Coronavirus live news: Hong Kong imposes strict new measures; no ‘shortcuts’, warns WHO

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The second lockdown in the Australian city of Melbourne will be key to getting contact tracing to a manageable level, an epidemiologist has said, as Victoria struggles to cope with around 5,000 contacts of people who tested positive for coronavirus in the second spike.

Victoria state has seen over a week of triple-digit daily case numbers of coronavirus reported, largely in the Melbourne and Mitchell shire areas.

The state has around 1,000 contact tracers working to identify those who people who have tested positive have been in contact with. Now with more than 1,800 active cases as of Tuesday, it becomes much harder for contact tracers to track down large numbers of contacts, Prof Catherine Bennett, the chair in epidemiology at Deakin University, told Guardian Australia.

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Speaking of entertainment, now that UK theatres have been given the green light to reopen, with their share of a £1.5bn support fund in the offing, how on earth can these historic venues adapt to a socially distanced post-Covid future?

For Cameron Mackintosh, the hit musical producer and owner of eight historic theatres in London’s West End, it’s an impossible prospect. “Until social distancing doesn’t exist any more, we can’t even plan to reopen,” he said in June, when he announced that all of his venues would remain shuttered until at least 2021. For an industry that relies on packing people in as tightly as possible to create an electric atmosphere, social distancing is surely its death-knell.

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New Zealand and Cook Islands work on ‘travel bridge’ to beat tourism slump

New Zealand’s first travel bubble could be on its way after the Cook Islands’ deputy prime minister said his country was ready to welcome tourist flights as early as next week.

The Cook Islands is a self-governing archipelago in the Pacific, in “free association” with New Zealand.

It has recorded no cases of coronavirus, while New Zealand has in effect eliminated the disease; having recorded no community spread for more than 70 days, meaning any active cases have been limited to arrivals in quarantine.

The Cook Islands is a favourite holiday destination for New Zealanders, and more than 80,000 Cook Islanders live permanently in New Zealand.

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In Australia, staff from the private sector including airlines, telecommunications companies and banks, as well as 1,000 additional Australian defence force personnel, will be deployed to help Victoria’s efforts to contain Covid-19 after 270 new cases of the virus were identified overnight.

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, on Tuesday outlined the “comprehensive response” required to stay a step ahead of the “wicked enemy” over the coming weeks, including ensuring hospitals are prepared, given that there are 1,803 active cases of the virus in the state.

“That is incredibly challenging when we see the number of cases presenting each day,” Andrews said.

“A bigger team [is needed]. This is a wicked enemy. It is so wildly infectious. It moves so fast. It’s cunning in some respects where people can be infectious for quite some time and not know it – not have symptoms or, if they have symptoms, they’re so mild.”

The state’s chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, said the health system was preparing for an additional 200 hospital patients in coming weeks.