Coronavirus updates LIVE: Victoria’s hotel quarantine inquiry resumes; northern Sydney club closes after positive COVID-19 case; Australian death toll stands at 549

Summary

  • Victoria recorded 149 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday and 24 deaths. Premier Daniel Andrews said the average time it takes to receive COVID-19 test results in Victoria was now less than a day.
  • Victoria’s hotel quarantine inquiry resumes today with three bureaucrats from the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions due to give evidence, including Global Victoria CEO Gonul Serbest who appeared in a video celebrating the success of the now botched program.
  • NSW Mental Health Minister Bronnie Taylor has directly intervened to have quarantined travellers moved from the Travelodge in Surry Hills after a desperate plea from a young woman inside the hotel. Six new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the state yesterday, one of them a trainee bus driver. 
  • Queensland recorded one new coronavirus case yesterday after 20,000 people were tested. The Palaszczuk government has launched a criminal investigation into a Melbourne millionaire and his family after the quarantine exemption for the family’s superyacht Lady Pamela was revoked.
  • Spain has reported 3594 new coronavirus infections in 24 hours as it struggles to contain a second wave of contagion that hit a peak of some 8000 cases last Friday. Greece is also battling a coronavirus resurgence after its early success in containing the virus.

Northern Sydney club closes after case

The Hunters Hill Club, in Sydney's northern suburbs, has closed for cleaning after a person who dined at the venue later tested positive to coronavirus.

The club announced the news on its Facebook page last night, expressing an intention to reopen on Friday.

"We have closed temporarily for a deep clean procedure to ensure the safety of all our members and guests," the message reads.

It comes as multiple extra venues were added to NSW Health's alert list after an additional person from the City Tattersalls gym tested positive. The new case will be included in today's numbers.

Authorities are now asking anyone who attended City Tattersalls between 8am and 2pm on August 19, 21 or 23 to self-isolate for 14 days and get tested.

There is also a new alert for Virgin Active gym at Zetland: anyone who attended the Active Dance class at 7.40pm on Monday should self-isolate and get tested, and anyone else who was at the gym between 7.30pm and 10pm has been asked to monitor for symptoms.

The new case also attended the Royal Hospital for Women at Randwick on Tuesday morning, although there is no ongoing risk to patients, staff or visitors.

The hospital's cafe has been closed for cleaning.In addition, there is a "watch for symptoms" direction for a number of bus routes in Sydney's east and outer north-west.

People who caught the 339 or X39 between Randwick and the city on Friday, Saturday and Monday this week, or a number of buses between Blacktown, Mount Druitt, St Mary's, Castle Hill and Rouse Hill should monitor for symptoms.

The full details of the bus routes are available here, or on the NSW Health website.

Kmart 'strongly encourages' face masks in NSW, Queensland stores

Let's turn our attention back home, where Kmart is now "strongly recommending" customers wear face masks in certain stores in NSW and Queensland, with masks to be mandatory for staff in these stores. The affected stores are located in:

  • Campbelltown Canterbury-Bankstown, Blacktown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Hornsby, Inner West, Liverpool, Parramatta, Sydney and the Hills Shire in NSW, and
  • City of Brisbane, City of Ipswich, Logan City, Scenic Rim Region, Somerset Region, Lockyer Valley Region, Moreton Bay Region and Redlands City in Queensland

"Until further notice, we strongly encourage our customers to wear face coverings that cover their nose and mouth while in our stores, particularly those stores within high-risk areas," the store said in a statement.

Earlier this week, NSW Health issued a "watch for symptoms" alert for the Kmart store at Burwood in Sydney's inner west, after a person attended while infectious last Thursday evening.

Greece battles coronavirus resurgence after early success

Keeping with news from overseas for a moment, Greece is also battling a resurgence in cases.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in Greece remains lower than in many other European countries, but cases have been spiralling in recent weeks, reaching a record 293 on Wednesday.

“Yes I’m worried, of course I’m worried, and we’ve rung the alarm bell,” Gkikas Magiorkinis, a University of Athens assistant professor of hygiene and epidemiology, said. “That’s why we’re taking measures,” including the generalised use of masks.

Beachgoers enjoy the sea and the sun at an organized beach at Anavisos beach near Athen.Credit:Getty Images

The measures appear to be working, Magiorkinis, who serves on a committee of scientists advising the Greek government, said during a press conference on Tuesday.

“For now it seems that the dramatic increase of cases … has been limited,” he said, noting the spike in the first week of August was projected to lead to more than 400 new cases per day, which so far has not occurred.”

For a small country barely emerging from the grip of a brutal decade-long financial crisis, Greece appeared to have done remarkably well during the pandemic’s initial phase in the spring, when Europe became the second continent after Asia with the coronavirus spreading exponentially.

The government imposed a nationwide lockdown, ordering people to stay home, shuttering businesses and closing the borders. It also scrambled to bolster a weak health system pummeled by years of budget cuts, announcing the hiring of thousands of temporary health workers and increasing intensive care capacity.

Its strategy seemed to work. Greece was spared the heart-rending scenes all too common in fellow Mediterranean countries Italy and Spain: of overflowing morgues, decimated nursing homes and anguished intensive care doctors forced to choose who to try to save and who to let die due to a lack of equipment and space.

But no country can survive in a vacuum, certainly not one still grappling with the aftermath of a depression that wiped out a quarter of its economy.

In a bid to salvage its vital tourism industry, Greece welcomed foreign visitors and gradually lifted nearly all lockdown restrictions in the early summer.

Inevitably, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases mounted.

AP

Coronavirus resurgence: Spain reports more than 3500 new cases

Spain has reported 3594 new coronavirus infections in 24 hours as it struggles to contain a second wave of contagion that hit a peak of some 8000 cases last Friday.

The country has registered the largest number of cases in western Europe since the pandemic began six months ago and the biggest resurgence after lifting one of the continent's strictest lockdowns against the spread of COVID-19.

The latest daily increase, reported on Wednesday, was below the roughly 4000 cases recorded a day earlier, according to updated health ministry data, and brought the cumulative total to 419,849. Seven more deaths were recorded, pushing the overall toll to 28,971.

Daily numbers can still be retroactively updated.

Accounting for 1513 cases, the Madrid capital region was by far the hardest hit region. Separate data from regional authorities showed several municipalities with more than 700 cases per 100,000 people – more than seven times the national average for the past week.

While officials have advised residents in some areas to stay at home, the Madrid region's deputy leader said there were no plans to request a localised state of emergency under new powers granted by the central government.

"Generally speaking I'm not in favour of more lockdowns, of repeating the steps from March and April … That ended in economic ruin," Ignacio Aguado said.

A woman has her temperature taken at Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport in Madrid, Spain. Credit:Getty Images

He also hit out at the central government's lack of a strategy to safely reopen schools, accusing the education ministry of leaving local authorities to fend for themselves.

In the absence of national guidelines, Spain's 17 regions have been left to develop their own plans, frustrating parents and teachers and prompting students to call for three days of strikes in September.

"We're here to demand that the ministry of education does something, because we're pulling our hair out here to see they've done absolutely nothing over the past five months," student union leader Coral Latorre told state broadcaster TVE.

Reuters

Read more here.

Global cases pass 24 million

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the globe has topped 24 million, while the death toll has passed 821,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.

On a positive note, more than 15.6 million people have recovered from the virus.

You can explore our data centre (below) for the latest figures across the globe:

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to our rolling coronavirus coverage on this Thursday. For those counting, Melbourne is 24 days into its six-week, stage four lockdown.

It's Marissa Calligeros here and I will be with you for most of the day. Victoria's inquiry into the state's bungled hotel quarantine program that unleashed this devastating second coronavirus wave resumes today, with government bureaucrats due to give evidence.

And with that in mind, I feel this is an appropriate song to kick off the morning …

"Trying to make some sense of it all,
But I can see that it makes no sense at all …"

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