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Home / Latest News / Coronavirus updates LIVE: Victoria records 28 COVID-19 cases as SA to reopen border to NSW; Qld border bubble extended as Australian death toll jumps to 854

Coronavirus updates LIVE: Victoria records 28 COVID-19 cases as SA to reopen border to NSW; Qld border bubble extended as Australian death toll jumps to 854

The mayor of one of the five local government areas now included in Queensland’s border zone says the decision is “a relief” for residents.

From October 1, residents in Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Glen Innes can join those in Moree as part of the Queensland government’s NSW border bubble.

Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson told Deborah Knight on 2GB this afternoon the change was a welcome surprise, noting he only learnt of the change at Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s press conference this morning.

“It’s a great relief for all those people who either need it, for medical or health access or social [needs], or their business connections to Queensland; there will be a lot of relieved locals knowing the end is in sight,” he said.

Cr Richardson said more than 100 Queenslanders would usually be working in Byron’s health facilities.

“Most of us don’t see [the border] in a tangible sense. We have long been connected to south east Queensland.”

Asked if there was an issue that Sydneysiders would be travelling to Byron for holidays, Cr Richardson said “everything is a possibility” in the pandemic, but he believed the risks had been considered and he would continue to encourage tourism from Sydney with appropriate social distancing.”

For me it is just about responding to the best health advice – not making political decisions but health and safety decisions.”

According to numbers given out in today’s press conference with the Victorian Premier, there are now 620 active cases left in Victoria. That’s 37 fewer than yesterday, and 3673 fewer than one month ago.

These figures may end up being slightly different to the finalised numbers that come out later in the day from the DHHS, but here’s what we know about the current active cases based on what was said at Daniel Andrews’ press conference this morning:

  • 328 are linked to aged care (including staff, residents and close contacts) (-4 since yesterday)
  • 74 are healthcare workers (that includes aged care workers) (-5 since yesterday)
  • 20 are in regional areas (-3 since yesterday)
  • Four are in residential disability settings (staff members) (no change)

The role of Victoria Police has come into the spotlight at the hotels inquiry as the lawyer representing former police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton cross-examined jobs department secretary Simon Phemister.

Dan Star QC, representing Mr Ashton, pointed to notes from a meeting that included Mr Ashton and Mr Phemister at 12.30pm on March 27, very shortly after National Cabinet decided a quarantine system should be established.

Mr Star proposed that at that point, the only possible plan was for private security to guard hotels.
Mr Phemister said there were also notes that the Australian Defence Force would do logistics.

“My references to Graham Ashton refer to my belief at the time that any security deployment would be under the guidance of Victoria Police,” the public servant said.

Mr Star then proposed “there was no consideration being given to Victoria Police overseeing private security” at that point.

“I disagree with that statement,” Mr Phemister replied, saying Victoria Police playing a role was at least being considered at that point.

It appears Mr Star is trying to demonstrate that Mr Ashton and Victoria Police were not asked on March 27 to provide security or oversight at hotels.

Mr Phemister sent a message to Mr Ashton asking for a “point person” from Victoria Police to liaise with at 3.30pm, which Mr Star said was the only message exchanged between the two on that day.

The lawyer again posited to Mr Phemister that “the only contingency being proposed was a model where private security would be present and police would assist when there’s a problem”.

“I just don’t agree with that statement, Mr Star,” he responded.

Some fascinating news from our newspapers today from senior economic correspondent Shane Wright:

Australia is facing a deficit of 280,000 babies by 2024 due to the recession and unrealistic pre-coronavirus forecasts of a birth surge that threatens to leave a permanent hole in the federal budget.

In a fresh challenge for Treasurer Josh Frydenberg ahead of the October 6 budget, which is expected to show a deficit in excess of $200 billion, new analysis of Australia’s fertility rate suggests the nation could welcome 56,000 fewer babies a year.

Laura Mehew with her nine-month-old daughter Tessa. She's "highly" unlikely to have a baby sibling any time soon.

Laura Mehew with her nine-month-old daughter Tessa. She’s “highly” unlikely to have a baby sibling any time soon.Credit:Rhett Wyman

Australia has relied on strong population growth to help support the economy since the nation’s last recession in 1990-91. That population growth was already expected to slump to its lowest level since World War I due to a collapse in net overseas migration driven by closure of the border and a sharp fall in international students.

But the fertility rate – the number of children born to each woman – is also expected to fall, exacerbating a structural problem already evident in the budget.

The 2019-20 budget assumed a rise in the nation’s fertility rate to 1.9 babies from the 1.78 recorded in 2018. Instead, the fertility rate was falling even before the advent of the pandemic.

Analysis compiled by respected Australian National University demographer Peter McDonald, in work for the government’s Centre for Population, forecasts the fertility rate to drop to 1.59 next year and rise to 1.69 by 2024 before resuming a downward trend to 1.62 by the end of the decade.

Professor McDonald estimates the difference between the 2019-20 budget and his forecast equates to 56,000 fewer babies every year from 2019 to 2024.

More than half of that is due to the high original forecast in last year’s budget, while the rest is the impact of coronavirus.

The average fertility rate for that five year period is expected to be 1.69 babies per woman – the lowest level on record.

Some births will be deferred, Professor McDonald expects, accounting for the rise in the fertility rate in 2024. Most of those deferred babies are assumed to be first births rather than second or subsequent children.

[Read the full story here]

I’ve had a few questions on the topic of reclassified cases in Victoria that I think is worth explaining.

Each day we hear about the new daily case numbers: yesterday it was 11, and today that number was 28.

But due to duplications in counting within the DHHS’ systems, each day there are often reclassifications of the overall historic number of cases.

For example, yesterday the daily case number of 11 new cases found over the past 24 hours was released in the morning.

In the afternoon the Chief Health Officer’s data daily release showed that while there had indeed been 11 new cases found, the overall tally of every single COVID-19 case found in Victoria since the beginning of the pandemic (now well over 20,000) had only increased by nine due to two older cases being reclassified.

I hope this clarifies things a bit.

The role of Victoria Police has come into the spotlight at the hotels inquiry as the lawyer representing former police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton cross-examined jobs department secretary Simon Phemister.

Dan Star QC, representing Mr Ashton, pointed to notes from a meeting between jobs department staff including Mr Phemister at 12.30pm on March 27, very shortly after National Cabinet decided a quarantine system should be established.

Mr Star proposed that at that point, the notes indicate only possible plan was for private security to guard hotels.

Mr Phemister said there were also notes that the Australian Defence Force would do logistics.

“My references to Graham Ashton refer to my belief at the time that any security deployment would be under the guidance of Victoria Police,” the jobs department secretary said.

Mr Star then proposed “there was no consideration being given to Victoria Police overseeing private security” at that point.

“I disagree with that statement,” Mr Phemister replied, saying Victoria Police playing a role was at least being considered at that point.

It appears Mr Star is trying to demonstrate that Mr Ashton and Victoria Police were not asked on March 27 to provide security or oversight at hotels.

Mr Phemister sent a message to Mr Ashton asking for a “point person” from Victoria Police to liaise with at 3.30pm, which Mr Star said was the only message exchanged between the two on that day.

The lawyer again posited to Mr Phemister that “the only contingency being proposed was a model where private security would be present and police would assist when there’s a problem”.

“I just don’t agree with that statement, Mr Star,” he responded.

Almost half of Australian adults may have received a fraudulent text message or phone calls since the COVID-19 began in March.

In a survey of more than 1000 people by comparison site Finder, 47 per cent reported contact from a scammer. Of those people contacted, almost a third failed to report it.

Government impersonation scams, superannuation scams and online shopping scams were the most common, according to Finder.

“They generally call or text pretending to be from a government office such as the ATO, MyGov or the Health Department, and convince people to provide personal information like their bank account details or license number as proof of identity,” said Finder editor-in-chief Angus Kidman.

The survey found that 52 per cent of Baby Boomers had received a scam message or text, followed by 46 per cent of Gen Z.

Damaging winds in Melbourne have led to the closure of two coronavirus testing sites in the outer east.

The drive-through sites at Casey Fields and Pakenham Recreation Reserve were shut this morning by the health department.

Both are open marquees which could be dislodged and staff were having trouble trying to write down details while out in the open, the health department said in a statement.

They have directed people in those areas to alternative sites nearby, including a walk-through site at Clyde Recreation Reserve football pavilion on Pattersons Road in Clyde which is open daily from 9am to 4pm.

There is also a walk-through site at 7 Gibb Street in Berwick which is open from 9.30am to 4pm, and another drive-through site at 20 Woods Street in Beaconsfield which is open from 8am to 5pm.

There is currently severe weather warning in place for Melbourne as a cold front crosses the state, with forecasts of damaging winds average between 60 to 70 km/h.

Testing locations sites can be found here.

In case you missed this staggering story earlier today, here’s a recap:

PM Boris Johnson, pictured, is due to make an announcement about possible new restrictions on Tuesday, in the UK.

PM Boris Johnson, pictured, is due to make an announcement about possible new restrictions on Tuesday, in the UK.Credit:Getty Images

Britain will face an exponentially growing death rate from COVID-19 within weeks unless urgent action is taken to halt a rapidly spreading second wave of the outbreak, the country’s senior medics say.

The United Kingdom already has the highest official COVID-19 death toll in Europe – and the fifth largest in the world – while it is borrowing record amounts in an attempt to pump emergency money through the damaged economy.

But new COVID-19 cases are rising by at least 6000 per day in Britain, according to week-old data, hospital admissions are doubling every eight days, and the testing system is buckling.

Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical officer, and Patrick Vallance, its chief scientific adviser, cautioned that if left unrestricted the epidemic would reach 50,000 new cases per day by mid October in the United Kingdom.

“If this continued along the path … the number of deaths directly from COVID … will continue to rise, potentially on an exponential curve, that means doubling and doubling and doubling again and you can quickly move from really quite small numbers to really very large numbers,” Whitty said.

“If we don’t do enough the virus will take off and at the moment that is the path that we are clearly on and if we do not change course then we’re going to find ourselves in a very difficult problem.”

The virus is spreading across all areas of the country and less than 8 per cent of the population have antibodies to the virus, though in London around 17 per cent of the population may have antibodies, Vallance said.

[Read the full story here]

Queensland could reopen its border to all of NSW on October 6 if health authorities are able to trace how every new COVID-19 case is acquired from now until then.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said there had been no new COVID-19 cases north of Sydney “for quite a while”, and NSW had not had any new community transmission cases since September 8.

She said NSW would have to record 28 days straight without a coronavirus case where the source of infection was a mystery, and that trigger was unlikely to change at the September border review.

Tuesday marked 14 days since the last case of untraceable SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was detected in NSW.The decision on reopening the border to all of NSW might not be made until the end of October, even if the target 28 days were reached on October 6.

A spokeswoman for Health Minster Steven Miles said the government would consider sewage testing and likely would want to wait to see how the extension of the border bubble affected case numbers in Queensland.

[Read the full story here]

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