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Covid-19 News Updates

SA cases jump to 12 as winery cluster detected

SA cases jump to 12 as winery cluster detected

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall called an unusual second press conference this afternoon following an uptick in COVID-19 cases in relation to a Yattalunga winery and The Greek on Halifax restaurant that was listed earlier as an exposure site.

"It was only a few hours ago that we reported to you that there were just six cases linked to this cluster. Unfortunately we have new cases to report and concerning new exposure sites in addition to that. In fact, we go from six cases in South Australia to 12," the SA Premier said.

Five of the new cases are linked to Tenafeate Creek Wines in Yattalunga which is believed to have been an exposure site on Sunday afternoon from 1:45-4:30pm, and one additional case linked to the Greek restaurant in the Adelaide CBD.

However, of most concern to health authorities is one of the new exposure sites - the Gawler and District College B-12 school.

"We know that one of the people who is now infected was at this site yesterday, so we will be getting in contact with every person that we can who was at these exposure sites," Marshall said.

"This is exactly and precisely why we needed to move South Australia into a lockdown situation.

"This Delta variant is extraordinarily transmissible and this disease thrives on indecision. We've gone hard, we've gone early, we've gone with the cooperation of the people of South Australia, and we need that cooperation to continue into the future."

Click here for a list of exposure sites.

Updated at 4:51pm ACDT on 21 July 2021.

SA announces $100 million business support package as state enters day one of lockdown

SA announces $100 million business support package as state enters day one of lockdown

With South Australian residents today waking up to their first day of a snap lockdown, the state's treasurer has unveiled a $100 million business support package that will see eligible small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) receive an emergency cash grant.

It comes as SA records just one new locally acquired case of COVID-19 today which is linked to The Greek on Halifax restaurant and follows a record day of vaccinations in state clinics.

Tens of thousands of SMEs are expected to benefit from the $3,000 emergency cash grant to help businesses survive the seven-day lockdown and pay for operating costs like rent, power bills and raw material costs.

The package also includes a new $1,000 cash grant for eligible small businesses who don't employ staff, for example non-employing sole traders.

"This is an immediate lifeline for small and medium businesses that are the lifeblood of our community and underpin our economy," SA Treasurer Rob Lucas said.

"We know this is an incredibly difficult time for many employers and their staff, which is why we are doing everything in our power to help as many businesses as possible get through to the other side of this short lockdown.

"The $3,000 grants will provide an immediate cash injection to eligible businesses affected by the restrictions, by improving cash flow and helping cover costs such as commercial rent and utility bills or supplier fees for raw materials."

The scheme is modelled on similar support packages available interstate, with the grants to apply to businesses with a payroll of less than $10 million, with an annual turnover of $75,0000 or more (in 2020-21 or 2019-20) and whose turnover is reduced by at least 30 per cent over the duration of the lockdown.

Lucas said the State Government would consider the potential for further support if the lockdown is extended beyond 27 July.

"While we have no information to suggest that will be the case, we will consider what further assistance might be provided to businesses if the lockdown is extended beyond the current seven days," Lucas said.

In addition, the state government is going to provide income support payments of up to $600 to eligible workers in regional SA who live or work outside of the Commonwealth-declared 'hotspot' local government areas (LGAs) and therefore are not entitled to Federal Government's COVID disaster payments.

The Commonwealth's COVID-19 disaster payment scheme provides $375 per week for those workers who have lost between 8 and less than 20 hours' work, or have lost a full day of work, and $600 per week if a person has lost over 20 hours' work.

Lucas said the State Government will match the income support payments for workers outside the declared Commonwealth 'Hotspots' of Adelaide metro, Hills and Gawler areas.

"Our commitment will ensure South Australian workers whose hours are affected by the current lockdown will be supported, regardless of whether they work in Mitcham or Mount Gambier, Norwood or Nuriootpa, West Beach or Whyalla," Lucas said.

Information about the support package will be available on the SA Treasury website today and to register interest in business support cash grants businesses are encouraged to email [email protected]

Updated at 12.12pm AEST on 21 July 2021.

Victoria unveils $283m business support boost as daily cases rise to 22

Victoria unveils $283m business support boost as daily cases rise to 22

The Victorian Government has announced a $282.5 million injection for its business support package, taking the total stimulus to $484.3 million in response to the current lockdown for the entire state.

Eligible Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund recipients will receive $4,200, taking the total payment to $7,200, while Business Costs Assistance Program recipients will receive $2,800, increasing the total grant to $4,800.

As flagged last week, businesses that registered for these schemes in the previous lockdown will receive automatic payments with $180 million already paid out over the past two days to more than 86,000 Victorian businesses.

Minister for Industry, Support and Recovery, Martin Pakula also welcomes new applications from businesses that either didn't register for support payments last time or were ineligible.

There has also been a lot of discussion about microbusinesses that are not registered for GST and turn over under $75,000 annually.

"I should make the point that at any level if you're registered for GST, whether you turn over $75,000 or not, you're eligible to apply for the business support payments," Pakula says.

"But discussions between our officials and Commonwealth officials over the last couple of days have made it clear that the vast majority of those microbusinesses who've lost income or lost hours will be eligible for the COVID-19 disaster payment of either $600 per seven-day period if they've lost over 20 hours of work, or $375 if it's between eight and 20, just as they were for JobKeeper."

"I'd make the point that those outside the Commonwealth-declared hotspots, those funds will be funded by the State Government."

Business Victoria will be setting up a 'concierge service' to help businesses apply for funds, with new rounds of funding as well for public events and event suppliers, sports clubs and Alpine operators.

Eligible public events and public events suppliers affected by the lockdown will receive support of up to $25,000 and $10,000 respectively through an extension of the Impacted Public Events Support Program.

A new round of the Live Performance Support programs, with funding of up to $7,000 for presenters and up to $2,000 for suppliers, has also been confirmed.

Alpine hospitality, retail, accommodation and experience operators that were eligible for grants of up to $15,000 will receive an extra $3,000 through a fresh $1.2 million injection, on top of any entitlements under the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund or Business Costs Assistance Program.

"We recognise that the snow season is a relatively short period of time, and so any impact during that season has a proportionately greater impact on businesses in the alpine regions because their earning capacity is not year-long," he says.

Combined with supports given during the May-June lockdown, today's injection takes the total Victorian Government stimulus up to just under $1 billion over the past three months, and $7 billion since the pandemic began.

Victorian COVID update

The state reported 22 new COVID-19 cases overnight, representing an increase on the 13 reported yesterday, but as was the case in NSW today this was partly due to record testing numbers of almost 60,000.

"Yesterday almost 60,000 people right across the state braved some pretty inclement weather to return the highest single day's worth of tests that we have seen in the 18 months of this pandemic," says Victoria's Minister for Health Martin Foley.

"And 98.8 per cent of those results are being turned around by the next day."

Foley reports 73 per cent of the new daily cases have been fully isolated during their period of infectivity.

"What this means is that our contact tracers and our restrictions are working in tandem as part of the public health team's toolkit to beat this virus back and to beat this outbreak back step by step, and that should give us confidence that this is a process that is working," he says.

"And it is working because millions of Victorians are backing it in and doing the right thing."

Of the new cases, five are connected to Trinity Grammar, five are linked to the restaurant Ms. Frankie, three are connected the pub Young & Jacksons, three are related to St Patricks Primary School Murrumbeena, two are linked to AAMI Park (both patrons seated within two or three rows of the index case), two are linked to Bacchus Marsh Grammar, one is a worker from the West Gate Tunnel, and one is a family member of an unlinked case from the northern suburbs.

"Half of the new cases today were household contacts of primary close contacts," he says.

There are now more than 18,000 primary close contacts in Victoria, and combined with secondary close contacts the number rises to 28,000.

Click here for a list of exposure sites in Victoria.

Updated at 12:44pm AEST on 21 July 2021.

NSW reports 110 new cases after record testing day

NSW reports 110 new cases after record testing day

"Had we not gone into lockdown a few weeks ago, the 110 number today would undoubtedly have been thousands and thousands," says NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Daily COVID-19 cases in NSW rose to 110 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, which Premier Gladys Berejiklian admits is a high number but one that reflects a record 84,000 daily tests.

"That is the highest number New South Wales has ever had in a single day, and I especially want to thank the community of Fairfield for coming out in large numbers, but also to everybody who put themselves forward for testing," she says.

"This is a great result and one that we need to keep up during the next few weeks to make sure we capture all the cases that are out in the community.

"What is concerning, however, is that 43 people in that in those number of cases were infectious in the community."

She emphasises those 43 people haven't necessarily done the wrong thing, but what the figure shows is how infectious and contagious the virus is.

"It means that every time you have contact with another human being, you risk either getting the virus or passing the virus on," Berejiklian adds.

"Our vaccination rates are so low and yet we've done really well in stemming the growth of the virus. What we need to do now is quash it," she says, noting safety is key at the moment to give the state "economic freedom down the track".

Of the latest locally acquired cases, 54 are linked to a known case or cluster, 40 are household contacts and 14 are close contacts,  and the source of infection for 56 cases is under investigation.

Dr Jeremy McAnulty from the NSW Ministry of Health says there are 106 people with COVID admitted to hospital in the state, of whom 23 are in intensive care with 11 requiring ventilators.

While the focus of cases has been in Southwestern Sydney, McAnulty observes an increase in Western Sydney and elsewhere such as Belrose, Haymarket and Wollongong.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro has given further details in relation to the seven-day lockdown announced last night for the Central West NSW towns of Orange, Blayney and Cabonne.

"On the advice of course of NSW Health, the NSW Government made a decision for the first time to act fast, hard and local, and lock down three local government areas in regional and rural New South Wales," Barilaro says.

"Those stay home orders are that you can't leave home unless for work or education, for medical care, of course for shopping for groceries or for goods and services, and for exercise.

"We also accept that hospitality will now close unless offering takeaway, and this decision was made to make sure we protect those communities."

McAnulty explains a truck driver who unknowingly had COVID-19 travelled from Sydney to Blayney for authorised work, completing four overnight trips from Western Sydney and the regional town between 13-17 July while potentially infectious.

A close contact from the Nestle Purina petcare factory has since tested positive to COVID and as a result all other staff at the factory are being tested and are in isolation. Other drivers who have transported goods to and from the factory are also being tested.

Click here for a list of NSW exposure sites.

Updated at 11:38am AEST on 21 July 2021.

NSW towns Orange, Blayney and Cabonne sent into lockdown overnight

NSW towns Orange, Blayney and Cabonne sent into lockdown overnight

The Central West NSW towns of Orange, Blayney and Cabonne were placed into a seven-day lockdown overnight after a COVID-19 infected truck driver reportedly visited the area last week.

Residents of the three shire council areas must now stay at home until 12.01am Wednesday 28 July unless it is for one of five essential reasons:

  • Shopping for food or other essential goods and services
  • Medical care or compassionate needs (including receiving a COVID-19 vaccine)
  • Exercise outdoors in groups of two or fewer
  • Work or tertiary education (where you cannot work or study from home)
  • To attend a wedding or a funeral (but only during a grace period, which ends at 12.01am on Friday 23 July. After this date funerals will be limited to 10 people).

Schools will remain open under these restrictions and all staff and students are expected to still attend school.

In addition, masks must be worn in all indoor settings and outdoors where it is not possible to socially distance from others.

"The government and health experts will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide updated information and advice," says NSW Health.

"We understand this is a difficult time for the community and appreciate their ongoing patience.

"It is vital people continue to come forward for testing to help us find any COVID-19 cases in the community."

Updated at 9.00am AEST on 21 July 2021.

Tasmania locks out South Australians over COVID outbreak concerns

Tasmania locks out South Australians over COVID outbreak concerns

With South Australia recording two new cases of COVID-19 today Tasmania will close its borders to the state which will plunge into lockdown tonight, with returning residents exempt from the new rules.

Since 4pm today South Australia has been declared 'High Risk Level 2', meaning South Australians are not be permitted to travel to the Apple Isle.

In addition, Tasmania's Premier Peter Gutwein has asked anyone in his state who has been in SA from 8 July to immediately check the list of high-risk premises in Adelaide.

"Anyone who has been in one of those premises at the date and time specified should immediately self-isolate and contact the public health hotline on 1800 671 738 for further advice," Gutwein said.

Gutwein also announced today the state's borders would be shut to Victoria for at least another seven days.

This extension of border controls coincides with Victoria's plans to exit lockdown next week on Tuesday, 27 July.

Updated at 4pm AEST on 20 July 2021.


Victorian lockdown prolonged a further seven days as 13 new cases reported

Victorian lockdown prolonged a further seven days as 13 new cases reported

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed the state will start the process of opening up from its current lockdown at midnight on Tuesday, 27 July, emphasising contact tracers need more time to get on top of the outbreak that rose by 13 new cases overnight.

Four of these new cases were already reported yesterday, and nine of them were in isolation for 100 per cent of their infectious periods - a fact the Premier describes as "very promising" and that he hopes will develop as a trend.

"That's really how we will know that we bought this under control when we don't have that residual risk of it running again - of it flaring up once we open up," the Premier says.

The latest numbers take the state's total number of active cases to 85 with 18,000 primary close contacts identified, a third of whom are in regional Victoria.

"It's too early today to lift restrictions. We've seen significant and standalone outbreaks in regional areas in Phillip Island, Bacchus Marsh, Barwon Heads and as far away as Mildura," says Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.

"Around a third of all our primary close contacts are in regional Victoria, right across regional Victoria. This outbreak has touched the whole state, and that was in a way that the Delta and Kappa outbreaks didn't do back in May and June," he says.

"Much of that is due to the super spreading events early on in this outbreak that took place in the MCC members' reserve for the Geelong-Carlton game; something that brings Victorians from far and wide and back home far and wide across Victoria."

Travel to Victoria using Red Zone Permits will be temporarily paused in a bid to run the Delta variant to the ground.

"For four weeks we've been saying to people from Victoria who are in Sydney and now in broader NSW - not the bubble but beyond that border bubble - we've been saying come home because the rules may change. Well, the rules are changing today," he says.

"The only people that will get a permit to travel from a red zone into Victoria are those who are authorised workers, and those who apply for and get a compassionate exemption to the new rules I'm announcing today.

"There will be no further as-of-right red zone travel for the next two weeks. What I cannot have happen is is hundreds and hundreds of people who were warned weeks ago to get back here who have not done that, while the situation further deteriorates and we see more and more cases...we get this outbreak under control and then we finish up with another incursion brewing," he says, clarifying there will be compassionate exemptions.

More than 49,000 people came forward for testing yesterday, and the Premier has confirmed 90,000 businesses have received support payments.

Updated at 11:49am AEST on 20 July 2021.

SA in seven-day lockdown from 6pm today as cluster grows to five cases

SA in seven-day lockdown from 6pm today as cluster grows to five cases

With South Australia this morning recording two new cases of COVID-19, bringing the cluster to five infections in total, and confirmation that the outbreak is the Delta strain, the state will go into lockdown from 6pm today.

The restrictions will last for seven days, and South Australians will only have five reasons to leave the house:

  • Care and compassionate reasons like taking care of a loved one
  • Essential work
  • Purchase of essential goods like food and medication
  • Medical reasons including vaccination and COVID-19 testing
  • For exercise, with the limitation that only people from the same household can exercise together.

Schools will be closed from tomorrow, with teachers granted 24 hours to transition to online learning and elective surgeries will be paused.

Restaurants will be forced to operate as takeaway only, and exercise from home must be limtied to 90 minutes per day and within 2.5km of the home.

"We hate putting these restrictions in place, but we have just one chance to get this right," SA Premier Steven Marshall said.

"This is moving very quickly. We first got a positive confirmation at 2.30am yesterday, and we're moving as quickly as we can to stop the spread of this particular cluster.

"This is highly transmissable, we've seen this in Victoria. It's been moving extraordinarily quickly that we don't want this moving right across this state."

One of the cases is linked to a close contact from yesterday's Modbury case, with the fifth case dining at The Greek on Halifax Street in the CBD.

As such, anyone who attended the restaurant on Saturday 17 July from 6-10pm, including everyone in their household, must quarantine for 14 days.

In terms of support for businesses impacted by the seven-day lockdown, Marshall says he expects the same levels of assistance from the Commonwealth Government as what has been extended to New South Wales and Victoria.

However, because the support payments to affected workers are not activated until the second week of a lockdown, the SA Treasurer is looking at more immediate support for businesses and will have an announcement within the next 24 hours as to what that might entail.

"I spoke to the Prime Minister today, he's assured me we'll get the same deal as other states," Marshall said.

"I'm hopeful we can actually stop this dead in the water."

Updated at 11.23am AEST on 20 July 2021.

78 new cases for NSW as Premier applauds "enormous benefit" of frequent Fairfield community testing

78 new cases for NSW as Premier applauds "enormous benefit" of frequent Fairfield community testing

NSW reported 78 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night including 27 who were infectious while in the community, as Premier Gladys Berejiklian reiterates hopes that difficult lockdown decisions made will start to produce lower numbers by the end of this week.

The Premier says workplaces and households continue to be the main sources of infection, both in key areas concern in Southwest Sydney but across Greater Sydney where new daily cases continue to trickle in.

"No matter what you do and where you live, if you must go to work please make sure you think about your situation," the Premier said.

"If you have symptoms, you shouldn't be going to work.

"And if you live in the Fairfield area in particular, please make sure you get tested every three days before you go to work. That is really providing enormous benefits to us in capturing cases which otherwise may have been undetected. And we're very, very grateful that that's occurring."

Berejiklian added 6,000 businesses have had their applications processed for support to date.

Updated at 11:21am AEST on 20 July 2021.

QLD records new COVID case who was in Sunshine Coast community while infectious

QLD records new COVID case who was in Sunshine Coast community while infectious

A woman in her 20s who returned home to Queensland from her studies in Victoria has tested positive to COVID-19, putting various venues and transport routes on alert across the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Cairns and Mareeba.

From Queensland Health's indications, the woman who has received two Pfizer vaccine doses appears to have done everything by the book including mask wearing on public transport and in an Uber, as well as check-ins and following testing recommendations from Victorian authorities via mobile phone.

The individual flew from Melbourne to Maroochydoore on 13 July, staying with friends on the Sunshine Coast until 16 July before catching Virgin Australia flight VA791 on that day to Cairns, where a relative picked her up and took her home to Mareeba where she has been in isolation.

"She received an SMS from Victorian health authorities on the 15th of July because she had been at the Young & Jacksons pub on the 10th of July and that was declared a tier one site by Victoria," QLD Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young told a press conference this morning.

"So she then went and immediately got herself tested, and she tested negative. 

"She then went out and about in Maroochydoore, so on the Thursday she was staying with friends in Maroochydoore and then that afternoon from 3:55pm to 4:15pm she went to the Sunshine Coast Plaza, and specifically visited the Universal Store there. We're just getting additional details now of what other movements she had."

Of particular concern however is the Riceboi restaurant in Mooloolabah where she spent time from 6:45pm to 8pm on that night, the 15 July.

Dr Young has called on anyone who attended that restaurant during those times to immediately come forward to get tested and isolate until contacted by QLD Health.

"The following day on Friday the 16th of July she travelled via Uber at 12:15pm to Maroochydoore Station, then caught the 615 bus to Landsborough Station, then went by train from Landsborough to Eagle Junction, then caught the AirTrain to Brisbane Airport," Dr Young says.

After flying to Far North Queensland, the woman remained at home in Mareeba in isolation until she went to the Atherton fever clinic at 10:30am on Sunday, 18 July.

"She did have some symptoms, so we've deemed her infectious period back to the 15th of July. That's when she had a negative test as well in Maroochydore."

Dr Young notes the woman is fully vaccinated after receiving her second dose on 10 May.

"That is really good, which does reduce the risk but it doesn't remove the risk," she says.

"She was wearing a mask, and of course we require anyone in the Sunshine Coast - who has been part of 11 LGAs (local government areas) in Southeast Queensland to be wearing masks at the moment, and she wore a mask on the plane, and we will of course be contact tracing everyone on that flight - VA791."

Deputy Premier Steven Miles emphasises how the reduced density requirements at hospitality venues and the wearing of masks will have reduced further community transmission, but it's absolutely critical that anyone who has travelled to Victoria, New South Wales or South Australia monitor state health websites for venues of concern.

"That's where the risk of community transmission here in Queensland is. It is from Queenslanders and people coming to Queensland who have been at those locations," he says.

He notes the South Australian Government has implemented restrictions, and Queensland will be reciprocating that as is done with all hotspot arrangements.

Updated at 10:32am AEST on 20 July 2021.