The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Thursday July 30.

Victoria has recorded more than 700 new cases, new restrictions announced.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed 723 new cases and 13 deaths in the state on Thursday, marking both the highest increase of cases and deadliest day so far.

The deaths include three men and three women in their 70s, three men and two women in their 80s, and two men in their 90s.

There are 312 Victorians in hospital, with 34 of those are in intensive care.

There are a total of 913 active cases in aged care facilities, and Andrews said these clusters are driving the large increase in numbers.

Andrews announced new restrictions which will come into effect at midnight tonight.

Home visitors, weddings and funerals will be banned in parts of regional Victoria:

  • Greater Geelong
  • Surf Coast
  • Moorabool
  • Golden Plains
  • Colac-Otway 
  • Borough of Queenscliffe 

Residents in these areas will still be able to visit restaurants and cafes, attend community sport and visit gyms.

While this sounds counterintuitive, Andrews said this was backed up by the data.

"The data drives that decision. That's where the transmission is. It's not in cafes and restaurants, but it is, in small numbers, in people's homes. One family to another," he said.  

"A group of visitors either getting it from a family that have got it and may not know, or vice versa. So, there can be no visitors to your home if you're in any of those local government areas that I have listed."

From midnight Sunday, face coverings will be mandatory in all of Victoria.


Andrews reiterated the importance of staying home.

"There were also a number of other people who, when there was a discussion, the person that the ADF and the Health Department, as a joint team, were looking for, the person who has a confirmed diagnosis having coronavirus, they've got a positive test, they weren't home, but a family member was, and the family member helpfully pointed out that that person, a positive coronavirus case, was, in fact, at work."

How Queensland teens risked COVID-19 outbreak.

Queensland is bracing itself for an outbreak of community transmission after three people tested positive to COVID-19, including two teens who returned from Victoria but did not quarantine.

A criminal investigation has been launched into how the 19-year-old girls bypassed mandatory hotel quarantine, despite returning from a declared hotspot.

On Wednesday, a 22-year-old woman who works at YMCA Chatswood Hills Outside School Hours Care, and is believed to be one of the teen's sisters, became the state's first community transmission of COVID-19 in two months.

Olivia Winnie Muranga and Diana Lasu, from Logan and Park Ridge, returned from Melbourne, via Sydney, on July 21 and spent eight days in the community before testing positive. Muranga is a cleaner at Parklands Christian School, which was forced to close on Wednesday for a deep clean.

They have reportedly been fined $4000 each for making false declarations.


It also alleged they travelled to Melbourne in an attempt to steal luxury fashion items from high end shops, and further alleged they attended an illegal party while there.

They have sparked a massive contact tracing mission for Queensland Health, while being responsible for the state's first community transmission of coronavirus since May.

Passengers seated near the pair on flights VA863 and VA977 and are also being contacted by contact tracing teams.


Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was seething at the breach of COVID-19 protocols as she announced the Queensland border would be shut to Greater Sydney from Saturday.

"I'm absolutely furious that this has happened," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"We need people to tell the truth... We do not want a second wave here. We do not want widespread community transmission.

"These two have been out in the community and hopefully it has not spread but time will tell."

The teens attended a dental practice, five restaurants and bars including two at Southbank, in six different suburbs including South Brisbane, Woodridge, Browns Plains and Sunnybank.

Shopping centres, restaurants, a school and a church have been closed.

Queensland Police confirmed a criminal investigation into the teens movements in Melbourne was underway.

Disaster medical teams arrive in Vic as aged care death toll rises.

Disaster medical teams and the military have been brought in to help tackle outbreaks in Victoria's coronavirus-stricken aged care facilities as the death toll continues to rise.

Victoria reported 295 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and nine deaths, including seven aged care residents, bringing the state's toll to 92.


The rest of Australia combined has seen 84 deaths from the virus since the start of the pandemic.

Figures released by the state government show there were 952 active cases linked to aged care on Wednesday, including workers, with 87 facilities having active outbreaks.

Former chief medical officer Brendan Murphy, now secretary of the federal Department of Health, said more elderly people will die from the virus.

"There will be more deaths with the number of aged care recipients that are infected," he told reporters in Canberra.

"We know that it is a certainty. We will see deaths every day - and that is a tragedy."

The first of five Australian Medical Assistance Teams, which provide disaster relief in critical health situations, will arrive in Victoria on Thursday.

They will join some 1400 Australian Defence Force personnel already on the ground in the state.

It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison made pointed comments about Victoria's outbreak, describing it not as a "second wave", but a "Victorian wave".

"It is clear that the Victorian wave that Australians are now experiencing - that's how I honestly have to describe it, there’s not a second wave that’s going across the rest of the country, that is not occurring. There is a significant Victorian wave, but that Victorian wave is impacting the national economy more broadly," Morrison said.


Premier Daniel Andrews responded to say "what it is called is not a concern to me".

"The only thing I am focused on is defeating this virus."

Tough NSW gym limits, Qld closes to Sydney.

Tighter restrictions will soon be in place for gyms to ensure social distancing and stronger hygiene practices as the state's COVID-19 cases continue to grow.

Gyms across the state from Saturday will need to register a COVID-safe plan and have a dedicated hygiene marshal on site to ensure social distancing, equipment cleaning and hand sanitiser availability.

This includes 24/7 gyms that are otherwise unstaffed for certain periods.

Fitness First gym in Kings Cross on Tuesday confirmed one person who attended for a class on July 20 had tested positive.

NSW Health recorded 19 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with only two in hotel quarantine and 10 connected to the Thai Rock restaurant in Wetherill Park, taking the size of that cluster to 85.

Its Potts Point sister restaurant is connected to two additional cases, taking the size of that cluster to seven, with one new case also linked to nearby restaurant The Apollo.

Three schools and a childcare centre - Fort Street High School in Petersham, Freeman Catholic College in Bonnyrigg Heights, Mary Immaculate Catholic Primary in Bossley Park and EverLearn Preschool in Prestons - have now shut their doors over links to the virus.


Frank's Pizza Bar Restaurant in Camperdown, in Sydney's inner west, has shut until next Tuesday after being informed a customer, who visited on Sunday, July 26 between 6pm and 8pm, tested positive.

The caseload prompted Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Wednesday to ban all Greater Sydney residents from the state from Saturday.

Other restrictions imposed on NSW residents include a ban on entering Western Australia unless an exemption is granted. While travel to South Australia and Tasmania is permitted, but people must quarantine upon arrival for 14 days.

Travel to the Northern Territory and the ACT is allowed but people coming from hotspots must quarantine for 14 days, while NSW residents who return from Victoria must self-isolate for 14 days upon return.

A further two cases - a woman in her 30s and another in her 60s - were also confirmed in Port Stephens on Wednesday.

Ash Barty pulls out of US Open.

Image: Getty.


World No.1 Ash Barty will skip next month's US Open due to coronavirus fears, she announced on Thursday.

"My team and I have decided that we won’t be travelling to the US for the Western and Southern Open and the US Open this year," she said, per the Courier Mail.

"I love both events so it was a difficult decision but there are still significant risks involved due to Covid-19 and I don't feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position.

"I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and look forward to being back in the US next year."

Barty said she would continue to monitor the situation in Europe before deciding on whether she travel to France to defend her title at Roland Garros.


Government announces focus on Indigneous wellbeing.

Governments have set an ambitious target of closing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 2031.

A new Closing the Gap agreement, which also covers children's health and jail rates, will be unveiled on Thursday and has the support of Australia's local, territory, state and federal government leaders.

Non-Indigenous men live 8.6 years longer than their Indigenous counterparts, while the gap is 7.8 years for women.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said having directly negotiated the agreement with Indigenous people would ensure progress could be made on areas ranging from early childhood to employment.

"The gaps we are now seeking to close are the gaps that have now been defined by the representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples," Mr Morrison said.

"This is as it should be. This creates a shared commitment and a shared responsibility."

The agreement comes into effect on Thursday, having been signed by federal, state and territory leaders, Coalition of Peaks lead convenor Pat Turner, and the Australian Local Government Association.

The 16 specific national socio-economic targets cover a range of measures, most of which have a 2031 target date.

Among them are increasing the proportion of babies with a healthy birthweight to 91 per cent, driving up the year 12 attainment rate to 96 per cent, and cutting the jail rate for adults by at least 15 per cent.


Within five years, 95 per cent of Indigenous children would be enrolled in early childhood education a year before full-time schooling.

As well, the leaders have committed to a "significant and sustained" reduction in violence against women and children with the long-term aim of zero violence.

Turner said Indigenous people wanted to have a direct say on how things should be working in their communities.

"If the priority reforms are implemented in full by governments and through shared decision making with First Nations people, we should see changes over time to the lives and experiences of our people," she said.

The governments have also pledged to channel more funding to Indigenous community-controlled organisations.

The Productivity Commission will deliver a progress report every three years and there will be an Indigenous-led review of how changes are impacting in communities.

German police reportedly find hidden cellar in McCann case garden dig.

German police in the outskirts of the northern city of Hanover have ended their search of a garden allotment used by the main suspect in the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann, reportedly finding a 'hidden cellar'.

The operation that began on Tuesday was part of a murder investigation involving a 43-year-old German suspect, prosecutors said, without revealing what they were looking for.


A drone and mini-excavator were used while several investigators were seen combing through the dirt with shovels and rakes.

German media reported on Wednesday evening that they had discovered a cellar that was once part of a small building torn down in late 2007.

Police have not yet commented on the reported finding.


The suspect, currently in custody for a drug dealing offence in Kiel, northern Germany, is suspected of having kidnapped Madeleine, then three, from the Portuguese seaside resort of Praia da Luz in 2007.

German investigators have said they believe the child is dead but have not given their reasoning.

Federal criminal investigators have been looking into the German suspect on the basis of witness reports since 2013 but were until recently unable to gather a case against him.

The man is thought to have spent time living in the Algarve region of southern Portugal between 1995 and 2007.

In late 2019, the German suspect was sentenced to seven years in prison for aggravated rape following a 2005 attack on a US woman, who was aged 72 at the time.

The judgement is pending appeal.

The man also has a criminal record for child abuse.

Conspiracy theorist checkpoint breacher arrested.

Melbourne conspiracy theorist and 'virus denier' Eve Black has been arrested, a week after she posted a video on social media of her arguing her way through a police checkpoint.

The video, which sees her argue with a police officer at a checkpoint and celebrating when she is told to move along, attracted outrage last week.

In a statement, Victorian Police said 28-year-old Black had been arrested on Princes St in the inner city Melbourne suburb of Carlton.


"She was asked to provide her name and address which she refused to do. Police then directed her to produce her driver's licence and explain her reason for travel, which she also refused to comply with," police said.

"This led to police arresting her. During the arrest, police were forced to break the woman's car window as she refused to speak to them, wind down her window, or step out of the vehicle."

The 28-year-old has been released pending summons for traffic-related offences, failing to produce a license, failing to produce name and address, and breaches of the Chief Health Officer’s directives.

Around the world.

- COVID-19 has killed more than 150,000 people in the United States, representing close to a quarter of the world total 668,000.

- The brutal murder of Turkish woman has triggered widespread protesting in the country and outrage on social media, with a hashtag of Pinar Gultekin's name trending globally. The 27-year-old's ex-partner confessed to her murder, which sparked a movement on worldwide social media drawing attention to domestic violence and femicide. At least 474 Turish women were murdered in 2019, most by partners, ex-partners, family members or other males known to them, according to rights group  We Will Stop Femicides Platform.

-With AAP.

Feature image: Getty.