Coronavirus updates LIVE: Victorian 14-day COVID-19 case average falls below 50 as state’s regional areas reopen; Australian death toll stands at 824

Summary

  • Regional Victorians can leave home for any reason and have a “household bubble” of five visitors under eased restrictions in place from this morning. In turn, NSW has eased restrictions on the Victorian border, increasing the size of its border zone and allowing travel within the zone for any purpose.
  • Victoria recorded 42 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday and eight deaths. Elective surgery in the state will resume today.
  • There were 10 new coronavirus cases in NSW on Wednesday, all from known sources.
  • The federal government is pushing states to increase international arrivals from 4000 to 6000 a week. But WA’s Premier claimed he has never been formally pitched the proposal and NSW’s said she would only increase her cap if Queensland and WA doubled their intake.
  • There have been more than 29.6 million coronavirus cases worldwide since the start of the pandemic, with India becoming the second country to pass 5 million cases on Wednesday. The global death toll has passed 937,000.

Today's front pages

Here's the coronavirus news from the front pages of our mastheads this morning.

  • Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton knew in April of the significant risks of hotel quarantine but was in the dark about how badly the system was run until media reports six weeks later revealed an outbreak that caused Melbourne’s second wave, an inquiry has heard.
  • Experts warn patients kept waiting during Victoria’s lockdown could suffer post-operative complications once elective surgeries are ramped up to clear a backlog of more than 60,000 patients.

The big story for both The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age this morning is an exclusive from Rob Harris that just one fine has been issued and only one provider banned by the nation’s disability watchdog despite more than 8000 complaints being lodged in the past two years.

India's coronavirus cases surge past 5 million, outbreak still soaring

India's confirmed coronavirus infections soared past 5 million on Wednesday, testing the feeble health care system in tens of thousands of impoverished towns and villages, AP reports.

The world's second-most populous country has added more than 1 million cases this month alone and is expected to become the pandemic's worst-hit country within weeks, surpassing the United States, where more than 6.6 million people have been infected.

India's Health Ministry reported 90,123 new cases in the past 24 hours, raising the total to 5,020,359, about 0.35 per cent of the nation's nearly 1.4 billion people. Its record daily high of 97,570 cases was reported on September 11.

The ministry said 1290 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 82,066, which is the third-highest toll in the world. Experts warned that India's fatality rate could increase in coming weeks with lockdown restrictions relaxed except in high-risk areas.

  • Read more in our wrap of coronavirus world news from overnight

NSW extends border zone, loosens restrictions

NSW will ease restrictions on the NSW-Victoria border today, in light of more relaxed rules coming into force in regional Victoria.

Under the new rules, the NSW-Victoria border zone has been extended to include parts of the NSW Riverina and Victorian alpine region, with the zone now encompassing Pleasant Hills, Lockhart, Benalla, Bright and Mount Beauty.

Victorian residents in the border zone will also no longer need to comply with stay-at-home directions while in NSW or be restricted to entering NSW for a "permitted purpose".

In a statement on Thursday morning, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard thanked the border communities for their patience.

"NSW-Victoria border communities have been extremely resilient during this one-in-100 year pandemic as we continue to fight the challenges of COVID-19," he said.

Member for Albury Justin Clancy said border communities deserve "not just respite but recovery".

"Having been separated for a number of weeks now, as communities that straddle the mighty Murray, we can talk of moving forward together."

Welcome to today's blog

Good morning and welcome to today's live blog. This is Mary Ward taking you through the morning's developments in the coronavirus pandemic in Australia and abroad.

Regional Victorians have woken up to eased restrictions today, as the area enters its third step of reopening. In turn, we have just received news NSW will be easing its border controls with Victoria – more on that in our next blog post.

We learnt yesterday that the federal government is pushing states to increase international arrivals from 4000 to 6000 a week. But WA’s Premier claimed he has never been formally pitched the proposal and NSW's said she would only increase her cap if Queensland and WA doubled their intake. We expect to hear more on this from the Queensland government this morning.

Amid dropping case numbers, the economic impact of the pandemic continues to be felt: yesterday UNSW and ANU each announced they would shed 200 jobs.

We will be bringing you live updates throughout the day. Stay with us.

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