9.25am BST

Where things stand

We will leave our Australian coverage of the coronavirus crisis here for the day. You can follow our ongoing global coverage here.

This is where things stand:

Australia recorded 85 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, 75 of which were in Victoria, seven in NSW and three in South Australia.
It’s the biggest daily tally in Victoria since March. But health authorities have declined to call it a second wave, saying that it is “a community outbreak”.
Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, says the outbreak “will get worse before it gets better” and it is a “concerning number” of new cases.
Sutton says Victoria is looking at its options for controlling the outbreak, and it’s possible that could include some form of lockdown. But what that would look like, and whether it would be restricted to just the 10 hotspot suburbs, we don’t know. He has also raised the possibility of re-examining the value of encouraging healthy people in Melbourne to wear masks.
Scott Morrison says the number of new cases in Victoria is “of great concern [but] is not surprising”. Coalition MPs have spoken against the possibility of a return to restrictions, or border restrictions between Victoria and other states.
But the ACT government has advised people to avoid travel to Melbourne.
South Australia says its three new cases are all of people in hotel quarantine, who were on a repatriation flight from Mumbai, India. Chief public health officer, associate professor Nicola Spurrier, said that they have not had issues with people refusing tests in quarantine but they do know that only a tenth of South Australians who had cold and flu symptoms at the time of a recent survey went to get a Covid-19 test.
The Covid-19 spike in Victoria has caused chaos for the AFL fixtures, with Queensland imposing stricter quarantine requirements. Western Australian premier Mark McGowan has suggested the grand final should be held in Perth.

We will see you tomorrow. Stay well, and if you feel sick: get a Covid-19 test and stay at home until you’re cleared.

at 9.28am BST

8.48am BST

This sign has appeared outside the Chinese embassy in Canberra.

It comes as China’s state media has claimed Australia is ramping up spying efforts against Beijing.

A sign reading ‘Let’s call it the CCP Virus, not the Chinese Virus’ outside the Chinese embassy in Canberra, Monday, June 29, 2020. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

From AAP:

The Chinese Communist Party-run Global Times tabloid accuses Australia of waging an intensifying espionage offensive through sending spies to China.

It also claims Australia is instigating defections, spying on Chinese students and feeding “fake news” to the media to hype up theories about Chinese spying.

The story, which is based on an anonymous source from a Chinese law-enforcement agency, says Australia tried to install wire taps in the Chinese embassy in Canberra.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison avoided addressing the issue directly when asked about it.

“I wouldn’t be relying on Chinese state media for your sources for questions,” he told reporters in Sydney on Monday.

The Global Times published photos of “spying materials” including a compass, a USB flash drive, a notebook, a mask, gloves and a map of Shanghai, said to have been seized from arrested Australian agents.

The state-owned newspaper warned Chinese agencies would take a harder line on Australian espionage operations.

Liberal MP and former diplomat Dave Sharma suggested the report lacked credibility.

“This is a classic disinformation campaign designed to muddy the waters,” he told Sky News on Monday.

It comes days after a NSW upper house MP was raided by ASIO and federal police over allegations Chinese agents had infiltrated his office.

at 8.49am BST

8.31am BST

This is the uniform of the public health teams that will be knocking on doors in Melbourne’s ten hotspot suburbs over the next few days. There will be 800 public health workers conducting spot-testing around the suburbs.

If you see them at your door, don’t hide behind the couch. Widespread testing is key to getting control of this outbreak and ensuring we can all get back to regular-ish life.


We are asking Victorians to please be vigilant.
Our public health team can present identification on request and will not ask for payment or bank details. Testing is free.
If there are scammers in your area, please call the @VictoriaPolice assitance line on 131 444.#COVID19Vic pic.twitter.com/UEmBVX7sWW

June 29, 2020

at 8.32am BST

8.12am BST

Swimwear brand Seafolly under administration

One of Australia’s best-known swimwear brands, Seafolly, has gone into administration, blaming the “crippling financial impact of the covid-19 pandemic”.

Seafolly’s 44 stores in Australia and 12 overseas are to remain open, the administrators, Scott Langdon and Rahul Goyal of KordaMentha, said.

They said gift cards and points earned under the company’s loyalty scheme, Beach Club Rewards, remain valid.

The administrators plan to sell the business.

“Given the quality of the brand and its reputation, there will inevitably be a high level of interest in purchasing the business”, Langdon said.

8.02am BST

In breaking news, gunmen have attacked the Pakistan stock exchange building in the city of Karachi.

Four assailants have been killed along with two security guards and a police officer, police have said. More here:

7.47am BST

Ambulance Victoria paramedic tests positive for Covid-19

Ambulance Victoria has confirmed that one of its paramedics has tested positive for coronavirus.

They are the second Victorian paramedic to test positive since the pandemic was declared in March.

In a statement, Ambulance Victoria said:

In neither case was Covid-19 acquired on the job.

Ambulance Victoria CEO Tony Walker said the organisation has maintained an unwavering focus on patient and paramedic safety over many months.

“Paramedics wear personal protective equipment to every case they attend to protect their patients and themselves from the risk of infection.”

A paramedic with Ambulance Victoria has tested positive for coronavirus. Photograph: Julian Smith/AAP

at 7.52am BST

7.45am BST

Victorian health authorities have issued an update on the Covid-19 situation in that state. It’s pretty much as described by Jenny Mikakos this morning.

So, that’s 75 new cases reported yesterday, with the overall total increasing by 71 (four cases were reclassified and subtracted off the Victorian total) to 2,099.

Of those, 288 cases are active and nine people remain in hospital, one of whom is in intensive care.

Fourteen of the new cases are linked to known outbreaks, 37 were identified through routine testing, 23 cases remain under investigation and one case was detected in a returned traveller.

Of the 2,099 cases in Victoria, 271 are confirmed cases of community transmission. That’s 13% of the total.

Some more stats: just over 84% of reported cases of Covid-19 were detected in metropolitan Melbourne (makes sense, as many were in hotel quarantine) and 15.5% were detected in regional areas. Fifty-two per cent of people confirmed to have coronavirus are men.

More than 792,000 Covid-19 tests have been conducted in Victoria, and 2.4m in Australia as a whole. So, a third of all tests in Australia were done in Victoria.

at 7.50am BST

7.32am BST

The Greens are calling on the government to release the names of the regional media outlets receiving funding under the $50m public interest news gathering program.

Many regional newspapers have suspended publishing due to underlying financial pressures exacerbated by the pandemic, raising concerns about the loss of local voices and erosion of vital democratic scrutiny.

The federal communications minister, Paul Fletcher, announced this morning that the successful applicants for a share of the $50m included 92 publishers, 13 radio broadcasters and five television broadcasters, as reported earlier. The government started contacting successful applicants yesterday and is not revealing the business names at this stage because the grant agreements are yet to be signed.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who is also her party’s communications spokeswoman, said funding for small and independent publishers had been “a very long time coming and may just be well and truly too late for some”.

She called on Fletcher to tell Australians who would be receiving this taxpayer funding and who missed out:

Waiting until a deal is signed between successful applicants and the government isn’t good enough. If the big industry players have benefitted while our small and independent publishers have hit the wall, then the government has failed regional Australians once again.

With funding cuts set to rip the ABC apart, and local content quotas all but gone, some regional areas will have no other local news content. Public-interest journalism is being obliterated on minister Fletcher’s watch and he needs to start advocating much harder to save it at the cabinet table.

at 7.37am BST

7.21am BST

The vice-president of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Chris Zappala, has just spoken to Patricia Karvelas on ABC24.

He was asked if he supported a suggestion from Victoria’s chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, that Victoria reconsider the question of whether people should wear masks as a precaution against community transmission of Covid-19.

Zappala says wearing a mask potentially “diverts attention and vigilance” away from physical distancing and good hand hygiene.

He says:

The AMA has always been comfortable with the advice that we have had in this country: the wearing of masks by well people in the community is not required.

There are a couple of reasons for that. One is that we want to make sure there are enough masks for people who are sick in hospitals and those sorts of things. But the other, perhaps more relevant and practical reason is that I would be very concerned they would give a false sense of security. As soon as you touch it or wear it for too long, take it on and off, it is no longer effective.

I’d be interested to see the studies behind this, because my layperson, completely un-expert gut feeling is that wearing a mask would make people more vigilant, because it is a constant physical reminder on your face that we are in a pandemic.

at 7.29am BST

7.11am BST

In non-virus news, the Australian government was today ordered to pay almost $3m in damages to a Northern Territory cattle company, after the federal court earlier ruled a 2011 decision to ban live cattle export was invalid.

The federal government has already said it is considering appealing against the decision.

From AAP:

The federal court class action of about 300 members was led by Brett Cattle Company.

Justice Steven Rares on Monday ordered the government to pay the company $2,936,936.99 damages, as well as its legal costs.

In relation to other group members, he again found [then-agriculture minister Joe] Ludwig’s decision was invalid and he committed misfeasance in public office.

The next step involves the arrangement of a scheme to resolve the claims of the other members.

Michael O’Meara SC, for the government, noted his client had 28 days to decide whether justice Rares’ decision will be appealed.

The case was put over to 20 August for a case-management hearing.

at 7.15am BST

6.26am BST

Nicola Spurrier says 7.5% of South Australia’s population has not undergone a Covid-19 test at some point, and she urged people to get a test if they had any symptoms.

But a recent phone survey found that not everyone with cold and flu symptoms was going to get a test.

Spurrier says:

People will be looking at Victoria and looking at the number of cases there, which has been climbing, and we have been very fortunate in South Australia. But I have said before and I will say it again: we expect to see some cases here, but we won’t know we have got cases unless everyone of you who get symptoms gets tested.

The last South Australia Health phone survey found that 20% of respondents said they had respiratory symptoms that day or in the past week, but only 20% of those with symptoms had gone to see a doctor and only 12% of those with symptoms had gone to get a Covid test.

Spurrier says:

That is a little bit disappointing and I want to encourage people, if you get a cough or cold, or start to get a sore throat, runny nose, headache and a fever, get a Covid-19 test.

We are lifting the restrictions and it’s really exciting, it’s lovely to see people out and about. But is so important everybody gets a test done.

South Australia’s Dr Nicola Spurrier is urging anyone with Covid symptoms to get tested. Photograph: David Mariuz/AAP

at 7.04am BST

Source link