Daily News Roundup

August 13, 2020



Victoria has recorded 278 new cases of coronavirus and eight deaths overnight, the lowest death toll since August 6 and the first time the state’s daily number of new cases has dipped below 300 in more than two weeks.

The increase of 278 is also the lowest daily increase since July 20, when it reported 275 cases.

Stage 4 restrictions were first imposed on Melbourne about 10 days ago, including a strict night-time curfew and limiting people’s movements to within a 5 km radius of their home.

Most students returned to home-learning last Wednesday and restrictions on who could access childcare came into effect last Thursday.

Premier Daniel Andrews has said in recent days it was too early to determine the exact effect stage 4 restrictions were having on case numbers.

But yesterday he said “our experts remain firm in the view that this will drive the numbers down”.

Yesterday Australia recorded its highest daily death toll since the pandemic began, with 21 deaths recorded in Victoria.

In NSW, 12 new cases and one death were recorded, and comes after Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd issued a blunt warning to NSW residents, saying the state’s COVID-19 cases could “dramatically increase” to Victorian levels.

“At the moment we are still seeing this level of community transmission occurring in NSW, at any time that could dramatically increase and we could have the same sort of consequences that we’re seeing in Victoria,” he told the ABC.

Five of the 12 new cases in the 24 hours to 8:00pm last night five are in hotel quarantine, while three are locally acquired without a known source.

For the twelfth day in a row, Queensland had no new cases.

Health Minister Steven Miles said despite challenges in the past few weeks, Queensland remained on top of COVID-19.

Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk thanked Queenslanders for continuing to come out in “droves” to get tested.

In New Zealand, authorities are warning against complacency, after the country recorded 14 new cases after 102 days without community transmission.

All but one of the new cases are linked to four members of an Auckland family who tested positive this week.

One of the new cases was a returned traveller from the Philippines.

Three workers at two Americold refrigerated warehouse facilities in Auckland, one at Mount Wellington and another at the city’s airport, have confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Another seven family members of the first four cases have also been infected.

A student at Mt Albert Grammar School is a relative of the previously announced cases, but New Zealand Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said that child was not symptomatic while they were at school.

He said the student has also not returned to school since they were tested.

Dr Bloomfield said there were now 36 active cases in the country.

Auckland is currently in stage 3 lockdown after the first cases of community transmission in the country in more than 100 days were recorded on Tuesday.

New Zealand’s deputy leader Winston Peters said authorities “won’t know for sure” how the virus reappeared in the country until the medical evidence comes in.

“We don’t know how far it’s spread in the last 24 hours. We don’t know how wide the spread is, whether it’s dispersed outside of Auckland and whether we have a fix on all the cases. 

“It is one of those in-between times. We need to know the research and the evidence and we don’t have it yet,” he told Today.

He said New Zealanders “from the Prime Minister down” are “all annoyed about this”.

Virus hunters in New Zealand are racing to determine whether the mystery outbreak after 100 days COVID-free could have been freighted into the country in frozen food, or even remain frozen in a cold storage facility for weeks.


University students who fail more than half of their subjects will lose access to government loans and subsidies under changes announced by the Federal Government.

The move is part of a planned overhaul of the university system, which will also result in major changes to student fees.

Under the latest changes, students who fail more than 50 per cent their classes after taking at least eight units will no longer be able to access a Commonwealth-supported place or a HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP loan, meaning they will have to pay the full cost of their studies upfront if they wish to continue.

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment estimates it will affect around 2,500 students each year.

Universities will be able to provide exemptions if students can demonstrate exceptional circumstances — for example, serious illness or bereavement.

Education Minister Dan Tehan says the changes are aimed at preventing students with very low completion rates from racking up large debts without any qualifications to show for them.

“Research has shown that nearly six per cent of university students fail every subject in their first year,” he said.

The Minister pointed to the example of a student who started 44 courses at 26 different providers but completed none of them, and ended up with a debt of $663,000.


Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his vice-president pick, Kamala Harris, have made their first public appearance as running mates.

Biden announced the Senator from California would serve as his vice-presidential pick yesterday, following a months-long vetting process marked by intense public speculation.

Today, both Biden and Harris spoke from Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. They mapped out their path to victory in November, focussing heavily on coronavirus, the economy, race issues and, of course, Donald Trump.

Today, Biden said it was a much more personal connection that drove the final decision on his VP pick— his late son Beau.

Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015, an event that has defined much of the former vice-president’s late career.

Before his death, Beau and Harris worked closely together as Attorneys General of their states.

“Beau was the kind of guy who inspired people to be a better version of themselves,” Harris said.

“And when I asked him ‘where’d you get that?’ He’d always talk about his dad.”

In this speech, Biden was clear about how much Beau’s friendship with Harris, and Beau’s respect for her work had helped influence his final decision.

Prior to this event, the Biden/Harris relationship has been defined by a fiery clash on the debate stage in 2019.


Paul McGregor is the fourth NRL coach to be shown the door this season, with the St George Illawarra mentor resigning from the 12th-placed team.

The 52-year-old will step away from the position after Friday’s game against Parramatta.

McGregor has been on the hot seat for months and that was compounded by an 18-0 loss to the Warriors and a 22-2 loss to the last-placed Bulldogs in the first two rounds after the coronavirus shutdown.

Despite a spirited performance against the two-time defending premier Roosters on the weekend, McGregor’s tenure at the Dragons officially has officially come to an end after six years, having taken over from Steve Price in the middle of the 2014 season.

McGregor led the team to two finals series during his time in charge, including his first full season at the helm, when the club finished eighth, and again in 2018, finishing seventh.

The Dragons are currently 12th with four wins from 13 games and have joined three other teams in the bottom six — the Warriors, Cowboys and Bulldogs — who have sacked their coach or seen them resign.


Three people have been killed and six injured after a passenger train derailed south of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Killed were the driver, conductor and a passenger.

British Transport Police (BTP) said emergency services were called to the scene near Stonehaven, about 160 kilometres north-east of Edinburgh, at 9:43am local time on Wednesday.

“Very sadly, despite the best efforts of paramedics, we can confirm that three people have been pronounced dead at the scene,” a BTP statement said.

“While formal identification is yet to take place, the driver of the train is very sadly believed to have died.

“His family have been informed and are being supported by specially trained family liaison officers.

“Officers are continuing to work to inform the families of the other two people who sadly died.”

Six people were taken to hospital with non-serious injuries.

It is believed the train derailed due to a landslide after heavy rain had lashed the area.

The BBC reported that the train was made up of two locomotives, one at the front and one at the back, and four passenger carriages. It said the front locomotive and three of the carriages had left the track and were sitting on a river embankment.

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