Victoria records just 14 new cases of COVID-19 with five deaths; Two new cases and a death in NSW; Almost $6m poured into Aussie vaccines; Fourteen caught at Melbourne party


Fourteen people caught attending a birthday party in Melbourne’s south-west were among 150 people across the state to be fined for breaching public health orders yesterday.

Police were alerted to the gathering in Wynham yesterday and all the party-goers were handed $1650 fines.

In a separate incident, a man was fined for travelling from Dandenong to Cranbourne to buy the kind of bread his daughter likes.

A woman was also caught travelling from Richmond to Prahan, a distance of more than five kilometres, to buy cigarette papers.

Another 19 people were fined for failing to wear masks in public, 10 were fined at vehicle checkpoints and 42 were caught out after curfew without a valid reason.

Victoria police yesterday conducted 1,690 spot checks on people at homes, businesses and public places across the state and 18,916 vehicles were stopped at vehicle checkpoints.



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‘Hope and optimism’ as Victoria records 14 new coronavirus cases, announces music industry support



Victoria has recorded 14 new coronavirus cases, continuing a promising downward trend on “a day of hope and optimism” as the government announces support for the state’s $1.7 billion live music industry.

Metropolitan Melbourne now has a 14-day new case average of 36.2, well below the state’s target of 50, following Sunday’s new numbers.

Regional Victoria recorded no new cases on Sunday.

Premier Daniel Andrews said it was “a good day … where Victorians can be proud of the work that they’ve done, their commitment, their resolve to see this off”.

He still wanted to see numbers get lower, and urged Victorians to stay the course.

“This is a day of hope and optimism,” Mr Andrews told reporters. “A day that, beyond any doubt, this strategy is working and we will get to that COVID normal.

“It will be meaningful and sustainable, it will be able to be locked in. We’re not going to spend 2021 undetermined.”

However there were five more deaths, all linked to aged care outbreaks. They include two men and two women in their 80s and one woman in her 90s.

An outbreak in the Hallam area in south-east Melbourne has now reached 40 cases but Mr Andrews hoped they could “pull it up at that number”.

He warned against pretending the outbreak was over, and stressed the importance of continuing to get tested for even the most minor symptoms.

“That’s what gives us certainty, the clearest picture of where the virus is, and allows us to take safe and steady steps towards a COVID normal,” Mr Andrews said.

Shortly after Mr Andrews’s press conference, anti-lockdown protesters gathered in Chadstone Shopping Centre for their second planned rally of the weekend.

A small number of demonstrators gathered outside Coles and sang John Farnham’s “You’re The Voice” just after 1pm on Sunday afternoon.

Footage posted on social media showed police flooding the shopping centre at 1.15pm, by which point the protesters had already dispersed.

Organisers released details of the protest in encrypted online chat groups with only 30 minutes’ notice to evade police detection.

Live music industry support package

The Victorian government on Sunday also announced support for the music industry as it looks to life beyond current coronavirus restrictions.

New initiatives include cash injections for more than 100 live music venues, grants to support jobs on stage and behind the scenes, new planning controls to better protect venues and funding for music organisations and peak bodies.

Grants totalling $9 million will help venues that have closed cover overheads, put coronavirus safety measures in place, and reopen and host events when it’s safe to do so.

Creative Industries Minister Martin Foley said Victoria’s live music industry was one of the first and hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic, and would be one of the last to be able to return to a new normal.

He said the support would protect grassroots venues, save jobs and music businesses and keep live music going beyond the pandemic.

Meanwhile, anti-lockdown protesters continue to challenge police, with officers on horseback chased off a group of about 100 rallying in the beachside suburb of Elwood on Saturday.

Police made 16 arrests and handed out 21 fines for breaching health directions.

The rallies are becoming a weekly occurrence, with more expected on Sunday.

A Victoria Police statement on Saturday showed patience was wearing thin, saying “the behaviour of these selfish few who choose to blatantly ignore the directions will not be tolerated”.

New South Wales recorded its first coronavirus death in five weeks, with a man in his 70s dying after contracting the disease from the Sydney CBD cluster.

Queensland recorded two new cases, including a returned traveller in hotel quarantine and a known contact of a case from the corrective services cluster at Wacol.

With AAP

Metropolitan Melbourne residents are subject to Stage 4 restrictions and must comply with a curfew between the hours of 9pm and 5am.

During the curfew, people in Melbourne can only leave their house for work, and essential health, care or safety reasons. Between 5am and 9pm, people in Melbourne can leave the home for exercise, to shop for necessary goods and services, for work, for health care, or to care for a sick or elderly relative. The full list of restrictions can be found here.

All Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home, no matter where they live.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at https://sbs.com.au/coronavirus

 



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Victoria chases lower case numbers, Daniel Andrews request denied, Australia’s death toll reaches 844


The Morrison government is preparing to unleash an “astounding” amount of spending in next month’s budget to drag the country out of its first recession in 29 years with the nation unable to rely on ultra-low interest rates to boost the economy.

Longer-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s finances are also crystallising, with the government’s Centre for Population forecasting the fertility rate to drop well below the level used in budget assumptions.

As the government announces an extra $305.6 million to primarily help families and childcare providers across Victoria, The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age can reveal senior ministers are preparing an avalanche of spending that will push the budget deficit to an unprecedented level.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is preparing a budget that will contain an “astounding” amount of expenditure to get the economy out of recession.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

A deficit well beyond $200 billion is now expected, dwarfing the previous record of $54.5 billion set by the Rudd government during the depths of the global financial crisis in 2009-10.

Click here to read the story.



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Victoria records 21 new coronavirus infections and seven more deaths as 14-day average falls



Victoria has recorded 21 new cases of COVID-19, the lowest daily increase since late June, and a further seven deaths.

It follows 45 new infections recorded on Friday, 28 on Thursday and 42 on Wednesday.

It is the smallest single-day increase since June 24, when 20 new infections were announced by health officials.

The 14-day rolling average for Metropolitan Melbourne’s new infections now sits at 39.3.

A 14-day average between 30 and 50 is the key target for restrictions in Melbourne to be further relaxed on September 28.

Health authorities are focused on a cluster that has emerged in the Casey council area in Melbourne’s south-east, which is linked to more than 30 infections and at least three hospitalisations.

Many of the new infections in recent days have been linked to aged care facilities.

The number of “mystery” community transmission cases, where the source of the infection is unknown, sits at 64 cases for Melbourne between September 3 and September 16.

Health officials want to drive that number down to only five mystery cases over a fortnight before the most significant lifting of restrictions, which is scheduled for late October.

Regional Victoria entered step 3 of the roadmap out of restrictions on Thursday, allowing many businesses to reopen and travel to other parts of the state.

The 14-day average outside of Melbourne has fallen to 1.9.

More detail on the daily numbers is expected to be revealed at a press conference later in the day.

Fit-testing program for healthcare PPE overdue, AMA says

The Victorian Government has announced a new program for protecting healthcare workers from respiratory hazards.

Under the program, all health services will be required to have a respiratory protection program that determines the risk of workers’ exposure to hazards, such as tuberculosis and coronavirus.

A fit-testing trial of N95 masks running at Northern Health will also be expanded to all COVID-19 wards.

Availability and fitting of personal protective equipment (PPE) has been of great concern for healthcare staff throughout the pandemic, with workers at a number of hospitals and aged care settings saying requests have not been met.

Healthcare workers have made up a significant proportion of cases during Victoria’s second wave, with a majority acquiring the infection at work.

The vice-president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Victorian branch, Roderick McRae, said fit-testing face masks earlier would have helped reduce coronavirus transmission in healthcare settings.

“It provides a high level of certainty that the mask that you’re wearing is actually designed for your face,” Dr McRae said.

“Typically there’s been an assumption that one size fits all. That’s not correct.”

The scheme is set to be in place across all health services by October.

“While we’re pleased to see the rate of healthcare worker infections trending down, it’s critical that we continue to boost protection for our healthcare heroes in line with the best expert advice,” Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said in a statement.



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Incredible sportsmanship stuns, Victoria Azarenka vs Daria Kasatkina


Hearts melted across the tennis world after Victoria Azarenka’s touching display of sportsmanship towards her distraught rival.

The beaten US Open finalist was playing Daria Kasatkina in the round of 16 at the Italian Open this morning when the pair were locked in a first-set tiebreak after neither player could grab the upper hand.

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But disaster struck for Kasatkina when she took a tumble on the court, the nasty fall causing an injury that prevented her from carrying on.

Azarenka retrieved ice and jogged it over to the 23-year-old, and even helped take her right shoe off as she sat on the clay in Rome to help apply the ice to her ankle.

Kasatkina became overwhelmed with emotion and started sobbing on the court. Azarenka continued to show her true class, grabbing a towel and wiping dirt and sweat off her opponent before putting an arm around her and consoling the world No. 74.

Kasatkina retired and the youngster’s sadness was obvious as she put her head in her hand while the tears kept flowing.

Azarenka appeared again, once again wrapping her arm around Kasatkina and consoling her. The 31-year-old knelt down in front of Kasatkina and offered her words of encouragement, then kissed her on the top of the head.

It was obvious Kasatkina was appreciative of the touching gesture, reaching out and grabbing Azarenka’s hand while thanking her for her compassion.

To top it off, Azarenka even packed Kasatkina’s bag for her.

“It’s always a lovely thing, isn’t it, to see the genuine camaraderie that exists between tennis players when one of them is hurt,” a commentator said of the moving scenes.

“It’s often in the worst situations that one sees the very finest advertisement for a sport like this.

“It’s not the enduring image we expected of this match but it is a very powerful enduring image, isn’t it?”

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Speaking after the match, Azarenka said: “I feel like and I hope that this moment is going to be a turnaround for her. I know it’s an adversity, but I hope she takes the best out of this situation and pushes forward. I feel like she can. I wish her that.

“I offered her my help and my team’s help if she needs it. I really hope she will recover, because she’s been playing so beautifully, so smart on the court, putting me in very uncomfortable situations where I had to really push myself.

“It was really great battle out there. I was enjoying it a lot.

“It’s hard to find the words. She was very gracious. She said that my comeback inspired her.

“I told her … just keep going, never think it’s over.

“She’s a strong girl, she has a big personality. I think she’ll be fine.”

Tennis commentator Jose Morgado said Azarenka’s actions were “fabulous” and a “great gesture”, while American sports writer Christopher Clarey tweeted it was “touching to see Azarenka comforting Kasatkina at length”.

World No. 36 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova loved what she saw, writing “These 2” with clapping and love-heart eye emojis on social media.

Tennis writer Zenia D’Cunha said: “Heart breaks for Kasatkina but if there is one player who can talk to her & encourage from recent example, it’s Vika.”

Replying to a clip of Azarenka kissing Kasatkina, Hannah Wilks tweeted: “That’s not how you socially distance in the COVID times but I don’t care, it was such a sweet & spontaneous gesture from Vika.”



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Scott Morrison flags increase on international arrival caps, Victoria records 45 COVID-19 cases, QLD border to reopen to ACT, Australia death toll at 839


People travelling on domestic flights in Australia will be required to give over their contact details so that they can be contacted by health authorities should they be exposed to coronavirus, national cabinet has agreed today.

“From 1 October, part of the mandatory manifest information will be name, email address, a mobile contact number, and a state of residence,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters.

“There’s still some work to be done there [and] that will be arranged with the major airlines, with the Department of Infrastructure, and those arrangements are being put in place now.”

Speaking about the long-awaited trans-Tasman travel bubble with New Zealand, Mr Morrison said this was a matter of priority, as fewer Australians coming from New Zealand staying in hotel quarantine would free up spots in the country’s hotel quarantine program.



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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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Italian Open rocked by blackout, stunning result, Victoria Azarenka


A blackout didn’t interrupt Lorenzo Musetti’s rhythm as he continued his giant-killing run in Rome by defeating Kei Nishikori 6-3 6-4.

The 18-year-old backed up his straight-sets win over 10th seed Stan Wawrinka in the first round of the Italian Open with another classy win over former world No. 4 Nishikori.

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With the Japanese star serving at 4-4 in the second set, the lights went out at the venue — literally — and there was a short break in play on multiple courts until power returned.

As tennis scribe Ben Rothenberg tweeted: “Well if this doesn’t sum up 2020…”

Italian Musetti was all business upon the resumption and the teenager sealed his place in the third round — as well as a guaranteed top-200 ranking next week.

“Wawrinka and Nishikori are champions. I’m really happy,” he said.

Musetti’s victory comes after Victoria Azarenka stunned everybody with a 6-0 6-0 demolition of reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.

Azarenka, who lost to Naomi Osaka in the US Open final on the weekend, had no hangover from her Flushing Meadows disappointment as she crushed the young American, who was also her doubles partner in the New York bubble recently.

“Wouldn’t believe it but I watched it,” New York Times tennis writer Christopher Clarey tweeted. “A combination of Azarenka’s sparkling form and Kenin’s serious disarray.

“That is, by the way, also clearly no way to treat your doubles partner.”

Fellow tennis writer Tumaini Carayol called the result “incredible” while commentator Jose Morgado simply said: “Yikes.”

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