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The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Friday July 24.

Victoria records 300 new COVID-19 cases and six new deaths on Friday.

Victoria recorded 300 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, with a futher six deaths.

Premier Daniel Andrews said 51 of the new cases were connected to known and contained outbreaks, while 249 were still under investigation.

There are 206 Victorians in hospital with the virus, 41 of those are in intensive care.

The six deaths included three people in their 80s, and three in their 90s. All were in aged care settings.

Fridays numbers bring the total amount of cases in the state to 7405, and the death toll is 55.

Andrews said Victoria was "dramatically" expanding its arrangement with the Australian Defence Force, following his announcement earlier this week that many Victorians were not self-isolating when required.

The program will see 28 teams of ADF personnel and authorised officers from the Department of Health deployed to knock on the doors of people who authorities have no been able to contact.

"If contact cannot be made with [positive cases] via two telephone calls and a two hour period, then ADF and authroised officers will be deployed to go and knock those people and to conduct that interview on their doorstep, as opposed to doing it over the phone.

"This will mean that each 24-hour period, we will have taken those extra steps and made that extra effort in order to make sure that we are contacting each and every one of those positive cases."

If the person is not home, they will be fined.

Andrews thanked Victorians for wearing masks in recent days, after his government made it mandatory.

"If we follow the rules, if we do the right thing, if we make the powerful contributions, large and small - it is often very simple things that make a big difference to the spread of the virus."

"It will still throw everything at us." Prime Minister Scott Morrison urges caution despite lessening cases.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said while figures out of Victoria and New South Wales showed improvement on Friday, it was too early to celebrate and Australians must remain vigilent.

Victoria has recorded 300 new cases, while NSW recorded just seven.

"While there is some better news today out of Victoria, that is not something that we can assume will continue. And so we must maintain the full force of effort in Victoria," Morrison said.

"In New South Wales, the news is better. And I think what this demonstrates is that we're in this fight and in some fights, we'll be behind and in some fights we'll be ahead.

"But we're always in the fight in Australia. And what it demonstrates is that you can deal with outbreaks, you can get on top of them. But you've got to be constant about it and you've got to throw everything at it.

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"I think the events both in Victoria and New South Wales are a reminder that the virus is still out there, it will still make its way and it will still throw everything at us and we must be prepared to respond."

Morrison said today's National Cabinet meeting reaffirmed Australia's commitment to a 'supression strategy', rather than adopting an 'elimination strategy' like New Zealand.

"The goal of [supression] is obviously, and has always been no community transmission. There will always be cases that come because Australia has not completely shut itself off from the world. To do so would be reckless," he said.

Melbourne's birth rule caused a wave of distress among expectant parents. Now, it's been clarified.

The Victorian government has been forced to clarify its advice to expectant parents, saying there is no limit on how long partners can remain with new mothers after they give birth.

It comes after Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said on Thursday, due to the second wave in Victoria, limitations on hospital visits were being reintroduced.

Mikakos said a woman giving birth could have their partner or a support person "with her for as long as is required for the entire labour and birth".

"Then their partner or support person is able to be with them for a two-hour visit after the baby is born," she said.

The advice was taken to mean a partner would be required to leave two hours after the birth.

The rule caused outrage and distress among expectant parents in Victoria, including former AFLW player Moana Hope who is expecting her first baby with wife Isabella Carlstrom.

"How dare this be a rule," Hope wrote on Instagram.

"Those first few days are some of the most important. Why would you take that away?"






View this post on Instagram









🤯🤬Can somebody PLEASE explain me why this has been put in place? @danielandrewsmp this doesn’t make sense. Kicking the partner out after 2 hours of birth... The mother’s needs help, the parent / support person needs to be there for those moments of birth. What if something happens to Mum or the baby, how dare this be a rule. Those first few days are some of the most important. Why would you take that away? Please educate me on this outrageous decision. If you have already experienced this please feel free to share your story. This decision sounds like it’s been made from someone who doesn’t have kids or never been in a birthing room. How do we fight it people? #pregnant #mum #dad #family #government #BS #rules #gettingoutofhand #heartless

A post shared by  Moana Hope (@moanahope) on

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A petition against the rule garnered more than 18,000 signatures in just a few hours on Thursday night.

On Friday, a state government spokeswoman confirmed the changes only referred to visitors in the days after birth.

Visitor numbers are capped at one, for a maximum of two hours, she said.

At Friday's press conference Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton said if a partner stayed contiunously, there was no limit to how long they could stay.

On Thursday, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists urged the government to reconsider its position by taking into account the mental health of new parents.

President Dr Vijay Roach told ABC Radio National on Friday he was pleased the government had updated their position.

"Kudos to the government to responding to the concern," he said.

"When we are talking about pregnancy and pregnant woman they have particular needs, there is increased anxiety and it's a really important bonding time when someone gives birth, so we felt it was important to emphasise after the birth their partner was able to stay with them for as long as appropriate."

Most other hospital visits also will be capped at one person per patient for one hour per day, with exceptions for parents with children in hospital and visitors of patients in palliative care.

Melbourne lockdown may last longer than 6 weeks.

Two weeks into Melbourne's lockdown, COVID-19 cases in Victoria are not yet slowing down.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews wears a face mask as he walks in to the daily briefing on July 19, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. Image: Getty. 

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The high number of cases have experts believing the lockdown of Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire will remain following the initially planned six weeks.

A report in The Australian stated Premier Andrews wanted cases "in the single digits" before loosening restrictions, but that he also told colleagues he hoped to reopen the state as soon as possible.

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton warned a New Zealand-style 'hard lockdown' might not work in the state, as much of the spread was happening between essential workers whose movements would still be required.

Aged care workers have been identified as some of those who did not isolate after getting tested, given the insecure and casual nature of their work.

On Thursday, the premier announced workers without sick leave who are tested will be eligible for a $300 payment, allowing them to isolate while waiting for their result.

Those who test positive and do not have secure work or sick leave will then be able to apply for the additional $1500 payment.

Queensland adds 27 Sydney hot spot suburbs to border ban.

The Queensland Premier has declared the City of Fairfield in Sydney's southwest a COVID-19 hot spot, banning 27 suburbs from entering her state.

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Annastacia Palaszczuk said residents from the council area's 27 suburbs were no longer welcome in Queensland, following advice from the state's chief health officer.

The suburbs affected are Abbotsbury, Bonnyrigg, Bonnyrigg Heights, Bossley Park, Cabramatta, Cabramatta West, Canley Heights, Canley Vale, Carramar, Cecil Park, Edensor Park, Fairfield, Fairfield East, Fairfield Heights, Fairfield West, Greenfield Park, Horsley Park, Lansvale, Mount Pritchard, Old Guildford, Prairiewood, Smithfield, St Johns Park, Villawood, Wakely, Wetherill Park and Yennora.

The suburbs join residents and anyone who had travelled recently to suburbs within the Liverpool and Campbelltown local government areas, who were banned from crossing north of the border last Tuesday.

240,000 people predicted to lose jobs by Christmas.

Josh Frydenberg during the economic update on Thursday. Image: Getty. 

The government is under pressure to detail how it will help Australians back into jobs as the nation recovers from the coronavirus recession.

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A further 240,000 people are expected to lose their jobs by Christmas, pushing unemployment to 9.25 per cent, Treasury's economic update shows.

That's on top of 870,000 jobs lost between March and May.

The jobless rate is expected to stay high, reaching 8.75 per cent by the middle of 2021.

The update also revealed the country has plunged more than $850 billion into debt and will be $184.5 billion in deficit by the end of this financial year.

"These harsh numbers reflect the harsh reality we face," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

So far, $164 billion is on the books to help people survive the crisis.

Nearly two-thirds of this is the JobKeeper wage subsidies and supplemented JobSeeker unemployment payment.

These have been extended beyond the initial September end date, albeit at lower rates.

The government has also given support to the construction industry and offered more money for training.

Other than that, Australians will have to wait until the October budget to see its five-year recovery plan.

Labor accused the government of failing the 240,000 people who will find themselves out of work in the coming months.

"That of itself should be a spur to action for the government, that of itself should encourage the government to come forward with a plan sooner rather than later to support people, to create new jobs as well," Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers said.

"A crisis of this magnitude requires the government to step in to support people and to support their jobs."

Sydney man denies choking, raping teen.

A Sydney man has denied raping a teenage girl, choking her during consensual sex and pushing her down a flight of stairs.

Matthew Emmanuel Goldman is on trial in Sydney's Downing Centre District Court, where he is fighting five charges including two counts of rape.

The 20-year-old has pleaded not guilty to allegations he assaulted and sexually assaulted a high school student during four incidents from January to November in 2018.

The girl was aged between 16 and 17 at the time of the alleged incidents, while Goldman was aged between 17 and 18.

During her opening address to the jury on Wednesday, crown prosecutor Georgia Turner said Goldman raped the girl on two separate occasions.

The first alleged rape is said to have happened at the girl's suburban Sydney home in September 2018. The Crown will allege that after she refused his advances, he raped her.

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He is also alleged to have raped her in the back seat of his car after a party in South Coogee almost two months later.

The girl told the court during one incident she "froze", because "if I physically resisted I didn’t know what was going to happen to me.

"I was trying to disassociate from what was happening. I didn’t want to be there."

Goldman is also facing one count of assault and one count of assault occasioning bodily harm.

He is accused of putting his hands around and squeezing her neck while having consensual sex at his Maroubra home and on another occasion, pushing her down a staircase, causing bruising.

The girl said the "strong" water polo player later threatened to die by suicide when she attempted to cut contact with him.

“It made me feel really sad and at the time I felt guilty," she said.  "I now realise that hasn’t got anything to do with me."

Goldman’s barrister Anthony Bellanto QC conceded there was some "light choking" during their sexual encounters but claimed all acts were consensual.

The trial before Judge Penelope Hock continues.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

Treasury predicts Australian borders to open early next year.

Australia's borders are not predicted to open until next year, according to the budget update given by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Thursday.

"From 1 January to 30 June 2021, it is assumed that the travel ban is lifted, but that a two-week quarantine period is required of arrivals to Australia. This leads to the resumption of arrivals by temporary and permanent migrants, but at lower levels overall than normal," the Treasury document stated.

But don't rush out to book your flights; A two-week mandatory quarantine would remain in place for all travellers returning to Australia.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg insisted despite the document, the federal government had not made any policy decision regarding border openings.

"In terms of the borders, the assumptions are that it very gradually starts to come back... that the quarantine is applied, and you start potentially bringing in some international students," he said.

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"Now that is work that we have been undertaking but of course the environment with respect to coronavirus is very fluid so decisions haven’t been taken about start dates for that, but these are Treasury’s forecasts and as you can understand it’s a very dynamic environment and a very uncertain environment."

On Thursday evening's A Current Affair, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said travel beyond Australia's borders, with New Zealand as the likely exception, is not foreseeable without a coronavirus vaccine.

"This would be very challenging. I would hope before the end of the year that Australia and New Zealand could agree to a travel zone," Morrison said.

Around the world.

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is again under fire after being caught on camera speaking with cleaners on the grounds of his official residence without a mask, despite testing positive for the coronavirus only yesterday.

- US COVID-19 cases have surpassed four million. Case numbers continue to surge worldwide, with South Africa reaching more than 400,000 cases, Russia's total is nearing 800,000 and Hong Kong recording its highest new daily case total on Thursday, with 118 new cases.

- New Zealand university researchers have found the country succeeded at eliminating COVID-19 in part thanks to trust in authorities at nearly 100 per cent during its strict lockdown, as well as a well-informed population who followed basic hygiene measures like hand washing and social distancing. 

-With AAP.

Feature image: Getty.

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