3.00am BST

Questions now.

Andrews is hesitant to talk about any kind of trend in the lower numbers over the past few days.

“We’ve only had just a couple of days of the stage four settings, and some don’t kick in til midnight tonight. We’re seeing perhaps the tail end of the stabilisation that is the result of those stage three rules.”

He says the reinfection rate is still around one, which means every infected person is on average infecting one other person. That needs to be halved, and then “halved again and halved again”.

2.58am BST

The government has already announced 144 new mental health beds, in answer to the royal commission into mental health services. Today they’re announcing the locations.

They’re also accelerating the rollout of a post hospital suicide prevention program into the last seven of 23 mental health regions.

The HOPE program, the whole of mental health package, of which this is the third component in the past week, is about telling people we value them, your existence, your role in the community, your life is important.

The pandemic is stressful. The pandemic is seeing anxiety and depression levels rise quite substantially, but there is help out there. There is support out there.

Foley finishes up: So if you need support, call Beyond Blue, call Lifeline, call any numbers of the specialist organisations out there and get the support that you need, because it is available.

In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org

2.54am BST

The package will also focus on proactively reaching people in need and connecting them to community services so they can avoid traumatic emergency departments, will extend mental health support to carers and frontline health workers, “particularly through the Phoenix Trauma Centre for police and ambulance workers dealing with the trauma and the stress that they’re all under at the moment”.

“The program will also make sure that when we have three trained clinical professionals in the Ambulance Victoria referral centre to make sure that the mental health components of what goes through the 000 line is dealt with in a way that gets people the support, the information and the referrals that they need closer to them and in their community.”

2.51am BST

$60m mental health boost in Victoria

Mental health minister Martin Foley is up now, announcing $59.7m in additional funding, focusing on the surge in demand for acute services. He’s given some devastating figures.

One in five Victorians sought help for a mental illness prior to the pandemic, says Foley.

Year on year, to the end of July, there’s been a 9.5% increase in emergency presentations for self harm, across all age groups. For young people there’s been a 33% increase.

23.3% increase of people presenting in acute settings with a mental illness.

Emergency departments are busy at the best of times, particularly now in the height of a pandemic. We want to make sure that we keep those people who need support for mental illness with the support that they need in the community.

2.46am BST

Andrews says his minister for mental health is here with him to make “significant announcements” about additional acute care.

He draws attention to one element – $250,000 for a counselling service for nurses, midwives, personal careworkers, in addition to $350,000 announced a few months ago.

I want to thank the ANMF for their leadership and making sure that we understood that many, many in our health team, particularly nurses, midwives, personal careworkers, are doing it very tough. This is a very challenging set of circumstances. And particularly those nurses and personal careworkers who have gone into aged care settings in fundamental crisis. You can’t unsee what you’ve seen.

2.42am BST

Since yesterday there have been an additional 174 cases with an unknown source, bringing that to a total of 2,758.

Even large numbers in known contained outbreaks are, to a certain extent, less significant than the smaller number of cases where we simply can’t find the circumstance or the point of origin. Where did that person get the virus from? They’re the ones that are incredibly challenging from a containment point of view, and that’s what’s made fundamentally necessary these really challenging settings, these really difficult decisions we’ve had to make to drive down movement, and therefore, drive down the number of cases.

There are 994 healthcare workers among the active cases, Andrews says.

2.39am BST

394 cases, 17 deaths in Victoria

Dan Andrews is up now.

394 new cases in Victoria, and another 17 deaths including 10 linked to aged care homes.

The fatalities include two men in their 50s, four in their 70s, four women and two men in their 80s, and two men and three women in their 90s.

at 2.42am BST

2.27am BST

Victoria’s premier, Daniel Andrews, will be holding his daily press conference shortly. I’ll bring you those updates when he does.

Victoria’s had a few days of numbers around the 400s, much lower than the 6-700+ daily figures earlier. But the state’s chief health officer Brett Sutton has said the stabilisation of numbers isn’t good enough but it is a positive.

“If we hadn’t stabilised these numbers we would have seen 1000s of cases a day. and there are estimates we averted 20,000 or more cases with the stage three restrictions, but that’s not enough.”

The Victorian health minister, Jenny Mikakos, has also posted a lengthy Twitter thread overnight defending her government’s response.

The Victorian government has been repeatedly questioned over failures in the hotel quarantine system which contributed to the state’s outbreak. Andrews had initially refused to answer detailed questions, saying it would be inappropriate while the current inquiry underway. However head of that inquiry, former family court judge Jennifer Coate, has since said there was no legal basis for that.

Jenny Mikakos MP #StayHomeSaveLives

When we have to look back 100 years to the Spanish flu to find a pandemic of comparable global magnitude, it’s outside all of our collective experiences. It means there’s no detailed go-to manual of how to respond to these pandemics.

August 8, 2020

Jenny Mikakos MP #StayHomeSaveLives

Since that fateful day on 25 January, when we had our first-ever case, I’ve worked every day to keep everyone safe. I have put every ounce of energy I’ve had into that effort. If it wasn’t enough, then I’m deeply sorry.

August 8, 2020

2.15am BST

New South Wales reports 10 new cases

The state’s health authorities have released Saturday’s tally of new cases, with 10 people diagnosed in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

One is a returned international traveller
Seven were locally acquired, all close contacts of known cases
Two are under investigation with no link to other cases at this point

A healthcare worker who has tested positive for Covid-19 worked one shift while infectious at Hornsby Hospital’s emergency department, from 11am to midnight on Thursday 6 August.

Another of the 10 is a Tangara School for Girls student, bringing the number of cases associated with the Cherrybrook school to three.

“All students, staff and support staff at the secondary school have been advised to get tested for Covid-19 and self-isolate immediately until Friday 21 August, even if a negative test result is returned,” said the health department.

Our Lady of Mercy College, Parramatta, will be closed for on-site learning on Monday and cleaning and contact tracing is being undertaken, after a student tested positive for Covid-19.

Customers who attended Bunnings, Campbelltown, on Tuesday 4 August, Wednesday 5 August and Thursday 6 August should be alert for symptoms of Covid-19 and if even mild symptoms occur, to get tested and isolate themselves, after an employee at the store tested positive for Covid-19.

NSW has now recorded 3,672 cases, after conducting more than 1.76m tests. 52 people have died. There are 111 people currently being treated, eight in intensive care.

Click here for a list of locations associated with known cases and advice on testing and isolation.

at 2.18am BST

2.03am BST

In Australia, the premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, has rebuffed calls to extend an inquiry into the Ruby Princess cruise ship debacle to hear from federal officials who have refused to appear.

The cruise ship was responsible for hundreds of Covid-19 cases and at least 22 deaths.

On Thursday, the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, claimed the government “had cooperated” because it provided a written submission, and angrily defended the actions of Border Force officers, despite the revelation one gave verbal authorisation for passengers to disembark and mistook negative flu test results for Covid-19 results.

Read the full story from Paul Karp here:

at 2.07am BST

1.49am BST

Parisians and holidaymakers strolling along the banks of the River Seine or browsing open-air markets in Paris must wear a face mask from Monday after authorities imposed new measures to curb a rise in coronavirus infections, Reuters reports.

The order, which applies to people aged 11 and over, covers busy outdoor areas in the French capital, although tourist sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees boulevard were not listed.

France recorded its highest daily case number this week, nearing 1,700 on Wednesday. More than 235,200 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 during the pandemic, at least 30,327 fatally, according to John Hopkins University.

People wearing protective face masks cross a bridge on the Seine in Paris, France, 03 August 2020. Photograph: Christophe Petit-Tesson/EPA

1.38am BST

Still in Australia, and more on that Mathias Cormann interview.

Government ministers are keeping the door open to making further changes to income support measures – such as the wage subsidy scheme – depending on how the coronavirus situation develops.

A few weeks ago, the federal government unveiled plans to reduce the rate of the “jobkeeper” wage subsidy and of the “jobseeker” unemployment benefit in September – with jobkeeper due to wind down by March next year. A few days ago, however, the government tweaked eligibility requirements for the wage subsidy – at a cost of nearly $16bn – because of the worsening economic outlook from the tighter lockdown measures in the state of Victoria, which is trying to contain a second wave of infections.

Cormann said today it was the government’s “current intention” to reduce the rates in September and to stick to the schedule that was previously announced.

In an interview with the ABC’s Insiders program, though, the finance minister clearly kept the government’s options open. Cormann said the Coalition had demonstrated, through its response to the crisis, that it was “prepared to make decisions in the context of an evolving situation based on the information that comes before us”.

“I’m not going to speculate. The policy settings are what they are. As we’ve demonstrated in the past, if facts change, we’ll reassess what may or may not be appropriate at the time.”

In a separate interview with Sky News this morning, the agriculture minister, David Littleproud, also said that the government would continue to be “agile” in responding to changing circumstances.

New forecasts by the Australian Treasury indicate the lockdown in Victoria will likely push unemployment in Australia to 10% by the end of the year, and will cost the national economy between $10bn and $12bn.

1.28am BST

Australia: The current lockdown conditions in Melbourne, Victoria, are some of the strictest seen anywhere. Melbourne and Mitchell Shire are under stage four lockdown measures including mandatory masks, an 8pm curfew, and a 5km travel limit, while the rest of the state is under stage three.

It’s being heavily enforced by authorities, and police are releasing de-identified descriptions of some people who have been fined for breaching the rules.

Candice Wyatt

BREAKING. @VictoriaPolice has issued 268 fines for Stage 4 lockdown breaches in the past 24 hours… 38 of those were to people refusing to wear a mask. Some other “excuses” for breaking the rules are listed below…? @10NewsFirst #COVIDVIC19 #SpringSt pic.twitter.com/6vUEnw7wxa

August 8, 2020

1.19am BST

AFP: Belgian police arrested several people Saturday after a brawl broke out on a beach between officers and youths they had told to leave for refusing to respect virus safety measures.

The clashes took place at the resort of Blankenberge. A group of youths became violent after police told them to leave the beach, the daily Het Laatste Niewus reported.

Dozens of people were involved in the brawl and local police had to call in reinforcements.

Footage on social media showed young people throwing parasols at the officers.

The town’s mayor Daphne Dumery denounced the violence, saying: “This can’t go on. We are doing everything to maintain safety in our resort, and now this.”

Belgium is one of the countries worst hit by the virus in terms of its death rate and was one of the first countries to require people to wear masks outdoors in crowded areas.

To date it has recorded more than 72,000 infections and 9,866 deaths.


This aerial view taken on August 8, 2020, shows tourists taking a sunbath at the beach, in Oostende, in Belgium. (Photo by ERIC LALMAND / BELGA / AFP) / Belgium OUT (Photo by ERIC LALMAND/BELGA/AFP via Getty Images) Photograph: Eric Lalmand/BELGA/AFP/Getty Images

1.07am BST

Australia’s finance minister, Mathias Cormann, says the federal government now supports the current border restrictions that several states have put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The comments by Cormann, the senior minister from Western Australia, reflect the dramatic shift in the Australian government’s position on the internal border closures after strong public support for the measures in places like WA.

A week ago, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, bowed to pressure from the state premier to end the federal government’s involvement in a high court case challenging WA’s border closure. And in the last few days, Morrison has personally appealed to the businessman Clive Palmer to drop the case altogether. Morrison and numerous ministers have previously argued against state border closures but the politics have shifted amid growing concerns about the rise in infections in the state of Victoria.

Cormann – who argued in late July that governments “must not gratuitously impose unnecessary and avoidable economic or social harm for no or very little public health upside” – told the ABC’s Insiders program today: “Given what’s been happening in Victoria and given where the country is at, we support the current state border arrangements, including here in Western Australia.”

Cormann said the federal government had “changed our view as the position has evolved”. Asked about suggestions that the WA border might remain shut until next year, Cormann said the premier, Mark McGowan, had said “that he can’t put a date on it and that’s certainly right”.

“I’m sure that the premier, like everyone, would want those state borders to be able to come down at the earliest opportunity, but we just don’t know.”

1.02am BST

China has reported 23 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday. Eight cases were imported, and all 15 of the locally transmitted cases were in the region of Xinjiang, where observers have expressed fear the current virus outbreak could reach China’s internationally criticised re-education camps.

12.51am BST

Jair Bolsonaro’s former health minister has accused the Brazilian president of failing to offer any comfort to the families of the 100,000 Brazilians who have lost their lives to Covid-19.

In an interview marking Brazil’s latest Covid-19 milepost, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who was sacked in April after challenging the president’s internationally condemned coronavirus response, expressed consternation that Brazil’s leaders had failed to recognise so much pain.

“There are 100,000 Brazilian families who have yet to receive a single word of comfort or solidarity from the government,” Mandetta told the newspaper O Globo.

On Saturday afternoon a coalition of Brazilian news outlets announced the number of deaths had risen by 538 to 100,240, the second highest number on earth after the US.

On the eve of that milestone Bolsonaro urged his country’s 210m citizens to put the unfinished tragedy behind them. “We regret all of the deaths,” the far-right populist said during his weekly live broadcast. “But let’s get on with our lives, get on with our lives and try to find a way of getting away with this problem.”

Read more here:

12.44am BST

When he called the home affairs department again, the official he spoke to was sympathetic, but read to him advice from a government website that people submit their requests at least a month before their planned travel date.

“I asked her, ‘look, how will I know that my mother is going to have a stroke on Friday or Sunday?’”

Thousands of Australians trying to leave the country to visit sick family members, reunite with partners, or emigrate to another country of citizenship, have struggled with an exemption system they describe as opaque, arbitrary and dysfunctional.

Hannah Ryan has this report on the stresses of the application process:

12.34am BST

Hello, and welcome to our continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. This is Helen Davidson in Sydney here, to take you through the next few hours. Thanks to my colleagues in London – you can catch up on all their coverage on the previous blog here.

First up, a summary of where we’re at:

The Australian state of New South Wales has ramped up its own travel restrictions and is forcing residents returning from coronavirus-hit Victoria into two weeks of hotel quarantine.
Entry to NSW from Victoria is now restricted to flights landing at Sydney Airport, except for border community residents with permits.
Boris Johnson has insisted the nation has “a moral duty” to reopen schools next month, amid indications he would force pubs, restaurants and shops to close ahead of schools in the event of severe coronavirus flare-ups. The prime minister is understood to favour only closing schools as the last resort after scientific advisers warned more restrictions may be needed to reopen classrooms in England next month.
Donald Trump said on Saturday that he would extend enhanced coronavirus unemployment benefits and employment taxes into next year with executive orders, but cut the level of some of the support. Speaking at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, Trump said he was taking action after Congress had failed to agree a deal, blaming “far left” Democrat demands in a campaign-style speech.
Belgian police have made several arrests after a brawl broke out on a beach between officers and young people they had told to leave for refusing to respect virus safety measures. The clashes took place at the resort of Blankenberge, which is about 15km north of Bruges. A group of young people became violent after police told them to leave the beach, the daily Het Laatste Niewus reported.
Cuba has placed Havana back on a strict lockdown following a rebound in coronavirus cases, ordering restaurants, bars and pools once more to close, suspending public transportation and banning access to the beach. Cuba, which has been hailed as a rare success story in Latin America for its textbook handling and containment of its coronavirus outbreak, had eased lockdown restrictions last month after cases dwindled to but a handful per day.
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in the streets near the official residence of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in central Jerusalem. Throughout the summer, thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets, calling for Netanyahu to resign, protesting his handling of the country’s coronavirus crisis and saying he should not remain in office while on trial for corruption charges.
Meat giant, Danish Crown announced Saturday it had closed a large slaughterhouse in Denmark after nearly 150 employees tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The abattoir in Ringsted, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the capital Copenhagen, employs nearly 900 people and slaughters tens of thousands of pigs every week.

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