Scott Morrison (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

Fatal record

Victoria recorded 59 deaths this morning and 81 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the state’s death toll to 660. There has been 737 deaths nationally.

Today’s figure includes 50 people in aged care who died in July and August.

It surpassed Monday’s record of 41 deaths, which also included deaths that had only just been registered.

Each daily death count this week has reportedly included fatalities beyond a 24-hour period, with a backlog of death registrations behind the spikes.

There were 15 deaths recorded on Thursday, six on Wednesday, and five on Tuesday.

Elimination the only solution

Elimination of COVID-19 is the only way Australia will avoid yo-yo-ing in and out of lockdown, modelling from the Grattan Institute has shown. It says that continuing low levels of community transmission creates uncertainty for businesses. 

The report suggests that Australia, having come this far, should “finish the job” on driving down COVID-19 cases. To do this, international quarantines will have to stay in place, testing will have to ramp up and contact tracing will need to be improved across the country. 

Are steroids the solution? 

New cross-country research has shown steroid treatment improves coronavirus survival rates by 20%. 

Analysis from different trials in seven countries showed low doses of hydrocortisone, dexamethasone and methylprednisolone improved survival rates of COVID-19 patients in intensive care in hospital. 

The World Health Organization has updated its advice on treatment, recommending steroids be used in patients with severe symptoms for up to 10 days. 

Border ban blowback

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s plan to introduce a national standard on interstate travel restrictions has been rejected, with Queensland and Western Aust­ralia refusing to reopen their borders. 

Morrison wanted to introduce a COVID-19 hotspot definition and have premiers agree on a national standard on border restrictions. Premiers will meet today to hash out border issues to allow exemptions for agricultural workers and people seeking medical care. 

Show me the money

Economists and businesses are pushing for more than just tax cuts to bring Australia out of recession, arguing the federal government should introduce incentives for discretionary spending. 

In the NT and Tasmania, local residents have been offered vouchers to spend on local tourism, and the UK government introduced an “eat out to help out” program with restaurant discounts. 

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has confirmed the government is considering bringing tax cuts, which were supposed to be introduced in 2022, forward. He warned Australians would need to spend money to help the economy, instead of putting it in their savings.

For the first time since the 1960s, Australia will encourage foreign-based businesses and manufacturers to relocate to Australia to help rebuild the economy. Tax incentives of more than $250 million are being considered by the government, targeting mining and technology, food and agri-tech, aquaculture, medtech, biotech and pharmaceuticals companies. 

Sick celebs

Yesterday it was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, today it’s Robert Pattinson.

US stars are contracting COVID-19 at an alarming rate, with Pattinson’s diagnosis pausing production of The Batman. Filming had resumed just three days ago in the north of London after being shut down in March. 

Peter Fray

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