Victoria chases lower COVID-19 cases as pandemic forces AFL Grand Final 2020 to the GABBA, Government attempting to bring ex-pats home by Christmas

A community health door-knocking program started on Thursday morning with more than 89 houses approached and 31 tests conducted as additional pop-up testing sites were promised for the Hume, Banyule and Darebin areas in the coming days.

Testing sites continued to operate across Broadmeadows, Coolaroo, Craigieburn, Heidelberg, Greensborough, Preston and Fawkner.

So called ‘Rapid Response Testing Teams,’ and engagement teams, have also provided testing and information at ‘The Mall’ and Malahang Reserve with more than 80 people attending.

The department also sent text messages to residents of Melbourne’s northern suburbs including Dallas, Roxburgh Park, Broadmeadows, Preston and West Heidelberg urging those who were experiencing symptoms to be tested.

The department is also testing a number of secondary close contacts at Sirius College and Ilim College.

They are connected to separate close contacts who will be tested again over this weekend.

Victoria’s commander of testing and community engagement, Jeroen Weimar, said East Preston Islamic College had “taken positive steps to manage this situation and is working closely with us. It has been closed for deep cleaning.”

“Staff and students who are close contacts – and their households – have been identified and are quarantining for 14 days,” Mr Weimar.

“We have a number of people who are self-isolating either at home or as part of the Covid-19 Accommodation program and are being monitored by Austin Health and Banyule Community Health.

“I am so grateful to our community leaders for working with us to keep people safe. I have held several sessions over the last two days to listen and act on the advice from leading community members. We are all Victorians working together to keep this virus away from our families.”

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Hamilton’s SpinCo outbreak hits 85; COVID-19 outbreak at Hamilton-based basketball club

A Hamilton-based basketball club is one of two new Hamilton COVID-19 outbreaks as the SpinCo outbreak continues to grow.

Hamilton public health posted on its website Friday that the basketball club outbreak involves four patrons. The outbreak was formally declared Wednesday. Public health says there is no risk to the public and no further information will be provided about the outbreak.

Meanwhile, the SpinCo outbreak hit 85 Friday, with four new riders testing positive. The outbreak was declared on Oct. 5 and now involves 52 riders, two staff and 31 “secondary” cases.

The second new outbreak is at Chartwell Willowgrove long-term-care home, where one staff member has tested positive. The outbreak was declared Thursday.

The outbreak at Kushies Baby, a local manufacturer, is now over. Three staff had tested positive during the outbreak.

There are now 16 active outbreaks in the city. Most outbreaks involve just one or two cases. Outbreaks are declared when there are two positive cases and evidence exists of transmission within a setting. The threshold for long-term-care home outbreaks, however, is just one case.

Public health is reporting 15 new cases of COVID-19 in the city, bringing the total number of active cases to 152. The cumulative case count is 1,631 cases, though 88 per cent, or 1,429 cases, are now considered resolved.

More to come.

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2,066 new COVID-19 cases registered in Hungary | The Budapest Business Journal on the web

 Bence Gaál

 Friday, October 23, 2020, 16:50

The number of active coronavirus cases in Hungary stands at 37,272, with 2,066 new cases and 47 new deaths registered since yesterday, according to data by government coronavirus information site

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The death toll stands at 1,352.

Some 29% of active cases are located in Budapest.

The total number of confirmed cases stands at 54,278, up from 52,212 yesterday.

The number of recoveries has risen to 15,655.

Currently, 2,209 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, 200 of whom are on ventilators.

So far, 949,470 tests have been conducted at accredited laboratories. Some 28,261 people are currently in compulsory home quarantine.

Looking at all diagnosed cases until now, Budapest remains the most affected area of the entire country, with the number of cases (both active and inactive) reaching 16,047. Pest County is the second most affected, with 6,827 cases, followed by Győr-Moson-Sopron County (3,371 cases).



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US faces half a million COVID-19 deaths by end of February, study says

US President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 221,000 Americans so far, has become the top election issue for him and Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Polls have shown that Americans trust Biden more than Trump to handle the crisis.

The IHME study forecast that large, populous states such as California, Texas and Florida will likely face particularly high levels of illness, deaths and demands on hospital resources.

“We expect the surge to steadily grow across different states and at the national level, and to continue to increase as we head towards high levels of daily deaths in late December and in January,” Murray said.

The modelling study, which mapped out various scenarios and their projected impact on the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic in the US, found that universal mask-wearing could have a major impact on deaths rates, potentially saving 130,000 lives.


Current mask use in the US varies widely. While some states, like New York, set strict rules on when to wear masks, others have no requirements.

The issue has become political, in which some supporters have taken their cues from Trump, who is often seen without a mask and has repeatedly questioned their usefulness.

“Expanding mask use is one of the easy wins for the United States … and can save many lives,” Murray said.

He added that, just as right now in parts of Europe and in some local areas of high transmission in the US, many US states would need to reintroduce social distancing measures to curb the winter surge.

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Philippines’ Duterte promises payment as Red Cross stops COVID-19 tests

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday his government will pay the 931 million pesos ($19.25 million) it owes the Red Cross after the humanitarian agency stopped conducting COVID-19 tests.

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC), which has conducted 1.1 million swab tests and accounts for quarter of the country’s output, on Friday stopped providing testing services until it gets paid, prompting the country’s limited number of laboratories to fill the gap.

“The president has given his commitment that the government will pay its obligation to the PRC,” Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, said in a statement. The government is calling on the PRC to resume its testing services, Roque added.

Returning overseas Filipino workers, frontline healthcare workers and individuals in large swabbing facilities benefit from free COVID-19 swab tests by the PRC. Testing cost is charged to Philippine Health Insurance Corp (Philhealth), the state health insurer.

But PRC said Philhealth had 931 million pesos in overdue obligations as of Oct. 13, hampering its ability to replenish test kits and pay for laboratory workers.

Returning Filipino workers need to test negative from COVID-19 before being allowed to leave quarantine hotels. The presidential office asked for patience and understanding of stranded overseas Filipino workers as it resolves the issue.

PRC said it would still conduct swab tests for paying clients.

With 365,799 confirmed infections and 6,915 deaths, the Philippines has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases and fatalities in Southeast Asia behind Indonesia.

($1 = 48.36 Philippine pesos)

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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England forced to cancel Barbarians clash after opposition players breach Covid-19 rules

England’s match against the Barbarians on Sunday has been cancelled due to a breach in coronavirus protocols by Barbarians players, the Rugby Football Union has announced.

Seasoned veterans Chris Robshaw, Richard Wigglesworth and Sean Maitland were among a contingent of 12 who left the team hotel in central London on Wednesday night in order to have dinner.

The Barbarians were scrambling to fill the gaps in their squad before a deadline of 3pm set by the RFU, who are investigating the breach with a view to summoning any transgressors before an independent disciplinary hearing.

And after learning there was an additional breach of protocol on top of the incident already known, the governing body said it had no choice but to cancel the match, which was due to be played at Twickenham.

Scotland international Sean Maitland

“As part of its ongoing investigation into a breach of the Covid code of conduct that took place on October 21, the RFU has discovered there was an earlier undisclosed breach that took place on October 20 when a number of Barbarians players left the hotel bubble without permission and without informing organisers about their whereabouts,” an RFU statement read.

“The RFU has concluded that the players leaving their Covid-secure environment on October 20 without then isolating from the rest of the group on their return has resulted in the bubble environment being compromised, with the potential risk of Covid transmission from individuals outside the bubble to everyone in the Barbarians team and management.

“The RFU is therefore left with no alternative but to cancel the game.”

Saracens’ Richard Wigglesworth

Robshaw apologised on Twitter for his role in the postponement, writing: “I want to express my deepest apologies to Barbarian-FC EnglandRugby and the rugby family for letting you down this week”

The attached statement read: “I want to express my deepest apologies for breaching the Barbarians COVID-19 restrictions by leaving the hotel post-training with some of my team-mates.

“A huge effort went into conducting this match in a safe fashion and it was irresponsible of me to break the protocols which are put in place to protect players, staff and the public.

“I understand that my actions have ultimately contributed to the cancellation of Sunday’s match and I am sincerely remorseful for my role in undoing all the amazing work that went into trying to make it happen.

“I promise that I will learn from this mistake and ensure something like this never happens again.”

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A patchwork of red, yellow and green – A second wave of covid-19 sends much of Europe back into lockdown | Europe

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Turkey to evaluate possible measures as COVID-19 outbreak flares

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ANKARA — Turkey will evaluate possible new measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus as the outbreak flares nationwide, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday

Turkey reported another 2,102 people with COVID-19 symptoms on Thursday, the highest figure since May when Ankara imposed a series of restrictive measures. The death toll from the virus rose to 9,584 on Thursday, Health Ministry data showed.

“Our health minister is visiting various provinces…We are working on what sort of measures we will take there,” Erdogan told reporters after Friday prayers in Istanbul.

“As of now, what sort of measures are to be taken will be conveyed to us from the science team and we will take our steps according to that,” he said.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said earlier on Friday that 40% of the total cases across the country were reported in its largest city Istanbul, where there were five times more cases than in the capital Ankara.

He was meeting officials in the province of Bursa and elsewhere in northwest Turkey and was set to brief the media on the latest situation in the region later in the day.

Turkey’s top medical association and the main opposition party have criticized the government’s decision to only publish symptomatic COVID-19 patients, saying it hides the true scale of the outbreak.

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Coronavirus: Second COVID-19 wave faster than the first, warns top European scientist | World News

The coronavirus second wave is spreading more quickly than the first outbreak in spring, a top French scientist has warned, amid a growing resurgence of the virus across Europe.

“The virus is circulating more quickly… the resurgence of the pandemic started in August,” French government scientific adviser Arnaud Fontanet told BFM TV on Friday.

He said France had managed to bring the virus under control by the end of the June, and because the number of people being taken to hospital remained low until the end of August, authorities were given a false sense of security despite cases already going up at the time.

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Europe sees new COVID restrictions

“And then there was one cold week in September and all the indicators went the wrong way again all over Europe. The virus spreads better in the cold because we live more inside,” said the epidemiologist.

“Hospitals and medical staff will find themselves in a situation they’ve already known,” he said.

“We have a lot of tools to protect ourselves against the virus but we’re facing a difficult period,” he added, echoing Prime Minister Jean Castex, who warned of a “tough November” as the French government extended a curfew imposed last week on Paris and eight other cities to dozens more areas.

The 9pm to 6am curfew comes into force at midnight tonight and 46 million people – almost two-thirds of the country’s 67 million population – will be affected.

“A second wave of the coronavirus epidemic is now under way in France and Europe. The situation is very serious,” Mr Castex said at a news conference.

On Thursday, the country reported a record 41,622 new confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Parisiens in masks near the Eiffel Tower
Parisiens in face masks near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, where a stricter curfew is in force

The national figure now stands at more than one million infections, and more than 34,200 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University which has been tracking the outbreak.

Countries across Europe, like in the UK, are returning to restrictive measures following a surge in cases.

Belgium, one of the worst-hit countries in Europe, further tightened restrictions on social contacts on Friday, banning fans from sports matches, limiting the number of people in cultural spaces and closing theme parks.

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European hospitals under COVID pressure

Although infection rates in Germany have been much lower than other COVID hotspots in Europe, cases have been accelerating and hit a record 11,247 on Thursday.

Across Europe, 20 countries set new daily case records on Wednesday, including the UK, which saw a rise of 26,688.

The Czech Republic, which is seeing Europe’s biggest surge in COVID-19 cases, has ordered most shops and services to close to curb the spread of the virus.

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The Netherlands has also returned to partial lockdown, closing bars and restaurants, but kept schools open.

And Spain became the first country in western Europe this week to record one million coronavirus cases – doubling its tally in just six weeks.

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