Coronavirus updates LIVE: Victoria records 51 new COVID-19 cases as QLD border debate continues; Trump admits downplaying pandemic as Australian death toll jumps to 788

What we know so far

  • Victoria’s numbers just dropped: 51 new cases in the last 24 hours, and seven lives lost. More detail, including a list of exposure sites, here.
  • In NSW, a COVID-19 cluster linked to Sydney’s Concord and Liverpool hospitals, which has now ballooned to 12 cases after five more people connected to the outbreak were diagnosed with the virus.

51 new cases and seven deaths in Victoria

Victoria's numbers just dropped: 51 new cases in the last 24 hours, and seven lives lost. More detail, including a list of exposure sites, here.

The total number of deaths in Victoria since the start of the pandemic has grown to 701.
The cases come after 63, 41, 55 and 76 cases in the past four days.

What the numbers mean

The new case total will pull Victoria's rolling 14-day average lower, to 73 cases. Remember, Victoria's target is to hold the 14-day average at between 30 and 50, which will trigger a loosening of restrictions.

Pregnancy-style tests could be passport to normal Christmas as Johnson curbs socialising

Now this is interesting: The UK is hoping to roll out rapid turnaround pregnancy-style tests that could be used by the entire population on a daily basis to tell whether they are infectious with COVID-19, Latika Bourke reports. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said if a trial was successful, it could lead to a "freedom passport," enabling the non-infectious to attend mass events like indoor theatres.

He said the tests would not tell whether a person was infected but whether or not they were capable of spreading the virus.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces restrictions.Credit:AP

A word on rapid tests

The development of rapid tests is really interesting. They hold a lot of potential for reopening, because they could be quickly used to tell if someone is infectious.

You can imagine tests being used on every schoolchild, for example, or everyone entering a workplace.

But developing such a test is fraught with difficulty. Remember antibody tests? They promised the same results, but the ones Australia and Britain purchased were later found to be too inaccurate to use.

It's not clear what tests the British has purchased, but America has purchased millions of rapid tests developed by Abbott. These tests cost $5 and take 15 minutes to return results. They don't detect antibodies, instead looking for proteins produced by COVID-19 itself.

But – and this is a big but – they are not 100 per cent accurate, and they can only identify people within a few days of the start of symptoms.

In graphs: how Victoria's coronavirus case numbers are tracking

There were 51 new COVID-19 cases in Victoria confirmed today, and this graph shows how new case numbers have been tracking over the course of the pandemic:

Since the start of this week, the 14-day average has become the key metric for Victorians, because the state's timeline and targets for reopening are tied to it being driven down below a certain level.

In the past few days, Victoria's health department has started putting out an official 14-day average for Victoria, the metropolitan Melbourne region and regional Victoria.

Keep in mind that the official 14-day average takes out false positive test results or when positive cases are accidentally double-counted. The 14-day average line in the graph above is calculated based on the daily update figures, which are put out before this excess is taken out, so it slightly overstates the current 14-day average.

Essentially, the lines on the graph are good at showing the general trend in the average, just not the exact 14-day average.

The official 14-day averages will likely be released at this morning's coronavirus update.Under the state's government roadmap, the Melbourne region will be able to move to its next step of reopening on September 28 if the 14-day average for new cases is between 30 and 50.

Here's how metropolitan Melbourne's 14-day average has been tracking against that target. I will update the chart with today's average once it has been released.

For regional Victoria's lockdown to be loosened further it must drive its 14-day average down to fewer than five cases and there must not have been any new mystery cases, where the infection source cannot be traced, over the same period. Here is how regional Victoria is tracking against the target of a 14-day average below five. I will also update the chart with today's average once it has been released.

For more information on the 14-day average and how the interpret these charts, check out this article.

Federal action on borders unlikely, but nation is 'starting to hurt': Berejiklian

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said she is open to federal intervention in reopening state borders, but she "can't see the likelihood of that happening in the short-term".

Asked in a Sky News interview if she thought federal intervention through High Court action or threatening to withdraw funding was possible, Ms Berejiklian said "that's a matter for" the federal government.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, in a photo taken September 9.Credit:Janie Barrett

"But I think it comes to a point where the national economy is starting to hurt," she added.

The Premier said hard border closures, such as the one her state is experiencing with Queensland, present a "prism of economic chaos".

"I've always tried to be respectful but it gets to a point where they need to look at what it's doing to their own citizens," she said."Citizens at this point in time might be led to believe having zero cases is fantastic, that this is great, but not in six months time when jobs go [and] when businesses fold."

51 new cases and seven deaths in Victoria

Victoria's numbers just dropped: 51 new cases in the last 24 hours, and seven lives lost. More detail, including a list of exposure sites, here.

The total number of deaths in Victoria since the start of the pandemic has grown to 701.
The cases come after 63, 41, 55 and 76 cases in the past four days.

What the numbers mean

The new case total will pull Victoria's rolling 14-day average lower, to 73 cases. Remember, Victoria's target is to hold the 14-day average at between 30 and 50, which will trigger a loosening of restrictions.

This morning's front pages

Here are this morning's front pages

  • Australia Post, Pauline Hanson and the locked down public housing tower
  • Home Affairs gave ‘favourable’ treatment to Crown high rollers, says integrity inquiry
  • NSW faces $10b hit from GST shortfall, analysis shows
  • ‘We will look at whether the Coalition continues’: Crunch day in koala war

Lambie says Queensland border closure 'just cruel now'

Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has said Queensland’s border closure is “just cruel now”, after the family of a 39-year-old man with inoperable brain cancer were told just one of his children would be able to visit him on his death bed.

Queenslander Mark Keans has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and remains in a Brisbane hospital.Credit:The Today Show

Brisbane truck driver Mark Keans' four children, aged seven to 13, live in NSW. When asked about the matter in Queensland Parliament on Wednesday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she had also been unable to visit her uncle who had been diagnosed with cancer.

"I don't know what Palaszczuk was trying to prove yesterday, but, honestly, have a good look: it seems that they will let people through their borders that suit them," Ms Lambie told Today, referencing Queensland's deals with various sporting codes.

Mr Keans' father, Bruce, also appeared on Today, saying the family felt like they were "bashing [their] head against a brick wall", joking the family had "applied for a job at the AFL to try and get in".

He said the family had decided that, if the children are not able to all visit him, none of them will."We could not pick one over any of the others. It's impossible. Every one of them deserves it as much as anyone else."

COVID-19's economic damage to Victoria, NSW becoming clear

It's starting to become clear what level of economic damage COVID-19 is likely to cause in Australia.

The GST coffers are drying up.Credit:

States and territories face a GST shortfall of at least $33 billion – with NSW alone facing a $10 billion hit over the next four years – as they come under pressure to boost infrastructure spending to help lift the country out of recession, writes our senior economics corrospondent Shane Wright.

While the federal government is facing a record deficit of at least $200 billion in its October budget, the finances of every state and territory are being hollowed out by a collapse in GST revenues that could linger into next decade.

An empty Bourke Street in the Melbourne CBD in August.Credit:Wayne Taylor

Meanwhile, in Melbourne, the city’s inner suburbs projected to lose 79,000 jobs annually and bleed more than $110 billion in revenue over the next five years as the COVID-19 recession savages the central city, reports city editor Bianca Hall.

New modelling predicts the Andrews government's decision last month to move from stage three to stage four restrictions will cost the city's economy $61 billion over five years – although the modelling did not take into account the economic or health impacts of a worsening pandemic.

Job losses across Victoria have already far eclipsed the height of the 1990s recession and are projected to hit almost 400,000 annually over five years.

Your thoughts

Plenty of readers have already got in touch with comments and questions this morning. Keep them coming! You can email me at [email protected], find me on Twitter at @LiamMannix, or leave a comment below the blog.

Firefighter Ricardo Gomez, of a San Benito Monterey Cal Fire crew, sets a controlled burn with a drip torch while fighting the Creek Fire, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020, in Shaver Lake, Calif.Credit:AP

There has been so much coverage on state border difficulties but I haven’t seen anything between Melbourne and the rest of Victoria, writes Chris Membrey. What will the implications of reduced restrictions in regional Victoria have on Melbournians ability to perform the permitted activities? Will it prolong the time that assisting family, working in areas where overnight accommodation is required or performing maintenance works (Including fire prevention measures) on property is not allowed?

This is an interesting thought. Parts of America are experiencing both a pandemic and a huge bushfire at the same time. Our bushfire season is just ramping up. Are we prepared for two disasters at the same time?

Daniel Andrews on Wednesday.Credit:Getty Images

We’ve been told time and time again that you can’t argue with the science. We all know now that there was no science behind the curfew, writes reader George.

We also live in a suburb that has no active cases but we’re locked in our homes. We’ll continue being locked in our homes with these tough measures beyond 28 September.

Here’s what Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had to say on that matter yesterday:

"It's not a matter for Brett [Sutton], that's not health advice, that’s about achieving a health outcome. His advice is 'do whatever you can to limit movement'. Police then say 'we need rules we can enforce'. These are decisions ultimately made by me."

What does the vaccine trial pause really mean?

Let's take a moment now to look in-depth at AstraZeneca's vaccine trial pause. As The Age and Sydney Morning Herald's science reporter, all I have been asked about for the past few months is the vaccine, so I know this is a story on everyone's minds.

Yesterday, we discovered AstraZeneca had paused its phase-3 trial. Scientists told me such a pause was pretty normal during drug trials, and a sign the science was working as it should.

But we now know a bit more about what happened. The adverse event that paused the trial was a case of transverse myelitis, according to a report in the New York Times.

That's an inflammatory syndrome that affects the spinal cord. It's rare, it's generally linked to autoimmune conditions, and it has been associated with vaccination in the past. This 2009 review found 37 cases associated with different vaccines.

Importantly, we still don't know if this adverse effect was caused by AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine. There are two arms of the trial, with both groups getting different vaccines.

AstraZeneca’s trial has been paused.Credit:Getty

It may be this was caused by the other vaccine. It may be this illness is entirely unrelated.

The patient is expected to recover quickly and be discharged from hospital. But you can see why AstraZeneca paused the trial.

A single motorcycle rally linked to 250,000 COVID-19 cases

Yikes. A new study has linked a single motorcycle rally to more than 250,000 COVID-19 cases in America.

A biker poses for a photo on Main Street during the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.Credit:AP

It was a 10-day celebration of big bikes and inalienable American freedom for which more than 400,000 people descended on a South Dakota town, reports Ben Farmer.

An academic paper by four researchers at San Diego State University's Centre for Health Economics suggested the rally could have been potentially responsible for more than 250,000 cases and a public health bill of $US12 billion ($16 billion).

The consequences were "substantial", the researchers concluded.

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