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Australia news LIVE: COVID alerts issued for NSW, Qld; restrictions to ease in Victoria as state records four new cases

NSW will launch a pilot program to welcome 250 international students to come to Sydney every two weeks from the second half of this year.

The pilot plan, which has been given the green light by NSW health and police, will be the first step in welcoming students from around the world to purpose-built accommodation.

NSW Dominic Treasurer has announced a pilot to welcome back international students.

NSW Dominic Treasurer has announced a pilot to welcome back international students.Credit:James Brickwood

By the end of the year the program will increase to 500 students every fortnight.

The quarantine requirements, security and accommodation will be the same as those that already apply to returning travellers.

The first international students will arrive on charter flights in the next six to eight weeks, with all costs covered by the university sector.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the plan was a huge win for the economy, which had suffered a $5 billion hit as a result of the pandemic.

“International students represents our second largest export and our largest service export,” he said.

“There are close to 100,000, men and women right across the state who rely on this huge industry to support their families.

“He said Negotiations were being finalised for the location and the provider of accommodation.”

Mr Perrottet said NSW would continue to accept 3000 returning travellers through regular hotel quarantine.

“Importantly, not one returning Australian will not get seat on a plane as a result of this plan,” Mr Perrottet said.

Pre- pandemic there were around 250,000 international students studying in NSW every year, directly supporting around 95,000 local jobs.

Today’s episode of Please Explain explores how a world-wide operation involving the FBI, the Australian Federal Police and state law enforcement agencies led to more than 220 people being arrested across Australia.

The operation came as a result of intelligence from a compromised encrypted communications app relied on by senior underworld figures.

The FBI had been in covert control of an app called An0m, used by criminals to send messages about illegal activity since 2018. Australian police introduced technology to decrypt the communications, allowing police to monitor their communications for years. There were 1100 users in Australia.

The operation has been a huge blow to criminal gangs around the world and implicates Australia’s most wanted man, Hakan Ayik, who police have urged to hand himself in after it was revealed he was allegedly responsible for distributing the compromised app as an underworld influencer.

Crime reporter Fergus Hunter has been covering the story and joins Nathanael Cooper on Please Explain to look at how this happened.

Our supporters power our newsrooms and are critical for the sustainability of news coverage.

Becoming a subscriber also gets you exclusive behind-the-scenes content and invitations to special events. Click on the links to subscribe to The Sydney Morning Herald or The Age.

A woman with a severe form of the rare blood clotting syndrome linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine has died, the medical regulator says.

The 52-year-old from NSW had a blood clot in the brain, the Therapeutic Goods Administration said in its weekly vaccine safety report.

A woman has died of a clotting disorder linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

A woman has died of a clotting disorder linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.Credit:AP

“We extend our sincere condolences to her family,” The TGA said.

Three other cases of the rare clotting disorder – called Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS for short) were also confirmed in the last week.

There was one case in a 77-year-old man from NSW, one in a 70-year-old man from South Australia, and another in an 87-year-old South Australian woman.

A further four cases were classified as probable, taking the total number of the rare clotting cases to 48.

A panel of experts reviewed two other deaths that happened shortly after people were given the AstraZeneca vaccine.

A 55-year-old NSW man died eight days after being vaccinated.

He had blood clots in his lungs, but did not meet the diagnostic criteria for the rare clotting condition linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Vaccine Safety Investigation Group, which met on June 7, said it “could not conclusively determine if the patient’s death was related to the vaccine”.

The group also looked at the death of a 78-year-old man from Western Australia, who died of multi-organ failure six days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The man had signs of capillary leak, a condition often seen in critically ill patients but also noted in some overseas patients following vaccination.

“From the information available, the expert group was unable to establish a link between the vaccine and this patient’s condition as they could not rule out other causes,” The TGA said.

“We recognise the devastating impact of these deaths for the families and loved ones involved and extend our sincere condolences.”

We reported earlier this month that a 24-storey tower nearing completion at The Block in Redfern is among locations being considered as the state’s first quarantine facility for international students when they return to NSW.

The 600-bed, $100 million Scape student accommodation development is in line to house the first intake of overseas students while nearby accommodation provider Iglu, which has inner-city locations, has also thrown its hat in the ring.

The Scape student accommodation development at The Block has been re-engineered for quarantine.

The Scape student accommodation development at The Block has been re-engineered for quarantine.Credit:Nick Moir

While he declined to make any comment on the government application process for the pilot, Scape co-founder Craig Carracher previously said the building had been re-engineered with airflow systems, door sensors and contactless access points to help combat the spread of COVID-19.

“We feel The Block at Redfern is probably one of the best and safest buildings for quarantine, but it’s not suitable for anyone else other than students. It’s designed for students and it will be delivered for students,” Mr Carracher said.

The Redfern development has had a divisive history as part of the Aboriginal Housing Company – owned by Pemulwuy Project, which has been vehemently opposed by Aboriginal residents who argued they were being forced out.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet announced today the state will launch a pilot program to welcome 250 international students to come to Sydney every two weeks from the second half of this year.

Mr Perrottet said there was a shortlist of preferred accommodation providers but declined to comment on whether or not The Block development was one of them, saying negotiations were continuing over the coming days.

NSW will launch a pilot program to welcome 250 international students to come to Sydney every two weeks from the second half of this year.

The pilot plan, which has been given the green light by NSW health and police, will be the first step in welcoming students from around the world to purpose-built accommodation.

NSW Dominic Treasurer has announced a pilot to welcome back international students.

NSW Dominic Treasurer has announced a pilot to welcome back international students.Credit:James Brickwood

By the end of the year the program will increase to 500 students every fortnight.

The quarantine requirements, security and accommodation will be the same as those that already apply to returning travellers.

The first international students will arrive on charter flights in the next six to eight weeks, with all costs covered by the university sector.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the plan was a huge win for the economy, which had suffered a $5 billion hit as a result of the pandemic.

“International students represents our second largest export and our largest service export,” he said.

“There are close to 100,000, men and women right across the state who rely on this huge industry to support their families.

“He said Negotiations were being finalised for the location and the provider of accommodation.”

Mr Perrottet said NSW would continue to accept 3000 returning travellers through regular hotel quarantine.

“Importantly, not one returning Australian will not get seat on a plane as a result of this plan,” Mr Perrottet said.

Pre- pandemic there were around 250,000 international students studying in NSW every year, directly supporting around 95,000 local jobs.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet is set to make an announcement shortly on international students and their ongoing study in NSW.

Returning to the earlier NSW Police press conference in Newcastle, investigators believe a woman who was shot dead after answering her front door was the victim of a targeted attack.

Detectives are now on the hunt for the killer who is believed to have fled the scene on foot.

Officers were called to the home on Queen Street in Stockton about 8pm on Wednesday following reports of a shooting.

The woman died at the scene and is yet to be formally identified, but she is believed to be aged 61.

Detective Superintendent Wayne Humphrey said police don’t believe there was an altercation in the moments before she was killed.

A 31-year-old female relative and an 8-week-old baby were in the home at the time.

“It’s horrendous, this person has answered the front door of her home and she’s been shot in the chest and killed in the presence of a relative and a child,” he said.

“It doesn’t get any worse.”

Angus Thompson here, I’ll be taking over our national blog from Broede Carmody for the rest of the afternoon. For those of you just tuning in, here is a quick recap of today’s major headlines:

  • People in Greater Melbourne must continue to wear masks outdoors after tonight’s easing of lockdown restrictions after Victoria’s deputy chief health officer, Allen Cheng, said he remained concerned that a source for today’s four cases had not been identified.
  • Former special forces soldier Ben Roberts-Smith committed or was involved in six murders in Afghanistan and the killings did not occur in the heat of battle, the barrister acting for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald has told the Federal Court as he opened the newspapers’ defence in the high-stakes defamation trial.
  • NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard says there’s a very real risk to the state after a woman, who later tested positive for COVID-19, left lockdown in Melbourne and travelled to Queensland via NSW.
  • Meanwhile, Queensland’s Health Minister Yvette D’Ath says she is not going to judge anyone’s behaviour until she had all the facts as to why the couple travelled from Melbourne to Brisbane while Victoria was in lockdown.

Earlier this morning we brought you the news that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have threatened to sue over a BBC article that claimed Queen Elizabeth II was not consulted prior to the couple naming their baby daughter Lilibet, the monarch’s nickname.

Buckingham Palace is now refusing to back Harry and Meghan’s version of events. The Queen was told about the name, rather than her permission sought in advance, according to royal sources unable to speak on the record.

Prince Harry and Meghan pictured last year.

Prince Harry and Meghan pictured last year. Credit:AP

The back-and-forth is the latest example of tensions between Harry and Meghan, who are now living in the United States, and Buckingham Palace.

Read our full coverage here.

Victoria’s deputy chief health officer, Allen Cheng, says he’s concerned that a source for today’s four cases have not been identified.

As a result, there will be one change to tonight’s easing of restrictions across Greater Melbourne: masks will remain mandatory outdoors.

Victoria’s deputy chief health officer, Allen Cheng.

Victoria’s deputy chief health officer, Allen Cheng.Credit:Joe Armao

The four new cases are four members of a household in Reservoir and authorities have not yet identified a crossover with any existing COVID-19 exposure sites.

The family includes a man in his 80s, a woman in her 80s, a man in his 50s and a man in his 20s. The first case in the family, the man in his 80s, became symptomatic on June 7 and got tested the next day, meaning exposure sites were limited. Areas of concern include an independent grocery store in Reservoir, a BP and Bunnings in Thomastown and a Coles at Bundoora Square.

Professor Cheng also cast doubt on the further lifting of restrictions next week, which the government foreshadowed yesterday.

“As I’ve said before, once we get down to small numbers, what happens next is very dependent on who those last cases are, what they do and how infectious they are,” he said.

“Obviously what I am anxious about is that whoever gave infection to both these groups is identified quickly and doesn’t have the opportunity to transmit to other people.”

Today’s new cases were the “strongest reminder that we are in no means out of the woods yet”, the deputy chief health officer added.

“So depending on how things go in the next week, and as the last week’s case have shown it really is very much a day to day proposition, we may need to hold the current settings a little longer,” he said. “But obviously we’ll have more to say on this as investigations proceed.”

Ambulance Victoria confirmed a paramedic escaped injury after a tree crushed his vehicle in Sherbrooke, east of Melbourne, overnight.

Ambulance crews had been sent to Olinda after reports a woman and her son were trapped by a tree that had fallen on their house about 11pm on Wednesday. But a falling tree struck the back of the paramedic’s car and also blocked the path of an advanced life support ambulance crew.

Violent storms have lashed parts of Victoria overnight.

Violent storms have lashed parts of Victoria overnight. Credit:Joe Armao

Police were also isolated by fallen trees but were able to walk to the home of the mother and son. They met paramedics at Sherbrooke who took the pair to Maroondah Hospital in a stable condition.

VicEmergency has also issued an evacuation notice for anyone living, working or holidaying in the Traralgon Creek area.

“Floodwaters are rapidly rising,” the notice says.

A relief centre has opened at the Traralgon Basketball Stadium, which will triage evacuees to determine whether they need ongoing support or assistance with accommodation.

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