Victoria records zero new local cases
Victoria has recorded no new local cases of Covid-19 today, with no spread yet among the contacts of 15-year old girl who returned from the northern beaches.
Yesterday, the state reported that the girl had acquired the disease in NSW, and then returned home to Melbourne.
Today, the state has reported one new case of coronavirus – but it is in hotel quarantine.
There were 22,956 test results processed yesterday. The girl’s family has so far tested negative, and Victoria health said that there were no known exposure sites in Victoria.
The new overseas-acquired case brings the total active infections in hotel quarantine to 10.
Under a new bill to be introduced by the government, internet service providers, social media companies and other online platforms would need to remove severely abusive or bullying content within 24 hours – or be blocked.
Currently, takedown notices for image-based abuse, cyber-abuse, cyberbullying and seriously harmful online content needs to be actioned within 48 hours.
Under the Coalition’s bill, if a website or app ignores takedown notices for content such as child sexual abuse material, the e-safety commissioner will require search engines and app stores to block access to those services.
Suicide rate drops in NSW during pandemic
The number of lives lost to suicide in NSW has unexpectedly fallen by a “remarkable” 5% this year, AAP reports.
NSW government data reveals 807 people took their own lives in the 12 months to November – 46 fewer than in 2019.
It’s the most significant reduction in suicide numbers in NSW in a decade, Lifeline Australia Chairman John Brogden says.
“These are the most remarkable figures of the Covid- 19 pandemic,” he said. “This is a moment to celebrate life.”
Nationally, calls to Lifeline’s helpline rose by 20% over the year, equivalent to about 3,000 calls a day.
“Hundreds of thousands of Australians reached out for help to Lifeline and other mental health services and got the help they needed when they needed it and stopped short of suicide,” Brogden said.
“People have asked for help and got it when they needed it. As a result, we have seen a drop in the number of suicides in NSW.
“I hope this is a turning point for mental health in Australia.”
Brogden urged Australians to keep connecting with each other, especially over the holiday period.
“If you think someone may be struggling, please continue to reach out to them to offer support.”
Union to take Qantas to high court over sick leave entitlements
Unions say they’re going to take Qantas to the high court over sick leave entitlements after losing at the full court of the federal court.
Qantas stripped workers who it stood down during the pandemic of sick leave and other entitlements – something unions say meant some had to take a redundancy package in order to pay their bills.
It’s one of several stoushes between unions and Qantas that have erupted during the Covid crisis: unions recently lost another legal case, over how jobkeeper should be paid.
Law firm Maurice Blackburn is running the high court challenge on behalf of the Transport Workers Union (TWU), the Electrical Trades Union (ETU), the Australian Workers Union (AWU) and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU).
And in Queensland, tourism businesses in regional areas have reported losing up to 85% of summer bookings in a day, after state borders closed to greater Sydney residents.
Australians returning from overseas have described weaknesses in Sydney’s hotel quarantine system which they fear could contribute to the spread of coronavirus.
Kashi Somers, who returned to Sydney from New York City in early November, said the driver of her bus, and also defence force personnel in the airport, were not wearing masks, or wearing them incorrectly.
Read more here:
South Australia coronavirus cluster to be officially eliminated
In good news, South Australia’s worst coronavirus cluster could officially be declared eliminated today.
AAP reports that if no new cases are reported on Wednesday, the Parafield cluster will be considered busted, after the passing of 28 days, or two incubation cycles, since the last infection.
It began when a security guard at one of the city’s quarantine hotels unwittingly picked up the virus from a returned traveller last month. It quickly grew to 33 cases before being contained, partly through a three-day state-wide lockdown.
South Australia is also on track to enjoy a Covid-normal Christmas with low-level restrictions and no plans to impose more measures despite continuing concern over the growing cluster in Sydney.
SA has only three active infections, all returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.
Meanwhile, the search for the primary case of the northern beaches cluster is still unknown.
New venues listed by NSW health
Overnight, NSW health released another list of potential exposure sites, including some in the east, south and north, and one bus route.
The new sites are below, for a full list see here.
Anyone who attended the following venues at the following times is considered a close contact, and must immediately get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of whether a negative result is received:
- Paddington: Paddington Alimentari, 2 Hopetoun St,, Thursday 17 December 5.30am-6pm, Friday, 18 December 5.30am-6pm, Saturday, 18 December 5.30am-6pm
- St Leonards: Charlie & Franks, IBM Plaza, Shop 1, 601 Pacific Highway, St Leonards, Wednesday 16 December 9am-10am
- Mona Vale: Fitness First Mona Vale, Pittwater Place Shopping Centre, 10 Park St, Thursday 17 December 11.30am-1pm
Route B1-2 bus:
- Monday, 14 December, departing Wynyard Station Stand B, 5.47pm, arriving Warriewood BLine, Pittwater Rd, 6.40pm
- Tuesday, 15 December, departing Warriewood BLine, Pittwater Rd, 6.39am, arriving Wynyard Station Stand M, 7.29am
- Tuesday, 15 December, departing Wynyard Station Stand B 6.28pm, arriving Warriewood BLine, Pittwater Rd, 6.21pm
- Wednesday, 16 December, departing Warriewood BLine Pittwater Rd 6.53am, arriving Wynyard Station Stand M, 7.41am
- Wednesday, 16 December, departing Wynyard Station Stand B 4.31pm, arriving Warriewood BLine, Pittwater Rd, 5.25pm
Anyone who attended the following venues at the following times is a casual contact who must immediately get tested and isolate until a negative result is received:
- Mona Vale: Scoop Wholefoods, Shop 6, 10 Park Street, Mona Vale, Wednesday 16 December, All day, Thursday, 17 December, all day, Friday 18 December, All day
- Mosman: Scoop Wholefoods,14 Spit Road, Mosman, Thursday 17 December, 8am-10am
- Paddington: Paddington London Hotel, 85 Underwood St, Thursday 17 December, 8.15pm-9.30pm
- Warriewood: Brooke Withers Swim School, 6/2 Daydream St, Warriewood, Wednesday 16 December 2pm-3.30pm
- Warriewood: Warriewood Valley Playground Rocket Park, Casuarina Dr, Thursday 17 December 10.15am-12.30pm
Anyone who attended the following venues at the following times is a casual contact who should monitor for symptoms and immediately get tested and isolate if they appear:
- Avalon Beach: Woolworths, 74 Old Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon Beach, Saturday, 12 December, 12-12.15pm
- Belrose: Fresh Delights Café, Belrose Super Centre, 4-6 Niangala Close, Belrose Thursday, 17 December 9am-10am
- Bondi Junction: Westfield Bondi Junction, 500 Oxford St, Saturday, 19 December 10am-1pm
- Brookvale: Westfield Warringah Mall 145 Condamine St, Brookvale, Saturday, 19 December 10am-1pm
- Cronulla: Woolworths Metro, 84-86 Cronulla St, Cronulla Sunday, 13 December 11am-12pm
- Davidson: Davidson Pizzeria, 42-6 Yindela St, Davidson Friday, 18 December 6.15-6.45pm
- Turramurra: Coles 1 Ray St, Turramurra, Thursday, 17 December 10am-10.30am, Friday, 18 December, 10.30am-11am
Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus today. It’s Naaman Zhou here with you.
Sydney residents will find out today whether they will spend Christmas under Covid restrictions. The NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has promised a decision today on whether restrictions, which are due to expire at midnight tonight, will go into Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and even potentially the new year.
Yesterday she said it was an “hour by hour” decision, even as Sydney recorded encouragingly low numbers of new cases. Only eight cases were recorded yesterday, out of a record 44,000 tests, with seven linked to the existing northern beaches cluster and one in a health worker who worked near returned travellers.
But there are still fears of greater spread, and a growing number of potential exposure sites, now spread across Sydney’s CBD, north, east and south as well as regional NSW.
Currently, residents of the northern beaches must stay at home unless for essential business, while residents of greater Sydney are limited to 10 visitors in their home and recommended not to visit aged care facilities.
Stay with us for all the latest.