Australia’s second biggest state, Victoria will continue its lockdown for at least another seven days.
Victoria’s Acting Premier, James Merlino, confirmed that current restrictions will remain in place for the next seven days for Metropolitan Melbourne.
However, restrictions in regional Victoria will ease from Friday, the date lockdown was initially meant to end for the entire state.
“On the advice of the Chief Health Officer Professor Sutton the current restrictions remain in place for Melbourne for a further seven days with some small changes,” Merlino said.
It comes as a growing cluster of coronavirus cases balloons to over 60, with over 350 exposure sites.
It’s believed the COVID cluster is from the Indian variant which escaped hotel quarantine in South Australia weeks earlier.
Business support packages announced
Victoria is requesting JobKeeper-style support from the federal government.
The State Government will increase its business support packages from $2,500 to $5,000, with an additional $209 million support package.
He “hoped” the federal government would “step up” and the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Michele O’Neil, says the ‘government must take responsibility’
O’Neil says government officials should be working day and night like the state’s essential workers.
“They’re not stopping, but the government seems to be asleep at the wheel,” she says.
“We’re 16 months into a pandemic, and not put in place fit-for-purpose quarantine facilities… is a disgrace.”
O’Neil says the easiest thing the government can do to support Victorians is re-instate JobKeeper “with the level it was last year” for individuals who were out of work. That payment was $1500 a fortnight.
However, she adds that the financial support also needs to be extended to people who were not eligible last year for JobKeeper payments.
“If this lockdown continues indefinitely, It’s going to break this state”
Victoria’s State Opposition leader, Michael O’Brien spoke to tickerNEWS before the lockdown was officially announced on Tuesday afternoon.
He called for an end to state-wide lockdown, and says the state government is playing the “blame game”
“The federal Gov’t will reconsider its position” Vic Opposition Leader @michaelobrienmp says he speaks with Aus treasurer @JoshFrydenberg regularly and has ‘no doubt’ he will consider federal assistance for Victorians.
O’Brien says “the point is, we have an issue to deal with now” and “probably” could have done better on both a state and federal level in terms of the state’s vaccine rollout.
Covid cases reported in neighbouring state of NSW
Victorian health officials have now alerted their counterparts in NSW that positive cases have crossed the border.
The Treasury Secretary is warning of “downside risks” to the budget’s upbeat projections due to the lockdown.
Many casual workers have been stood down without pay or federal government support, other than unemployment benefits.
China challenges Australia anti-dumping measures at WTO
China has challenged Australia’s anti-dumping measures at the World Trade Organisation.
The anti-dumping measures affect Chinese exports of train components, wind turbines, and stainless steel sinks.
China hopes Australia can adopt concrete measures so that bilateral trade can return to a normal track, ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters at a news conference.
More to come.
Why Singaporeans may have to learn to live with COVID-19
Singapore is drawing up a road map to transit to a “new normal”, where COVID-19 is likely endemic.
Singapore’s government believes COVID-19 may never go away.
But ministers leading the city-state’s pandemic response say the good news is that it is possible to live normally with the virus in our midst.
Three key ministers have written an opinion piece in The Straits Times, outlining what they believe life will look like in a “new-normal” where COVID-19 is still around but can be controlled through mass vaccination.
The ministers, who lead the city-state’s pandemic task force, say they hope COVID-19 will become like influenza.
They haver pointed out that people carry on with their daily activities during the flu season, take simple precautions or get an annual flu jab.
The ministers want to work towards a similar outcome for Covid-19.
Rapid mass vaccination will be key
The ministers say “we are on track” to have two-thirds of the population vaccinated with at least their first dose by early July.
The next vaccine milestone will be to have at least two-thirds of the population fully vaccinated by National Day on August 9, supply permitting.
The ministers say they are working to bring forward the delivery of vaccines and to speed up the process.
It’s hoped that in the future, when someone gets COVID in Singapore, the response can be very different from now.
And instead of monitoring Covid-19 infection numbers every day, the focus will be on the outcomes, such as how many people are getting sick.
The government says in this new-normal, large gatherings can resume, businesses will have certainty that their operations will not be disrupted, and vaccinated travellers can be exempted from quarantine
But the ministers added a note of caution:
Europe’s big plan to tackle “nightmare” cyber-attacks
The EU will soon build a Joint Cyber Unit to tackle large scale cyber-attacks
Recent ransomware attacks on critical services in Ireland and on the Colonial pipeline in the US have promoted the move to take cybercrime more seriously.
The EU says cyber-attacks are a national security threat, with reported incidents in Europe rising to almost 1,000 last year.
A dedicated team of multi-national cyber-experts will be deployed to European countries during serious attacks.
A Commission spokesman said that “advanced and coordinated responses in the field of cybersecurity have become increasingly necessary, as cyberattacks grow in number, scale, and consequences, impacting heavily our security”.
Under the Commission’s proposals, it would “tackle the rising number of serious cyber incidents impacting public services, as well as the life of businesses and citizens across the European Union”.
EU vice-president said last month’s hack on US fuel supplies was ‘the “nightmare scenario that we have to prepare against”.
The attack sent major disruptions to the United States fuel supply, with gas stations running out of supply and being forced to shut down.
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