NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner celebrates pubs reopening in Darwin in May, 2020 (Image: AAP/Helen Orr)

NT borders shut until 2022

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has told the ABC that the NT’s border would likely stay shut for another 18 months — what he called a “conservative” estimate.

Telling Territorians to cancel their plans to leave home for Christmas this year, he said: “We have got an indefinite ban on Victoria, and Sydney keeps bubbling away to a point to I can’t give you a date where that would ever lift.”

Anyone entering the territory has to fill in a border declaration pass and go into 14 days of quarantine at their own expense. Extra police will be recruited to patrol the borders.

Two deadliest days

Victoria has recorded its second consecutive day of 19 deaths from COVID-19 in 24 hours.

331 new cases were recorded in the past 24 hours — a promising sign the stringent stage four lockdown is starting to work. 

High school hotspots

NSW has recorded 22 new cases overnight, eight of which are connected to an outbreak at Tangara School for Girls at Cherrybrook in Sydney’s north-west. There are now 19 cases linked to the school.

On the NSW south coast, Batemans Bay High School and Batemans Bay Public School have both closed for cleaning after three students tested positive for coronavirus.

Students have also been advised to stay home from Higher School Certificate (HSC) exams if they have any symptoms at all. While oral and performance exams can be rescheduled, those who miss a written exam will have to submit an illness or misadventure application. 

‘No plan’ for aged care outbreaks

Federal authorities had no specific plan for the COVID-19 outbreak in aged care homes, the aged care royal commission has heard. 

Despite identifying the elderly as a high-risk group, no updated advice was given to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee across June 19 and August 3 when new infections in Victoria were escalating.

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant had denied there was a policy to stop infected residents of Sydney’s Newmarch House, where 17 residents died in an outbreak, to hospital. Her claim contradicts evidence heard by the commission that there was a standoff between state and federal health officials over the issue. 

Melbourne aged care resident Merle Mitchell, 85, told the commission most residents would rather die than continue living in isolation. 

Ruby Princess evidence

Two federal officers who helped clear Ruby Princess passengers to disembark in Sydney in March won’t have to give evidence to the NSW inquiry into the fiasco.

More than 2700 passengers disembarked, and it’s estimated that the ship was linked to more than 1000 cases. 

The commissioner reports to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian by Friday.

The keys to COVID-19 obedience

Newly released data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics has found those born overseas were more likely to be concerned about COVID-19 and change their behaviour to limit the spread.

Of people born overseas, 31% felt very concerned about their health due to COVID-19, compared to 13% of people born in Australia.

The data, collected in May, found those born overseas were also twice as likely to wear a mask than those born in Australia.

Education makes a difference, too: of those without a qualification, 25% wore a face mask compared to 29% of those with a qualification. Those with qualifications were also more likely to keep their kids out of school, twice as likely to work from home, and cancel plans. 

The survey also found one in three Australians had received a Commonwealth stimulus payment, with most using the cash to add to savings or spending it on household expenses. 

Peter Fray

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