Victorians could be cut off from the rest of Australia for two years as the state battles a second outbreak of coronavirus.
From midnight, wearing a face mask will be mandatory throughout metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire and failure to do so punishable with a $200 fine.
The latest health directive was implemented in an attempt to stem the spread of COVID-19 as cases in the state continue to soar.
A further 484 cases were diagnosed in Victoria in the 24 hours to Wednesday – the largest single day spike in Australia since the pandemic began.
Professor Tony Blakely on Wednesday told ABC the nation faces a ‘real dilemma’ as six of the eight states and territories have almost entirely succeeded in eliminating the virus.
Victoria is the only state grappling with widespread community transmission at this point, while New South Wales is seeing some cases from unknown sources but on nowhere near the same scale as in Melbourne.
Newly diagnosed cases in other states have been largely linked to returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
‘Why would they let anybody in if there’s enough of a risk that they are going to bring the virus?’ Prof Blakely said.
Victorians could be cut off from the rest of Australia for two years as the state battles a second outbreak of coronavirus
From midnight, wearing a face mask will be mandatory throughout metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire and failure to do so punishable with a $200 fine
Blocking Victorians from travelling interstate will have further detrimental impacts on the Australian economy, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (pictured) expected to announce an annual shortfall of $200billion on Thursday
‘Let’s assume that Victoria doesn’t get rid of the virus… It essentially means Victoria is going to have to function in isolation from the rest of Australia until such time as we get a vaccine, assuming the other states don’t want the virus back in. If I was in the other states I wouldn’t want the virus back in.’
If the other states opt against blocking Victorians from visiting, it could force them to let the virus back in and ‘move to the yoyo common denominator’.
Blocking Victorians from travelling interstate will have further detrimental impacts on the Australian economy, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg expected to announce an annual shortfall of $200billion on Thursday.
Mr Frydenberg will reveal the ‘eye-watering’ budget deficit is the worst since World War Two due to the coronavirus crisis, which has crippled businesses and required extraordinary government spending to keep firms and families afloat.
The figure is so high because the government has spent $164billion on propping up businesses and individuals with new policies including subsidising wages and boosting welfare with schemes like JobKeeper and JobSeeker.
Some economists fear the debt could take at least 30 years to repay.
While it is clear lockdowns and border closures make it more difficult for businesses to claw their way out of financial ruin, the states which have successfully eliminated the virus are more concerned about the health of citizens than rushing to reopen.
As cases from Victoria slip across the border to New South Wales, Queensland Police are bracing for the possibility they may have to block people from Sydney from visiting the Sunshine State, a source told the Courier Mail.
The latest health directive was implemented in an attempt to stem the spread of COVID-19 as cases in the state continue to soar
Victoria accounted for 484 of the new cases overnight as authorities struggle to bring the outbreak under control despite a nearly two-week lockdown in Melbourne
Alarming figures show Australia is headed for the biggest budget blowout since World War Two – as Victoria’s second lockdown and plummeting tax revenue leave us with a $200BILLION deficit
Australia will suffer its largest budget deficit since World War Two due to the coronavirus crisis which has crippled businesses and required extraordinary government spending.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will reveal the ‘eye-watering’ figure – expected to be about $200billion for this financial year – in an economic update on Thursday.
The budget deficit is the shortfall in the government’s income compared to how much it spends.
The figure is so high because the government has spent $164billion on propping up businesses and individuals with new policies including subsidising wages and boosting welfare.
At the same time, tax receipts are down because companies are making less money during the economic downturn brought on by restrictions and lockdowns.
Company tax receipts, which were $93billion in 2019, are expected to fall by more than $25billion over last financial year and this year combined.
The treasurer will also reveal that Melbourne’s fresh lockdown – imposed for six weeks on July 8 – is estimated to cost the economy $3.3billion.
A budget deficit of $200billion would represent around 10 per cent of GDP, the highest since World War Two spending took the deficit to about 25 per cent of GDP in 1945.
The figure is four times as big as the Rudd government’s budget deficit of $55billion in 2009 after the global financial crisis.
Government debt is already at $720billion and ongoing deficits will see this figure grow significantly.
However, the treasurer will say that the drastic support measures the government has taken have been ‘necessary’ to prevent more people losing their jobs.
In June almost one million people were officially unemployed – but this figure could have been almost twice as high at 1.7million without JobKeeper and other government support, he will say.
Mr Frydenberg said: ‘The COVID-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-century shock that is placing immense pressure on health systems and economies all around the world.
‘Our announced measures, together with large declines in taxation receipts, has seen a hit to the bottom line, but this has been necessary in order to cushions the blow for millions of Australians, and to keep businesses in business and keep Australians in jobs.’
New South Wales Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant on Tuesday urged the state’s residents to avoid any non-essential travel.
‘That sort of language is normally a precedent to restrictions being tightened,’ a Queensland police source said.
Currently, any residents from Campbelltown and Liverpool government areas are forbidden from entering Queensland, along with Victorians, but the source said those hot spots would likely be extended.
‘There is no way that more hot spots are not going to be declared, and all of Sydney would definitely be a consideration given what’s happening down there,’ the source said.
‘If the situation continues to deteriorate over the next week, I honestly don’t see how we wouldn’t look at closing the border entirely.’
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk addressed New South Wales authorities’ concerns over the spread of the virus on Wednesday.
‘I do have concerns when the NSW Premier says they are on a heightened alert. That means I am on a heightened alert,’ she said.
From midnight, police in Victoria will issue on-the-spot $200 fines to anybody in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire who do not wear face masks while out in public.
Residents within the locked down suburbs can only leave home for four reasons – daily exercise, shopping for essential goods, to give or receive care or to travel to work.
Barricades have been installed along some of Coolangatta’s streets to help stop people crossing the Queensland-NSW border without going through the appropriate checks
Pictured: A map shows Sydney’s coronavirus hotspot sites as the virus spreads throughout NSW
Officers have vowed to ‘exercise discretion’ for the first seven days of the new health directive, but will not hesitate to dish out fines to people who are purposefully breaking the rules.
The example offered by Victoria Police was that if a person who had a mask in their possession refused to put it on after they were instructed to do so, they could expect a fine.
Similarly, if a person disrespected orders to avoid entering a supermarket due to not having a mask, they could also expect a fine.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is reportedly desperate to reopen his state to avoid economic ruin, but is resolved to only do so when cases dramatically drop.
Senior government figures told The Australian Mr Andrews wanted daily case numbers ‘in the single digits’ before reopening the economy.
‘It all comes down to the data. Every option is open,’ a senior government source said.
Almost nine in 10 Victorians who tested positive to COVID-19 between July 7 and July 21 were still leaving their houses after they developed symptoms.
Even after being tested, 54 per cent still left their homes while waiting for their results, Mr Andrews said.
Royal Melbourne Hospital this week received an order of an additional 22 ventilators to add to bolster its intensive care units, which already have 42 beds
Registered nurses wear their personal protective equipment as they test people for COVID-19 in Bondi
Royal Melbourne Hospital this week received an order of an additional 22 ventilators to add to bolster its intensive care units, which already have 42 beds.
Hospitals in the state are preparing for an influx of new cases given hospital admissions appear to be about 10 days behind the diagnoses of new cases.
RMH ICU nurse unit manager Michelle Spence said the new ventilators could be ready for use within 48 hours, and will protect nurses as well as save lives.
‘We are ready and within 24 to 48 hours we could have those next 22 beds set up. It gives us the opportunity to start expanding our service and that has been the plan since March,’ she said.
‘The staff are definitely fatigued a little bit in life,’ she said. ‘But we are ready for this. We have been training and practising and getting staffing models since March.
Most of the people brought into hospital with severe cases of COVID-19 are the elderly, but an increased amount of young people are catching the disease.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data released on Thursday showed men were more likely to die from the virus than women, and the median age of death is 80.
The institute analysed data from late January to late May, before the large scale outbreak in Victoria.
Australia has reported a record 501 new coronavirus cases today. Above, frontline medical testing staff are seen at a pop-up site at Colac Area Health in Victoria
NSW ACTIVE COVID-19 CASES
SYDNEY’S SOUTH WEST
Carnes Hill, Cecil Hills: 11
Casula, Chipping Norton: 8
Bossley Park, Prairiewood, Abbotsbury: 3
Catherine Fields: 1
Currans Hill, Mount Annan: 1
Lugarno, Peakhurst, Riverwood: 2
Engadine, Heathcote, Waterfall: 1
Beverley Park: 1
Allawah, Carlton: 1
Grays Point: 1
SYDNEY’S WEST and BLUE MOUNTAINS
Katoomba, Leura: 4
Winmalee, Springwood: 1
Constitution Hill: 3
Blacktown, Arndell Park: 2
Oatlands, Dundas: 1
Erskine Park: 1
Glenmore Park: 1
Emu Plains, Emu Heights, Jamison: 1
Baulkham Hills: 3
Lake Illawarra: 1
Batemans Bay: 4
Australians aged 20 to 29 had the highest number of infections, while people aged over 70 had the lowest.
Women aged between 20 to 29 and 60 to 69 were the most likely of females to be infected, while men aged 60 to 79 were the most likely of males.
And while the bulk of the infections were acquired overseas during the period studied, 98.8 per cent of cases diagnosed in the last week have been acquired locally.
Authorities in New South Wales have not yet mandated the use of face masks, but have encouraged people to use them where possible.
Dr Stephen Parnis earlier told A Current Affair the state could be heading in a similar direction to Victoria.
He said the virus could easily spiral out of control in Australia.
‘It’s always the case that these things could spread,’ he said.
‘The concern is that NSW could now be where Melbourne was four, five, six weeks ago.’
On Tuesday, 16 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the state.
Pictured: Two women and a child wear a face mask in Burwood, Sydney’s inner west on Monday
Pictured: A map showing coronavirus cases recorded since July 1. South-west Sydney has been hit the hardest, with 11 cases in the Liverpool local government area. The postcodes seen in the lightest shade of red have recorded one case in the past three weeks.
One of the cases was linked to hotel quarantine, three to the Crossroads Hotel in Casula and 11 associated with the Thai Rock restaurant in Wetherill Park, taking the total amount of cases related to that cluster to 37.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her state was facing the most ‘critical time’ since the initial March lockdown in the fight against the virus.
She said it was reassuring there were no new outbreaks of coronavirus popping up across the state but was still concerned about community transmission.
‘The next few weeks are the most critical in NSW since the lockdown earlier in March and April,’ she said.
‘We are not out of the woods yet, quite the opposite… We have some level of anxiety regarding the extent of community transmission.’
The latest opinions from medics come as a terrifying new map shows how the virus has rapidly spread through Sydney after jumping the Victorian border.
Sydney’s woes began at the Crossroads Hotel in Casula, in the city’s south-west, with ‘patient zero’ later identified as a Melbourne-based freight company employee who visited on July 3.
New South Wales Health said there are now 50 cases associated with the Crossroads Hotel cluster and 37 linked to the Thai Rock restaurant at Wetherill Park.
A queue of cars is seen at a coronavirus testing clinic in Sydney’s Bondi on Wednesday (pictured) as non-residents are urged to stay away from the city
A woman is tested at the pop-up testing clinic at Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Harris Park in western Sydney (pictured on Tuesday)
The map shows the Sydney hot spots battling coronavirus infections since July 1.
In the Liverpool local government area, there are 11 active cases in Carnes Hill and Cecil Hills and eight in Casula and Chipping Norton following one positive test result in each area over night.
Another coronavirus case was recorded in Bossley Park, in the Fairfield LGA, bringing the number of active cases in the suburb to three.
The Lower Blue Mountains saw an additional person test positive and the area now has five active coronavirus infections.
Sydney’s south recorded another positive case in Caringbah, taking the suburb’s active number of cases to two, while another infection was recorded in Grays Point.
There are five active cases in Airds, Ambarvale and Appin in the Campbelltown LGA and five in Bardia, the Liverpool LGA.
Belmore, in Sydney’s inner south-west, has four active coronavirus cases.
But there are fears of a potential new COVID-19 cluster in Sydney after a staff member at a Sydney care home tested positive for coronavirus.
NSW recorded 13 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, following an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at the Crossroads Hotel in Casula, the city’s south-west
The employee at Ashfield Baptist Homes aged care in Sydney’s inner-west dined at the Thai Rock Restaurant in Wetherill Park, which has since been linked to 37 cases.
Other staff and residents at the facility are now in isolation and being tested for the deadly respiratory infection, New South Wales Health said in a statement.
‘The risk to other staff and residents is considered to be very low as the staff member wore masks, gloves and gowns when working with residents and did not work while symptomatic,’ the statement said.
Ashfield Baptist Homes has since been closed to the public pending test results.
A toddler who is linked to a previously identified case has also tested positive for the deadly respiratory virus.
A text message was sent to parents of little ones enrolled at Good Start in Anna Bay in the Hunter Region on Wednesday informing them that a toddler at the centre had tested positive.
MELBOURNE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAKS
173 cases have been linked to Al-Taqwa College
57 cases have been linked to Somerville Retail Services in Tottenham
36 cases have been linked to JBS in Brooklyn
4 cases have been linked to Nestle Campbellfield
12 cases have been linked to Australian Lamb Company in Colac
5 cases have been linked to Australian Pharmaceutical Industries in Dandenong South
13 cases have been linked to Goodman Fielder Pampas in West Footscray
13 cases have been linked to St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner
40 cases have been linked to Estia Health in Ardeer
28 cases have been linked to Glendale Aged Care facility in Werribee
18 cases have been linked to the Royal Melbourne Hospital Royal Park campus
20 cases have been linked to LaManna Supermarket in Essendon Fields
14 cases have been linked to Embracia Aged Care Moonee Valley in Avondale Heights
5 cases have been linked to Japara Central Park Aged Care Home in Windsor
The facility was then closed for a deep clean.
A Sydney man also infected a friend in his 20s after travelling to visit him in Port Stephens, further accelerating the spread of the virus.
The case prompted authorities to urge Sydneysiders not to travel unless absolutely necessary.
Residents in northern New South Wales and Newcastle were also asked not to travel to Sydney in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus.
Public Health Physician Professor David Durrheim said the Sydney outbreaks were ‘concerning’ and that non-residents should stay away.
There is usually a lot of travel between the two east coast cities, sitting just 170km apart.
‘We would strongly advise anybody from the Hunter New England region to rather stay at home than visiting Sydney at this stage unless absolutely necessary.
‘This virus, if you give it half a chance, can spread very very rapidly and even from the a-symptomatic,’ he said.
Newcastle residents were told by health authorities to rethink their travel plans after NSW recorded 16 new cases on Wednesday (pictured, the health alert)
There are 26 cases linked to the Thai Rock restaurant at Wetherill Park (pictured)
VICTORIA’S ACTIVE CASES BY LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS
Hume – 308
Brimbank – 289
Melbourne – 272
Wyndham – 370
Moreland – 191
Casey – 103
Moonee Valley – 212
Stonnington – 38
Banyule – 130
Whittlesea – 166
Melton – 119
Boroondara – 43
Darebin – 88
Greater Geelong – 18
Mornington Peninsula – 11
Monash – 37
Glen Eira – 18
Port Phillip – 34
Yarra – 119
Maribyrnong – 95
Frankston – 12
Manningham – 39
Hobsons Bay – 65
Bayside – 15
Kingston – 26
Whitehorse – 48
Greater Dandenong – 44
Knox – 14
Cardinia – 18
Mitchell – 14
Greater Shepparton – 2
Maroondah – 13