Daily News Roundup

August 23, 2021

MONDAY, AUGUST 23

The Prime Minister has warned state and territory leaders they must not be afraid of COVID-19 cases rising once enough of the population is vaccinated against the virus.

Federal, state and territory governments agreed to a national plan last month to begin reopening the country and end large-scale lockdowns once 80 per cent of the eligible population was vaccinated.

But the growing outbreak in Sydney has some leaders concerned, and they say even once that target is reached, they may continue to use lockdowns as a tool to suppress the growth of COVID-19 cases.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the states must be prepared to allow COVID-19 cases to rise.

“Once you get to 70 per cent of your country that is eligible for the vaccine and 80 per cent, the plan sets out that we have to move forward, we cannot hold back,” he said.

“We must adjust our mindset. Cases will not be the issue … dealing with serious illness, hospitalisation, ICU capabilities, our ability to respond in those circumstances, that will be our goal.”

Mr Morrison said the country must be prepared to live with COVID-19 as it lives with other infectious diseases.

“We should not fear it, we should embrace it and we should move forward together,” he said.

The government has warned it will not continue to provide the same levels of financial support to states and territories if they continue to lockdown once vaccination targets are reached.

*NSW recorded 818 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8:00pm yesterday.

Three COVID-19 patients in their 80s, who all had underlying health conditions, died.

NSW has passed 5.9 million vaccinations, 738,000 of which were administered last week.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state was expected to reach its target of 6 million jabs “at least a week early”. 

The Premier said the target would prompt some restrictions to be eased for some people, and that specifics would be revealed later this week.

“We will be able to communicate what additional freedom people may have once they get to full vaccination and during September, and we will outline our plan for schools,” she said.

“Both are a work in progress and we are consulting with the chief psychiatrist as well as the public health team to get the right balance.”

Ms Berejiklian acknowledged NSW residents may be going through “the rollercoaster of emotions” as case numbers fluctuate.

“I don’t want to focus so much on the numbers going up and down,” she said.

“We want to see them go down, no doubt about that, and we’re working so hard to make it possible, but the number we need to focus on is a vaccination rate.”

*A leading epidemiologist has suggested Victoria could use a “soft lockdown” as a bridging measure to higher vaccination coverage, if the current lockdown fails to crush the outbreak.

His statement came as Victoria has recorded 71 new locally acquired cases on Monday with fears several concerning clusters will keep growing.

The state’s health department confirmed the new cases about 8.30am and revealed 22 of those were mystery infections.

The state’s health department said only 49 of the 71 new local cases could be linked to existing outbreaks.

Several concerning other clusters ballooned at the weekend, with about 40 cases now linked to the Shepparton outbreak and seven linked to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

There’s also cases linked to the MyCentre Childcare in Broadmeadows, the St Kilda and Port Phillip local government area outbreak, the CS Square shopping centre in Caroline Springs and the City of Hobsons Bay community outbreak.

“We don’t have a source case for the Shepparton outbreak yet, we’re not sure how that started,” health department deputy secretary Kate Matson said.

“We expect that (Royal Melbourne) outbreak to grow just as we expect the Shepparton outbreak to grow.”

Health Minister Martin Foley said although mystery infections kept popping up, the earlier parts of the outbreak, such as the Al-Taqwa College cluster, were under control.

“We’ve got community transmission, we’re still in the realm of hauling this back,” he said.

University of Melbourne epidemiologist Tony Blakely has urged the Victorian community to start a conversation now about its options if the lockdown was not successful.

Professor Blakely said he still hoped the state would successfully drive the outbreak back down to five or fewer daily new cases by September 2, when the lockdown was due to end.

“And I strongly support the Victorian government’s strong stance to give it a really good push for two weeks,” he told ABC News Breakfast.

Melbourne’s lockdown was strengthened on Saturday, while restrictions were also extended to regional Victoria.(ABC News: Daryl Torpy)

But he said if the state was unable to drive the Delta outbreak back down, one option could be relaxing to a “soft lockdown” with fewer restrictions on workers, more time allowed outdoors and an abandonment of the curfew.

“Based on my initial calculations, what would happen is case numbers would go up, and then you’d catch them about October and then they’d come back down again as the vaccination coverage is going up,” he said.

“And it looks plausible that you could catch it at about 400 cases per day.

“I know that doesn’t sound great, but you could catch it then and then bring it down and therefore you would be in a soft lockdown until November, whatever that looks like.”

Professor Blakely said that might enable a “tidy bridge” over to the point in time when vaccination coverage was higher.

He acknowledged this would be a pivot “earlier than we would have liked … to living with the virus”, but noted vaccinations had played a role in limiting deaths in the New South Wales outbreak.

*Queensland has recorded two new cases of COVID-19, both in quarantine.

One is linked to the Indooroopilly cluster and was in home quarantine, while the second is an overseas traveller who was in hotel quarantine.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was closely monitoring the situation in New South Wales.

“What we are seeing is the continual escalation of cases in New South Wales and Victoria, and we have to try and keep Queensland as safe as possible but we are very concerned that there could be another outbreak at any day,” she said.

A man who tried to cross the road border into Queensland from New South Wales “a couple of weeks ago” has since tested positive.

Ms Palaszczuk said he was intercepted by police and turned around.

“The police are doing everything they can, I want to give that assurance to the public,” she said.

“But at some stage, my greatest fear is that either coming into our airports or coming in across our borders, someone is going to come in with COVID, so we have to be incredibly vigilant.”

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The Wiggles new cast members Tsehay Hawkins, Kelly Hamilton, John Pearce and Evie Ferris.

The Australian children’s band The Wiggles has expanded its line up to eight Wiggles as part of its new YouTube series Fruit Salad TV.

The Wiggles said it was “seeking to inspire a diverse audience with its gender-balanced and diverse cast” and make sure children around the world “see themselves reflected on the screen”.

There are four new cast members, one for each Wiggle colour, including three women, two of whom wear pants.

Tsehay Hawkins, 15, is the second red Wiggle. Hawkins was born in Ethiopia and adopted by an Australian family. She is a Latin dance champion.

Evie Ferris, a corps de ballet dancer with the Australian Ballet, is the second blue Wiggle and wears blue ballet shoes.

Ferris, 24, is an Indigenous Australian and first performed with the Wiggles for their song We’re All Fruit Salad earlier this year.

Kelly Hamilton, 45, is the second yellow Wiggle alongside the band’s first female member Emma.

Hamilton is a Chinese-Australian and will ride her skateboard around Wiggle Town.

The fourth new cast member is second purple Wiggle John Pearce, 30, a former member of the music group Justice Crew.

Hawkins, Ferris, Hamilton and Pearce join the current Wiggles: Lachlan Gillespie (purple), Simon Pryce, (red), Emma Watkins (yellow) and Anthony Field (blue).

Field, 58, is the only remaining original Wiggle — the band formed in 1991.

Fruit Salad TV will debut on September 4 on YouTube and be available worldwide.

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Don Everly, the elder of the Everly Brothers who inspired the likes of The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Simon and Garfunkel, has died at the age of 84, at his Nashville home.

A family spokesperson confirmed his death in a statement, without revealing the cause.

It comes seven years after the death of Phil Everly who died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2014, aged 74.

With their catchy melodies and pitch-perfect harmonies, the Everly Brothers had 15 top-10 hits in the US between 1957 and 1962, including All I Have To Do Is Dream, Bye Bye Love and Wake Up Little Susie.

In 1986, they were one of the first acts to be elected to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and received a lifetime achievement award at the Grammys in 1997.

“Don lived by what he felt in his heart,” the family said in its statement.

“Don expressed his appreciation for the ability to live his dreams … with his soulmate and wife, Adela, and sharing the music that made him an Everly Brother.”

Growing up in Tennessee, Don was originally a solo performer before teaming up with his younger brother in the mid-1950s and catching the attention of music executives in Nashville.

Don’s deeper voice usually carried the melody, with Phil singing harmony in recordings and live performances.

After their global popularity waned in the mid-1960s due to the so-called British invasion, the duo segued from pop to country rock, enjoying moderate success.

In 1972, they had a famous bust-up on stage during a show in California and didn’t play together again for more than a decade. 

Having failed to earn the same acclaim as solo artists, they reunited with a concert in London in 1983 and would record a comeback album, produced by British guitarist Dave Edmunds.

After their final hit single Born Yesterday in 1986, the brothers performed and recorded with an eclectic mix of artists over the next two decades, including Simon and Garfunkel, Cliff Richard and Vince Gill.

After Phil Everly had died earlier in the year, Don delivered a moving rendition of Bye Bye Love as a solo performer at the 2014 Annual Music Masters in Cleveland.

Two years later, he endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential election, noting that he and Phil had held “vastly different views on politics and life”, which accounted for their often difficult sibling relationship.

Paul McCartney has said the Everly Brothers helped mould The Beatles’ famous vocal style in the 1960s, with he and John Lennon jokingly calling themselves The Foreverly Brothers.

“When John and I first started to write songs,” McCartney said in 2014, “I was Phil [Everly] and he was Don.”

In 2019, when Don was voted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville, Keith Richards, of the Rolling Stones, called him “one of the best rhythm guitar players I’ve ever heard.”

Apart from his wife Adela, he is survived by his mother, Margaret, his son, Edan, and his daughters Venetia, Stacy and Erin.