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Good news at last: Victoria’s coronavirus crisis is ‘on a plateau’ as cases hover around 500

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good news at last victorias coronavirus crisis is on a plateau as cases hover around 500

Experts say Victoria may be gaining control of the coronavirus outbreak as daily case numbers hover around 500.

Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth said on Sunday the coronavirus-ravaged state’s infection rate has stabilised. 

‘It appears we’re in the plateau but we’re looking for the inflection point that tells Victorians that their efforts are being rewarded,’ he said.

Hari Krishnas cheerfully singing on the St Kilda foreshore on Sunday. Experts have taken heart that Victoria's daily new infection rate appears to be dropping

Hari Krishnas cheerfully singing on the St Kilda foreshore on Sunday. Experts have taken heart that Victoria's daily new infection rate appears to be dropping

Hari Krishnas cheerfully singing on the St Kilda foreshore on Sunday. Experts have taken heart that Victoria’s daily new infection rate appears to be dropping 

It's not time to celebrate yet, but hope is there in the falling new infection rate

It's not time to celebrate yet, but hope is there in the falling new infection rate

It’s not time to celebrate yet, but hope is there in the falling new infection rate

‘We haven’t seen that yet but I have no doubt that we will see it. If you consider that stage three restrictions had us almost at a plateau, then the stage four restrictions will produce a result.’ 

New daily case numbers in Victoria have been stuck around 500 for the past seven days, falling to 394 new cases on Sunday with 17 new deaths.

Dr Coatsworth said the pandemic was challenging as you ‘never really know where you are on the curve’.

The rate at which the virus spreads is called the ‘reproductive number’ or R-0.

A family frolicks in a St Kilda park in Melbourne on Sunday as new case numbers fall

A family frolicks in a St Kilda park in Melbourne on Sunday as new case numbers fall

A family frolicks in a St Kilda park in Melbourne on Sunday as new case numbers fall

If the R-0 is at one, then R-1 means that every person with the virus spreads it to one other person.

Numbers above R-1 mean a virus will spread exponentially, but if the reproductive number falls below one then the virus will slowly fizzle out. 

COVID-19 has a natural median reproductive number of R5.7, according to a study published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, which explains why it exploded all over Victoria.

CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 21,084

Victoria: 14,659

New South Wales: 3,861

Queensland: 1,088

Western Australia: 642

South Australia: 459

Tasmania: 229

Australian Capital Territory: 113

Northern Territory: 33

TOTAL CASES: 21,084

CURRENT ACTIVE CASES: 8155

DEATHS: 295

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Victoria’s outbreak now has a basic reproductive number of R-1 – or just below one, Dr Coatsworth said on Sunday.

‘The ideal situation would be if we could see that reproductive number at 0.5,’ he said.

‘We don’t have enough data at the moment from the numbers to see whether that’s approaching 0.5, but in the coming days to week we will see that.’ 

Grim secret modelling by the Victorian Government leaked on Wednesday estimated the daily case load would rise to 1100 by the end of this week.

The dire forecast showed case numbers would then hover above 1000 per day and would not fall below current levels until the end of August.  

High case numbers would persist well into September and October, topping 300 a day when the state’s stage four lockdown is due to end in September, according to documents leaked to The Australian.

But with the stage four lockdown reducing numbers quickly, there is a new burst of optimism, which was matched last Thursday by epidemiologist Professor Tony Blakely from the University of Melbourne.

Professor Blakely used a five-day moving average to smooth out the daily numbers, saying the outbreak has already peaked thanks to mask wearing. 

‘It looks like the curve turned at 30 July. But more importantly, it makes sense.’ he said.

The professor said July 30 was about one week from when mandatory mask wearing was put in place by the Victorian government – which is also slightly more than the virus’s five day incubation period. 

A lone protester was detained after a proposed anti-lockdown rally did not materialise in Melbourne on Sunday. The harsh lockdown and mandatory facemasks have already got new infection numbers falling, giving hope to the community

A lone protester was detained after a proposed anti-lockdown rally did not materialise in Melbourne on Sunday. The harsh lockdown and mandatory facemasks have already got new infection numbers falling, giving hope to the community

A lone protester was detained after a proposed anti-lockdown rally did not materialise in Melbourne on Sunday. The harsh lockdown and mandatory facemasks have already got new infection numbers falling, giving hope to the community

‘Mask wearing appears to have bent the curve, consistent with expectation. Or put another way, the numbers would be higher now without mask wearing, and much higher again without Stage 3 restrictions,’ he said. 

He predicted a significant drop in the smoothed-out daily numbers would occur about 10 days from when Victoria put Stage 4 restrictions in place on Thursday. 

He said once the numbers drop to around 200 per day, which he expects stage four restrictions will achieve, then contact tracing teams will be less overwhelmed and the state will be able to keep the numbers down.

There are now 634 people with coronavirus in hospital in Victoria of which 43 are in intensive care, Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services said on Sunday.

Grim Victorian government modelling predicted coronavirus cases would peak in mid to late August, with average daily new cases hitting 1,100 per day - but experts now think this unlikely

Grim Victorian government modelling predicted coronavirus cases would peak in mid to late August, with average daily new cases hitting 1,100 per day - but experts now think this unlikely

Grim Victorian government modelling predicted coronavirus cases would peak in mid to late August, with average daily new cases hitting 1,100 per day – but experts now think this unlikely

Professor Tony Blakely's five-day average chart predicted Victoria's outbreak has already peaked and is now on the way down. Professor Blakely is optimistic that facemasks and the lockdown have reduced the virus transmission already

Professor Tony Blakely's five-day average chart predicted Victoria's outbreak has already peaked and is now on the way down. Professor Blakely is optimistic that facemasks and the lockdown have reduced the virus transmission already

Professor Tony Blakely’s five-day average chart predicted Victoria’s outbreak has already peaked and is now on the way down. Professor Blakely is optimistic that facemasks and the lockdown have reduced the virus transmission already

People enjoy St Kilda pier on Sunday in Melbourne with their masks and face shields firmly on as residents stick to Stage Four lockdown rules in order to crush the virus outbreak

People enjoy St Kilda pier on Sunday in Melbourne with their masks and face shields firmly on as residents stick to Stage Four lockdown rules in order to crush the virus outbreak

People enjoy St Kilda pier on Sunday in Melbourne with their masks and face shields firmly on as residents stick to Stage Four lockdown rules in order to crush the virus outbreak

So far, 1725 of Victoria’s healthcare workers have been struck down by the virus of which 994 are still active cases.

Melbourne’s metropolitan area has been the hardest hit with 13,445 cases compared with just 889 from regional Victoria.

On Sunday the state recorded 394 new cases taking the state’s total to 14,659 of which 7854 are active. 

Little Italy in Lygon Street, Melbourne, on Sunday where 22 premises once bustling with cafes and restaurants are now empty. Residents hope things may return to normal in six weeks

Little Italy in Lygon Street, Melbourne, on Sunday where 22 premises once bustling with cafes and restaurants are now empty. Residents hope things may return to normal in six weeks

Little Italy in Lygon Street, Melbourne, on Sunday where 22 premises once bustling with cafes and restaurants are now empty. Residents hope things may return to normal in six weeks

Dr Coatsworth issued a plea for everyone to download and activate the Government’s COVIDSafe app on their mobile phones, saying it was needed now that states other than Victoria are easing their lockdowns.

‘We see what happens when you have an essentially open economy as you do in New South Wales,’ he said.

‘And that’s where COVIDSafe comes into its own.’

In Sydney’s western suburbs, 544 people were traced through the app which led to the positive identification of two new COVID-19 cases, Dr Coatsworth said. 

New South Wales recorded 10 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, only one of which was a returned overseas traveller in hotel quarantine. 

St Kilda pier, Melbourne, pictured on Sunday

St Kilda pier, Melbourne, pictured on Sunday

St Kilda pier, Melbourne, pictured on Sunday

Seven new cases are close contacts of previous cases, while two are being investigated. 

New South Wales is the only other state to be consistently reporting new cases, with new case numbers hovering from 10 to 15 over the past week.

Health authorities have warned against complacency in New South Wales after 11 new infections were found with no known source. 

Worldwide there were 19.9 million coronavirus cases as of the early hours of Monday morning, of which 6.3 million are active cases, 12.7 million have recovered and 731,104 people have died, according to Worldometers statistics.

The country with the highest numbers continued to be the USA with 5.1 million cases, followed by Brazil at 3 million and India on 2.2 million. 

WHAT MELBOURNE’S STAGE FOUR LOCKDOWN MEANS FOR YOU

State of disaster: Increased police powers to enforce the lockdown. Cautions will no longer be issued, only $1,652 fines or court summons

Curfew: No one allowed outside 8pm to 5am except for work, medical, caregiving – no shopping or exercising

Distance limit: Shopping and exercise can only be done 5km from home 

Exercise: All recreational activity is banned and you can only exercise, with one other person, for one hour a day

Partners: You can visit a boyfriend or girlfriend who doesn’t live with you, even if they live more than 5km away 

Shopping: Only one person can go shopping per household per day

Cafes and restaurants stay open for takeaway, as do supermarkets, etc

Schools: All students learning from home from Wednesday unless they are vulnerable or parents are essential workers. Kindy and childcare close on Thursday (same exceptions apply)

Funerals: No change to funeral limits, but only 10 mourners can leave Melbourne to regional Victoria for one

Weddings: Completely banned

Public transport: Slashed after 8pm and cancelled late at night 

Community sport: All community sport across Victoria is now banned. Only exercise is allowed within the permitted public gathering limits of two people.

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American and United Airlines announce they will be furloughing a combined 32,000 staff

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american and united airlines announce they will be furloughing a combined 32000 staff

American Airlines and United Airlines say they will begin to furlough a combined 32,000 employees after lawmakers and the White House failed to agree on a broad pandemic relief package that includes more federal aid for airlines.

CEO of American Doug Parker announced that 19,000 workers would be furloughed beginning from Thursday in a letter to staff, as money from the CARES Act provided to airlines in the spring expired at midnight Wednesday.

‘I am extremely sorry we have reached this outcome,’ Parker wrote in the letter. ‘It is not what you all deserve.’

Parker said that if Washington comes up with a stimulus package that allocates $25 billion to airlines ‘over the next few days,’ then the company will reverse furloughs and recall the workers.

Similarly, United said the Congressional impasse has forced it to furlough 13,000 workers. The company said it told leaders in the Trump administration and Congress that if payroll aid is approved in the next few days, it too could undo the furloughs.

‘We implore our elected leaders to reach a compromise, get a deal done now, and save jobs,’ the company said in a message to staff.

CEO of American Airlines Doug Parker announced that 19,000 workers would be furloughed beginning from Thursday in a letter to staff this week after lawmakers and the White House failed to agree on a broad pandemic relief package that includes more federal aid for airlines

CEO of American Airlines Doug Parker announced that 19,000 workers would be furloughed beginning from Thursday in a letter to staff this week after lawmakers and the White House failed to agree on a broad pandemic relief package that includes more federal aid for airlines

CEO of American Airlines Doug Parker announced that 19,000 workers would be furloughed beginning from Thursday in a letter to staff this week after lawmakers and the White House failed to agree on a broad pandemic relief package that includes more federal aid for airlines

33840538 8792725 image m 12 1601523241176

33840538 8792725 image m 12 1601523241176

Similarly, United said the stimulus relief impasse has forced it to furlough 13,000 workers

The furloughs announced by American amounts to close to 14 percent of the Fort Worth, Texas-based airline’s pre-pandemic workforce.

The bulk of United’s reductions is made up by flight attendants with 6,939 set to be furloughed. 

The moves by two of the nation’s four biggest airlines represent the first – and likely the largest part – of involuntary job cuts across the industry in coming days. 

Industry analysts said the four largest U.S. airlines – American, United, Delta and Southwest – lost a combined $10 billion in the second quarter of this year.  

Southwest has said it does not plan to lay off any employees through the end of the year.

Delta Airlines, meanwhile, said it’s currently exploring the possibility of furloughs for about 2,000 of its pilots.

Airline employees and executives made 11th-hour appeals this week to Congress and the Trump administration to avert furloughs when a federal prohibition on layoffs – a condition of an earlier round of federal aid – expires Thursday.

The passenger airlines and their labor unions are lobbying for taxpayer money to pay workers for six more months, through next March. Their request is tied up in stalled negotiations over a larger pandemic relief measure.

Industry officials acknowledged that prospects were bleak for action before Thursday’s deadline. They said, however, they were cheered that the House this week included airline payroll help in a $2.2 trillion relief plan that moved closer to Republicans’ preference for a lower price tag.

‘It provides a glimmer of hope that something will get done,’ said Nicholas Calio, president of the trade group Airlines for America.

Industry analysts said the four largest U.S. airlines - American, United, Delta and Southwest - lost a combined $10 billion in the second quarter of this year.

Industry analysts said the four largest U.S. airlines - American, United, Delta and Southwest - lost a combined $10 billion in the second quarter of this year.

Industry analysts said the four largest U.S. airlines – American, United, Delta and Southwest – lost a combined $10 billion in the second quarter of this year.

American said that if Washington comes up with a deal with $25 billion for airlines 'over the next few days,' then the company will reverse furloughs and recall the workers

American said that if Washington comes up with a deal with $25 billion for airlines 'over the next few days,' then the company will reverse furloughs and recall the workers

American said that if Washington comes up with a deal with $25 billion for airlines ‘over the next few days,’ then the company will reverse furloughs and recall the workers

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday night that the administration wants to help hotels, airlines and schools. He said he was talking with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi but hinted that the White House doesn’t want to go above about $1.5 trillion – $700 million below the House Democrats’ figure.

‘I don’t think we’re going to make significant progress; until Thursday, he said on Fox Business.

Calio foreshadowed the comments of American and United by suggesting that Thursday might not be a hard deadline – airlines could undo some furloughs if a deal between the White House and congressional Democrats appeared imminent.

‘Ideally, if it’s going to go beyond Thursday they will be close to a deal and say, “Hang on for a couple days,” and we can wait,’ he said. ‘Beyond that, the notices have gone and furloughs will go into effect.’

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said she still expects action by Congress because majorities in the House and Senate have signaled support for more airline relief. She said a bailout that keeps airline workers employed would be cheaper for the government than putting them on the unemployment line during a pandemic.

‘These are people who are not going to be able to pay their rent, they are not going to be able to take care of themselves,’ Nelson said on CNBC.

Beyond American and United, smaller airlines have sent layoff warnings to several thousand employees. Delta and Southwest, which entered the pandemic in stronger financial shape than American and United, have shed thousands of jobs through voluntary departures but don´t plan to lay off workers immediately.

Airlines have persuaded tens of thousands of employees to take early retirement or severance deals. But even after those offers, the airlines have more pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and other workers than they need.

U.S. air travel remains down nearly 70 percent from a year ago. Signs of a modest recovery faded this summer when COVID-19 cases spiked in many states. Traditionally lucrative business and international travel are even weaker than domestic leisure flying (An empty LAX terminal is seen above on September 2)

U.S. air travel remains down nearly 70 percent from a year ago. Signs of a modest recovery faded this summer when COVID-19 cases spiked in many states. Traditionally lucrative business and international travel are even weaker than domestic leisure flying (An empty LAX terminal is seen above on September 2)

U.S. air travel remains down nearly 70 percent from a year ago. Signs of a modest recovery faded this summer when COVID-19 cases spiked in many states. Traditionally lucrative business and international travel are even weaker than domestic leisure flying (An empty LAX terminal is seen above on September 2)

Critics say airlines shouldn’t get special treatment, and that subsidizing their workforces will only delay the companies’ need to adjust to the downturn in travel – which even airline trade groups think will last three or four years.

‘The airlines are always the first ones begging for support. They get bailed out over and over again,’ Veronique de Rugy, a research fellow at George Mason University and columnist for a libertarian magazine, said in a recent interview. ‘Airlines have a history of not preparing properly for the next emergency because they know they are going to be bailed out.’

In March, Congress approved $25 billion mostly in grants to cover passenger airline payrolls through September and up to another $25 billion in loans that the airlines could use for other purposes. The terms of the payout prohibit airlines from cutting jobs until October 1.

Late Tuesday, the Treasury Department said it completed loans to seven major airlines: American, United, Alaska, JetBlue, Frontier, Hawaiian and SkyWest.

American now expects to borrow $5.5 billion from the Treasury, and United can get $5.17 billion. Airlines have also borrowed billions from private lenders. They could use that money to keep employees – as critics like de Rugy suggest they should – but they are trying to cut spending in case ticket revenue remains severely depressed for a long time.

U.S. air travel remains down nearly 70 percent from a year ago. Signs of a modest recovery faded this summer when COVID-19 cases spiked in many states. Traditionally lucrative business and international travel are even weaker than domestic leisure flying.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Queensland border will be closed to huge swathes of NSW for at least another MONTH

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queensland border will be closed to huge swathes of nsw for at least another month

Queensland’s border will remain closed to most of New South Wales for at least another month, Deputy Premier Steven Miles confirmed on Thursday. 

The 28 days of zero community virus transmission in NSW was reset last Friday despite NSW health officials believing they had linked the case to a known outbreak.

More to come. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Daniel Andrews suffers epic Facebook fail with apprentice photo

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daniel andrews suffers epic facebook fail with apprentice photo

Two apprentices pictured alongside Daniel Andrews in a promotional photo have both lost their jobs due to his lockdown, Daily Mail Australia can reveal.

Mr Andrews used an old snap of a 2018 visit to Chisolm TAFE in a post spruiking his education agenda on Wednesday.

The picture, which was posted to his Facebook page followed by one million people, shows the premier smiling alongside Emily Roberts and Jack Sharlassian.

But the pair have been left furious at being associated with Mr Andrews because they have both lost their jobs during his 15-week lockdown of Melbourne

Two apprentices pictured alongside Daniel Andrews in a 'propaganda' photo (pictured) have both lost their jobs due to his lockdown, Daily Mail Australia can reveal

Two apprentices pictured alongside Daniel Andrews in a 'propaganda' photo (pictured) have both lost their jobs due to his lockdown, Daily Mail Australia can reveal

Two apprentices pictured alongside Daniel Andrews in a ‘propaganda’ photo (pictured) have both lost their jobs due to his lockdown, Daily Mail Australia can reveal

In a comment on the post, Ms Roberts wrote: ‘I’m the female apprentice standing next to Dan and all I can say is… this photo was taken two years ago and why you dragging me into this now brah?!

‘I’m not your friend! I’m not even working (due to coronavirus lockdown in Melbourne)’.

Mr Sharlassian, a plumbing apprentice in his final year, has also lost his job due to the coronavirus-caused recession.

Emily Roberts (circled) replied to the post with a furious  response

Emily Roberts (circled) replied to the post with a furious  response

Emily Roberts (circled) replied to the post with a furious  response

He told Daily Mail Australia: ‘I’ve been laid off as well due to lockdown. I’m not too impressed with the pic. It seems like a joke.’ 

Mr Sharlassian said the premier has gone too far with his coronavirus restrictions which keep Melburnians locked up at home for 22 hours of the day.

They will remain in place until 19 October even though fewer than 20 cases have been recorded each day for the past week. 

Victoria’s second wave began in May when coronavirus escaped from two quarantine hotels and spread rapidly around the city.

Melbourne was placed into lockdown on 8 July and a curfew was imposed preventing residents from leaving home after 8pm, although that was removed earlier this week.

The federal treasury estimated the second lockdown would cost 400,000 jobs by Christmas. 

Melbourne’s 15-week lockdown is longer than the 11-week shut down of Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus was identified late last year.  

On Wednesday private security guards were pulled from a Melbourne quarantine hotel and replaced by police after a health worker raised fears about infection control breaches.

Guards employed by a services company were sent home from the Novotel in Southbank half way through their shift.

The state government took action after an anonymous health worker at the hotel tipped off a local newspaper with claims that infection control protocols were not being followed.   

Melbourne is not accepting international travellers but hotel quarantine is still being used to isolate coronavirus patients who cannot isolate at home. 

Opposition leader Michael O’Brien slammed the government for continuing to use private security guards. 

‘This hopeless Labor government has learnt nothing from its hotel quarantine scandal that’s already killed 781 Victorians,’ he wrote. 

‘They’re still using private guards not up to the task. Andrews must go – his toxic mix of arrogance and incompetence is destroying Victoria.’

Victoria reported two more deaths and 15 infections overnight. 

Private security guards have been pulled from a Melbourne quarantine hotel and replaced by police. Pictured: Cleaning staff at the hotel on Thursday

Private security guards have been pulled from a Melbourne quarantine hotel and replaced by police. Pictured: Cleaning staff at the hotel on Thursday

Private security guards have been pulled from a Melbourne quarantine hotel and replaced by police. Pictured: Cleaning staff at the hotel on Thursday

Guards were sent home from the Novotel (pictured) in Southbank half way through their shift on Wednesday

Guards were sent home from the Novotel (pictured) in Southbank half way through their shift on Wednesday

Guards were sent home from the Novotel (pictured) in Southbank half way through their shift on Wednesday

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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