The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Tuesday July 20.

Fifth NSW COVID death, mother of twin removalists. 

A fifth person has died amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Greater Sydney as the NSW premier admits "some level of restriction" will remain in place until the state's vaccination rates reach an acceptable level.

The death of the southwest Sydney woman on Monday morning is the fifth in NSW since mid-June and the 61st throughout the pandemic.

The woman was in her 50s, making her the youngest COVID-19 death in Australia since a Victorian man died in August 2020.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the woman was the mother of two removalists who travelled to central-west NSW while allegedly knowing they were COVID-positive. They have been handed court attendance notices for failing to comply with COVID directions.

Monday marked the first weekday since harsh new restrictions were enforced on Greater Sydney - including an Australia-first shutdown of the construction sector for two weeks.

And while Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the current lockdown could only end when the number of cases infectious in the community nears zero, she admitted some restrictions will remain in place until vaccination rates are much higher.

This is because of the infectiousness of the Delta variant currently in the community.

About three in five NSW residents (57 per cent) aged over 50 have had their first vaccination dose, while just under one in five (18 per cent) have had both doses.

"Our population coverage - even for the over 60s - is not high enough and we have a good vaccine that can be used, where the risk of hospitalisation and death (from the virus) is very high as age increases," Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said.

NSW recorded 98 new local cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, maintaining a three-day average in the high 90s.


Vic to learn length of lockdown extension.

Victorians are set to learn how long lockdown will be extended as authorities buy time for contact tracers to beat an outbreak of the Delta coronavirus variant.

Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the lockdown will be extended beyond 11:59pm on Tuesday, saying there were still "far too many" cases of community transmission to ease restrictions after five days.

"It would be perhaps a few days of sunshine and then there would be a very high chance we'd be back to lockdown again. That's what I'm trying to avoid," he told reporters. 

Victoria's public health team and senior government ministers will make the final call on the length of the extension by Tuesday morning.

Monday's testing figures and results, as well as any new exposure sites and mystery cases, will guide their decision.

At least four additional local cases, all of whom were in isolation for their entire infectious period, have already been announced.

COVID has not affected the rate of suicide in Australia.

The COVID-19 pandemic did not lead to more Australians taking their own lives, contrary to some predictions.

But it did increase levels of psychological distress, particularly for younger people. 

The JobKeeper program, increased JobSeeker supplement and labour market recovery were protective factors against suicide, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found.

An examination of coronial data across Victoria, NSW and Queensland did not show an increase in deaths by suicide during the pandemic.


"In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was widely speculated that there would be large rises in the number of deaths by suicide," the institute's deputy chief executive Matthew James told reporters.

"Luckily, these predictions have not come to pass."

Suicide deaths for most OECD countries had not risen during the pandemic, Mr James said.

About 3000 Australians die by suicide each year, an average of nine a day. 

In Victoria, 714 people died by suicide last year compared with 720 in 2019.  In NSW, 900 people died by suicide in 2020 compared with 943 the previous year.

However, there was a spike in the use of mental health services including crisis lines from the start of the pandemic. Slightly more than 10 per cent of Australians used Medicare-subsidised mental health services in 2019-20, up from six per cent a decade prior.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

SA close to shutdown over virus cases.

South Australia's cluster of coronavirus cases has grown to three as the state prepares for tough new restrictions in a bid to contain the latest outbreak.

An 81-year-old man and two of his close contacts, a man and a woman in their 50s, have tested positive for the virus.

More than a dozen other close contact are in quarantine along with hundreds or potentially thousands of people who visited a growing list of exposure sites, including a suburban shopping centre.

Premier Steven Marshall says five of those close contacts have tested negative so far but authorities are very concerned about the current situation.

New SA restrictions include a density change to one person to every four square metres in all venues, while all team and contact sport is to be cancelled.


All dining will need to be seated with a ban imposed on dancing and singing. Masks will be required in all indoor public areas, including shopping malls.

Fitness centres will be closed along with other non-essential retail outlets. Supermarkets and pharmacies and other essential businesses will continue to trade. Family gatherings will be restricted to 10 people but schools will stay open.

The new rules will apply from midnight on Monday and will be reviewed on Friday.

More virus cases could be found on WA ship.

West Australian authorities are bracing for further possible coronavirus cases among the crew of an infected cargo ship docked in Fremantle.

Eight crew members aboard the BBC California vessel have tested positive after displaying symptoms of the virus.

They have since been isolating in separate cabins aboard the ship.

Results are pending for a further six non-symptomatic crew members who were due to be tested on Monday afternoon.

WA's health department said the group would also receive serology tests to determine whether any had previously had the virus.

The BBC California left Egypt on June 8 and has since visited three ports in Indonesia. A number of crew members became unwell last week, prompting the ship's captain to seek assistance.

The ship docked at Fremantle Port on Monday, allowing crew members to disembark in small groups so they could be tested inside a shed.


Premier Mark McGowan insisted "every precaution" was taken to ensure the safety of port workers and the West Australian community.

He said anyone who needed medical treatment would be hospitalised, but doing so would increase the risk of community infection.

Australia, US allies accuse China of hacks.

The United States and a coalition of allies have accused China of a global cyber hacking campaign that employed contract hackers, specifically attributing a large Microsoft attack disclosed earlier this year to actors working on the country's behalf.

Opening a new area of tensions with China, the United States is joined by NATO, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Canada to level the allegations.

"The United States and countries around the world are holding the People's Republic of China accountable for its pattern of irresponsible, disruptive, and destabilising behaviour in cyberspace, which poses a major threat to our economic and national security," US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement on Monday.

Also on Monday, the US Justice Department said four Chinese citizens - three security officials and one contract hacker - were charged in a global hacking campaign aimed at dozens of companies, universities and government agencies in the United States and abroad.

The activities took place between 2011 and 2018 that focused on information that would significantly benefit Chinese companies and businesses, it said. The campaign targeted trade secrets in industries including aviation, defence, education, government, health care, biopharmaceutical and maritime industries.


The opening of a new front in the governments' war against hacking comes a month after G7 and NATO leaders agreed with US President Joe Biden at summits in Cornwall, England, and Brussels in accusing the Chinese government of posing systemic challenges to the world order.

Qld anaesthetist accused of sexual assault.

A Queensland anaesthetist is accused of inappropriately touching three women aged in their 20s while they were unconscious.

The 59-year-old man has been charged with three counts of sexual assault and recordings in breach of privacy over the alleged offences police say occurred between November 2020 and February this year.

Detectives believe he touched and photographed the women without their knowledge and have appealed to anyone else who thinks they may have been affected to come forward.

The man is due to appear in Toowoomba Magistrates Court on August 10. 

It's understood the man may have worked in a number of public and private clinics in the region. 

England's 'freedom day' amid soaring cases.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's 'freedom day' ending over a year of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in England has been marred by surging infections and his own forced self-isolation.

Johnson's bet that he can get one of Europe's largest economies firing again because so many people are now vaccinated marks a new chapter in the global response to the coronavirus.

If the vaccines prove effective in reducing severe illness and deaths even while infections reach record levels, Johnson's decision could offer a path out of the worst public health crisis in decades. If not, more lockdowns could loom.


Britain has the seventh highest death toll in the world, 128,708, and is forecast to soon have more new infections each day than it did at the height of a second wave of the virus earlier this year. On Sunday there were 48,161 new cases.

But, outstripping European peers, 87 per cent of Britain's adult population has had one vaccination dose, and more than 68 per cent have had the two doses which provide fuller protection. Daily deaths, currently at around 40 per day, are just a fraction of a peak of above 1800 seen in January.

From midnight, laws in England requiring masks to be worn in shops and other indoor settings lapsed, along with capacity limits in bars and restaurants, and rules limiting the number of people who can socialise together.

Johnson himself is currently isolating at his country residence at Chequers after health minister Sajid Javid tested positive. 

Prince Harry working on memoir to be published late 2022.

Prince Harry is writing what his publisher is calling an "intimate and heartfelt memoir".

The book by the Duke of Sussex, currently untitled, is expected to come out late in 2022.

"Prince Harry will share, for the very first time, the definitive account of the experiences, adventures, losses and life lessons that have helped shape him," Random House said on Monday.


"Covering his lifetime in the public eye from childhood to the present day, including his dedication to service, the military duty that twice took him to the frontlines of Afghanistan, and the joy he has found in being a husband and father, Prince Harry will offer an honest and captivating personal portrait, one that shows readers that behind everything they think they know lies an inspiring, courageous and uplifting human story."

Financial terms were not disclosed. Prince Harry will donate proceeds to charity, according to Random House.

Around the world.

- Racist far-right commentator Katie Hopkins will be back on home soil. She was put on a flight Monday afternoon after having her visa revoked for flouting Australia's quarantine laws.

- Haitian officials have announced a new prime minister, neurosurgeon Ariel Henry. It comes almost two weeks after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

- With AAP

Feature image: Mick Tsikas/Darrian Traynor/Kevin Winter/Getty.

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