Daily News Roundup

June 24, 2020

(Reuters: Thomas Peter)

 

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23

Victoria’s coronavirus outbreak continues to worsen with the state entering its eighth consecutive day of double-digit new cases.

The outbreak comes at a time when, worldwide the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating at breakneck speed..

The numbers of new infections globally are now growing at such a rate that while it took some three months to reach the first 1 million cases, the last million cases was reached in just eight days.

The total number of COVID-19 infections now exceeds 9 million worldwide.

In Victoria, in addition to one death (a man in his 80s) taking the state’s death toll to 20, there were 20 new coronavirus cases overnight, seven of which are linked to known outbreaks.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said eight new cases were likely due to community transmission.

A rise in community transmission of the virus prompted the State Government to declare six local government areas coronavirus hotspots earlier this week.

Professor Sutton said health authorities were rolling out more testing sites in those areas as demand for drive-through testing had surged, leading to hours-long waiting times.

He said testing at Chadstone Shopping Centre had come to a temporary halt while police were brought in to manage the traffic issues caused by queues of cars.

The spike in the number of Victorian cases comes as NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian tells travellers from Victorian “hotspots” not to come and urged accommodation providers in her state to turn visitors from Melbourne away.

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Australians’ attitudes towards China are hardening, according to a wide-ranging poll that has found plummeting trust in China and its President Xi Jinping.

Only 23 per cent of Australians trust China to act responsibly in the world, a dramatic fall from 52 per cent just two years ago.​

The ABC reports The Lowy Institute’s annual poll gauges Australians’ attitudes towards a range of international issues and this year saw 2,448 Australians questioned in late March.​

Natasha Kassam from the Lowy Institue said the poll detected a “generally gloomy sentiment”, with Australians feeling “far more distrustful, pessimistic and generally less secure in the world.”​

“This may not sound particularly surprising given the COVID-19 pandemic and Australia’s first recession in 29 years,” she said.

“But we can see that ongoing tensions with China and frustration with the United States have contributed to this generally gloomy sentiment.”​

Trust in China’s President Xi Jinping ‘to do the right thing regarding world affairs’ has dropped to just 22 per cent, which is half of what it was in 2018.​

“Until about two years ago, Australians saw China as an economic opportunity,” said Ms Kassam.​

“The rise of debates about foreign interference, Huawei, Hong Kong and many other issues has seen this perception shift to increasingly seeing China as more of a security threat.”​

The past year has seen China impose stiff tariffs on Australian barley exports, warn its students against studying in Australia, as well as being identified as the source of cyber-attacks against the country.

Australians still value the alliance with the United States, with nearly eight in 10 describing America as ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ important to Australia’s security.​

Only one in three Australians trust US President Donald Trump ‘to do the right thing’, which is actually a slight improvement on how he was viewed last year, before he faced impeachment proceedings.

“Australians remains sceptical of President Trump and his America-first policies,” Ms Kassam said

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A Sydney man, out  on bail, has been accused of going to extraordinary lengths to flee Australia, allegedly sailing off on his yacht, before hiding on a ship bound for Malaysia, ABC reports..

Police allege that the man was attempting to leave the country on a yacht on Saturday, when he got into trouble near Yamba, on the NSW North Coast, and was rescued by a passing cargo ship.

The 31-year-old Peakhurst man was taken on board the bulk carrier and a tow line was attached to the yacht to take it to Newcastle.

But on Saturday night, police said the tow line had snapped, the yacht was missing, and so was the man.

An extensive marine search operation was launched on Saturday night and Sunday.

On Monday, when the ship arrived in Newcastle, Australian Border Force conducted a searched the vessel with the dog squad and police allege the man was found hiding in an air conditioning vent.

Police said the man was carrying more than $4,000 in cash, and a knife, which will be examined forensically.

The man was discovered by a police dog while allegedly hiding inside a vent.(Supplied: Australian Border Force)

Police allege the man deliberately cut the tow line and planned to hide on the ship until it was due to depart Newcastle for Malaysia.

Subsequent checks revealed the man was wanted for breach of bail over an alleged sexual assault.

He was arrested and taken to Newcastle Police Station where he was charged with breaching bail.

He will appear in Sutherland Local Court later today.