Australia news LIVE: COVID-19 cases continue to grow across Australia; unrest in Afghanistan escalates

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  • This morning’s headlines at a glance
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Household transmissions account for 70 per cent of Sydney’s COVID cases

Household transmission has been the cause of more than 70 per cent of COVID-19 cases in Sydney’s current outbreak, forcing the state government to urgently increase accommodation for people needing to isolate.

As infections surge across the state, NSW Health will open a fifth health hotel on top of the multiple Meriton suites already being used to house hundreds of people who cannot safely isolate at home. A health sector source who was not authorised to speak on the issue said almost 1000 people last week were staying in one of the four current sites across the inner city.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Tuesday said “we are assuming the case numbers will go up”.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday warned case numbers will continue to surge in coming weeks after the state reported 452 new local cases and the death of a woman in her 70s.

“We are assuming the case numbers will go up. I say that only as a realist … when you have cumulative days of high case numbers there is a tipping point where case numbers go up,” she said.

Read more about household transmission in NSW here.

Playground transmission in Melbourne probed as COVID-19 spikes among children

Victorian health authorities are increasingly concerned about the spread of coronavirus among children following a number of suspected cases of outdoor transmission and a surge in infections involving school students under 10.

One day after metropolitan Melbourne was plunged back into its toughest lockdown since last year’s second wave, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said his team was investigating a potential case of playground transmission and a “more definitive” incident of transmission between students who walked home together.

Police patrol Princes Park in Carlton on Tuesday morning.Credit:Joe Armao

“[These were students] who were not in classes together and did not have any other face-to-face interaction other than sharing a walk home,” Professor Sutton said. “So the risk is there – and we want to minimise every opportunity to get ahead of this.”

Authorities are also worried about the number of cases emerging in St Kilda and surrounding suburbs in Melbourne’s inner south.

Read the full story here.

Taliban vow ‘no revenge’ in first news conference since seizing power

Taliban officials have fronted the world’s media in Kabul for the first time since their shock seizure of the city, promising they will not take revenge against those who worked or fought with US forces during their 20-year mission in Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the organisation had “emancipated” the country and did not want Afghanistan to be the “battlefield of conflict anymore”.

In front of a Taliban flag, Zabihullah Mujahid speaks at his first news conference.Credit:AP

He also vowed to respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law, and said terrorist groups would not use Afghanistan as a base to plot attacks on the West – a key demand of the United States, NATO and the international community.

More on this story here.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and thanks for your company.

It’s Wednesday, August 18. I’m Broede Carmody and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

Here’s everything you need to know before we get started.

  • NSW health authorities remain concerned about household transmission, which accounts for more than 70 per cent of cases in Sydney’s current outbreak. Yesterday, NSW recorded 452 new local cases and Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned numbers will continue to rise.
  • In Victoria, authorities are concerned about the spread of coronavirus among children. It comes as police patrol playgrounds and skate parks which are now off-limits to Melburnians. Yesterday, Victoria recorded 24 locally acquired cases of COVID-19.
  • Queensland’s tourism operators are celebrating after the state government announced it would shift the Royal Queensland Show holiday to October after the event was cancelled for the second year running. The government hopes the day off from work will encourage people to holiday in south-east Queensland.
  • Residents of the ACT have been told to expect more coronavirus cases. It comes after the nation’s capital recorded 17 new cases yesterday. The Northern Territory recorded no new cases yesterday, but all eyes will be on today’s case numbers.
  • In overseas news, all of New Zealand has been plunged into lockdown after a man in his 50s from Auckland tested positive to the highly contagious Delta coronavirus strain. An additional four people have now tested positive (including an Auckland hospital worker).
  • And the Taliban have fronted the world’s media for the first time since consolidating power in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital. Taliban officials say women will be allowed to receive an education but that everyone will be subject to Sharia law.
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