Victoria COVID-19 cases continue to fall, national cabinet to meet over hotspots, hotel quarantine protocols, Australia death toll at 834

Speaking to Nine’s Today show this morning, Mr Frydenberg said there was an expectation that 60 per cent of people in the December and March quarters will be from Victoria.

“So there will be more people on JobKeeper than from all the other states combined. And in that quarter of December we are talking about $11 billion from the Federal Government going to support Victorians with JobKeeper,” he said.

Throughout the week the Treasurer has said the federal government has been giving advice to the Victorian government, urging a quicker easing of restrictions.

“What we would like to see is those restrictions eased, as soon as possible in Victoria and a COVID safe way because once restrictions are eased people can get back to work,” he said.

Victoria will be exempt from new rules on JobSeeker payments which will require recipients to apply for eight jobs a month to qualify.

“We are not putting the same mutual obligation requirements in Victoria, and that’s obviously a reflection of the fact that there is still is a curfew in place and stage four restrictions,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“Outside of Victoria it is a better economic environment. It’s only appropriate when you provide government support, that you expect in return mutual obligation and we where there is an appropriate and suitable job on offer that somebody takes it.”

Earlier on the program, deputy opposition leader Richard Marles said the government needed to release a jobs plan immediately.

“We are seeing precious little in the way of a jobs plan from in government so far,” he said.

“And ultimately what we need to be hearing from the government about is what is their plan to reconstruct this economy out of COVID, in a way which generates permanent long term jobs.”

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Russia’s 2020 elections hotspots. A semblance of real political competition makes the upcoming vote worth following in several regions

On Russia’s unified day of voting, September 13, residents of 18 regions will elect governors, another 11 regions will vote for local parliamentary deputies, and 22 regional capitals will hold city council elections. In several regions, the results may not be in favor of the authorities’ preferred candidates, in spite of the new three-day voting rules, which can create increased opportunities for manipulating the election results. “Meduza” special correspondent Andrey Pertsev offers a quick guide to Russia’s most interesting and unpredictable regional and local election campaigns. 

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Morrison versus the states on COVID-19 hotspots

If the states fail to agree on a COVID-19 hotspot definition, Scott Morrison will strike, using their failure as his justification, writes Dr Jennifer Wilson.

Contesting the right of states to close borders as they see fit stirs some powerful emotions. The debate tends to bifurcate into two factions, broadly representing those who put health first and those who prioritise the economy.

As with any border, there are those whose sense of belonging this containment nurtures and those who are inevitably othered by its existence.

Perhaps the most powerful current confirmation of this painful split came from Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk when she recently declared:

This is a chilling observation and one that indicates a direction nobody should want to take. The idea that a state should only allow “our people” access to medical treatment is viscerally disturbing. Palaszczuk has since defended her statement. This is but one example of how fraught border closure decisions can become, particularly for the border communities who are most seriously impacted.

At the next meeting of the National Cabinet on Friday (4 September), state and territory leaders will be urged by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to come to an agreement on the criteria for determining which areas are COVID-19 hotspots.

The PM has signalled his intention to establish a national definition with or without agreement from the states.

There is as yet no clinical definition of the term “hotspot”, with Queensland imposing arbitrary bans on areas designated as such by the state’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Jennifer Young. Currently, all of NSW is declared a hotspot by Queensland, as well as the ACT, despite the latter having reported no new infections for 50 days and despite the majority of NSW cases being confined to Sydney and its surrounds.

It’s discouraging to realise that nine months into the pandemic, politicians have yet to provide us with this fundamental tool for managing the virus. Yet, here we are.

At the moment, it is unstated whether or not the Federal Government has the power to overrule states on the hotspot definition. Considering that Morrison’s goal is to open up borders as quickly as possible, it’s likely that the Federal criteria will be less stringent than that of most of the states. And if this is the case, does the Federal Government have the authority to impose its own definition and force states to open up?

On 18 March, the Governor-General declared that a human biosecurity emergency exists in Australia due to COVID-19 and for the first time expansive powers under the Biosecurity Act were accorded to the Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt. The declaration and enforcement of areas as COVID-19 hotspots by the Health Minister appear to be within the scope of these powers. This would grant the Morrison Government the power to overrule any state or territory definition and the ability to control border closures, despite the wishes of a state.

Morrison is absolutely committed to the lifting of travel restrictions between states, to the degree that his Government initially backed businessman Clive Palmer’s challenge to the West Australian Government’s lockdown. The Morrison Government’s challenge was withdrawn, apparently when it became evident how popular the hard border is in Western Australia. Having lost his case in the Federal Court, Mr Palmer has now progressed to the High Court and the matter will be heard possibly as early as October. Should the court find in Mr Palmer’s favour, this will have implications for all border closures. It will also embolden the Morrison Government in its efforts to open up.

Scott Morrison’s ‘daggy dad’ facade is a lesson in hypocrisy

Recent social media posts by Scott Morrison show a leader seizing an opportunity and playing a role to win political points.

We are looking at two serious lunges for power by Morrison over the states’ ability to control their own borders. Thus far, Morrison has been thwarted by opinion polls that show he is on the wrong side in this fight. Overwhelmingly, voters support state premiers in their right to determine who may and may not cross their borders. However, there may be no way to prevent the Federal Government assuming control under the expansive powers of the Biosecurity Act.

It would be an act of reckless self-harm should Morrison decide to exercise this power at the moment, in the face of overwhelming resistance. However, the concern must be that this power over the states will be available to a federal government to use at will in a situation such as that we are currently experiencing if Morrison succeeds in imposing a national definition of COVID-19 hotspots – as is his expressed intention.

It is entirely up to the states to co-operatively and sensibly agree on the definition of a hotspot. If they fail to do this, Morrison will at some point strike, using their failure as his justification. This is not the time to retreat into parochialism. It is not the time to play a state-based version of identity politics. It is not the time to wage a war between those who belong in a geographical region arbitrarily determined by man-made borders, and those who do not.

If premiers continue to do this, Morrison will take control. They will then have nobody to blame but themselves if they find their authority and their right to control their own borders usurped by an opportunistic Prime Minister, greedy for power and the chance it gives him to further his own agenda.

9 reasons why Scott Morrison isn’t our Big Daddy

Morrison has managed to exploit the current crisis so that he is now being presented as a sage leader, a statesman, even the father of our nation.

Dr Jennifer Wilson is an IA columnist, a psychotherapist and academic. You can follow her on Twitter @NoPlaceForSheep.

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Dr. Birx warns of emerging coronavirus hotspots in LA, Chicago, and DC despite the cities remaining closed

  • Dr. Deborah Birx, lead coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, expressed concern about lingering outbreaks in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, DC.
  • DC and its suburbs have the highest rate of positive coronavirus tests in the country, Birx said at a news briefing on Friday.
  • LA and Chicago also continue to report high daily case counts.
  • But all three cities have their sights on reopening.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As many US cities witness a decline in reported coronavirus cases, three cities still struggle to contain their outbreaks. At a news briefing on Friday, Dr. Deborah Birx, the lead coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, identified lingering hotspots in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, DC.

“Even though Washington has remained closed, LA has remained closed, Chicago has remained closed, we still see these ongoing cases,” Birx said. She added that she had asked the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to work with these municipalities “to really understand where these new cases are coming from and what do we need to do to prevent them in the future.”

Washington, DC and its suburbs have the highest rate of positive coronavirus tests in the country, Birx said on Friday. Around 18% of the district’s coronavirus tests have come back positive since the start of the outbreak, the Washington Post reported. That share dropped down to 11% over the last week, but Maryland’s weekly rate is still around 18%. In Northern Virginia, the weekly rate of positive tests was 25% as of May 18.

Birx said 42 states have seen weekly positive-test rates of less than 10% – an indicator that they have reached sufficient testing capacity, according to Harvard’s Global Health Institute.

The positive-test rate in LA recently dropped to 9%, but the county confirmed more than 1,000 new coronavirus infections on Friday. According to California guidelines, LA would need to maintain a positivity rate of 8% or lower for more than a week in order to reopen.

As of May 17, the northeast region of Illinois, which includes Chicago and its suburbs, had a positive-test rate of around 18%. If that rate stays below 20% for two weeks straight, the region could begin reopening non-essential businesses like salons and barbershops. But Illinois state health officials announced more than 2,700 new infections on Friday.

LA, DC, and Chicago are still headed toward reopening

Local officials in each city still have their sights on reopening.

“Overall the data points are looking pretty good on our journey to recovery,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, LA County’s public health officer, told Courthouse News on Friday. “We are moving in the right direction.”

LA’s coronavirus hospitalizations and death rates have started to decline in the last week. Data suggests that the virus is now infecting less than one other person, on average, throughout the county. Epidemiologists usually interpret that as a sign that an outbreak is contained.

In Chicago, coronavirus hospitalizations have also started to decline, along the number of coronavirus patients in the ICU and the number of coronavirus patients on ventilators.

“Everything is trending cautiously in the right direction,” Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said at a briefing on Friday. “We’re keeping an eye on it, but feeling confident that we are are starting to get on the other side of our peak.”

DC has also seen a steady decline in community spread of the virus.

“We’re heading in the right direction, but not with a steep drop like you see in many other places,” Dr. Lynn Goldman, dean of the George Washington University School of Public Health, told NPR about the district’s outbreak.

White House guidance suggests that states should see a two-week decline in cases before reopening. LA, DC, and Chicago may be nearing that point – but they haven’t reached it yet.

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Covid-19 in schools – Other countries show that schools need not be pandemic hotspots | United States

HOW MUCH of a risk is opening schools during the pandemic? Experience from a number of countries is starting to shed some light.

For the children themselves, covid-19 is not a big threat. They usually have mild symptoms or none at all. Among children with symptoms, only 0.1% of those younger than ten and 0.3% of those aged between ten and 19 end up in hospital, a study from Britain shows. For school-aged children, a covid-19 infection is less deadly than most flu infections.

The big worry is that children may spread the virus through school. Studies in households where someone introduced the infection usually find that younger children are much less likely to catch the virus than adults. The evidence for older children is mixed, with some studies concluding that they are as susceptible to infection as adults.

But even if children are infected less easily at home, when they mingle a lot chances are that many of them will pick up the virus. In an overnight summer camp in the state of Georgia in June at least half of the 346 children attending were infected.

Whether the sort of mingling that happens at school is also a recipe for disaster is best judged by looking at countries where schools have reopened. Data from England published on August 23rd are encouraging. Its schools reopened in June for some school years before closing for the summer a month later. In that period only 0.01% of preschools and primary schools had covid-19 outbreaks, affecting 70 children and 128 staff—out of 25,470 infections recorded in England as a whole. Of the 30 school outbreaks involved, the probable source in 20 was a staff member. Students were the source in eight cases, and in two cases the source was unclear.

That teaching is not exceptionally risky is also the conclusion from Sweden. Staff at its nurseries and primary schools, which never closed, were no more likely to become infected than those in other jobs.

Less clear is the role of secondary schools in infections. They have stayed shut almost everywhere. Outbreaks in France and Israel suggest that the virus could spread more easily in them than in primary schools. Older students may be easier to keep apart in classrooms, but good luck trying to stop them congregating afterwards.

America would struggle to contain school outbreaks as much of Europe has done, because infection rates in many states are too high and health officials are overwhelmed. Tough choices may be necessary. Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, has warned that pubs might have to close (to keep infections down) so that children can go to school. In America, where any constraint on freedom goes against the grain, such trade-offs may be an even tougher sell.

Editor’s note: Some of our covid-19 coverage is free for readers of The Economist Today, our daily newsletter. For more stories and our pandemic tracker, see our hub

This article appeared in the United States section of the print edition under the headline “Don’t blame the children”

Reuse this contentThe Trust Project

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Coronavirus: New virus hotspots emerge in Australia

Health officials in Sydney have issued public health alerts after a cluster of coronavirus cases believed to be linked to gyms and clubs in the city.

Eleven new cases have been reported in and around Sydney since Wednesday, and there are fears the numbers could grow.

Meanwhile in Queensland, correctional facilities have been quarantined after a trainer tested positive.

Victoria was celebrating some good news with its lowest number of daily cases, 113, since the beginning of July.

State Premier Daniel Andrews said it raised hope that the spread of the virus was slowing and strict lockdown restrictions could be eased next month.

Australia has now recorded more than 25,500 infections of Covid-19, resulting in more than 570 deaths.

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Postcode data shows coronavirus cases dipping below 200 in top Melbourne hotspots

Victoria’s latest postcode data shows active coronavirus cases are continuing their welcome downward trend across Melbourne’s hotspot suburbs.

Postcode 3029 continues to top the chart as the area with the highest number of active COVID-19 cases for the fifth week running.

The postcode in Melbourne’s west, which includes the suburbs of TarneitHoppers Crossing and Truganina, has 177 active cases.

This is down by 101 on last week’s tally of 278.

It is also down markedly on the postcode’s high of 463 a fortnight ago.

The area has 46 more active cases than the second-highest postcode on the list, 3030, which includes Werribee and Point Cook. That postcode has 131 active cases.

But there, too, active COVID-19 case numbers have dropped, down from 210 last week.

Only five postcodes with more than 100 active cases

This week’s postcode data also shows that there are now just five postcodes with more than 100 coronavirus cases.

That compares favourably with last week, when there were nine Melbourne postcodes with more than 100 active cases, and a fortnight ago when 16 Melbourne postcodes had over 100 cases.

In postcode 3037, encompassing SydenhamDelaheyTaylors Hill and Calder Park, there are 109 active cases, down from 138 last Thursday.

The weekly postcode data, released by Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), represents the postcodes where infected individuals live, not where they were infected.

Police have been enforcing Melbourne’s stage 4 restrictions.(ABC News: Darryl Torpy)

Active COVID-19 cases down in most postcodes

Moving down a spot on the list from third to fourth this week is postcode 3064, with the suburbs of CraigieburnDonnybrookKalkalloMickleham and Roxburgh Park.

It now has 104 active cases, down from 163 last week.

Hovering just about the 100 mark is postcode 3020, which includes AlbionSunshine and Sunshine West, where there are 102 cases.

But that’s down from 136 cases last week and 220 a fortnight ago.

The data, which showed case levels were generally lower across the board, was released on Thursday, when the state’s daily figure of 113 new cases was the lowest daily increase since July 5.

There are now 391 active cases in healthcare workers, 198 active cases across regional Victoria and 1,412 active cases linked to aged care settings.

The data can be skewed by large clusters in locations such as nursing homes, like Epping Gardens Aged Care Facility, where a coronavirus outbreak affected more than 200 residents and staff.

Epping, postcode 3076 and home to Epping Gardens, has also dropped this week to 87 active cases, down from 102 last week and 160 on August 13.

Another area that had previously recorded a total well over 100 is postcode 3073, home to Reservoir, where there are now 79 cases — down from 106 cases this time last week.

There has also been a marked drop in cases in postcode 3023, which includes Caroline SpringsDeer ParkRavenhallCairnlea and Burnside in Melbourne’s west.

There are now 57 active cases in the area, compared to 124 cases last week and 210 a fortnight ago.

However, some postcodes recorded small increases in active cases.

Most notably, in Parkville, postcode 3052, where active cases are up by 13 this week to 39, compared to 26 this time last week.

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Sunshine Coast expects multimillion-dollar injection as national sporting clubs relocate from COVID-19 hotspots

Queensland’s Sunshine Coast is set to cash in as three national sporting codes set-up in the region after fleeing their coronavirus-mired states.

The NRL, AFL and Super Netball have confirmed southern teams will be based on the Sunshine Coast to see out the remainder of their seasons.

Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said the move could bring a much-needed boost to the region’s economy.

“The value of having them here, I think, is quite phenomenal — I think in the millions of dollars absolutely,” he said.

“The places they’re staying, the services and support they need [will bring money to the region] whilst they’re here and at a critical time.

Mayor Jamieson said other leagues that have also been facing challenges during the pandemic have expressed an interest in the region.

He was hopeful the relocation could be the start of something much bigger.

“It does position us well into the future for teams wanting to base themselves here and, indeed, that over the next decade that we would have our own NRL team and even AFL team joining the Lightning as permanent residents,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“We’ve enjoyed many visiting teams here over a long period of time but not on this scale and not with this variety of sports.”

Mayor Jamieson was quick to allay fears that the teams could bring the COVID-19 to the region.

“These are all endorsed by Queensland Health,” he said.

Inspiring the next generation

The Super Netball season will start in Queensland in August.

Foundation player with the Sunshine Coast Lightning Cara Koenen, who hails from Magnetic Island in North Queensland, says it is an important move in bringing the game to Queensland fans.

“I know how excited I would have been as a 12-year-old, being able to go and watch a Super Netball game in my hometown, so to bring that product out to fans in Queensland will be fantastic,” she said.

Koenen hopes the games played on the Sunshine Coast will help develop grassroots players.

“I think everyone is pretty keen to watch some female sport and very excited to bring some product here,” she said.

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Fewer hospital patients in Covid-19 hotspots

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The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 fell in coronavirus hotspots in June and July, according to data released by NHS England.

Cases of coronavirus have been rising nationally since the middle of July, and even earlier in Leicester.

More of these cases are among young people, who are less likely to become seriously sick.

But scientists use hospital data to understand whether rising cases reflect more infections or more testing.

The number of people dying or going into hospital with Covid-19 has been falling across the UK for months, but since the middle of July, the number of confirmed cases has started to rise.

Prof Chris Witty, the UK’s chief medical adviser, has warned that we have “reached the limit of what we can do to open up society” without allowing room for the virus to return.

But some scientists argue that the rise in confirmed cases could reflect more testing rather than more infections.

It may still be too soon for any increase in infections to translate into more people in hospital or dying with Covid-19 nationally.

But hotspots can test the theory since their numbers of cases started to increase earlier.

Leicester saw worsening infection figures throughout the early summer before Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced a local lockdown at the end of the June.

And Blackburn overtook Leicester as the part of the country with the highest rate of infection in July.

Data released on Thursday by NHS England showed that rising cases were not matched by an increase in the number of people in hospital in the NHS trusts that serve either of these councils.

The number of people admitted to hospital for the first time with Covid-19 did increase in Leicester in June, but the rise was much smaller than the rise in confirmed cases.

In July, Leicester saw 1,336 cases but only seven people were admitted to hospital with Covid-19.

In Blackburn, the number of infections more than doubled in July, but the number of people admitted to hospital fell from 54 in June to 13 in July.

More of the cases now being detected nationally are in people aged 15-44.

They are much less likely to become seriously ill or die with coronavirus.

That could explain some of the UK’s fall in Covid-19 hospitalisations, according to Jason Oke, a researcher at the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University.

But “there are not yet any signs of a second wave in the hospital data”, he says.

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