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The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Thursday July 9.

With AAP.

One Melbourne tower will remain in "hard lockdown".

Residents at one Melbourne public housing tower will remain in "hard lockdown" for another nine days, with fears almost a quarter of the residents could have coronavirus.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton on Thursday confirmed residents in the 33 Alfred Street tower in North Melbourne will remain in self-isolation, after 53 people there tested positive to COVID-19.

"We need to recognise that there might be 20 to 25 per cent of individuals in that particular tower who end up developing coronavirus and potentially more," Professor Sutton told reporters.

"So that has, much like an aged care facility, been designated as everyone requiring quarantine."

A resident living in the Flemington Public housing tower is seen looking out the window on July 9, 2020. Image: Getty. 

Residents in nine public housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne have been in a hard lockdown since Saturday afternoon, unable to leave their apartments due to fears the high-density "vertical cruise ships" have "explosive potential" to spread COVID-19.

Some 2,515 residents have been tested for the virus across the towers over five days.

Residents in 9 Pampas St and 159 Melrose St, North Melbourne, joined the rest of the city in stage three lockdown at 5pm on Thursday, after no cases of coronavirus were recorded in either.

The remaining six towers will end hard lockdown at 11.59pm on Thursday, after 105 cases were detected among them.

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Update on Melbourne coronavirus cases.

On Thursday, Victoria recorded 165 new cases of coronavirus.

The state now has 40 cases of coronavirus in hospital, with nine in intensive care.

It comes as five million Victorians are being encouraged to wear and even make their own masks to help curb the spread of the infection. 

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth recommends residents in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, north of the city, wear masks when social distancing cannot be maintained.

"This means if you have to leave your home for any of those reasons for which it is permissible and you are likely to find yourself in a situation where you cannot maintain a 1.5-metre distance, it is advisable to be covering your face with a mask," Dr Coatsworth told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told residents to be crafty and make their own face masks instead of buying them.

"I think people will need to make their own masks," Prof Sutton said on Thursday afternoon, after the state recorded 165 new cases.

"I don't think there should be a rush on buying single-use masks, for example, and some masks that are able to be purchased... aren't necessarily good for rewashing and reuse over days and days."

First day of lockdown for Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.

Melburnians are back in stay-at-home lockdown for six weeks in a bid to contain a second wave of coronavirus cases in the state.

Residents in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, north of the city, can only leave their homes to get food and supplies, receive or provide care, exercise, and study or work.

Premier Daniel Andrews says it's crucial Melburnians don't breach the rules and head into regional Victoria, which is largely coronavirus free.

Lines of Healthcare professionals are seen entering the North Melbourne Public Housing tower complex in Melbourne, Australia. Image: Darrian Traynor/Getty

"We are doing the hard work to look at options to accelerate opening up in regional Victoria, that comes with significant economic benefit, for them and therefore the whole state," he said on Wednesday.

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"That is only possible if we continue to safeguard the very low COVID or COVID-free status of large parts of regional and country Victoria."

Testing revealed infection protocol breaches by security guards working in hotel quarantine prompted the second wave of the virus in the state, with the ABC reporting hospital numbers are starting to swell.

The renewed lockdown has led to another wave of panic buying in and around Melbourne, with supermarket shelves once again being stripped of produce. 

Victoria registered 134 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and a record 191 cases on Tuesday.

Supermarkets in Melbourne are being stripped of produce. Image: Chris Putnam/Barcroft Media/Getty.


READ: Panic buying and long queues at the border: What the last 24 hours have looked like in Melbourne.

NSW in a "high-risk situation" with rumours the state will also return to some restrictions.

The NSW government will consider establishing a border north of Albury as it responds to the "high-risk situation" caused by an escalating COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has already urged residents in Albury and other border towns not to travel to other parts of the state, warning the widespread community transmission in Victoria is a huge risk for NSW.

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"The probability of contagion in NSW given what's happened in Victoria is extremely high," Ms Berejiklian said on Wednesday.

It's believed NSW will today announce a return to some restrictions, with weddings and funerals reported to be the first affected. 

More than 50,000 exemption permits were issued on Tuesday and Wednesday for people living in NSW-Victoria border communities, allowing them to cross between the two.

NSW on Wednesday recorded eight new COVID-19 cases including seven in hotel quarantine and a woman in her 30s from southwest Sydney. The woman's case remains under investigation.

The ACT has lost its virus free status, recording three new cases - all with connections to a Melbourne hotspot.

Western Australia also recorded two new cases yesterday. 

Girl, 14, charged with murdering 10yo in NSW.

A 14-year-old girl has been charged with murdering her 10-year-old relative in northeast NSW.

Emergency workers were called to a Gunnedah home on Wednesday morning, with reports the girl had suffered serious lacerations.

Police said the girl's body was found about 7am.

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The teenager, believed to be the victim's cousin, was arrested nearby and taken to Gunnedah Police Station.

In a statement, Gunnedah Shire Council said their thoughts and prayers were with the family involved.

"We are a strong and tightknit community - and together we will support the family and our community through this event," the council statement said.

The 14-year-old girl is due to appear before a children's court on Thursday.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

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Olympic snowboarder's girlfriend watched paramedics try and save him.

Alex Pullin’s girlfriend reportedly headed to the beach on Wednesday to find paramedics performing CPR in a desperate attempt to save the Olympic snowboarder on the Gold Coast. 

The Courier Mail reports Ellidy Vlug and her mother saw a commotion at the beach yesterday and went over to check it out.






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A post shared by  Alex Chumpy Pullin (@alexchumpypullin) on

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CPR was performed for 45-50 minutes but paramedics were unable to revive the 32-year-old. 

The experienced free-diver died while spearfishing. 

According to the Courier Mail, Pulin's body was found on the ocean floor of an artificial reef by a local snorkeler at 10:30am.

READ: Alex Pullin became an Australian Olympian at 22. Yesterday, he died suddenly at Palm Beach.

JK Rowling signs letter on free speech. 

Author JK Rowling has joined 150 high-profile figures on an open letter warning that free speech is under threat due an "intolerance of opposing views" after coming under attack for her comments about transgender issues.

The Harry Potter writer, who has been accused of transphobia by LGBT activists for likening hormone treatment to gay conversion therapy and saying only women menstruate, joined 150 academics, artists and writers who signed the letter.

Other signatories on the 530-word letter published in Harper's magazine included US feminist Gloria Steinem, author Margaret Atwood and linguist and activist Noam Chomsky.

I was very proud to sign this letter in defence of a foundational principle of a liberal society: open debate and freedom of thought and speech.https://t.co/noh8VRHMyN

— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) July 7, 2020

In "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate", they welcomed protests for racial and social justice and calls for greater equality across society.

Rowling has come under fire for speaking out on transgender issues, including raising concerns that trans rights are eroding women's rights to single-sex spaces and suggesting young women are being rushed into medical transition.

READ: "A new kind of conversion therapy." Why everyone is talking about J.K.Rowling... again.

Around the world.

- The total number of coronavirus cases in the US has surpassed three million, with more than 131,000 dead. 

- Rapper Kanye West says he will run for President in 2020 under a new banner, 'the Birthday Party,' and says "like anything I have ever done in my life, I am doing this to win."

- With AAP

Feature image: Getty/Instagram. 

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