Family party sparks Melbourne cluster

By | June 25, 2020

It has been revealed that a family at the heart of one of Melbourne’s largest clusters held an Eid celebration that broke public health restrictions.

The so-called Coburg cluster has now swelled to 14 people, while another family cluster in the north-western suburb of Keilor Downs has led to 15 infections. It comes after warnings that events such as large family gatherings could become “super-spreading” events.

More than 1000 ADF troops are being sent to Victoria to help with hotel quarantine and provide logistical support for testing.

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Victoria yesterday confirmed another 20 cases of COVID-19 amid an outbreak in outer-suburban Melbourne, taking the number of diagnoses over the past 10 days to 210. NSW reported 10 new cases – all in hotel quarantine.

NSW Health confirmed that Lane Cove West Public School in Sydney’s north would be shut for contact tracing and cleaning after a year two student contracted coronavirus. 

The number of coronavirus infections around the world has exceeded 9.3 million.

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Live Updates

A 85-year-old man has died of the coronavirus in NSW.

Dr Kerry Chant said the man was a resident at the Bupa Aged Care facility in Bankstown.

She said the man died on April 27 and has only now been linked to the virus.

A disturbing graph of global coronavirus cases shows how the US is losing control of infections.

While other nations have managed to suppress a first wave of infections, the US is seeing its cases skyrocket.

A virus resurgence is wiping out two months of progress in the US and sending infections to dire new levels across the South and West.

The number of new coronavirus cases topped 36,000 on Wednesday (AEDT), the third highest daily number recorded during the pandemic and only just behind the record of 39,000 in April. Just a week ago, the average daily number of new cases was around 20,000.

Hospital administrators and health experts are warning that politicians and a tired-of-being-cooped-up public are letting a disaster unfold.

The US recorded a one-day total of 34,700 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, the highest level since late April when the number peaked at 36,400, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

While newly confirmed infections have been declining steadily in early hotspots such as New York and New Jersey, several other states set single-day records this week including Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas and Oklahoma.

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Queensland has reported zero coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours.

The state is on an eight-day streak of zero new COVID-19 cases.

“To go eight days with zero cases is cause for celebration,” Deputy Premier Steven Miles. “It is a fantastic result, it is quite incredible.”

He said the government was putting together a “strategic medical stockpile” of PPE equipment for the future.

“So we never ever again run short on what our staff need to deliver health care,” he said.

A Sydney primary school will be shut for cleaning after a Year 2 student tested positive for the coronavirus.

Lane Cove West Public School in Sydney’s north is closed for deep cleaning after a year two student was confirmed to have COVID-19, the NSW Department of Health says.

“The school will be non-operational for the on-site attendance of staff and students to allow for contact tracing to occur,” the statement on Wednesday night said.

A clinic has been set up at Royal North Shore Hospital for students from the school. There have been 3159 confirmed COVID-19 cases in NSW and 48 deaths, while almost 2800 people have recovered.

We are expecting the Prime Minister to hold a press conference around 10am.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews will hold his press conference at 10.30am.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard will speak at 10am, while Gladys Berejiklian will speak at 11am.

We’ll bring you updates from those as they happen on this blog.

Australia should have a permanent expert medical panel to prevent future pandemics, says the President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Tony Bartone.

He told ABC Breakfast this morning the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) – which is the key decision making committee for health emergencies – didn’t have have “real” long-term funding.

“It doesn’t have, it needs that sort of permanency to guide it through the non-pandemic periods. We have seen with Zika virus and SARS, these biosecurity risks will always continue to be prevalent,” Dr Bartone told ABC News Breakfast.

“There will be more in the future. We can’t rely on good will and the people in those positions. We need to have permanency of both funding of processing of research to make sure we have got the right response in the pandemic.”

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Artists and entertainers will be able to apply for a slice of a $ 250 million support package to help the sector recover after coronavirus restrictions wreaked havoc.

The package is made up of grants and loans, with a focus on helping tours return, local screen productions, organisations and new productions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has acknowledged the sector was one of the earliest hit by coronavirus restrictions and will be one of the last to return to normal.

He says the package will help a range of jobs throughout the sector while helping tourism and hospitality more broadly.

“This package is as much about supporting the tradies who build stage sets or computer specialists who create the latest special effects, as it is about supporting actors and performers in major productions,” he said.

Arts Minister Paul Fletcher defended the time it’s taken to draft up the support package.

“We think this comes at the right time to get the sector restarted,” he told Nine on Thursday. “What we now need to do is get the sector back to work so Australians can see the bands they love, see the performers they love.”

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A thousand Australian Defence Force personnel will be deployed in Melbourne from tomorrow as the city grapples with sustained coronavirus case increases.

It’s understood that 850 of those will be involved with hotel quarantine, as over 30 cases linked to system have sparked concerns over physical distancing.

That means they will be making sure returned international travellers are doing the right thing and staying where they’re supposed to be.

Another 200 ADF members will be involved in logistical and medical support.

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“We received a request last night from the Victorian government for additional ADF assistance,” Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds told the Today show.

“We have got a planning team already in place in Victoria, and we are looking to deploy over 1000 ADF personnel on the job from tomorrow.”

With the majority of members headed to hotels, it is clear the Victorian government has concerns about rules being followed in the hotel quarantine system.

There are now more than 30 cases linked to hotels in the state, including among staff, close contacts with staff and community transmission, Victoria’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Brett Sutton said.

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He said yesterday there was “some concern” about distancing between those who came into contact with security guard staff at hotels housing returned travellers.

The ADF members are expected to stay in Victoria until at least the end of July.

“That agreement is through until the end of July. But, of course, we keep working closely with the Victorian government to see what more might be required,” Ms Reynolds said.

It comes as community engagement in the local government areas of Brimbank, Casey, Cardinia, Darebin, Hume and Moreland has ramped up after they were identified as coronavirus hot spots.

The areas have large migrant populations, with many speaking languages other than English at home.

Information about the virus has been translated into 55 languages but state Health Minister Jenny Mikakos conceded the government has to “work harder to reach these people”.

Picture by Darrian Traynor, Getty Images

The world is on track to reach 10 million coronavirus cases within the next week, the World Health Organisation has said overnight.

Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that more than 9.1 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported so far, and more than 470,000 deaths.

In the last month, almost 4 million have emerged. By contrast, he said less than 10,000 cases were reported in the first month of the outbreak.

Announcing the figures, Tedros said a shortage of concentrators – devices that purify oxygen – to help critically ill patients was looming.

“Many countries are now experiencing difficulties in obtaining oxygen concentrators,” he said.

“Eighty percent of the market is owned by just a few companies, and demand is currently outstripping supply.

“WHO estimates that at the current rate of about one million new cases a week, the world needs about 620,000 cubic meters of oxygen a day, which is about 88,000 large cylinders.”

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Picture by AFP

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