It’s Monday 25 January – a year since Australia confirmed its first case of Covid-19. Since then, Australia has recorded more than 28,700 cases and 909 deaths. Globally, there have been more than 99 million cases and 2.13 deaths.
It was, according to the Bureau of Meteorology app, an “oppressive night” in Melbourne, not slipping below 27C. Regional Victoria and inland parts of NSW were similarly warm overnight, and NSW and the Victorian border towns are in for another hot night tonight as the heat wave stretches on. It will be 39C in Melbourne today, 44C in Mildura, 32C in Sydney and 39C in Penrith.
Seventy volunteer firefighters in South Australia are trying to contain a fire burning out of control in the Adelaide Hills, and firefighters in Victoria are bracing for the worst day since last summer’s bushfires, with a fire danger rating of severe across the north of the state.
Back to the coronavirus: Australia recorded zero cases of local transmission yesterday, but New Zealand had its first community case in two months. China is fighting a new cluster of infections, France has warned of a third lockdown, Dutch curfew protests turned violent, and Italy is threatening legal action against Pfizer over its vaccine supply. A new Covid variant is overwhelming the Amazonas state in Brazil. The UK and South African variants may be as much as 50% more transmissible than the regular virus, meaning stricter measures may need to be taken. And health experts say tech companies should be forced to reveal their most viral material, arguing pandemic misinformation can only be countered if it’s made public.
Australia is signing up to two international agreements to price in climate risk, environment minister Sussan Ley will tell a virtual summit today. This could inflame tensions between Liberals and Nationals, who have criticised banks for asking businesses for carbon transition plans. There’s rising pressure to act on the climate crisis, urgent questions over environmental protection, and strategy issues over electric vehicles. Anthony Albanese might have signalled a possible return to Labor’s 2019 workplace policies, but he’s deferring a 2035 emissions reduction target until the Coalition shows its hand.
Joe Biden has lost no time undoing the Trump legacy in his first 100 hours as US president, pledging a “wartime undertaking” to combat the pandemic in which more than 417,000 have died. He released a 198-page Covid-19 strategy and signed 10 executive orders and other directives. Former US coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx has said people in the Trump White House considered Covid-19 a hoax, adding that some statements by political leaders “derailed” the county’s virus response.