Massive surge in Victorian death toll

 

Victoria has recorded 81 new cases and 59 deaths - although a number of those deaths were not in the past 24 hours.

It's understood a number of the newly reported deaths are previously known deaths that have been reclassified. There was also a spike in the state's death toll on Monday, when the state recorded 41 new deaths.

That total included 22 people who died in the weeks leading up to 27 August and were reported to DHHS by aged care facilities.

Meanwhile, Victorians are being called on to endure another eight weeks of lockdown for the greater good of the nation.

The brutal call comes from one of Australia's most respected think tanks, the Grattan Institute, which says the state's six-week lockdown will almost certainly not be enough to reopen the economy.

It is calling on Victoria, NSW, and Queensland to "aggressively drive COVID-19 cases down to zero" as part of an explicit national policy of no active cases in the Australian community.

"Opening up too early, while coronavirus is still in the community, runs the risk of future outbreaks, reimposed lockdowns, renewed economic disruption, and more deaths," the report's authors wrote. "Having come this far, we should finish the job."

Students face 'solitary confinement'

A Queensland school principal has fired up saying her pupils will be treated worse when they return from an interstate trip.

Toowoomba boarding school Fairholme College, Linda Evans,said her students are facing two weeks of what she calls "solitary confinement".

"We don't treat our prisoners that way, we certainly won't treat our students that way," she told Sunrise.

Host Samantha Armytage added; "It's ridiculous, it's absolutely ridiculous. You have written to the Queensland Premier five times about this, have you had any reply?"

Ms Evans responded; "No, I haven't. I find that incredibly disappointing. I think if we can't reach out to the leader of our state and seek advice and seek empathy and compassion, I don't understand why she is leading our state."


No new cases in Queensland

For the first time in 10 days Queensland has detected no new cases of COVID-19.

The state has now added the town of Moree to its travel bubble.


81 new cases and 59 deaths in Victoria

Victoria has recorded 81 new cases and 59 deaths - although a significant number of those deaths were not in the past 24 hours.

A total of 50 of the 59 deaths took place between July and August, and have been reclassified.

"The State & Federal govts and Aged Care sector worked together to reconcile data and update Victorian reporting related to deaths," DHHS said in a statement.

There was also a spike in the state's death toll on Monday, when the state recorded 41 new deaths.

That total included 22 people who died in the weeks leading up to 27 August and were reported to DHHS by aged care facilities.

Anger over 'royal' AFL treatment


AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan says footy executives, WAGs and media who flew from Victoria to Queensland are "doing this quarantine the same as everyone else".

Images released by Nine showing them enjoying a huge swimming pool at their luxury Gold Coast resort tell a different story.

The Queensland government's decision to welcome the 400 Melbourne-based AFL bigwigs to cross the border has been met with fury as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is accused of double standards.

Read more


What's happening in National Cabinet

It's that time of the week again, and this time Scott Morrison will have a fight on his hands in the National Cabinet.

He is set to clash with leaders over border closures as he tries to convince states to reopen.

"Australia was not meant to be closed," Mr Morrison told parliament yesterday. "Australia was meant to be open."

He wants a unified definition - based on medical advice - on what makes an area with a COVID outbreak a "hotspot" so that state borders can re-open.

He will reportedly suggest that a hotspot is a place with more than 30 cases of community transmission in 10 days.

However, some state and territories are not on board.

Victoria is reportedly undecided. NSW agrees, and South Australia is a maybe. But Queensland and WA are not playing ball, the NT and Tasmania don't seem to want to budge either.

The leaders are also expected to discuss international arrival caps.

'Not going to be popular' Karl's border rant

Today host Karl Stefanovic has come to the defence of the Queensland premier after heavy criticism of her stance on borders.

Before speaking to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, he looked into the camera - telling viewers he couldn't understand the pile on.

"What I'm about to say is not going to be popular with everyone, especially you Pete, but I'm personally finding the pile on Annastasia Palaszczuk right now a little hard to understand," he said.

"Do we not remember where we were six weeks ago in Victoria? Six weeks. Now everyone is carrying on like we have got a vaccine.

"We don't. Do we need a road map out of this? Yes. Do we need borders to open? Yes. Do we need borders to open? Yes. Do we need those with health issues given exemptions, agricultural exemptions, tick, tick, tick.

"But from what I can see Anna is doing what she was elected to do, fiercely protect her state.

"When you look at the terrible impact of COVID in Victoria who can blame her?

"Today we see front page headlines accusing her and the leaders of WA and Victoria of betraying the nation. Wow. National betrayal? Surely jumping the shark."

Mr Dutton responded by saying he wasn't on the "same page" as Stefanovic.

"I don't have any problem with borders being closed if that's the recommendation of the health authorities, but in Queensland it's not," he said.

"The trouble at the moment is that we have got a situation that is all political and we are seeing a lot of people suffer. I think the mental health issues mean we should make borders open as soon as possible.

"Zero cases, if that's the test for success, we are going broke.

"Businesses will close, those jobs won't be there, so we have got to think about what's happening today, but what happens over the next six months and the borders closed at the moment means complete devastation for families in Queensland and there is no reason for it."


Decision on Father's Day visits expected

Residents in Greater Sydney and the Central Coast will find out either today or tomorrow whether they will be able to visit their loved ones in care homes this Father's Day.

The current health advice is urging people living and working in those areas to avoid nursing homes.

The warning was issued last week when the number of daily locally acquired COVID-19 cases was in double-digits.

However, on Thursday health authorities reported 12 new cases - nine locally acquired and three travellers in hotel quarantine.

Alert for Sydney golf club

A Sydney golf club is the latest location to be linked to a positive coronavirus case.

The Brighton Lakes Recreation and Golf Club said a person with COVID-19 was at the club on August 28 between 6.15pm and midnight.

Anyone who was at the club during those hours must self-isolate up to and including September 11.

'Eight more weeks': Devastating lockdown call

One of Australia's most respected think tanks is urging authorities to impose an eight-week lockdown extension to eliminate COVID-19.

It's news that no Victorian wants to hear as Melbourne's tough stage four measures are supposed to end in nine days time.

But a new report from the Grattan Institute says the six-week lockdown will almost certainly not be enough.

It is calling on Victoria, NSW, and Queensland to "aggressively drive COVID-19 cases down to zero" as part of an explicit national policy of no active cases in the Australian community.

"Opening up too early, while coronavirus is still in the community, runs the risk of future outbreaks, reimposed lockdowns, renewed economic disruption, and more deaths," the report's authors wrote. "Having come this far, we should finish the job."

They said that the current strategy in NSW is "dangerous".

"The NSW strategy of seeking to keep cases down to a manageable level is also dangerous, because the longer the virus is in the community, the greater the risk of breakouts requiring lockdowns to be reimposed to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed," they said.

"That's a 'yo-yo' strategy - the economy could be seized with uncertainty as businesses open, close, open, and close again."

The report says Victoria, NSW, and Queensland could instead eliminate the virus if Victorian endured another eight weeks of lockdown.

"There should be no easing until daily new cases are below 20, then further easing when the numbers fall to five, and again at zero," it reads.

"A successful national campaign to get to zero and stay there would enable all restrictions to be eased other than international quarantine, while the quest for a vaccine continues.

"Australia should go for zero, because the pay-off will be worth it."

'Traffic light' system: Vic business road map

Victorian's Chamber of Commerce chief executive says the state government's COVID-19 road map for businesses is based around a four-stage "traffic light" system.

Paul Guerra has told Guardian Australia about the draft road map template being used during consults ahead of Premier Daniel Andrews revealing the plan this Sunday.

He noted the template was still missing key information such as dates or infection thresholds for each phase progression.

"If you move down the vertical axis there are these six common requirements - ensure physical distancing, wear a mask, practise good hygiene, quickly act if staff become unwell, avoid interactions in enclosed spaces and create workforce bubbles," Mr Guerra told the publication.

"Then across the horizontal axis, you've got the four phases.

"Closed, which is red, heavily restricted, which is orange, restricted, which is yellow, and then green - open with the Covid-safe plan.

"So obviously every business wants to be in the green section… as quick as possible."

In a statement on Thursday, Mr Guerra said the Victorian Chamber of Commerce had been "consulting extensively" with the state government, other industry bodies and unions this week "to inform the design" of the road map.

"We have relayed feedback from our members to the government as we hear daily from desperate businesses needing to be given the greenlight to reopen before it is too late," he said.

"Any restart plan needs to be enacted in line with health advice and trends of lowering transmission numbers, but businesses cannot stay closed forever.

"On Sunday, Victorian businesses will expect a clear road map for restart with realistic dates and health parameters that enable every business and employee to get on with rebuilding our economy.

"This should be based on a focus on the health response rather than blunt industry and geographic restrictions."

He said businesses need "clarity and certainty".

"And we have been consulting with government in good faith on a template to restart which includes four stages," Mr Guerra said.

"Premier Daniel Andrews today stated the road map announced on Sunday will be guided by case numbers and the type of cases.

"The Victorian Chamber will continue its engagement on the sector plans ahead of Sunday's announcement and reiterates the importance of Government, community and business collaboration to get transmission numbers down so we can reopen as soon as possible, safely.

"It is vital for all Victorians to continue doing the right thing to bring case numbers down so that our businesses can reopen and people can go back to work.

"Let's make this plan one that gives every Victorian hope for the future."

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Andrews begged for patience after "out of date" documents were leaked regarding the plan to ease restrictions.

Metropolitan Melbourne remains under stage four measures including an 8pm to 5am curfew, a 5km radius for essential shopping and one hour of daily exercise, while stage three is in place for regional Victoria.

Originally published as Massive surge in Victorian death toll


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