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Local News - Victoria

Supermarkets brace for second wave of panic buying


Coles said shoppers in locked-down areas, in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, would only be able to buy one pack of toilet paper from Wednesday morning.

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There are also two-item limits on pasta, rice, flour, sugar, milk, chicken, eggs, frozen food, tissues, hand sanitiser and liquid soaps.

Woolworths returned product limits to all Victorian stores.

“The move follows a surge in demand across Victoria overnight and will help ensure more customers have fair access to fresh food and essentials at Woolworths,” the supermarket said on Wednesday.

“We have more than enough stock flowing from our distribution centres into stores to support all our customers’ food and grocery needs. We encourage all our customers to continue shopping as they usually would.”

Shoppers at Woolworths stores will only be able to buy two packets each of frozen food, pre-packed meats, carrots, potatoes, milk, sliced bread, tissues, chilled juice, pasta, eggs, flour, rice, sugar, paper towel, and hand sanitiser. Toilet paper was still limited to two at Woolworths stores around the country.

A packaged salad shelf at Coles in Prahran on Tuesday night.

A packaged salad shelf at Coles in Prahran on Tuesday night.Credit:Paul Sakkal

Coles said it would continue to monitor stock at other stores and asked shoppers to treat staff with respect and adhere to social distancing in stores.

Melburnians depleted stock of some supermarket products following the announcement of renewed restrictions on Tuesday night, but many items remained in plentiful supply. Supermarket workers said frenzied buying was mild compared to the initial bout in March.

Toilet paper, potatoes, tomatoes and bread were running low at six supermarkets across inner-eastern Melbourne. Meat and pasta stocks appeared largely unaffected and most items were still widely available, bar a few exceptions.

Workers at Woolworths in Hawthorn East and Coles in Richmond said there was a rush of customers in the late afternoon and early evening. Both workers said supermarkets were better prepared for over-buying and had extra stock to replenish shelves.

The stock of onions was running low at Coles in Richmond on Tuesday night.

The stock of onions was running low at Coles in Richmond on Tuesday night.Credit:Paul Sakkal

Hitesh Palta – owner of the IGA Altona store in Melbourne’s south-western suburbs, the first store in Australia to introduce elderly-only hours at the start of the pandemic – said there were signs that some people had begun unnecessarily filling their shopping trolleys again.

“There are some customers getting panicked but we do tell them there’s plenty of stock,” Mr Palta said on Tuesday afternoon, shortly after Premier Daniel Andrews announced stage three lockdown would return from 11.59pm on Wednesday.

Shoppers at Coles in Richmond on Tuesday.

Shoppers at Coles in Richmond on Tuesday.Credit:Joe Armao

“We’ve got plenty of stock, nobody is going without anything. Everything is fully stocked up.”

Sales jumped about 20 per cent in the past two weeks, compared with the previous fortnight, but he said that was nothing compared with the 300 per cent jump his store experienced in March.

Mr Palta hoped stores don’t experience that rush again. “There’s no need to panic buy, just buy what you need,” he said.

Coles had earlier struggled to get chilled and fresh produce on the shelves of Victorian and Tasmanian stores after a cluster of six coronavirus cases was connected to its chilled distribution centre in Laverton.

A significant proportion of staff at the distribution centre self-isolated at home as a precaution, which meant the centre could not operate at normal capacity.

Lincoln Wymer, the operations manager of the Reddrop Group, with 17 independent supermarkets in Victoria and NSW, spent Tuesday afternoon preparing for the lockdown announcement.

He had yet to see a reaction from shoppers.

There had been an increase in toilet paper sales again over the past two weeks, he said, but he hoped that would just be a blip after the initial panic-buying in March.

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Local News - Victoria

Supermarkets brace for second wave of panic buying


Major supermarkets assured customers supply would be maintained and stores would remain open.

Workers at Woolworths in Hawthorn East and Coles in Richmond said there was a rush of customers in the late afternoon and early evening. Both workers said supermarkets were better prepared for over-buying and had extra stock to replenish shelves.

Panic buying surged in March as coronavirus cases began to spread, with shoppers stripping shelves of toilet paper and pantry items such as canned goods, eggs and flour.

A packaged salad shelf at Coles in Prahran on Tuesday night.

A packaged salad shelf at Coles in Prahran on Tuesday night.Credit:Paul Sakkal

Hitesh Palta – owner of the IGA Altona store in Melbourne’s south-western suburbs, the first store in Australia to introduce elderly-only hours at the start of the pandemic – said there were signs that some people had begun unnecessarily filling their shopping trolleys again.

“There are some customers getting panicked but we do tell them there’s plenty of stock,” Mr Palta said on Tuesday afternoon, shortly after Premier Daniel Andrews announced stage three lockdown would return from 11.59pm on Wednesday.

The stock of onions was running low at Coles in Richmond on Tuesday night.

The stock of onions was running low at Coles in Richmond on Tuesday night.Credit:Paul Sakkal

“We’ve got plenty of stock, nobody is going without anything. Everything is fully stocked up.”

Sales jumped about 20 per cent in the past two weeks, compared with the previous fortnight, but he said that was nothing compared with the 300 per cent jump his store experienced in March.

Shoppers at Coles in Richmond on Tuesday.

Shoppers at Coles in Richmond on Tuesday.Credit:Joe Armao

Mr Palta hoped stores don’t experience that rush again. “There’s no need to panic buy, just buy what you need,” he said.

Only this week Coles and Woolworths removed some purchase restrictions after a second bout of panic buying slowed.

The stores have repeatedly asked shoppers to treat staff with respect and only buy what they need, while adhering to social distancing in-store.

Altona IGA owner Hitesh Palta, left, with a customer. His supermarket was the first to introduce an elderly-only shopping hour.

Altona IGA owner Hitesh Palta, left, with a customer. His supermarket was the first to introduce an elderly-only shopping hour.Credit:Jason South

Coles removed all limits on its products nationally from Tuesday, while Woolworths retained its two-pack-per-person limit on toilet paper for the time being.

Coles, Woolworths and Aldi have not announced that purchasing limits would return following Mr Andrews’ announcement on Tuesday.

“We know it’s an anxious time for Melburnians, but they can be assured our stores will remain open just as they did throughout March and April,” a Woolworths spokesperson said on Tuesday night.

“We have more than enough stock flowing through from our distribution centres and into our stores to support all our customers’ grocery needs.

“We encourage all our customers to continue shopping as they usually would.”

Coles had struggled to get chilled and fresh produce on the shelves of Victorian and Tasmanian stores after a cluster of six cases was connected to its chilled distribution centre in Laverton.

A significant proportion of staff at the distribution centre self-isolated at home as a precaution, which meant the centre could not operate at normal capacity.

“We thank customers for their patience and understanding while the limits were in place to help us manage increased demand in stores and temporary delays in our Victorian supply chain,” a Coles spokesperson said on Monday.

Lincoln Wymer, the operations manager of the Reddrop Group, with 17 independent supermarkets in Victoria and NSW, spent Tuesday afternoon preparing for the lockdown announcement.

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He had yet to see a reaction from shoppers.

There had been a milder rush in toilet paper sales again over the past two weeks, he said, but he hoped that was just be a blip after the initial panic-buying in March.

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COVID-19 ‘out of control’ as Melbourne second wave grows


There’s now no doubt that Victoria is experiencing a concerning second wave of coronavirus infections that authorities seem to have no control of.

That’s the view of Professor Adrian Esterman, a biostatistics expert and epidemiologist at the University of South Australia, whose described the situation as “almost chaotic”.

It was announced today that another 191 new cases of COVID-19 have been detected in the past 24 hours, representing the state’s largest daily increase since the pandemic began.

While it’s impossible to predict what could happen in the short-term, Professor Esterman fears things could get much worse before they get better.

“My gut feeling? They’ve lost control and they need to do something fairly drastic,” he said.

“We’re seeing an almost exponential rise in new daily cases. It’s becoming more and more difficult for the Victorian Government to contain it.

“I think the genie has gotten out of the bottle.”

RELATED: Follow the latest coronavirus updates

Professor Esterman said lockdown restrictions should be reintroduced in a bid to prevent further community transmission of the virus.

If numbers keep increasing, a statewide return to stage three measures might provide the only hope of preventing a public health disaster, he said.

That would allow four valid reasons to leave the house, being: shopping for food and supplies, care and care-giving, exercise, and study or work when it can’t be done from home.

“And exemptions to quarantine rules should not be granted,” he added.

“Testing should no longer be a choice. People in 14-day quarantine should be tested on day 11, and if they refuse, made to go into another 14 days of quarantine. Breaking quarantine should be a serious offence.

“Far better communication is needed to explain why these measures are essential, and health authorities should ensure their messaging also reaches those who do not speak English as a first language.

“People should be encouraged to wear face masks whenever outside. There is increasing evidence they are effective in areas of high transmission.”

It would no doubt be painful and an unfortunate backward step for Victoria, but it could be the only thing to get on top of the second wave, he said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Premier Daniel Andrews announced that the Melbourne metropolitan region will enter stage three lockdown, with stay-at-home orders in place for six weeks.

Addressing the media, Mr Andrews conceded the situation is “unsustainable” and the rapidly rising numbers mean there simply aren’t enough people to contact trace new infections.

“If we fail to take these steps, then it won’t be a couple of hundred cases per day, it will be many more than that and spiral well and truly out of control.

“Cusp of a second wave, second wave, whatever people want to call this is entirely irrelevant. We have to be realistic about the circumstances that we confront. We have to be clear with each other that this is not over.”

RELATED: Melbourne tower residents left to ‘starve’ as SES takes away food

The situation now is more complex than at the start of the pandemic, when the majority of cases were ‘imported’ from travellers returning from overseas.

“The real concern is when there’s increasing community transmission where the origin of the virus is unknown. That’s been going up and down over the past several days.

“It makes things more challenging when it’s difficult for authorities to work out where the infection has come from. If you can’t do that, it means there are more cases out there.”

Coronavirus has shown itself to be an unpredictable pandemic, with a number of variables to infection that are virtually impossible to anticipate.

“The mathematical modelling is useless. It’s an almost chaotic situation that’s difficult to predict.”

RELATED: Man appears to bolt out of last train from Melbourne to Sydney

The resurgence has been linked to failures in the state’s hotel quarantine system, with those in mandatory 14-day isolation allowed to flout rules and security guards accused of facilitating breaches and even sleeping with those in lockdown.

Large family gatherings also caused large clusters of infections, health officials have said.

Fears of community transmission have seen localised lockdowns in specific postcodes, including the total isolation of several public housing towers.

A stage three lockdown has now extended to the entirety of Melbourne.

The government also suspended the easing of social distancing measures and reintroduced some bans on non-essential gatherings.



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Australian News

Victoria in the midst of ‘second wave’ of COVID-19, Australian health experts say


Infectious disease experts across the country are calling on authorities to lockdown coronavirus hot spots in Victoria.

It comes after the state recorded 75 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, the largest increase since 70 cases were recorded on March 31 and Victoria’s fourth-highest single day increase since the start of the pandemic.

And South Australia has dumped its plan to lift quarantine measures for Victoria, NSW and the ACT next month on the latest health advice.

Professor of Hospital Infection and Infectious Diseases Control at the University of New South Wales Mary-Louise McLaws said Victoria was experiencing a resurgence of “epic proportion”.

“Victoria has had three distinct risk categories – community that is mostly family clusters, quarantine hotel staff, and health providers … but what is particularly driving this is the interconnection between these three risk groups,” she said.

Professor McLaws said instructions about wearing masks needed to be clearer.

“It’s time the authorities accepted the WHO Mask Guidelines for people living in areas with high infection and those who find themselves in situations where they cannot keep physical distancing such as in public transport and hot spots,” she said.

The messaging that masks only work by protecting uninfected persons from an infected person who is wearing the mask is not correct – otherwise why do health workers wear a mask while carrying for someone with COVID.”

Griffith University School of Environment and science professor Hamish McCallum said Victoria was “clearly” in the midst of a second wave of coronavirus.

“Certainly, the rise in daily reported cases looks qualitatively very similar to the initial wave in March. However, this does need to be viewed in terms of the increased testing and relaxation of the criteria for testing,” he said.

“We will be seeing more asymptomatic cases among these positives than was the case back in March.

“Victoria‘s percentage of positive tests is now less than 0.5 per cent, whereas it was about 2 per cent in mid-March.”

Director of the UQ Centre for Clinical Research at the The University of Queensland Professor David Paterson said Victoria’s weakness was “leakage” from quarantine.

“Quarantine hotel workers were not adequately trained in infection prevention and the quarantined travellers were not cleared prior to release,” he said.

“This weakness, coupled with community complacency, has led to further spread in the community.”

Meanwhile, South Australia has scrapped a plan to lift all its remaining border restrictions next month amid the spike in coronavirus cases in Victoria.

Premier Steven Marshall said the July 20 date to lift quarantine measures for Victoria, NSW and the ACT had been abandoned on the latest health advice. He said SA may move separately on NSW and the ACT, but no date had yet been set with the state’s transition committee to consider that issue on Friday.

“We are increasingly concerned about the outbreaks which are occurring in Victoria,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“At this stage, we cannot possibly lift that border (with Victoria) on the 20th July as we were hoping to do.” Mr Marshall said the decision would also mean any AFL teams coming into South Australia from Victoria would be required to isolate for two weeks, as well as any returning SA teams that played in Melbourne.

“We apologise to the many people who will have to make changes but our number one priority is the health, safety and wellbeing of all South Australians,” he said.

SA previously lifted its border quarantine measures for Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory and remained on track to do the same for other jurisdictions until the surge in COVID-19 cases in Melbourne. On Monday, 75 new infections were reported there, after 90 new cases over the weekend.

SA also reported three new cases on Monday, but all among about 260 Australians repatriated from India on Saturday.

In response to Victoria’s spike in cases, South Australia has also bolstered its policing of the border, with 260 officers stationed there to check on people entering the state.

Greater surveillance of backroads is also being conducted.



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Second wave in Victoria – what’s happening?


The news today that Victoria has recorded another 75 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, continuing a trend of sharp daily increases, has added to talk of a “second wave”.

Could it be the first warning sign that Australia’s overall success in flattening the curve is about to come to a devastating end?

Victoria was just beginning to emerge from its strict lockdown measures when the flare-up began, forcing a reintroduction of bans.

The declaration by New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian that Victorians shouldn’t cross the border, and that her citizens should avoid travel south, highlights the seriousness of the resurgence.

Authorities say the situation is likely to get much worse, given the benefits of renewed restrictions and a rapid testing blitz across 10 suburbs won’t be felt for weeks.

Professor James McCaw from the Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics at The University of Melbourne initially wondered whether the uptick was just a blip that could be managed.

“The pendulum is starting to swing towards this being more than a statistical blip,” Prof McCaw said.

“While there is no apparent uptick in hospitalisation yet, it is too early to tell why. It may be that cases are in younger people picked up by the targeted testing system who are less likely to become severely ill.

“Or it may be that in a few weeks time we will see increasing hospitalisations as the infection spreads further.”

RELATED: Follow the latest coronavirus updates

WHAT IS A ‘SECOND WAVE’?

The term “second wave” has almost become part of the Australian lexicon this year … but what does it actually mean?

Professor Marylouise McLaws is an epidemiologist and infectious disease expert at UNSW and said a second wave of infection follows an extended period of zero new cases.

“Normally, that’s twice an incubation period,” Prof McLaws said. “In this case, 28 days.”

After that, a second wave would look like “a sudden return of the same sort of infection rate, or worse, than was seen the first time around”.

But Victoria never got to a sustained period of new recorded infections.

Curiously, there’s no agreed scientific definition of what specifically constitutes the second wave of an infectious disease, but experts say they know it when they see it.

“You’ll see a rise involving a second group of people after infections in a first group have diminished,” epidemiologist Dr Jessica Justman from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health said.

RELATED: Fears of second wave as China reports uptick in cases

This makes it tricky when talking about the COVID-19 situation in countries like the United States, which never really experienced a significant decline in case numbers.

In that sense, America is still experiencing its first wave – albeit a very large one.

“Do you want to call it an extension of the first wave or a second wave superimposed on the first? You could argue it either way,” Dr Justman said.

Dr Eric Toner, a senior researcher at John Hopkins University, doesn’t find talk of “waves” overly helpful.

“When you’re underwater, it’s hard to tell how many waves are passing over your head,” Dr Toner said. “The virus isn’t going away and coming back. The virus is still here. It’s up in some places and down in others.”

EVEN SO …

Health officials in South Korea last week declared the country was in the midst of a second wave, after a sharp spike in new infections in the capital Seoul.

That’s after the country was celebrated as an infection control model for the rest of the world to follow.

Jeong Un-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control, said the surge can be pinpointed to a holiday weekend in early May.

“In the metropolitan area, we believe that the first wave was from March to April as well as February to March,” Mr Jeong said. “Then we see that the second wave which was triggered by the May holiday has been going on.”

Crowds of young people flocking to night clubs over that holiday period, as well as well-attended indoor church services, are believed to have amplified infections.

In February, daily case numbers peaked at 909 but by April they’d fallen down to single digits.

However, the numbers have picked up again, with new case numbers spiking at the end of May to 79 in a single day. Since then, the average daily new cases have hovered between 30 and 58.

“As long as people have close contact with others, we believe that infections will continue,” Mr Jeong said.

As of Monday, South Korea has a total of 12,757 cases – 42 new infections in the past day – and a death toll of 282.

In Iran, the number of coronavirus infections has passed 220,000 and at least 10,000 people have died since the first reported case in mid-February.

The Middle Eastern nation hit a low in new daily cases in early May, but rates are on an upward trajectory once more.

As a result, authorities have mandated the wearing of face masks and reintroduced lockdowns and bans on mass public gatherings.

Israel has also declared it’s experiencing a second wave, after recording an uptick in new cases.

THE VICTORIAN SITUATION

Prof McLaws describes the unfolding scenario in Victoria as “a perfect storm” of factors.

“It’s a community transmission mainly pushed by three large family clusters, it’s the interconnectivity of those cluster groups, and it’s the infection of health providers and staff in quarantine hotels,” she said.

But it doesn’t represent a second wave, she believes.

“It’s a spike, a resurgence of significance and a worrying trend, but I wouldn’t call it a second wave.”

Not only is it not a second wave, but it’s a sign of more to come – not just in Victoria, but potentially elsewhere, Professor Raina MacIntyre, Head of Biosecurity Research Program at the Kirby Institute, said.

“This is the new normal until the day we have an effective vaccine and can vaccinate everyone,” Prof MacIntyre said.

“The pandemic is getting worse globally. We will be living with the virus and intermittent epidemics for some time – we need to make sure we can control the epidemics as they arise, anywhere in Australia.”

RELATED: Victoria considers local lockdowns as coronavirus hot spots identified

While Victoria is the current focus of attention, the conditions for transmission are largely similar across the nation and outbreaks are a genuine possibility in all states and territories, Prof McCaw said.

“It is important to keep in mind that cases being reported today reflect transmission activity some one-to-two weeks ago.

“Likewise, responses put in place today – and changes in behaviour that may occur spontaneously as people realise that the virus is still here and continues to pose a major threat – will not be reflected in reported data for another one-to-two weeks.”

Jeremy Rossman, a senior lecturer in virology at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, said the concept of “waves” implies the pandemic is “a force of nature that’s beyond our control”.

But there’s strong evidence that the opposite is true – and it presents a strong lesson for Victoria, and indeed the rest of Australia, to take note of.

“A strong public health system, consisting of widespread testing, contact tracing, isolation and health support, combined with public participation in safe behaviour – wearing face coverings, keeping physical distance, hand washing – is highly effective at minimising COVID-19 transmission,” Mr Rossman said.

“We are in an ebb and flow of COVID-19 transmission that is continually affected by our precautionary actions. Letting up on precautions will lead to an increase in cases.

“This is the new normal and what to expect until we have an effective vaccine with significant population uptake. Until then we have to depend on our actions to keep cases low.”

– With wires



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Melbourne launches new COVID-19 test amid fears of second wave


A new world-first coronavirus test will be rolled out across Melbourne’s priority suburbs amid fears a second wave of the virus will hit the state.

The saliva test, developed by scientists at Victoria’s Doherty Institute, will replace the traditional nasal swab, with an army of health crews going door-to-door with the new testing equipment today.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced last week Keilor Downs, Albanvale, Sunshine West, Maidstone, Hallam and Broadmeadows were known hot spots.

Brunswick West, Fawkner, Reservoir and Pakenham completed the top 10 list.

Royal Melbourne Hospital department of clinical microbiology Professor Deborah Williamson said the new test was a non-invasive alternative to COVID-19 testing.

“This novel diagnostic approach has been trialled in our laboratory and in labs around the world, and our work suggests this approach may be an alternative to swab testing in some settings,” she said.

“The Doherty Institute public health laboratories are pleased to work with the Victorian Government and other laboratories to assess the feasibility, acceptability and scalability of saliva testing in the community.”

Melburnians living outside the city’s hot spots can expect to receive traditional nasal swabs when being tested for coronavirus.

It follows the State Government’s stern warning yesterday suburban lockdowns were on the table as experts analyse new COVID-19 data later today.

Victoria recorded 49 new cases yesterday, an increase of eight on Saturday’s figures and the highest daily total since April 2.

Four of the new cases were linked to known outbreaks, with the source of infection still under investigation in the remaining 45.



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Second wave a ‘distinct possibility’


As Victoria braces for the very high likelihood of more coronavirus cases today, one politician has warned the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 hitting Australia is a “distinct possibility”.
 
 

Speaking on Insiders yesterday shadow health minister Chris Bowen said Australians had to prepare for more cases given what had happened in Victoria over the weekend. 

“We  have been aware for a long time that a second wave is a distinct possibility if we are not very cautious,” he told host David Speers.

Some state premiers are showing uneasiness after Victoria was forced to reimpose some COVID-19 restrictions and delay planned ones for three weeks after recording double-digit increases in cases for five days in a row.

RELATED: New restrictions in place from today

RELATED: Virus suburbs officials want you to avoid

Victoria confirmed another 19 cases yesterday making a total of 160 new cases in the past week, up from 35 the previous week.

The only other cases reported on Sunday were five in NSW and one in Western Australia, all returned travellers in hotel quarantine. 

More than half of the new Victorian cases since the end of April have come from family members spreading it to their relatives.

The latest figures have led to the Victorian government deciding to extend the state of emergency until July 19. Some states, including Queensland, have indicated they could retain their tough stance against interstate travel as a result.

– AAP 

RELATED: What virus spike means for Aussie borders

Live Updates


Hannah Paine

Queensland looks no closer to loosening its tough border restrictions.

The state has declared metropolitan Melbourne a hotspot, and anyone coming from those areas would need to quarantine for two weeks if they entered the state.

Queensland stopped non-essential interstate travel in late March and is expected to end that on July 10.

“The last thing we want to do is lift the borders, have lots of people come here for school holidays, spread coronavirus in our state, and then force us to go backwards on restrictions,” Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles told reporters yesterday.

“Clearly what’s happening in Victoria will be a matter we will need to take into account in those considerations.”

-AAP


Hannah Paine

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth has said said this weekend’s spike in Victorian cases should be a “timely reminder” about the importance of avoiding close personal contact.

People in other states should continue to avoid hugging, handshaking and kissing friends and family.

“Well that’s certainly my personal view, these are the sort of things that have to stay the same,” Dr Coatsworth said when asked if Australians could resume handshaking and hugging.

“There are various things that help us transmit the virus and very close contact is one of them.”

Dr Coatsworth conceded it was “a hard thing to remember” not to hug or shake hands, but was more important than other measures like face masks.

“You’ve got to catch yourself out now when you see your friends and family who you haven’t seen for a long time, but these things are nonetheless important and are arguably far more important then say wearing masks,” he said.


Hannah Paine

Speaking on Insiders yesterday shadow health minister Chris Bowen said it was unfair to criticise state leaders who had taken a more cautious approach to loosening lockdown restrictions, especially given what had happened in Victoria over the weekend. 

“We  have been aware for a long time that a second wave is a distinct possibility if we are not very cautious,” he told host David Speers.

Mr Bowen said it was important to remember we still had “a long way to go yet” before we could declare the coronavirus pandemic over.

“Until this virus is defeated everywhere, it’s not defeated anywhere,” he said.

“We have to remember, six months ago, one person in the world had this virus, and since then, it has wreaked havoc across the planet. And until we have this under control completely, it is not under control at all.

“So hence, we all want to see the economy opened up. We all want to see borders open. We all want to see it being back to normal. But it would be irresponsible to do it too quickly.” 





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Local News - Victoria

Fears of second wave grow, with police set to crack down on coronavirus lawbreakers


Police will increase their enforcement of restrictions, state of emergency orders have been extended for another month and holidaymakers are warned against congregating in large groups as fears of a second wave continue to grow.

There were 19 new cases of coronavirus overnight, bringing the total number of active cases to 121, following four straight days of double-digit growth.

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Of the new cases, four are linked to known outbreaks, four have been detected in hotel quarantine, three detected through routine testing and eight cases are under investigations. There are now 210 cases believed to be related to community transmission, an increase of 10 from the previous day.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he was “open to the idea” of mandating masks in public and would be raising it at the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee meeting on Sunday afternoon, but did not believe it was necessary in Victoria where the uptick in cases has been driven by family transmission.



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Coronavirus Australia live news: Second wave fears as Victoria cluster grows – The Australian



Coronavirus Australia live news: Second wave fears as Victoria cluster grows  The AustralianView Full coverage on Google News



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Coronavirus live news: Victoria eases pub and cafe rules as Beijing fears second wave | World news











Back to Australia: The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has also given some guidance on restrictions.

On Friday, the national cabinet agreed that under step three of the national guidelines, states could possibly remove the 100 person cap for venues and implement a one person per four square metre rule instead. Meaning that some larger venues could have more than 100.




Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Photograph: James Ross/AAP

Andrews said Victoria was still “testing” whether this would work for venues in the state. And that the national cabinet could still alter that rule.

“That work will be done over the next fortnight and when we next meet as a national cabinet, a fortnight from last Friday, we will make a decision or not, but that matter is being tested, if you like,” he said.

“Because I know that there are a number of pubs, for instance, a number of venues where there is no way of getting 50 patrons in but enclosed space because the room simply isn’t big enough, from a square metre point of view.”

He also said that electronic gambling could be back by 20 July.

“Electronic gaming, that is still some way off, and you will see in the release that we have foreshadowed the 20th of next month.

“It is probably longer than the industry would have liked, but it is important to be cautious about this. It will not be electronic gaming as we know it. It will be spacing, there will be not necessarily every machine, all that is to be worked through.”



















China reports 57 new virus cases, highest daily count since April

Updated










New South Wales, Australia scraps 50-person limit at cafes, restaurants, churches

Updated










The Australian government’s push for economic talks among finance ministers from countries in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance remains vague, with no details yet about the frequency of meetings or their agenda.

But some experts have argued the move to coordinate economic policies with Australia’s traditional security partners reflects a “very deep misunderstanding” of our modern economic interests given the group excludes Asia and most of Europe.

The government indicated this week that Australia had secured support from the other countries in the Five Eyes pact – the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and New Zealand – to hold “regular” meetings to coordinate economic responses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The existing intelligence-sharing arrangement has its origins in the 1940s – and during the Cold War was focused on the Soviet Union – but over time the cooperation between partners has broadened beyond signals intelligence to include issues such as terrorism, organised crime, law-enforcement and borders:










In addition to 50 people being allowed in cafes, restaurants and pubs and patrons being allowed to consume alcohol without a meal, restrictions on some community sports will be eased.

Victorian health minister, Jenny Mikakos, also said that non-contact community
sport would return on 22 June – for both adults and kids, both indoor and outdoor.

Under 18s will be able to play competitively with full contact from 22 June, while adults will be able to train with contact from 13 July, then resume with full contact competition from 20 July.










Victoria, Australia announces nine new cases

The state of Victoria, Australia has announced nine new cases of coronavirus today, three of whom are in hotel quarantine.

One person contracted the virus from an unknown origin, and that is being investigated. Five cases are linked to two known outbreaks, including an outbreak linked to a GP who tested positive.

“The GP worked at three different clinics but did absolutely the right thing,” the health minister, Jenny Mikakos, said. The doctor was tested and stopped working while waiting for results.

Mikakos said they expect six new hotel quarantine cases each day in the state, as residents return home.










Australia’s NRL postpones match amid Covid-19 scare










Victoria, Australia to further ease restrictions from 21 June

Updated










Summary





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