The cluster in Sydney’s northern beach suburbs grew to 28 known cases as contact tracers followed clues from a suspected superspreader event at an RSL club last Friday. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the next 48 hours were critical to containing the outbreak.
Genomic sequencing shows the outbreak’s strain is the same as one in the United States, putting international flight crews in the frame as the suspected source. NSW tightened its quarantine rules for such crews, and revealed 13 staff on a flight from South America had been fined for breaking quarantine earlier this month.
The flare-up is a blunt reminder the health crisis is far from over. Mandatory masks, aggressive contact tracing and testing of anyone leaving the hot zone were the best hope of containing the outbreak, experts said. And the government should do more to diversify its supplies of as-yet-unapproved vaccines.
NSW reported 16 new cases today, but the number does not reflect all of the known cases because of a lag in the official tally. Queensland reported three cases and Victoria and Western Australia one each, taking the national caseload since the beginning of the pandemic to 28,804, with 908 deaths.
Australians are cashed up after months of hunkering down, and are splurging more on high-end and unusual purchases this Christmas. “People are getting a bit more inspired,” says Barry Davies, whose Deus Ex Machina is selling more custom-built motorbikes than usual.
Auction listings are also unseasonably high as sellers try to take advantage of pent-up demand and healthy prices. An (incorrect) assumption that house prices would plunge 30 per cent was part of the prudential regulator’s stress test of the banks, which withstood it handsomely, columnist Christopher Joye writes
Partners at Deloitte received an early Christmas present as the big four consultancy restored them to full pay sooner than planned after earlier cuts because of COVID-19.
But insurers are having a shocker. QBE has warned investors to expect a nearly $2 billion loss this year because of the pandemic, bushfires and the worst US hurricane season on record. And the government doubled the threshold for personal bankruptcies to try to keep a lid on pandemic-induced insolvencies next year.
Medical company Mesoblast revealed its COVID-19 treatment flopped in the lab and the new outbreak sent travel company stocks plunging, dragging the sharemarket down for the week. But momentum is driving the Australian dollar towards US85¢ next year, NAB strategists say.
Andrea Reynolds and Ciaran Burke are taking remote working to new extremes. The co-founders of fintech Swoop, which runs a kind of one-stop shop for small businesses, have just established themselves in Australia – without ever setting foot in the place.