Australia

Australia warns coronavirus outbreak will take weeks to tame

Authorities in the state of Victoria, whose capital Melbourne is in partial lockdown amid a new outbreak, reported 275 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, down from a daily record of 438 three days earlier.

Australia's acting chief medical officer Paul Kelly said it would take "weeks" to slow the outbreak to levels seen as recently as June, when Victoria and the rest of Australia reported single or double-digit daily infections.

Australia reviewing kava import restrictions

Since 2007 only kava for medicinal purposes has been allowed.

Travellers had been allowed to bring in up to 4 kilogrammes in their luggage, but this has ceased with Covid-19 restrictions.

However restrictions are having a significant impact on Australia's Pacific community who say the case for allowing kava importation by mail is strong.

A Tongan-Maori student at the University of Canberra, Faonetapu Takiari, said there were no legal restrictions on kava in the Capital Territory as it's classed as a food and beverage.

Australia to consider limiting returning residents

It comes after New Zealand also said it would be looking at limiting the number of arrivals in the country via a booking system.

The prime minister said there were no plans to reimpose restrictions across the country, after Victoria enforced stay-at-home rules in metropolitan Melbourne and one regional area due to a spike in infections.

Morrison was asked about the issue of travel bubbles being set up with other countries and taxing travellers.

"We haven't even concluded in the arrangements with any other countries at the moment.

Australia-NZ win bid to host FIFA World Cup

Their joint proposal beat a rival bid from Colombia to host the tournament which is being expanded to 32 teams.

Japan, who had also put forward a bid to stage the event, pulled out on Monday after they were ranked below the joint bid by world governing body FIFA's evaluation report.

The report highlighted the infrastructure and organisational advantages of the Australia/New Zealand bid which FIFA believed would make for a commercially successful tournament.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand was honoured to have been selected as co-hosts.

Victoria extends state of emergency as coronavirus cases spike

The move came a day after the state announced it would reimpose restrictions capping visitors to households to five people and outdoor gatherings to 10, starting Monday. The limits had been relaxed on 1 June to allow up to 20 people in households and public gatherings.

Victoria reported 19 new infections on Sunday, the fifth day of double digit-rises. The state has now had 1836 total confirmed cases, or a quarter of the cases in Australia, since the Covid-19 pandemic erupted.

Australia works with PIF to combat COVID-19 in the Pacific

This vital Forum initiative ensures the passage of humanitarian and medical supplies within the Pacific as we work together to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Simon Kofe, Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers, welcomed the initiative and said: “Australia’s support will ensure that the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway will be able to deliver much needed humanitarian and medical supplies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through its actions, Australia is working to achieve values of familial ties and care for neighbour’s key throughout the Pacific.”

Rare dinosaur identified in Australia

The elaphrosaur, whose name means "light-footed lizard", was related to the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Velociraptor.

The five-centimetre (two-inch) vertebrae fossil was discovered during a dig near Cape Otway in Victoria in 2015.

It is the first elaphrosaur bone ever to be found in Australia.

The fossil was discovered by volunteer Jessica Parker, who was taking part in an annual dig led by Melbourne Museum.

Australians download COVIDSafe contact tracing app

The COVIDSafe smartphone app uses a Bluetooth wireless signal to exchange a "digital handshake" with another user when they come within 1.5m (4.9ft).

The app then logs this contact and encrypts it.

Users will be notified if they have had more than 15 minutes of close contact with another user who tests positive.

Australia has recorded 6,694 confirmed coronavirus cases and 80 deaths from the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Court quashes Cardinal Pell's sexual abuse convictions

The ex-Vatican treasurer, 78, was the most senior Catholic figure ever jailed for such crimes.

In 2018, a jury found he abused two boys in Melbourne in the 1990s.

But the High Court of Australia quashed that verdict on Tuesday, bringing an immediate end to Cardinal Pell's six-year jail sentence.

The Australian cleric had maintained his innocence since he was charged by police in June 2017.

His case rocked the Catholic Church, where he had been one of the Pope's most senior advisers.

Smith captaincy ban over

That is a question that took on new relevance on Sunday after Smith's two-year leadership ban ended.

Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were suspended from cricket after a ball-tampering scandal on the 2018 tour of South Africa.

A scheme was cooked up to use sandpaper to doctor the ball, with Smith being aware of the plan but doing nothing to prevent it going ahead.

Disgraced by the incident, Smith was served with a one-year playing ban that began on March 29, 2018, with a further 12-month suspension from leading Australia in any format of the game.