

“Again, I urge Victorians: there are a few things, perhaps none more important than coming forward and getting tested, even if you have the mildest of symptoms as soon as those symptoms begin,” Mr Andrews said, adding testers can attend people’s homes if they cannot access a testing facility.

“And then, of course, staying at home to wait for your test results which are now being processed faster than ever.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has apologised to border communities for the inconvenience caused by the closure of the NSW-Victoria border, while announcing a significantly less restrictive border permit plan in Albury this morning.

“I tell you, hand on heart, that one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made personally and the Government’s made during this pandemic has been closing the New South Wales-Victorian border. It was a decision of last resort.”

The Premier said she “deeply” regretted the challenges experienced by border communities under the restrictions, adding that she knew the decision appeared to be made very quickly.

“I regret deeply the fact that the community wasn’t prepared for what we had to do at that time,” she said, adding that people should feel frustration “against [her] and nobody else” as she praised the work of Member for Albury Justin Clancy in advocating for his community.

Under the changes, which come into force on Friday, people who live within 50 kilometres of either side of the NSW border will be entitled to a border permit, allowing them to travel within that border bubble for work, school, acquiring necessary goods and services or for care or compassionate reasons.

“Of course any movements outside the border communities comes with additional restrictions, but, in terms of people being able to tend to their daily life without unnecessary stress, we hope, from Friday, life will change in a positive way for people,” Ms Berejiklian said.

A number of health alerts have been issued for Sydney’s inner west and other areas of the city, after NSW recorded 13 new coronavirus cases.

As previously reported, anyone who attended It’s Time for Thai restaurant at Newtown on Friday between 5pm and 8pm is considered a close contact and must get tested immediately and self-isolate for 14 days.

There are also a number of “watch for symptoms” alerts for places near the restaurant on Newtown’s busy King Street. Anyone in these places at these times must monitor for symptoms and immediately get tested and self-isolate if they develop.

  • Newtown Train Station on Friday between 5.10pm and 5.20pm
  • BWS Newtown on Friday between 5.15pm and 5.40pm
  • Off Ya Tree Clothing and Body Piercing at Newtown on Friday between 7.15pm and 7.55pm

In addition, there are “watch for symptoms” alerts for other regions of Sydney. They are:

  • The Rydges hotel at Camperdown on Saturday between 2pm and 3.15pm
  • Kmart, Aldi, Coles and the food court at Warriewood Shopping Centre on Saturday between 12.30pm and 2.30pm
  • The Blacktown to City train that departed Blacktown at 6.58am and arrived at Central at 7.45am, and the trip from Central at 6.25pm to Blacktown at 7.18pm on Tuesday
  • The Blacktown to City train that departed Blacktown at 6.59am and arrived at Central at 7.41am, and the trip from Central at 6.38pm to Blacktown at 7.35pm on Wednesday
  • Tuesday’s 440 bus from Central at 7.54am to Oxford Street at West Street at 8.05am
  • Wednesday’s 311 bus from Central at 7.48am to Darlinghurst Road at Burton Street at 7.58am
  • Tuesday’s 389 bus from St Vincent’s Hospital at 4.12pm to Town Hall Station at 4.23pm
  • Wednesday’s 389 bus from St Vincent’s Hospital at 4.07pm to Town Hall Station at 4.23pm

NSW recorded 13 new coronavirus in the latest 24-hour reporting period, from 14,815 tests.

Of the new cases, two are returned travellers in hotel quarantine and 11 are locally acquired.

Seven of the cases are linked to the Sydney CBD cluster, bringing the size of that cluster to 41.

“Of these, two worked at Reddam Early Learning Centre at Lindfield, one visited the Tattersalls City Gym, two are household contacts of previous cases and two are close contacts of previous cases,” NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty said.

There has also been another case linked to the cases at Liverpool Hospital, and the three remaining local cases are students at St Paul’s Catholic College at Greystanes, where a student tested positive on the weekend. The school remains closed and the source of the original case is still under investigation.

After the additional cases connected to Reddam Early Learning Centre at Lindfield, all staff and children who have been on-site at the centre have been identified as close contacts and directed to self-isolate.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is due to give an update on the coronavirus pandemic and border restrictions at 11am.

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