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The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Wednesday August 5.

Vic returnees to go into NSW quarantine

People from NSW will be banned from Queensland from the weekend while those returning from coronavirus-hit Victoria will now be forced into two weeks of hotel quarantine.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Wednesday that entries to NSW from Victoria would be restricted to Sydney Airport, except for border communities with permits.

Those returning through Sydney Airport will then be sent into 14 days of hotel quarantine as is currently the practice for those returning from overseas.

"We will do whatever it takes to keep NSW safe, that has always been our position, and there's no doubt the situation in Victoria is top of mind for us," Ms Berejiklian told reporters.

"Our approach has been absolutely rigorous."

NSW reported 12 new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday, which followed news the Queensland government had declared the entire state a virus hotspot.

The NSW-Queensland border will be again shut from 1am on Saturday.

"We have seen that Victoria is not getting better and we're not going to wait for NSW to get worse. We need to act," Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters.

Ms Berejiklian said the decision was a matter for the Queensland government.

Of NSW's 12 new cases on Wednesday, just one was in hotel quarantine. There were two linked to the Thai Rock Wetherill Park restaurant cluster, two connected to the Apollo restaurant in Potts Point and six associated with the funeral cluster.

One of the new cases was locally acquired with no known source.

Victoria reportedly records 725 new cases on Wednesday.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce 725 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, along with new deaths including a person in their 30s.

The case figure will be a daily record, beating last week's previous high of 723.

He is expected to speak at 12pm.

On Wednesday, Education Minister Dan Tehan announced Victoria parents will be getting an extra 30 days of allowable absences to care for children at home.

"That means if you're not in a position to be able to send your child to care, you can use those absences," Tehan said.

"That's 30 days, additional allowable absences on top of the 42 days we've already allocated for that. That means parents who have to keep their children at home can do so and can do so without cost because we're asking providers to waive the gap fee."

In New South Wales, 12 new coronavirus infections have been confirmed in the 24 hours to 8.00pm yesterday.

One of the cases was a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

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From 1am Saturday, Queensland will close its border to NSW and ACT.

There will be "limited" exceptions to this rule and unless people have an exemption or a pass for freight or is a border town resident with a pass Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said they will be "100 per cent stopped".

Palaszczuk said the Government was acting on the advice of the Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.

There will be no change to travellers entering Queensland from NT, SA, Tasmania and WA.

At least one Australian dead as Beirut rocked by massive explosion.

A massive explosion has rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut, killing at least 70 people including one Australian.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed at least one Australian had been killed in the blast on the Today show on Wednesday morning.

The explosion has injured thousands and destroyed buildings kilometres away from the blast site, at Beirut's port.

Authorities have attributed the disaster to an industrial accident, saying it was sparked by a fire at a warehouse containing vast volumes of ammonium nitrate.

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It sent a shockwave through the Lebanese capital, destroyed buildings, flipped cars and shattered windows.

The Lebanese health minister said at least 70 people were confirmed dead and 3700 people were injured as hospitals, already battling a pandemic, find themselves overwhelmed. The death toll is expected to rise.

The Lebanese Red Cross said hospitals in the city are either so full or so badly damaged that hundreds of patients have had to be turned away or treated outside of buildings. It has called for urgent blood donations.

The explosion is believed to have occured at a depot containing highly explosive material, including ammonium nitrate that was seized from a ship and stored inside a warehouse at the city's port.

Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud said the damage was "enormous".

"This reminds me of what happened in Japan, to Hiroshima and Nagasaki," he said.

"I've never seen damage of this size and width, and so catastrophic. This is a national catastrophe. This is a problem for Lebanon, and we don’t know how we’re going to get out of it.

"It is a disaster in every sense of the word."

Lebanon Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared Wednesday a national day of mourning and promised to hold the necessary people to account.

The Jordanian Seismological Observatory estimated the explosion was equivalent to a magnitude 4.5 earthquake, and residents on the island of Cyprus, about 250 kilometres away, reported feeling the blast.

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Anti-masker gloats after assaulting Victorian police officer.

An anti-masker who refused to comply with coronavirus rules allegedly gloated about pulling out a clump of a policewoman's hair after smashing her head into concrete.

The 26-year-old female Victoria Police officer is recovering at home after suffering a concussion in an alleged attack labelled "fundamentally disgusting" and "shameful" by Premier Daniel Andrews.

She and her partner approached a 38-year-old woman who was not wearing a mask about 5pm on Monday at a Frankston shopping centre.

This 26-year-old Constable returned to the station concussed and missing a clump of hair.
Because she asked someone to wear a mask.
She and many others are sacrificing their safety for our safety.#protectourprotectors #springst #tpav #covid19 #covid19aus #COVID19Vic cases pic.twitter.com/Bdjve1YJWR

— TPAV (@PoliceAssocVIC) August 4, 2020

The shopper was asked for her name and warned about a $200 fine, police said.

Instead, she allegedly dragged the young officer to the ground before smashing her head into the concrete multiple times, ripping out some of her hair in the process.

"That's someone who thinks they're above the law," Chief Commissioner Shane Patton told reporters.

"They're not wearing a mask, they're approached and asked the reason why not and then to react like that is just completely over the top."

Victorian Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt described the woman's actions as "reprehensible" and "not human-like", alleging the woman added insult to injury amid the attack.

"The offender had a clump of our member's hair in her hands and said to our member 'what's it like to have your hair in my hands' or words to that effect," Gatt told reporters in Melbourne on Tuesday.

"Most in the community would hear those words and go ... hold your head in shame.

"That's a horrible way to treat first responders on the frontline of a pandemic."

The alleged offender was taken to a police station, charged with assaulting police, recklessly causing injury, two counts of assaulting an emergency worker, two counts of resisting an emergency worker on duty and refusing to state her name and address.

She was also fined $200 for not wearing a mask and bailed due to no criminal history.

The woman will face court at a later date.

The police officer suffered significant head injuries and was treated at Frankston Hospital before being released.

Victoria Police issued 161 fines on Monday to people flouting coronavirus restrictions, including 60 people who were not wearing masks.

There were nine fines issued at vehicle checkpoints, with 22,091 checks carried out.

Patton said on at least four occasions in the past week, police had to smash car windows and pull people out because they were refusing to provide personal details in line with public health guidelines.

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Speaking on behalf of his members, Mr Gatt said officers were routinely being disrespected by "smart arses" across the state seeking their "five minutes of fame in front of a camera".

"The time for that has come and gone," he said.

"What we need to do now as a community is band together and support each other and support our police."

Other people fined on Monday include someone trying to buy a car after the 8pm curfew and another who was bored and wanted to go for a drive.

"Thank you". Daniel Andrews' message to his state.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had only a two-word message for Victorians on Tuesday night: "Thank you."

The Victorian leader tweeted a series of screenshots showing normally busy highways that are now completely deserted.

It comes as struggling Victorians are set to be provided new pathways to address wavering mental health as the state settles into a second COVID-19 lockdown.

As the virus-hit state recorded 439 new cases and 11 more deaths on Tuesday, Premier Daniel Andrews foreshadowed mental well-being would be a focus of upcoming packages.

"I'll have more to say about health support because people are doing it tough," he told reporters in Melbourne.

"I'll have more to say about family violence support because that's a particularly acute challenge at the moment - as it is every single day - and we'll have more to say about business support."

Widespread business shutdowns across the retail, manufacturing and construction industries are expected to impact the livelihoods of at least 250,000 Victorians.

They will join another 250,000 stood down since the pandemic began and another 500,000 working from home, likely placing a greater burden on mental health services.

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It comes as Victoria introduced tough new penalties for infected people who repeatedly fail to self-isolate, after 3000 doorknocks found 800 people were not home in the past week.

From Tuesday, those caught breaching isolation for a second time will be slapped with a $4957 on-the-spot fine.

An additional 500 Australian Defence Force personnel, 300 health staff and 250 police officers will ensure compliance with "random and repeated doorknocks".

Those ordered to stay at home will also no longer be able to leave their properties for exercise.

Meanwhile, a permit system to identify essential workers travelling to and from work will come into effect from Thursday.

NSW authorities back state's border controls.

Victorians trying to enter NSW have been issued a stern warning while health authorities work to track down and end the chains of COVID-19 transmission across the state.

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant reiterated the "critical" phase the state was in as it responds to an increase in coronavirus cases and the outbreak in Victoria continues unabated.

Dr Chant said health authorities were focusing on bringing an end to the current chains of transmission across NSW by detecting cases early and ensuring people are isolating if necessary.

"It is critical you maintain your social distancing and also that you wear a mask if you're going into situations where you're not going to be able to maintain that 1.5 metres," she told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard responded to concerns Victorians were arriving with minimal scrutiny by insisting the processing at the airport and the border was "extremely tight".

Passengers undergo comprehensive police and health checks upon arrival including having their temperature checked and ensuring their permit complies with the rules in place.

The information they provide is cross-checked with a formal piece of evidence such as a driver's licence.

Anyone who tries to enter NSW without a valid permit is referred to police, taken to hotel accommodation run by NSW Health, or turned back.

"The short message to Victorians is you shouldn't be coming to NSW unless you have a particular permit entitlement," Hazzard told reporters.

But he stressed the system was working well.

"We've had incredibly good compliance," he said.

This was echoed by NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Scott Whyte, who said 20 people had been refused entry at the border in the past 24 hours.

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"If you do not have a permit, do not come to NSW," White said.

Meanwhile, Bonnyrigg High School and Greenway Park Public School in southwest Sydney were closed on Tuesday after three students were diagnosed with COVID-19.

The schools are closed for deep cleaning and contact tracing, and students have been advised to self-isolate.

NSW Health on Tuesday requested anyone linked to the schools who was unwell or had respiratory symptoms to get tested for COVID-19.

The three infected students were associated with the Mounties Club cluster in Mount Pritchard.

NSW recorded 12 new COVID-19 cases from 12,876 tests in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday. One case is in hotel quarantine and none are from an unknown source.

Six COVID-19 patients in NSW are in intensive care and five are ventilated.

Around the world.

- World No.2 Rafa Nadal has confirmed he will not defend his US Open crown this year at Flushing Meadows. Spain's Nadal had said in June that he had reservations about travelling to the US amid the COVID-19 pandemic and he joins women's world No.1 Australian Ash Barty in skipping the tournament due to COVID-19 concerns.

- US President Donald Trump is under fire after saying "It is what it is" in response to an interview question about the United States' death toll from coronavirus so far, which is at close to 155,000. At another point, Trump repeated his false assertion that the reason the US has a significantly higher number of cases is because it tests more than anyone else.

-With AAP.

Feature image: Getty.

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