Coronavirus updates LIVE: ADF repeatedly offered to assist Victorian quarantine: Defence Minister; 19 deaths for second day as Victoria records 331 new cases; NSW on alert


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Breaking: ADF repeatedly offered to assist Victorian quarantine, Defence Minister says

The Australian Defence Force offered repeatedly to assist Victoria establish and maintain quarantine arrangements for returned travellers but was told by the Andrews government that its help was not needed, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has revealed.

The statement by Senator Reynolds appears to contradict Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ testimony to a parliamentary inquiry into Victoria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic given earlier today.

Mr Andrews this morning told a hearing of the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee that the ADF did not offer any support to Victoria’s hotel quarantine regime.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“I don’t believe ADF support was on offer,’’ he said. “It’s been provided in limited circumstances in New South Wales, not to provide security as such but to provide transportation from the airport to hotels.

“I think it is fundamentally incorrect to assert that there were hundreds of ADF staff on offer and somehow, someone said no.’’

In her statement released late today, Senator Reynolds revealed that ADF support was offered on multiple occasions and either refused or not taken up by Victoria.

“Following the Prime Minister’s offer on 27 March 2020 for ADF support to states and territories with the new mandatory 14-day quarantine period for international arrivals, the ADF discussed requirements with relevant state and territory authorities,’’ Senator Reynolds said.

“On 28 March 2020, Victorian authorities advised that Victoria was not seeking ADF assistance with mandatory quarantine arrangements. The ADF was consistently advised that its assistance was not required for any ‘public facing roles’ in Victoria.

“ADF officials asked whether Victorian authorities required assistance with its mandatory quarantine system on multiple occasions. No request for quarantine support was subsequently received from Victoria at that time.’’

It was not until 24 June that the ADF received a request from Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp for 850 personnel to provide “compliance and monitoring support’’ at quarantine hotels. This request was approved by the ADF but rescinded by the Andrews government the next day.

Senator Reynolds said the ADF helped with compliance at quarantine hotels in Queensland and NSW.

Latest updates

Free parking for more front-line workers after ICU doctor cops fine

A doctor at Royal Melbourne Hospital has been slapped with a parking fine after a long shift in the intensive care unit, prompting Melbourne City Council to expand its free permits for front-line COVID-19 workers.

Anaesthetic registrar Katarina Arandjelovic said she had worked 56 hours over four days and discovered the $99 fine after she finished up at 10pm on Monday.

 Dr Katarina Arandjelovic with the $99 parking fine.

Dr Katarina Arandjelovic with the $99 parking fine.Credit:Katarina Arandjelovic

City of Melbourne confirmed it had withdrawn the fine on Tuesday afternoon after anger at the penalty spread all the way to the Premier’s office.

Daniel Andrews said it was inappropriate to be fining hospital staff.

Read the full story here.

New Zealand retirement homes in lockdown to test for COVID-19

Wellington: Two Christchurch retirement villages were put in partial lockdown on Tuesday after a number of residents began displaying signs of respiratory illness.

However officials said the measures were precautionary and the residents were highly unlikely to have the virus.

Several residents at The Village Palms Retirement Village in Shirley were swabbed for COVID-19, and family members of residents were notified about the lockdown on Tuesday.

Residents of an aged care facility in Christchurch have reported respiratory illness symptoms.

Residents of an aged care facility in Christchurch have reported respiratory illness symptoms.Credit:Virginia Star

A Canterbury medical officer of health, Dr Cheryl Brunton, confirmed a GP had taken the swabs, which were now being tested.

“This is in line with the Ministry of Health’s current advice on testing,” Brunton said.

Read the full article here.

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NSW Catholic club closes doors after member tests positive

Dooleys Catholic Club at Lidcombe has closed its doors after a member visited the club last weekend and has since tested positive for COVID-19.

The club is now in the process of helping NSW Health access the contact details of all employees and patrons who were on the premises between the period Friday 7th August at 5:00pm and Saturday 8th August at 1:30am.

They announced an “immediate closure of DOOLEYS Lidcombe Catholic Club, the Health & Fitness Centre and the Administration office to allow for deep cleaning of the whole property” through a statement on their website.

Dooleys Catholic Club at Lidcombe.

Dooleys Catholic Club at Lidcombe.Credit:Google Maps

“DOOLEYS takes the health and safety of its employees, members and guests very seriously and the Management team has taken immediate action to implement the following precautionary measures due to notification of a positive case of Covid-19 at our Lidcombe Club venue,” a statement on the club’s website read.

NSW Health has advised that the exposure to patrons and employees is low risk and therefore the advice for employees and patrons who were on the premises during this time is to monitor for symptoms up to and including Friday 21 August 2020.

The person, who visited the club last weekend, did not visit the on-site gym, but that has also closed as a precaution.

“We have made the decision to close DOOLEYS Health + Fitness effective immediately to undergo a deep clean in line with the prompt action taken by DOOLEYS Lidcombe Catholic Club,” a statement on the club’s website read.

“This is a precautionary measure for DOOLEYS Health + Fitness, as we are committed to keeping our community COVIDSafe.”

Dooleys is one of the largest clubs in Sydney, boasting over 80,000 members, according to its most recent annual report

People under 40 now make up more than half of Victoria’s active COVID-19 cases

An interesting look at the spread of cases of people infected with the COVID-19 virus in Victoria, from Michael Fowler, Aisha Dow and Rachael Dexter.


People younger than 40 make up more than half of Victoria’s active coronavirus cases, with Victorians in their 20s accounting for almost a quarter of the state’s 7880 active infections.

Victorian government data shows 4329 people aged under 40 – about 55 per cent of total positive cases – were actively infected with COVID-19 as of Tuesday.

Yet the elderly remain by far the hardest hit by the virus, with more than three-quarters of Victoria’s 246 deaths occurring among people in aged care.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the COVID-19 threat in Victoria’s highest-risk nursing homes appeared to have stabilised in recent days, but with 1838 active cases linked to aged care, he acknowledged the death toll would continue to rise significantly.

Other data released on Tuesday revealed that up to 70 per cent of patients at some of the state’s worst-hit aged care homes had contracted coronavirus.

Read the full story here.

‘Completely unacceptable’: Opposition push Victorian government to hold parliament

The Victorian opposition is pushing the state government to hold parliament next week citing a need to ensure the government, handed unprecedented powers during a state of disaster, is being held accountable.

Last week, Victoria’s Upper House sat in defiance of advice from Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton as the Labor-dominated lower house heeded advice and chose not to meet.

Premier Daniel Andrews at his COVID-19 briefing on Monday.

Premier Daniel Andrews at his COVID-19 briefing on Monday.Credit:Joe Armao

Liberal MP and upper house leader David Davis said on Tuesday that it was crucial the Victorian Coalition be able to scrutinise the state government’s use of the pandemic powers granted during the declared state of disaster.

“It is likely that sufficient numbers of metropolitan-based members would be willing to attend in person to facilitate scrutiny of the Government’s extraordinary powers and accountability for its unprecedented actions,” the statement said.

“I strongly urge you to proceed with the scheduled 18 August sitting.”

Mr Davis said the government should be embracing alternatives to sitting in person – like using remote video conferencing technology or sitting in small groups for small periods – to make sure the opposition can still perform their oversight function.

“The alternative is that the Legislative Council continues not to sit for an indefinite period while technological solutions adopted by other parliaments are readily available that could otherwise facilitate safe and ongoing sittings – something the Opposition considers completely unacceptable,” he said.

The dispute about parliamentary sitting boiled over last week when opposition MPs took aim at Health Minister Jenny Mikakos when she missed parliamentary deadline to provide responses to questions she previously refused to answer about the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Davis said Ms Mikakos had shown arrogance and disregard for Victorians as they suffered under stage three and stage four coronavirus restrictions.

Two Liverpool Hospital staff members test positive for COVID-19

NSW Health has confirmed that two staff members at Liverpool Hospital have tested positive for COVID-19.

“Any risk to patients is considered low,” a South Western Sydney Local Health District spokesperson said.

Liverpool Hospital.

Liverpool Hospital.Credit:David Porter

One worker wore a face mask and appropriate personal protective equipment and the other was not working with patients at the time they were infectious.

“All close and casual contacts have been identified and, as is standard protocol, advised to isolate, monitor and test for COVID-19 should any symptoms present,” the spokesperson said.

The health department said that one staff member had links to an existing cluster in the community and the source of infection for the other staff member was under investigation.

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Better in the long run: Marathoners pivot for lockdown

For long distance runners Melbourne’s stage four lockdown poses some unique challenges.

With rules meaning there is no group training, no going further than five kilometres from home, exercise limited to an hour and no races to attend, running coaches like Sean Helmot are drastically overhauling training programs.

Running coach Sean Helmot is helping long-distance runners cope with lockdown.

Running coach Sean Helmot is helping long-distance runners cope with lockdown.Credit:Joe Armao

“Stage four is a bit of a game-changer for us,” Mr Helmot said.

“The practical impacts are unless you’ve got a treadmill, then any marathon or half-marathon training is put on ice. And you’ve got to be a pretty die-hard athlete to sit on a treadmill for two hours plus.”

Read the full story here.

‘An eviction’: Patients removed from detox clinic after COVID-19 case

A positive case of COVID-19 at a withdrawal facility in Melbourne’s north-east has led to vulnerable people detoxing from drugs and alcohol being thrown out of their accommodation, after inpatients were allowed to use common areas despite awaiting COVID-19 test results.

At least one patient affected, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said she was left homeless by the ordeal at the Re Gen withdrawal service, operated by UnitingCare, raising concerns about infection control in facilities that treat some of the most at-risk Victorians.

UnitingCare's Re Gen rehab facility in Melbourne's north-east.

UnitingCare’s Re Gen rehab facility in Melbourne’s north-east.Credit:

Uniting has confirmed it closed the facility on August 6, with all residents required to leave in the midst of their detox.

The Melbourne woman entered the detox facility last Monday to begin treatment for alcohol addiction, and planned to stay there for 10 days before moving to a rehab facility to undertake a full six-to-12-month rehabilitation program.

Read the full story here.

Breaking: ADF repeatedly offered to assist Victorian quarantine, Defence Minister says

The Australian Defence Force offered repeatedly to assist Victoria establish and maintain quarantine arrangements for returned travellers but was told by the Andrews government that its help was not needed, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has revealed.

The statement by Senator Reynolds appears to contradict Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ testimony to a parliamentary inquiry into Victoria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic given earlier today.

Mr Andrews this morning told a hearing of the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee that the ADF did not offer any support to Victoria’s hotel quarantine regime.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“I don’t believe ADF support was on offer,’’ he said. “It’s been provided in limited circumstances in New South Wales, not to provide security as such but to provide transportation from the airport to hotels.

“I think it is fundamentally incorrect to assert that there were hundreds of ADF staff on offer and somehow, someone said no.’’

In her statement released late today, Senator Reynolds revealed that ADF support was offered on multiple occasions and either refused or not taken up by Victoria.

“Following the Prime Minister’s offer on 27 March 2020 for ADF support to states and territories with the new mandatory 14-day quarantine period for international arrivals, the ADF discussed requirements with relevant state and territory authorities,’’ Senator Reynolds said.

“On 28 March 2020, Victorian authorities advised that Victoria was not seeking ADF assistance with mandatory quarantine arrangements. The ADF was consistently advised that its assistance was not required for any ‘public facing roles’ in Victoria.

“ADF officials asked whether Victorian authorities required assistance with its mandatory quarantine system on multiple occasions. No request for quarantine support was subsequently received from Victoria at that time.’’

It was not until 24 June that the ADF received a request from Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp for 850 personnel to provide “compliance and monitoring support’’ at quarantine hotels. This request was approved by the ADF but rescinded by the Andrews government the next day.

Senator Reynolds said the ADF helped with compliance at quarantine hotels in Queensland and NSW.

Comment: First Virgin, then Qantas. Sydney Airport has nowhere to hide from COVID-19

Sydney Airport has just been dumped by Australia’s second wave of COVID-19 – needing to raise $2 billion to retain balance sheet buoyancy.

In less than six months it has moved from being one of the most reliable providers of quality monopoly earnings and dividends in the Australian market, to a company with some of the most uncertain medium term prospects. Like others in the aviation sector, it had nowhere to hide when international and domestic flying ground to a halt.

Ghost terminal.

Ghost terminal.Credit:Edwina Pickles

This will now stand as a test of management mettle for chief executive Geoff Cuthbert – how to deal with a financial crisis not of the company’s making and of an unknowable duration.

The need to undertake an equity raising is testament to the damage that has been done by July’s second wave outbreak in Victoria.

Read Elizabeth’s full comment piece here.

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