brett sutton
Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton (Image: AAP/James Ross)

Victoria somehow continues to lead the way in new cases. More holes appear in JobKeeper. And football is more back than ever.

Victoria, what the hell?

Victoria locked down harder than anywhere in Australia, and was the slowest state to remove many restrictions.

But it still appears to have more community transmission of COVID-19 than anywhere else in Australia. Yesterday, the state recorded 21 new coronavirus cases, its biggest spike in over a month.

While 15 of those were returning overseas travellers, six were through community transmission, making chief health officer Brett Sutton nervous.

This morning, the state reported another 18 new cases, with just six in hotel quarantine. There are also concerns about growing clusters of cases. One of those new infections was a contact of a patient at Monash Health, bringing that cluster to seven.

A family outbreak is linked to 12 infections. There are five cases linked to a cluster at the Croydon Family Practice. There is now a third person with COVID-19 who reportedly attended the Black Lives Matter protest, but it is unclear if they were infectious at the time.

From JobKeeper to JobGoer

The Morrison government is quietly admitting many currently employed under the JobKeeper wage subsidy won’t be re-employed when the scheme winds up in September, The Australian Financial Review reports. The government reportedly would prefer to move workers from JobKeeper to JobSeeker in September, rather than extend the former. There are also talks to keep the payment higher than its pre-COVID level of $40 a day.

Still, the admission that many jobs won’t return highlights another hole in the government’s wage subsidy. JobKeeper has been criticised for leaving out workers in the arts, entertainment, hospitality and higher education sectors. In the case of universities, rules were changed three times to make sure workers were excluded. Meanwhile, the ABC reports Catholic priests have been getting JobKeeper, and donating the money back to their dioceses. 

Latin America struggles

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow fast in Latin America. In Chile, where there are no more than 200,000 cases, the government has put in place one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, with penalties of up to five years in prison for breaching quarantine.

On Saturday, the health minister resigned after the country recorded over 200 new deaths in a day.

Brazil seems to have all but given up on beating the pandemic. Despite recording over 34,000 new cases yesterday, President Jair Bolsonaro continues to downplay the threat of the virus, and fight local leaders over reopening the country. There are also serious fears about how the virus will impact Brazil’s Indigenous peoples, as it begins to spread through remote communities in the Amazon. The death toll for Indigenous Brazilians from COVID-19 is 9.1%, nearly double the 5.2% rate for non-Indigenous Brazilians. Overnight, Paulinho Paiakan, one of the country’s best known Indigenous chiefs and Amazon conservationists died from the virus.

It’s coming home

The English Premier League, the most-watched sports league in the world, returned overnight with a typically lacklustre display from Arsenal (beaten 3 v 0 by Man City). Germany’s Bundesliga and Spain’s La Liga both kicked off earlier this month, and despite the obvious absence of fans, it’s a sign that some semblance of normality is returning to Europe. Meanwhile, no restart in sight for Australia’s A-league as talks with Fox Sports continue to flounder.