The number of cases linked to an outbreak at Docklands Studios, where the Masked Singer and Hot Seat were being filmed has grown overnight
The number of cases linked to an outbreak at Docklands Studios, where the Masked Singer and Hot Seat were being filmed has grown overnight

Masked Singer virus outbreak continues to grow

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The Masked Singer outbreak that forced the shut down of the show has now extended to 16 members of the production.

"Network 10 can confirm that 16 members of The Masked Singer production team have received a positive test result for COVID-19,'' a Ten spokesperson said.

"All members of The Masked Singer production will undergo a 14-day period of self-quarantine as advised by the Department of Health and Human Services. All production crew will be adhering to this instruction.

Docklands Studios has been closed after recent positive COVID tests for crew members working on The Masked Singer and Millionaire Hot Seat. Picture: Andrew Henshaw
Docklands Studios has been closed after recent positive COVID tests for crew members working on The Masked Singer and Millionaire Hot Seat. Picture: Andrew Henshaw

"The health and safety of the community, and our staff and production partners remains our number one priority. Network 10 is providing all crew with all the support and assistance possible.

"We would like to thank the Victorian Government and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services for their continued support and assistance during this time.

"We continue to work closely with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services."

Network Ten has completed 289 tests and are awaiting on less than 10 test results to be returned.

All core cast, host Osher Gunsberg and panellists Dave Hughes, Dannii Minogue, Urzila Carlson and Jackie O have returned negative results.

They are isolating along with other cast and crew members.

- Jackie Epstein

 

DAILY NUMBERS STABILISE

Victoria has recorded 148 new coronavirus cases overnight - the second day in a row with a daily total less than 150.

But eight people have died of the deadly virus.

The victims include two men in their 70s, one man in their 80s and one men in their 90s.

Seven of the latest deaths are linked to aged-care outbreaks.

In total, 438 people have died of coronavirus in Victoria.

The net daily increase of coronavirus cases in Victoria dropped below triple digits for the first time since early July on Monday.

There are 617 Victorians in hospital, including 35 in ICU and 19 on ventilators.

Active cases across the state have decreased by 80 to 3651.

Another 33 mystery cases have been detected in Victoria.

Of the active cases 215 are in regional Victoria and 475 healthcare workers.

In the past 24 hours, 13,060 Victorians were tested for the virus, bringing the overall tally to 2,119,199.

Premier Daniel Andrews said he believed the weekends cold weather "played a little bit of a part" in the state's latest numbers.

"If you go back and track recent weekends, or weekends across the whole journey, then we often see numbers below those higher numbers that we see during the week," he said.

 

CASES TO DROP TO UNDER 100 BY NEXT WEEK

In a positive news, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said Victoria was seeing a "stabilising" in infection figures and has predicted case numbers to continue going down.

"We are seeing that slow decline, I do hope we get under 100 by next week and even lower the week after," he said.

Currently there are 617 people in hospital, 35 in intensive care and 19 people on ventilator.

As the number decrease Prof Sutton said he expected those in hospital settings would be expected to be over represented in the aged care sector.

 

 

STUDENTS MAY RETURN TO SCHOOL IN TERM 4

 

Students will likely return to face-to-face learning in term four, according to the Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.

He confirmed on Tuesday it was hoped students would "return in some form" as long as the current virus trend was ongoing.

The news will come as a relief for many Victorian parents, however he flagged precautions such as staggered start times will remain in place long term.

 

MASKED SINGER OUTBREAK GROWS

The number of cases linked to an outbreak at Docklands Studios, where the Masked Singer was being filmed has risen to 16.

Three episodes of Millionaire Hot Seat were set to be filmed in the studios this week but now shooting has been suspended until after stage four restrictions are lifted.

The set was closed on Sunday, with new episodes of the quiz show scheduled to be filmed from Monday.

It comes as a total of 55 active cases were linked to residential disability accomodation, of which 13 cases are in residents and 42 in staff.

There are a total of 42 active cases in NDIS homes, including 13 cases in residents.

There are 13 cases in staff members in state-regulated transfer homes, and no active cases in state-funded homes.

The number of active cases linked to aged care outbreaks are:

- 211 cases linked to Epping Gardens Aged Care in Epping;

-195 cases linked to St Basil's Homes for the Aged in Fawkner;

-166 cases linked to BaptCare Wyndham Lodge Community in Werribee;

- 159 cases linked to Estia Aged Care Facility in Ardeer;

- 138 cases linked to Kirkbrae Presbyterian Homes in Kilsyth;

- 120 cases linked to Cumberland Manor Aged Care Facility in Sunshine North;

- 118 cases linked to Twin Parks Aged Care in Reservoir;

- 113 cases linked to Outlook Gardens Aged Care Facility in Dandenong North;

- 110 cases linked to Japara Goonawarra Aged Care Facility in Sunbury;

- 109 cases linked to Estia Aged Care Facility in Heidelberg.

 

Key outbreaks with new cases include:

- 84 cases have been linked to the Australian Lamb Company in Colac;

- 58 cases have been linked to Peninsula Health;

- 35 cases have been linked to the Vawdrey Australia in Dandenong South;

- 33 cases have been linked to Diamond Valley Pork in Laverton North;

- 16 cases have been linked to Docklands Studios Melbourne.

 

 

;

WOMAN JAILED AFTER SNEAKING INTO WA FROM VIC

A woman who showed "complete disregard" for the community when she snuck into WA after visiting Victoria by hiding in a truck has been handed the harshest jail sentence so far.

Read the full story here.

A cyclist rides down a quiet Collins Street in Melbourne. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Ian Currie
A cyclist rides down a quiet Collins Street in Melbourne. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Ian Currie

 

TWO WAVES AMONG HEALTHCARE WORKERS

 

Long-awaited research to find how healthcare workers has found the overwhelming majority contracted the virus at work.

Mr Andrews unveiled the data today saying health workers were bearing the risk of infection working on the frontline.

"Our health heroes take care of us - and we need to take care of them," he said.

Currently there are 475 current active cases are healthcare workers in hospitals and in aged care.

The research found nurses and doctors were not only at risk on wards but had also contracted the virus on their breaks in tea rooms.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital has recently undergone changes to help staff avoid common areas in the bid to decrease transmissions.

Better Safer Care Professor Andrew Wilson said there were two main waves among healthcare workers.

Mr Wilson said in the state's first wave about 20 per cent of the healthcare workers were felt to be infected in the healthcare setting at work.

However, the second was by far the worse with aged care workers and nurses making up the majority of cases in the second round.

 

In hospitals 70 per cent of the people infected have been nurses.

"Poor infection practice" and staff moving between facilities was the biggest issue in aged care facilities.

In hospitals there were mainly outbreaks among workers where patients have been kept together, and also in locations where nurses and staff were either putting on or taking off their PPE.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said following the data findings a number of responses were now being taken to help keep the frontline safe.

This includes distributing higher-quality masks in wards where there was an increased risk of infection and also sharing more in-depth information across workplaces.

There will also be numbers released on staff being furloughed and the type of staff being impacted.

"We will also be looking at additional resources to stop it from occurring in the first place,"she said.

This includes better education and training around wearing PPE.

Special "spotters" will also be deployed in health work settings who will monitor people putting on PPE.

Air testing will also be boosted in some settings.

 

ANDREWS LIKENS STATE OF EMERGENCY EXTENSION TO INSURANCE

Meanwhile, Mr Andrews will be forced to face off with a hostile crossbench over his controversial plans to extend Victoria's state of emergency by up to 12 months.

Opposition leader Michael O'Brien has ruled out supporting the bold plan meaning the Premier will need the support of at least four Upper House crossbenchers to pass new legislation.

Speaking on Tuesday Mr Andrews said the new State of Emergency Bill was an "insurance policy" and that he hoped he did not have to use it, claiming "these restrictions will not be put in one day more than they are needed."

He also ruled out using further measures than those that are currently in place.

"Ultimately we are all going to have to have some COVID-19 rules before we have a vaccine," Mr Andrews said.

In the bid to calm opposition to the bill Mr Andrews said Stage 4 lockdowns and curfew would not continue under the change instead it related to ongoing enforcement and lower level restrictions.

When asked whether it was a totalitarian power grab Mr Andrews responded "that's just wrong".

Melbourne peak hour under the COVID-19 stage four lockdown. Picture: Mark Stewart
Melbourne peak hour under the COVID-19 stage four lockdown. Picture: Mark Stewart

Prof Sutton said if the State of Emergency did not exist he could not longer order the quarantine of returned travellers including people on cruises.

"There are some things that otherwise couldn't be possible," he said.

Furious MPs yesterday hit out at a lack of consultation over the proposal that was described as an "arrogant ambush" by a power hungry premier.

Former premier Jeff Kennett said Mr Andrews had effectively signed the state's death warrant saying even if his legislation was blocked, he had signalled that Victoria was closed for business.

The federal government has also weighed into the dispute over Victoria's state of emergency, with Josh Frydenberg saying the state government "has a lot of questions to answer".

The Treasurer told Parliament on Tuesday afternoon that he shared the concerns of Victorians worried about the planned 12-month extension.

"The Victorian government has to explain its decision," Mr Frydenberg said.

"We will do everything to support Victorians get to the other side of this crisis, but the Victorian government has a lot of questions to answer."

 

Federal Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge also hit out at the state of emergency extension, saying Daniel Andrews "scared people because he simply didn't define what it means and why".

"These are extraordinary powers, they override all other laws and they should only be used in absolute extreme circumstances and when they are exercised they must be full accountability and explanation for why they are being exercised," he told 3AW.

"The power that needs to have that proper oversight of every step of the way."

"As I said, we have never had such restrictions on us before in the history of Australia and so that accountability mechanism must be even stronger under these situations. So therefore, a continued four-week extension may make sense but please explain the rationale behind it."

 

The state of emergency allows regulations including stay-at-home directions and face-covering laws to operate.

Since being introduced in March it has been extended six times but can be in place no longer than six months and will expire on September 13.

Mr Andrews will introduce a bill when parliament sits next week to extend the state of emergency provisions by a further 12 months.

After the backlash yesterday he took to social media last night to defend the move.

"Extending the state of emergency is about ensuring that we can legally make the changes our health experts need to keep us safe," he claimed.

"This does not change how long our current lockdown will last, or increase the restrictions we face.

"Getting back to normal won't ever be an option if we can't protect what we've already achieved.

"These changes are about saving lives and keeping Victorians safe - nothing more, nothing less."

Opposition leader Michael O'Brien said he would oppose the bill when it hits parliament.

"Victorians don't deserve to be locked up in their homes for another 12 months. We don't deserve to be locked away from our jobs, away from our businesses for another year," he said.

"Victorians deserve democracy, they deserve accountability, they deserve transparency."

Liberal Democrats MP David Limbrick will lobby members of the cross bench to block the proposed extension.

"The Victorian Government has had six months to come up with solutions that are compatible with a liberal democracy and their time is up," Mr Limbrick said.

"They seem to be insulated from the real world and have no idea about the harm they have caused and are continuing to cause.

"Victorians can be trusted to take sensible precautions without being treated like criminals. This pandemic can be managed by voluntary action."

People exercise in Fitzroy Gardens during stage four COVID-19 lockdown. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ David Crosling
People exercise in Fitzroy Gardens during stage four COVID-19 lockdown. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ David Crosling

A survey of cross bench MPs, who were briefed on the proposal late on Monday, highlighted significant concerns about the length of the proposal.

Most said they were undecided, but were leaning toward rejecting the bill without significant changes.

Independent MP Catherine Cumming said crossbenchers were concerned that they had yet not been shown the legislation.

She said she wanted to see more detail of the government's pandemic plan before supporting the extension of emergency powers.

"You wouldn't give a bad tenant another 12 months," she said.

"They are working on the fly … We need a full holistic health response.

"Otherwise this lockdown situation and the way we are responding to it is going to be a perpetual cycle."

Mr Kennett described the bill as "the most dangerous utterance from a premier" in Victorian history.

"It is an act of a megalomaniac. It clearly indicates he has no idea how an economy works, and how the private sector works, and how families and individuals work," he said.

"Regardless of whether the bill is passed, he has sent out a notice to every potential investor who might invest in Victoria, that the intent of our premier is to close the state down.

 

Masks may be mandatory in Melbourne for some time. Picture: Ian Currie/NCA NewsWire.
Masks may be mandatory in Melbourne for some time. Picture: Ian Currie/NCA NewsWire.

"Who in their right mind would not be withdrawing any investment plans for Victoria knowing that even if this legislation was to be defeated, we have a premier who is in charge now who is about condemning the state to a period of economic decline we have never witnessed before."

Mr Kennett said other state's were learning to live with the virus and Victoria had to follow suit.

"Regardless of when the vote is, the damage has been done. We have sent a message out, that there may be a state of emergency but even if there isn't the current premier and his party are not for growth and people won't invest where there's uncertainty," he said.

Liberals Upper House leader David Davis described Mr Andrews' announcement as an ambush, and said the government had months to develop this legislation.

 

 

 

 

Daniel Andrews will have to seek parliamentary approval to extend the state of emergency. Picture: Ian Currie/NCA NewsWire.
Daniel Andrews will have to seek parliamentary approval to extend the state of emergency. Picture: Ian Currie/NCA NewsWire.

QANTAS AXES 2500 MORE JOBS

Another 2500 jobs will go at Qantas after the company announced it plans to outsource its ground handling operations - a move that will save the airline $100 million a year.

Staff and their relevant unions were informed at 10 major airports around the country today.

Qantas and Jetstar directly employ people in various ground operations roles - which includes baggage handling and aircraft cleaning - at 11 large airports around the country.

Read more on this story here.

 

ANDREW BOLT: STATE OF EMERGENCY BEYOND THE PALE

They call Victoria's Premier "Dictator Dan" and it's no longer a joke. Daniel Andrews wants to extend his "state of emergency" by another year.

Democracy is now in danger from this Messianic bully, who has been restricting peoples' freedom without Parliament's permission.

Like all dictators, the Premier says he's doing this for our own good.

It seems democracy is a health hazard, and only Dictator Dan can save us from the coronavirus: "I'm asking, respectfully, people of all political persuasions to support those changes so we have the rules to keep us safe in place beyond challenge, legally certain, for another 12 months."

Or longer, he hinted: "Until we get a vaccine, there is going to be a Covid normal, not a normal". But a vaccine may never come.

Can this really all be happening in Victoria, once praised as a liberal democracy that respected freedom?

Read the full opinion piece here.

 

 

EDITORIAL: REAL DANGER OF ABSOLUTE POWER

State of emergency powers allow our democratically-elected governments to, for a limited time, impose a level of authoritarian rule.

These powers, by their nature and ambit, are in essence the opposite of our cherished, democratic freedoms. As a declared emergency under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act, the state government has wide-ranging powers to control movement of people, ban gatherings, enforce isolation or quarantine, close businesses and order detention.

In times of emergency, such as the COVID pandemic we now face, unique powers are needed to protect the community and maintain the authority of government and its institutions to navigate a road to back safety, health and stability.

Abnormal measures for abnormal times: for public security and safety, elements of our individual freedoms - sometimes limited, sometimes many - are suspended. But whether it be state of emergency or state of disaster powers (both now invoked in Victoria), there must be clear endpoints when government intrusion stops. Those finite horizons are essential to protect against government overreach, the erosion of democracy and evasion of accountability.

If left open-ended, such extraordinary powers invite abuse and result in an incremental move towards authoritarianism. By seeking to extend Victoria's state of emergency by another 12 months - a move which requires new legislation - Premier Daniel Andrews has gone dangerously too far. If adopted by parliament, it would provide this or any future government with effective control over the community in year-long, rolling stretches.

Currently, the state of emergency powers can run for four consecutive weeks and be renewed for a cumulative period of up to six months. Victoria first declared a state of emergency on March 16 and it has been extended six times, the latest on August 16 and due to expire in September (when stage four restrictions are also due to lapse).

The CBD has been brought to a standstill by stage four restrictions. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie
The CBD has been brought to a standstill by stage four restrictions. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie

Premier Andrews argues the COVID-19 public health emergency will not be over by mid September when the six-month sunset expiry kicks in. He is, of course, right. We will be fighting this pandemic for many months more, albeit at what is hoped a much lower level of infections and deaths. But Mr Andrews sets a disturbing precedent in pursuing unbridled authority until September 2021 - a total 18-month period since March where, regardless of the status of the pandemic, the Premier and his government would be able to impose fundamental limitations over all aspects of our lives and suspend democratic freedoms for a year.

If presented as described by Mr Andrews, it would be one of the most draconian pieces of legislation to ever come before the Victorian parliament. We have that parliament as a check on power but if passed such a law would render Spring Street almost entirely redundant for a year.

It would mean that if the Andrews government decreed we must wear masks for another 12 months - even if infection numbers are low and other states and nations aren't - we would have to. No questions asked, no right of appeal, no parliamentary oversight. If businesses or industry were ordered shut or restricted, the Premier has the call for an entire year, regardless of economic or employment impact. Classrooms, weddings, funerals, social gatherings would all be subject to the caprices of government.

There are powerful reasons to maintain a range of social restrictions and risk-reduction requirements in workplaces, on public transport and in the community - even as the curve comes down. But there is also growing hope of a vaccine by the end of 2020, if not early 2021.

Victoria also entered a declared 'state of disaster' on August 2 when stage four restrictions were announced, granting police greater powers to enforce public health directions, including curfew. That declaration is also due to expire on September 13.

It should also be recognised that New South Wales, with its much better performance against COVID, has never declared a state of emergency since the pandemic hit, but rather relied on general powers provided by its Public Health Act.

 

A closed sign on the door of Young and Jackson pub across from Flinders Street Station. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ David Crosling
A closed sign on the door of Young and Jackson pub across from Flinders Street Station. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ David Crosling

 

The Andrews government should not be seeking untrammelled emergency powers for so long given their real potential to undermine liberty, democracy and government accountability. The extraordinary control over our lives invoked by a state of emergency demands limits and checks. It is exactly what we have a parliament for.

Mr Andrews asks that Victorians trust him with this absolute power - it will be for our own good. But given his government's mishandling of COVID, in hotel quarantine, contact tracing, resisting Defence help and prior monitoring of home isolation, how could we possibly trust him with unchecked and virtually unlimited power for a year? His administration has struggled with issues as simple as whether to open or close farmer's markets. Yet Mr Andrews wants to effectively suspend democracy for 12 months on the basis of he knows best.

There is no need for a year-long extension. Parliament should consider an amendment allowing for a state of emergency to be extended for one or two months at a time, at which point each extension must be put before parliament again. Power should never come without limit, scrutiny or accountability, and freedoms won through generational effort can never be surrendered.

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Originally published as Masked Singer virus outbreak continues to grow


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