news

The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Wednesday July 21.

Victoria records 22 new infections, with seven-day lockdown extension expected to be confirmed this morning.

Victoria has recorded 22 new, locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and one case in hotel quarantine with authorities confirming all of the new infections are linked to current outbreaks.

Just nine were reported on Tuesday, 13 on Monday, 16 and Sunday and 19 on Friday - with the new figures showing a jump in numbers.

The lockdown is expected to end next Tuesday at midnight – taking Victorians into 185 days of hard lockdown since the start of the pandemic.

Orange, NSW, sent into snap virus lockdown.

The central-west NSW town of Orange and its surrounds have woken to a snap seven-day lockdown after a COVID-positive delivery driver visited the area and infected another person.

The lockdown in the Orange, Blayney and Cabonne local government areas commenced on Tuesday and will last for seven days.

The delivery driver visited the Orange area and infected a man who works in Blayney and then attended multiple Orange venues.

ADVERTISEMENT

NSW Health on Tuesday issued a number of COVID-19 alerts for Orange including a petrol station, Officeworks, Woolworths, pizzeria and tobacco shop.

Residents of the three affected council areas can leave home for four reasons - shopping for essential items, medical care or compassionate needs, exercise in groups of no more than two, and work or tertiary education which cannot occur at home.

"We've stabilised the virus." NSW turns a corner on virus numbers.

Canterbury-Bankstown has become a particular concern amid the Greater Sydney outbreak, with NSW notching 78 new local cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday.

At least 29 of the new cases were in the community during their infectious period.

The three-day average for new cases has dropped to 85, leading Premier Gladys Berejiklian to declare: "We've stabilised the virus."

Surveillance testing around the Canterbury-Bankstown area had picked up multiple asymptomatic cases, showing the need for people in southwestern Sydney to remain vigilant, the premier said.

NSW Health is now treating 95 cases in hospital, including 27 in intensive care. Eleven people are on ventilators.

ADVERTISEMENT

Addressing concerns small business employers were skirting orders to work from home "unless it is not reasonably practicable", the premier said workers should dob in bosses if called into workplaces unnecessarily.

Ms Berejiklian guaranteed construction would reopen in some capacity on July 31 while arguing against the Victorian model of allowing the industry to operate at 25 per cent capacity.

The two-week pause allowed all worksites and contractors to become COVID-safe after too many were found to have written but not implemented safety plans.

The industry on Monday lobbied for some workers to return to sites immediately and warned some businesses could face bankruptcy.

SA in lockdown as exposure sites grow.

South Australia has entered its first full day of lockdown as the list of potential COVID-19 exposure sites linked to a new cluster of cases continues to grow.

More than 35 sites have now been listed across metropolitan Adelaide with more likely in coming days.

They include a number of major shopping centres and at least two schools along with banks, hardware stores, cafes and chemists.

The outbreak has grown to at least five confirmed infections, with all of those currently linked to an 81-year-old man who came to Australia recently from Argentina.

ADVERTISEMENT

During the week-long lockdown South Australians will only be allowed out for five reasons - to provide essential care, to seek medical assistance, to buy essential food and other goods, for essential work, or to exercise for up to 2.5 hours.

They must also wear masks when outside their homes.

Schools have closed along with most retail outlets and all construction work has ceased.

Premier Steven Marshall said it was vital for SA to "go hard and go early" to have any chance of containing the outbreak now confirmed to involved the Delta variant of the disease.

Morrison government resists calls for JobKeeper return.

Coronavirus outbreaks have plunged more than half of Australia into lockdown, sparking calls for more federal support.

The Morrison government is resisting pressure to reinstate JobKeeper wage subsidies with at least 13.5 million people under heavy restrictions across NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

Instead, people who lose work in designated hot spots can access weekly payments of between $375 and $600 when lockdowns extend beyond seven days.

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said national wage subsidies, which initially paid out $1500 a fortnight before being scaled back, were proven to work.

"JobKeeper had its problems but it also had very important features which the government has stupidly junked," he told Sky News.

ADVERTISEMENT

"As time goes on and we have these lockdowns it really does look like an incredibly stupid decision to end JobKeeper and replace it with something inferior."

Pfizer can't be brought forward for under-40s, says Hunt.

Australians under 40 will not be eligible for Pfizer coronavirus jabs ahead of schedule despite increasing hospitalisations of younger people.

A teenager is included in NSW's 27 intensive care patients in NSW, with the majority under 60 and 24 unvaccinated.

Health Minister Greg Hunt pointed to Pfizer supplies as the main reason the vaccine rollout could not be immediately extended to under 40s.

"What we're doing at the moment is following the advice because there are a finite number of vaccines," he told reporters in Melbourne on Tuesday.

"At this point in time we're working through the 40 to 59 age group."

People under 40 are allowed to speak with a doctor about receiving AstraZeneca.

But Australia's expert immunisation panel ATAGI recommends Pfizer for that age group because of an extremely rare side effect.

Mr Hunt said ATAGI would provide advice on expanding the Pfizer rollout to other age groups but noted more vulnerable populations needed to be prioritised.

Just over one million people aged under 40 have so far received their first vaccine dose for a range of special reasons, official figures show.

ADVERTISEMENT

Woman returns to Qld with Delta variant.

Queensland will close its border to South Australia from Thursday amid fears a new coronavirus cluster may have been seeded by a woman who returned from Melbourne.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young is anxiously awaiting test results from relatives and friends of the woman, who picked up the highly contagious Delta variant at a Melbourne pub.

She returned to Queensland on July 13 and stayed with friends on the Sunshine Coast but two days later was told by Victorian officials that she'd been at a tier-one exposure site - the Young and Jackson Hotel in Melbourne.

Dr Young said she presented for testing but returned a negative result, and was active in the community on the Sunshine Coast, and to a lesser degree in far north Queensland, while infectious.

She returned a positive result late on Monday night, after flying north to Cairns and then travelling by private vehicle to her family's home at Mareeba.

Dr Young is hopeful that the woman, aged in her 20s, may not have passed the variant on because she was fully vaccinated.

She also wore a mask while out and about on the Sunshine Coast, on public transport on the way to Brisbane airport, and on a Virgin flight VA791 from Brisbane to Cairns on July 16.

More coronavirus cases found on WA ship as traveller escapes hotel quarantine.

Crew members from an infected cargo ship could be placed into hotel quarantine in Western Australia as authorities investigate whether local workers were exposed to a coronavirus outbreak aboard a separate vessel.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ten out of 14 crew members aboard the BBC California have now tested positive since the vessel docked in Fremantle.

All crew members are isolating in separate cabins with their own bathrooms.

Officials are weighing up removing the four healthy crew members from the ship and placing them into hotel quarantine, allowing the infected crew full access to the vessel so it can be prepared for departure as soon as possible.

Mr McGowan said he had been advised the crew members were relatively young and in good health.

Meantime, a traveller is waking up in a jail cell instead of his hotel quarantine room after he escaped down the side of the building on a rope made of bedsheets.

Woman's body found inside metal box on Brisbane balcony.

Police believe a body found stuffed inside a metal box and left on the balcony of a Brisbane unit is that of a Chinese woman reported missing in April.

The distraught mother of 30-year-old Qiong Yan has spoken to Queensland police from her home overseas.

She has identified jewellery found with the body, which was wrapped in a sheet inside the sealed box and left on the balcony of the unit at Hamilton.

ADVERTISEMENT

Police say formal forensic identification could take days or weeks, due to the body's advanced state of decomposition.

In the meantime they have released a photo of Ms Yan, in the hope members of the public can help piece together the final phase of her life.

Queensland is seeking the extradition of another Chinese national, Yang Zhao, 26, who lives in Sydney but is allegedly still renting the unit where the body was located.

He was formally refused bail when his case was mentioned in the Sutherland Local Court on Tuesday. The matter is expected to return to the same court on Wednesday.

There's a warrant out for Zhao's arrest, on one count of murder.

ADVERTISEMENT

Police found the body on Monday afternoon as part of their investigation into the disappearance of Ms Yan, who was reported missing to NSW police on April 12.

Officers have said she was previously seen at the Hamilton apartment but there was no romantic relationship between her and the man they intend to charge with her murder.

Second man charged over Kelly Wilkinson's murder.

A second man has been charged with the murder of Gold Coast woman Kelly Wilkinson, who was allegedly set alight in her back yard by her estranged husband in April.

The 25-year-old Pimpama man was arrested at a Coomera business on Tuesday morning and charged with the 27-year-old's murder on April 20.

Police allege the man was known to Kelly's estranged husband and was aware of his intent to murder her. 

It is also alleged he assisted in preparatory acts before Ms Wilkinson was killed, including stopping at a petrol station to obtain fuel before driving her estranged husband to her house.  

"We will allege he knew what the end result was going to be," Detective Inspector Chris Ahearn said on Tuesday.

Weinstein extradited to California to face more charges.

Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has been extradited from New York to California to face trial on rape and assault charges, his spokesman and the New York Department of Corrections say.

ADVERTISEMENT

Weinstein was convicted in New York in February 2020 for sexual assault and rape and was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

In Los Angeles, he is wanted for trial on charges of attacking five women from 2004 to 2013.

If convicted, Weinstein could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Weinstein, 69, is appealing his New York conviction and sentence, and has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone.

He has been fighting extradition to California on medical grounds, citing diabetes and cardiac, back and eyesight problems.

"We will be fighting so that Harvey can receive his needed medical care and of course, so that he can be treated fairly. Due process, presumption of innocence and a fair trial are all still his right," his spokesman Juda Engelmayer said in a statement on Tuesday.

Weinstein was one of the most powerful movie and TV producers in Hollywood before allegations by more than 80 women of sexual misconduct in 2017 led to criminal charges and fuelled the wider  MeToo movement.

Second billionaire reaches space: Bezos says "expectations exceeded."

Amazon founder and world's richest man Jeff Bezos was the first to step out of his freshly landed capsule with a cowboy hat and thumb's up after successfully reaching space on the New Shepard spacecraft developed by his company Blue Origin.

ADVERTISEMENT

"My expectations were high and they were dramatically exceeded," Bezos said at a press conference afterwards.

He also thanked all Amazon customers and employees - "because you guys paid for all this".

Bezos, 57, was joined by his brother Mark as well as the oldest person to ever go to space, 82-year-old former pilot Wally Funk, and the youngest, 18-year-old Oliver Daemen.

Bezos and other entrepreneurs including UK billionaire Richard Branson want to open up a market in space tourism, selling the trip on the experience of zero gravity and the spectacular views of earth.

Blue Origin has already announced two more flights for this year and kept promoting ticket sales during the live broadcast of Bezos' space excursion.

The New Shepard went more than 100km above the earth, considerably higher than the Virgin Galactic flight that took Branson into space nine days ago.

Around the world.

- The chair of former US President Donald Trump's 2017 inaugural committee has been arrested on charges alleging that he and others conspired to influence Trump's foreign policy positions to benefit the United Arab Emirates. 

- Norway's beach handball team has been fined 1500 euros ($A2400) for being 'improperly dressed' after the women wore shorts instead of bikini bottoms at a European championship match in Bulgaria.

ADVERTISEMENT

The fine, which worked out at 150 euros ($A240) per player, was criticised by the Norwegian federation while the country's sports minister Abid Raja said it was "completely ridiculous" and attitudes needed to change.

- With AAP

Feature image: Kelly Barnes/Getty/QLDPolice/Joe Raedle/Getty.

Calling all home-cooks! Like a $50 gift voucher for your thoughts? For your chance, take our quick survey .
MMSurvey