Coronavirus live news: New Zealand active cases rise to 69, Australia close to deal on vaccine – The Guardian

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Northern Ireland’s chief scientific adviser has warned of the risks of complacency after Covid-19 cases in the region increased rapidly last week. Professor Ian Young said it was “inevitable” that there would be a significant increase in coronavirus cases if people stopped following social-distancing rules designed to prevent the spread of the disease.

The reproduction rate of the virus is estimated at between 1.2 and 2.0, according to Northern Ireland’s Department of Health. There were 242 cases last week, with 74 positive tests announced on Friday alone – only 237 people tested positive during the whole of July.

“We’ve just had probably two months with very little evidence of the virus,” said Young, who also sits on the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. “No deaths for maybe 18, 20 days in a row; very few patients in hospitals. In that setting, it’s really hard for people to remember the importance of [social-distancing] behaviours. People relax, and they go back to what we still think of as normal. And if that happens, then it’s inevitable that we will see a further surge or significant increase.”

Read the full report from the Guardian’s James Tapper and Henry McDonald here:

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The Australian shadow government services minister, Bill Shorten, has taken aim at the profit-driven focus of the nation’s privatised aged care homes, while blaming the federal government for failing in its duty to oversee the system during the pandemic.

The former Labor leader asked how privatised centres were able to “serve two masters” – profit and care – given the cost of properly caring for elderly people, particularly those with health issues such as dementia, was not insignificant.

“This is the problem,” he told the ABC. “Looking after elderly people with diagnosis of dementia is not cheap. So if we want to make a profit, and you want to look after people, then you create faultlines in the system.

“Covid-19 right across Australian society has revealed things which have been glossed over. And if you’re a worker in the system, and they’re doing the hard and the tough work, they have to work at multiple centres just to make a living.”

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