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The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Friday August 14.

A man in his 20s has become Australia's youngest COVID-19 victim. 

Another 14 Victorians have died from COVID-19 and 372 coronavirus cases have been recorded in the state. 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the latest victims include a man in his 20s, three women and two men in their 80s and four women and four men in their 90s. 

Premier Daniel Andrews has announced the deaths of 14 more Victorians. Image: Getty.

12 of the deaths are linked to aged care.

There are currently more than 3000 mystery cases in the state, the largest proportion of which are occurring in the 20-29 age group.

"They are the people doing the shopping, working in permitted industries going out. Those who are out and about for lawful reasons, as much as they are out and about breaking rules," Andrews said. 

Victoria's "cause for hope" as numbers continue to drop.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says there is a "real cause for hope" that Victoria is flattening its rate of coronavirus infections as lockdown measures take hold.

The state recorded 278 new cases on Thursday, its lowest tally since July 20, after one week of Australia's harshest restrictions.

Mr Hunt said the agonising lockdowns in Victoria were beginning to play a role, along with strengthening the contact tracing regime.

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"That combines with the distancing to see this first cautious optimism and real cause for hope around the flattening of the curve in Victoria," he told reporters.

"There will be up days and there will be down days. This will not be a straight-line progression."

Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo have been identified as a source of concern after collectively recording more than 250 cases in the past 14 days. Three new COVID-19 testing sites have been opened in those centres. 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews insists his relationship with Prime Minister Scott Morrison is intact after days of tensions over defence force support.

"Nothing the prime minister has said to me would give me any doubt whatsoever that this partnership is a strong one, because it needs to be," Mr Andrews said.


While the state Labor government is under pressure over its bungled hotel quarantine system, the federal coalition is facing serious questions over aged care.

Mr Morrison faced criticism from the opposition for using a pre-recorded Facebook video to address the issue rather than front the media.

A royal commission also heard a scathing assessment of the lack of preparation throughout the federally regulated aged care system.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly and his predecessor, Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy, will front the Senate's coronavirus inquiry on Friday.

NSW recorded 12 new cases on Thursday and nine new cases on Friday.

Victoria's patient zero believed to be hotel staff, not a security guard.

Emails have been found that show "patient zero" in Victoria's coronavirus outbreak is a night duty manager at the Rydges Hotel, not a misbehaving security guard.

The Age reports the manager came down with a fever on May 25 and tested positive the next day.

Other staff and security guards were sent home immediately to isolate, but it was too late, with five guards testing positive and spreading the virus to their families.

The email chain shows officials mistakenly reported a guard was the first to test positive, a mistake that was later corrected. 

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The publication says it's assumed the manager was infected by a returned traveller, but there's no suggestion of improper behaviour. 

QLD first in Australia to ban gay conversion therapy.

Queensland has voted to criminalise gay conversion therapy, making it the first state or territory in Australia to do so. 

Under the new law, healthcare professionals could face up to 18 months in jail for attempting to change or suppress a person's sexual orientation or gender identity using practices such as aversion therapy, hypnotherapy and psychoanalysis.

Yesterday, Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles told parliament conversion therapy was a "highly destructive and unethical" practice.

Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have also committed to banning conversion therapy.

Trump continues attempt to block mail-in voting. 

Funding for the US Postal Service and election infrastructure has became a major sticking point in congressional talks on a coronavirus relief package, with President Donald Trump vowing to block any money to facilitate mail-in voting.

The stalemate in approving the deal means Americans affected by the coronavirus hit to the economy will be waiting longer for further aid.

The president has been railing against mail-in ballots for months as a possible source of fraud, despite little evidence it takes place and millions of Americans using the post office to cast absentee ballots for years.

The ability to vote without going to a polling place is especially important this year as people look for ways to vote without risking being infected by coronavirus.

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"The items are the post office and the $3.5 billion for mail-in voting," Trump told Fox Business Network, saying Democrats want to give the post office $25 billion. "If we don't make the deal, that means they can't have the money, that means they can't have universal mail-in voting. It just can't happen."

Democrats have cried foul, accusing Trump and his party of trying to make it harder for Americans to vote, as opinion polls show him trailing his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

China finds traces of the virus in chicken wings.

Two Chinese cities have found traces of the coronavirus in imported frozen food and on food packaging, raising fears that contaminated food shipments might cause new outbreaks.

A sample taken from the surface of frozen chicken wings imported into the southern city of Shenzhen from Brazil, as well as samples of outer packaging of frozen Ecuadorian shrimp sold in the northwestern city Xian, have tested positive for the virus, local authorities said on Thursday.

China is keeping a close eye on imported meat products after traces of coronavirus was found on packaging in two cities. Image: Jiang Qiming/China News Service/Getty. 

The discoveries came a day after traces of the coronavirus were found on the packaging of frozen shrimp from Ecuador in a city in eastern Anhui province. China has been stepping up screenings at ports amid the concerns over food imports.

New Zealand is also investigating if the virus outbreak currently spreading in Auckland came into the country via refrigerated freight. 

Dr Fiona Stanaway, a clinical epidemiologist at The University of Sydney, told Mamamia"It's a possibility, and obviously one they want to rule out, and the thing that's different here is when things are refrigerated there's evidence that in a cold dry environment the virus can survive for longer. But whether that's enough on its own to lead to transmission is what's unclear." 

READ: The refrigerated freight theory: The covert new way COVID-19 might be spreading.

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Clinton hopes Harris endures less sexism.

Hillary Clinton says she hopes Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic Party's vice presidential nominee, will receive "less sexist" media coverage than she did in 2016.

"I still hope, especially with Kamala on the ticket, that the coverage of women running for president or vice president will be less sexist, less sensationalist and less trivialising," Clinton, a former US secretary of state, said during an online forum hosted by news organisation The 19th.

Clinton, a Democrat, lost in the electoral college to US President Donald Trump in 2016 despite receiving more votes than him nationwide.

"They are inheriting a mess of historic proportions," Clinton said, adding that she did not think the coronavirus pandemic would be over by January when Biden and Harris would take office if they defeat Trump and Vice President Michael Pence.

"I think Joe and Kamala together will be absolutely ready for lots of long, long days and very short nights working to get as much done as quickly as possible," Clinton said.

Around the world.

- Auckland may stay in lockdown for another week after New Zealand detected another 13 covid cases in the last 24 hours.

- The FBI is joining a probe into the Beirut explosion that killed 172 people.

- A study estimates that six per cent of people in England have had COVID-19, with Black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups two to three times more likely to have had it than white people.

- With AAP

Feature image: Sam Mooy/Alex Wong/Getty/China News Service.

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