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Coronavirus live news: cases climb in Victoria, Australia, amid record infections globally | World news

Thanks to strict quarantine measures and an aggressive and widespread testing programme, Vietnam has kept its virus total to an impressively low 415 cases, and had reported no locally transmitted infections for 100 days.

But on Friday, Vietnam’s health ministry said in a statement that a 57-year-old man from Danang, a popular tourist hotspot, had tested positive three times for the virus, prompting the isolation of 50 people he came in contact with.

One hundred and three people connected to the patient were tested for the virus but all returned negative results, the statement said.

The health ministry has not officially confirmed the case as Covid-19, which comes at a time when Vietnam was about to resume international commercial flights and as domestic tourism is surging.

It did not say how the man contracted the virus, but said he had not left Danang for nearly a month. He was initially diagnosed with pneumonia.

Late on Friday, authorities in Hanoi reinstated a recommendation to wear masks in public places as Vietnam’s benchmark VN Index closed down 3.22%.

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How did Australia flatten its coronavirus curve? Restrictions easing as infection rate continues to fall

That many Australians now find themselves in such an enviable position would have been unthinkable only a month ago, during which time nationwide daily infection rates reached into triple figures. But on Friday, the entire country reported just 16 new cases, a sharp decline from a peak of 460 new infections on March 28.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday the National Cabinet will meet on May 8 to consider easing lockdown measures, bringing forward the discussion from the week beginning May 11.

“Australians have earned an early mark,” Morrison said. “We need to restart our economy, we need to restart our society.”

“No more cases in South Australia. This is a landmark for us,” South Australia Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said with a big smile during a press briefing on Wednesday.

The southern state of 1.6 million people, home to the country’s fifth most populous city Adelaide, has reported 438 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with only 14 remaining active cases and four deaths, according to the SA government.

“I think many people are surprised in Australia at how well we have done. Really, when you look across all the states and territories, this is the safest place to be in the world, perhaps other than New Zealand,” she said.

Neighboring country New Zealand recently achieved its ambitious goal of “eliminating” the coronavirus, meaning that while the daily infection rate has yet to reach zero, the country is able to track the origins of each new case.
A group of men walk on Bondi Beach on May 01 in Sydney, Australia, following the easing of lockdown measures in response to a decline in coronavirus cases across the state.

In total, Australia, which has a population of around 25 million people, has reported 6,762 confirmed cases. Ninety two of those cases have resulted in death, and 5,720 have since recovered, according to the federal health authority.

“We’re continuing to do very well around Australia to suppress the virus and we have well and truly flattened the curve of cases and new infections,” said a spokesperson for the Australian Department of Health in a statement Thursday to CNN.

“Safety has been our fundamental focus and the success of our suppression strategy has meant Australia is in a very similar (place) to New Zealand, which has stated its strategy is aimed at elimination.”

Some Australian states have already started to begin the process of easing restrictive measures and social-distancing rules. West Australia and South Australia relaxed the limit on public gatherings, up from two people to 10 people.
In Western Australia, which saw several “zero-case” days in the past week, national parks reopened on Friday, and nearly 60% public school students have returned for the start of a new term.
In the remote Northern Territory, where no new cases have been reported for three weeks, residents will be able to use public swimming pools, waterparks, go fishing with friends and play golf starting from Friday. The state has also laid out plans to restart its economy, allowing restaurants, pubs and gyms to reopen on May 15 and lifting the remaining restrictions on June 5.
Surfers wait for officials to open Bondi Beach in Sydney on April 28 as coronavirus pandemic restrictions are eased. The beach is open to swimmers and surfers to exercise only.

Restrictive measures

Australia’s success in taming the outbreak started with early measures to bar entry from high-risk areas.

On February 1, Australia joined the United States in closing its borders to all foreign visitors who had recently been in China, where the outbreak was first reported in December last year.

As the virus spread and outbreaks flared beyond China, Australia barred entries from Iran, South Korea and Italy in early March, before closing its borders completely to all non-citizens and non-residents on March 19.
But the country has also had its shares of missteps. On March 19, it allowed more than 2,600 passengers to disembark from the Ruby Princess cruise ship in Sydney, despite multiple previous outbreaks elsewhere in the world involving cruise ships. Over 600 cases and 15 deaths have since been linked to the ship, according to public broadcaster ABC.
People wave as the cruise ship Ruby Princess departs from Port Kembla, some 80 kilometres south of Sydney, on April 23, after a few hundred virus-free crew members disembarked to begin the process of repatriation to their home countries.
As the number of cases soared in late March, Morrison announced on March 22 all bars, clubs, cinemas, gyms and places of worship would be closed indefinitely, while restaurants and cafes would be restricted to take-away only — but supermarkets, clothing stores, chemists and beauty salons would be allowed to remain open.

“What we’re doing is closing down gatherings in pubs and clubs and things of that nature, we’re not putting in place lockdowns that would confine people to their home,” Morrison said at the time.

The state of Victoria closed schools, and some states, such as West Australia and South Australia, closed their borders, requiring anyone to enter to go into two weeks of quarantine.

By the end of March, authorities imposed stricter social-distancing rules, limiting public gathering to two people from the previous 10. People were urged to stay home and only go out if it is “absolutely essential,” such as shopping for food, exercising, and for medical reasons.

Ever expanding testing

While closure of businesses, schools, travel restrictions and social distancing rules are common measures adopted by many governments around the world, Australia also paired these restrictions with widespread testing.

To date, more than 570,000 tests have been conducted across Australia, according to the Department of Health.

In comparison, the United Kingdom, with a population more than 2.5 times of Australia, has carried out 763,387 tests.

Medical practioners conducting tests for Covid-19 at a drive-thru testing facility in a parking lot on April 30 in Melbourne, Australia.
On March 25, Australian expanded its testing criteria to include all health care workers, aged care workers, prisoners and people in other identified hotspots who have fever or acute respiratory symptoms. Previously, only people who recently returned from overseas or who had come into contact with a confirmed coronavirus case could be tested.

Last week, the criteria was further expanded to anyone displaying even the mildest symptoms for Covid-19, Federal Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy announced.

“Anybody with acute respiratory symptoms, cough, sore throat, runny nose, cold symptoms, flu-like symptoms, can get tested,” Murphy said at a press conference Friday, according to ABC.
On Monday, Murphy said Australia will start testing asymptomatic cases for the first time “to be absolutely sure that we are capturing every case that we can and that we’re not missing cases.”

Drawing ire from Beijing

While Australia appears to be successfully containing the coronavirus, it has become embroiled in a diplomatic spat with China after it demanded an international inquiry into the coronavirus outbreak.

The bipartisan push for a global inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, including China’s handling of the initial outbreak in the city of Wuhan, begun last week, with Foreign Minister Marise Payne urging China to allow transparency in the process, according to ABC.

The push quickly drew the ire of Beijing, which slammed the move as “political maneuvering.”

In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, Chinese Ambassador Jingye Cheng even warned of an economic backlash if Australia continued its push for an independent inquiry, suggesting that the Chinese public may boycott Australian products or decide not to visit Australia in the future.
A day after Cheng’s stern warning, Morrison vowed to continue to push for the inquiry at a press conference on Wednesday, calling it a “fairly obvious and common sense suggestion.”

“This is a virus that has taken more than 200,000 lives across the world. It has shut down the global economy. The implications and impacts of this are extraordinary,” he said.

“It would seem entirely reasonable and sensible that the world would want to have an independent assessment of how this all occurred, so we can learn the lessons and prevent it from happening again…I believe there will be support for at the right time, to ensure we do that,” added Morrison.

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India v Australia: first one-day international – live! | Sport

Warner reaches his 18th ODI century!

Finch to 50 (for real this time)

Warner to 50!

Finch to 50! (But probably not)

Thanks, JP. Our man put in a huge tennis shift today before taking care of the first innings. Well played. Australia did that nicely, denying India the chance to explode the old fashioned way with consistent wickets in the middle overs.

You find me watching Star’s coverage in London, where Michael Slater is currently learning Hindi. Just another day in 2020. Good afternoon/evening to you all.

India 255

Australia will be the happier of the two sides at the changeover. They never allowed India to get away from them, took wickets at regular intervals after that long second-wicket partnership, and they will be confident of chasing down 255 with the fast outfield at the Wankhede Stadium, especially if the dew settles and makes bowling awkward.

The three pacemen all bowled superbly, each deserving their multiple-wicket hauls, while the two spinners kept India in check when their innings was meandering.

Not a great day at the office for India’s much vaunted batsmen. Rohit and Kohli both fell cheaply while Dhawan was one of a number of Indians to give their wicket away needlessly.

Find out if Australia can chase down 256 with the incomparable Adam Collins.

Pat Cummins

Pat Cummins, Australia’s golden boy. Photograph: Rafiq Maqbool/AP

WICKET! Shami c Carey b Richardson 10 (India 255)

WICKET! Kuldeep run out (Smith) 17 (India 255-9)

WICKET! Shardul b Starc 13 (India 229-8)

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Australia fires: On kangaroo killing field, from horror to hope

A mob of kangaroos had gathered on the fairway, the last patch of green grass left after fire ripped through the eastern Victoria town on New Year’s Eve, destroying close to 100 homes and thousands of hectares of native habitat. Over 4,000 locals and tourists had to be evacuated by sea after the fires cut the one road in and out of Mallacoota.

The pristine national park that rings the town is home to native wildlife in an abundance unmatched throughout Australia. The fires burned fast, killing animals in their thousands — and even those that made it to the comparative safety of the golf course were often horrifically injured.

The four kangaroos Barton had to euthanize Thursday morning had third degree burns on their paws and faces that were already becoming septic. It was not going to be possible to treat their terrible injuries, forcing vets to put them down.

“I have nightmares,” Barton says, standing on the golf course. Behind him is a healthy couple — a baby kangaroo feeding from its mother. Moments earlier he had used his rifle to euthanize another joey which was too badly burned to hop. The young male was tranquilized first and then put down swiftly and, the vet said, painlessly.

“I’ve been a vet for 40 years, and I still don’t get used to it. Wholesale slaughter is awful. It still brings tears to my eyes.”

The Mallacoota golf course was a sanctuary for animals fleeing Australia's bushfires, but it has become a killing field.

The tears flow as Barton’s wife and clinical partner at Vets for Compassion, Elaine Ong, interjects.

“The animals suffer just as humans do,” she says. “The community has been telling us that they’ve gone through so much trauma and they are further traumatized by seeing the animals suffer. So they are pleased we can come and help the animals.”

It’s somber and difficult work, but leaving distressed animals to suffer through a slower and more painful death is even worse for the pair, who arrived from Melbourne on a trip sponsored by the NGO Animals Australia. Barton and Ong want to draw a line under the horror of the fires that burned almost all the land around Mallacoota, allowing others to begin the task of repopulating wildlife and healing the land.

Resilience and recovery

Southeastern Australia is in the grip of a three-year drought, with significant rain not forecast until April.

The conditions have exacerbated the fires burning across Australia for months, razing homes and wiping out entire towns. Across the country, more than 7.3 million hectares (17.9 million acres) of land has been burned — much of it bushland, forests and national parks, home to the country’s beloved and unique wildlife.

Cutie Pie, an orphan koala, is being cared for by Mallcoota resident Sue Johns. His mother died in the fires.
In New South Wales, the state neighboring Victoria, ecologists estimate that as many as half a billion animals may have been affected by the fires, with millions potentially killed. That figure includes birds, reptiles, and mammals, except bats. It also excludes insects and frogs — meaning the true number is likely much higher.

There are fears that some species may not recover, entering a terminal decline, such is the degree to which the fires have ravaged their populations.

But amid all the bleak news, there is still room for hope that Australia’s unique landscape and wildlife could bounce back.

When the rains finally do come, much bushland could quickly recover — particularly eucalypt forests where koalas live and feed. Beds of ash left by the fire provide nutrients for the seeds of Australian gum trees, which evolved to survive and even thrive from fires.

Much of the vegetation that has burned this summer will naturally rejuvenate — and the koala carers in Mallacoota are already preparing.
Jack Bruce holds Wilbur, a koala rescued from the fires, who he and his partner Alyex Burges are helping rehome.

A short drive from the golf course, volunteers Jack Bruce and Alyex Burges believe they may have found a new home for Wilbur, an adult koala that fled the blazes five days ago. After spending that time in a cage, clinging to a stump and shrouded in a buffet of eucalyptus leaf varieties, he’s going back to the bush.

A fertile gully at the back of Bruce’s family farm has been identified as being relatively unscathed after last week’s flames. But when the pair conduct a cursory check that Wilbur is not going to be put up an already occupied tree, they are shocked to find they have company.

This area was meant to be wiped of life — but up in the canopy is a healthy mother koala with a baby on her back. Birds sing as she takes in some of the 20 hours of sleep the species enjoys a day.

Wilbur gets a tree a few steps down the road. After 10 minutes of wondering whether he’ll give up his blanket and free meals, he crawls out of his cage and up a tree.

Nothing is certain when it comes to wildfire, but the gully Wilbur now shares with his neighbor will hopefully be spared again from fires feared this weekend — it’s surrounded by already burned-out bushland and close to homes. Bruce hopes the two koalas there will be part of the rejuvenation of this previously untouched environment.

“It is sad to go out there and see them suffering. But you have to confront that to give them any chance of survival,” he says. (The survivors will) return back to Mallacoota when it begins to rejuvenate. I think there is hope. It is inspiring and it is encouraging.”

This story has been updated to accurately reflect the number of animals affected by the fires in New South Wales.

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Australia fires live: NSW and Victoria bushfire towns get brief rain reprieve – latest updates

Rain falls on some NSW, Victorian and South Australian bushfire-affected areas, but worse fire conditions are forecast to return. Follow all today’s latest news and live updates

9.19pm GMT

Asked if Scott Morrison’s initial response to the crisis was embarrassing for the nation, Craig Kelly says:

Absolutely not. In fact, what has been disappointing, is that we are a very stoic nation. We have had disasters in the past. Everyone has got behind the leader, we have got in there, done our best to clean it up.

But unfortunately, during an international tragedy, we have seen people actually trying to exploit it for political advantage.

9.16pm GMT

“There is no denialist cult,” Craig Kelly says, about views about climate change within the Morrison government.

He says the debate should be about hazard reduction. Which has already been explained about a million times.

Continue reading…

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Australia v New Zealand: Boxing Day Test, day four – live! | Sport

Tea: New Zealand 131-4 (chasing 488)




WICKET! Nicholls st Paine b Lyon 33 (New Zealand 89-4)


Thank you very much Adam. My condolences on Peter Siddle robbing you of endless material. If you get nostalgic for the venomous vegan he has a series of instructional videos on YouTube. My favourite is the bouncer edition where he terrorises some patsy on a net wicket that should be roped off with crime scene tape.

Look at the state of that strip. And Siddle’s wearing dark colours. That is an accident waiting to happen.

26th over: New Zealand 77-3 (Blundell 35, Nicholls 24) The Australian fielders are talking loudly around the bat. Simon Katich, also on SEN radio, reckons they are discussing their respective Australian Rules football careers. As my OBO colleague Sam Perry rightly says, cricket is just footy in the summer these days. Lyon concedes four singles this time around, the final of those very, very close to a run out. Indeed, had Cummins hit from mid-on, Nicholls was gone by a long way. And after that moment of chaos, drinks are on the field. New Zealand have made it through the third hour without loss, which isn’t for nothing with both of these players trying to make a something of a statement before this Test is over. I’ll take this moment to hand over to JP Howcroft. Thanks for your company. Bye for now!

LUNCH: New Zealand 38-3

WICKET! Taylor b Pattinson 2 (New Zealand 35-3)

WICKET! Williamson lbw b Pattinson 0 (New Zealand 33-2)

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NSW fires live: roads closed and second person dead in South Australia bushfires – latest news | Australia news






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Australia v New Zealand: first Test, day two – live! | Sport

WICKET! Wagner b Starc 0 (New Zealand 97-5)

WICKET! Nicholls c Paine b Starc 7 (New Zealand 97-4)

Taylor to 50

WICKET! Williamson c Smith b Starc 34 (New Zealand 77-3)


Hazlewood leaves the field injured!


WICKET! Raval b Hazlewood 1 (New Zealand 1-2)

WICKET! Latham c & b Starc 0 (New Zealand 1-1)

AUSTRALIA ALL-OUT 416! WICKET! Paine c Watling b Southee 39.

WICKET! Lyon c de Grandhomme b Wagner 8 (Australia 416-9)

WICKET! Starc c Williamson b Southee 30 (Australia 408-8)


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Australia fires: blazes ‘too big to put out’ as 140 bushfires rage in NSW and Queensland | Australia news

Dozens of fires will burn across Australia for weeks, fire authorities say, including a “mega-fire”, already the size of greater Sydney, that is too big to put out.

At 6am on Sunday there were 96 bush and grass fires in NSW – 47 of which were not contained. Five fires are at a watch and act level.

Conditions eased on Sunday morning, allowing firefighters a chance to do critical back-burning and containment work ahead of Tuesday, when the mercury is tipped to soar into the 40s in parts of the state.

NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said overnight conditions had improved.

“We’ve got much more benign conditions, particularly a dominant easterly influence which will stretch pretty much right across most of our fire grounds,” he told Seven News.

“Which means hundreds – as a matter of fact more than 1600 – firefighters are around again today doing really important and critical back burning and containment-line consolidation to try and gain the upper hand before we see those conditions deteriorate into Tuesday.”

Already this fire season, six people have died and more than 1,000 homes have been lost across NSW and Queensland.

The largest conflagration, the “mega fire” at Gospers Mountain near Sydney’s north-western outskirts, was likely to burn for weeks until substantial rain falls, likely at the end of January or early February.

The NSW Bureau of Meteorology said the largest fires simply could not be extinguished by water-bombing aircraft or firefighting crews on the ground.

“The massive NSW fires are in some cases just too big to put out at the moment … they’re pumping out vast amounts of smoke which is filling the air, turning the sky orange and even appearing like significant rain on our radars,” the bureau said.

The bureau has forecast a grim week ahead, with strong winds forecast for fire-affected areas and no rain relief in sight. A months-long drought in eastern Australia has left bushland tinder dry and prone to ignition, especially from dry lightning strikes.

Temperatures are expected to reach 43C in western Sydney, and 44C in the Hunter region immediately north of Australia’s largest city.

Temperatures will also soar in the state’s north-west, where they are forecast to hit 44C in Bourke and 43C in Colbar.

In Queensland late on Saturday, a shipping container filled with fireworks exploded and residents were forced to flee their homes as an unpredictable fire threatened homes in Bundamba, on the outskirts of the state capital, Brisbane.

Residents within an three-kilometre-squared exclusion zone were ordered out as the firefront was waterbombed but fire crews warned they might not be able to stop the fast-moving blaze.

Conditions have eased off, a spokeswoman for Queensland’s Fire and Emergency Services said on Sunday morning, however are expected to pick up later in the day.

A high fire danger rating is in place for the Darling Downs and Granite Belt to Cape York Peninsula, and will ramp up to severe in the Northern Goldfields and Upper Flinders on Monday.

One home was reportedly destroyed in the Bundamba fire on Saturday night.

The chief scientist at the Australian Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Dr Bidda Jones, said that, beyond the human cost of the fires, the widespread blazes would have a “major impact of biodiversity”.

“Depending on the intensity of the fire, it will have had a massive impact on wildlife,” she said. “And not just on those iconic species like koalas. You have to think of this in terms of how it affects the entire ecosystem.

“You have animals relying on the eucalyptus trees for their primary diet – greater gliders are another example of that. Then you have a whole range of other species living off nectar or the insects in that environment, and there’s going to be a considerable loss of insect life in those fires.”

Jones said animals often preferred old large trees for nesting, the trees most likely to be destroyed by the fires.

“And then with fires that have been burning even at low intensity, leaf litter and all the understorey is gone. That’s providing food and refuge to animals there and the animals they would eat.

“So if you look at the overall picture … the damage has been so extensive, it’s going to have a major impact on biodiversity.”

Much of Jones’s own property, which backed on to national park at Braidwood near the Australian capital, Canberra, was lost to fires this week.

“At this point almost all of that has been burnt, all of that continues forest, up to 31,000 hectares,” she said. “The big trees are still there and we have greater gliders that live in the forest, as well as powerful owls.

“So I’m hoping that they’ll be OK. They’ll have lost nesting holes because the big trees have fallen and it’s the big old trees that have the nesting holes.”

Jones’s property was home to a huge variety of birds, as well as eastern grey kangaroos, swamp wallabies and red wallabies.

“We were going out and meeting kangaroos and red neck wallabies that were moving away from the fire,” she said. “A lot of wombats, I’m not sure what they’re going to eat. All of the forest floor, any grass any shrubs, are gone.”

Jones said her rainfall records showed last month to be the driest November in 40 years. The November average is about 100ml but this year it was 18ml.

The role of climate change in contributing to Australia’s unusually early and fierce fire season has been the subject of acute political debate. The federal government has refused to concede that climate change – and in particular Australia’s continued rising carbon emissions and massive fossil fuel exports – have played any role in the current fire crisis.

The Australian, prime minister Scott Morrison, has consistently said it was “no credible scientific evidence” linking climate change with the fires. This has been rejected by climate scientists, who have said politicians are “burying their heads in the sand while the world is literally burning around them”.

“Anytime I hear ‘don’t talk about climate change’,” Jones said, “anyone in my situation has absolutely no doubt these conditions are extreme and are connected to climate change.”

with Australian Associated Press

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Australia bushfires north of Sydney ‘too big to put out’

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media caption‘Sydney’s mega fire is getting out of control’

A “mega blaze” raging across a 60km (37 mile) front north-west of Sydney cannot currently be put out, Australian fire officials have warned.

The fire across almost 300,000 hectares (1,150 sq m) is just an hour’s drive from the nation’s most-populous city.

People who cannot defend their property from approaching fires have been told they should leave immediately.

Since October, bushfires have killed six people and destroyed more than 700 homes across Australia.

The severity of the blazes so early in the fire season has caused alarm, and prompted calls for greater action to tackle climate change.

Fires have also raged across Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.

What’s the latest on the ground?

Several fires have combined to form the Gospers Mountain mega blaze, which is more than 283,000 ha in size.

At 12:00 local time Saturday (01:00 GMT) 95 fires were burning, with half yet to be contained, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) tweeted.

It said that more than 2,200 firefighters “were out in the field”.

At one point on Friday, nine fires had been raised to emergency level warnings, although these decreased markedly amid a brief respite in conditions later in the day.

The blazes north of Sydney were sending black fumes across the city, causing a rise in medical problems.

NSW RFS deputy commissioner, Rob Rogers told national broadcaster ABC: “We cannot stop these fires, they will just keep burning until conditions ease, and then we’ll try to do what we can to contain them.”

He said the 60km stretch from Hawkesbury to Singleton was “just fire that whole way”.

Video footage from the Orangeville area showed firefighters running from a wall of fire and the Walkabout Wildlife Park has evacuated hundreds of animals.

Fire officials in Ingleburn warned: “If your property is not prepared for the bushfire season and you’re not sure you are able or capable of defending your property if a fire approaches you need to leave straight away.”

Firefighters from Canada were briefed in Sydney on Friday and will be deployed across New South Wales over the weekend, to be joined by teams from the US.

What’s the outlook?

There was some respite overnight but another dry and windy day is predicted.

“They were able to strengthen a number of containment lines [overnight]… in preparation of some of those challenging conditions we are expecting this afternoon,” RFS Chief Superintendent Ben Millington told the ABC.

But he added: “We’re not out of the woods yet.”

Image copyright

Image caption

A smoky haze has enveloped much of Sydney

Tuesday is the next big concern, with temperatures inland of Sydney likely to reach above 40C (104F).

Some firefighters have expressed concern that volunteer numbers might not be enough and that there are inadequate water supplies.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said that “some fires were too big to put out” while the NSW RFS said late Friday the blazes would only be extinguished “when we get good rain”.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionFirefighters flee intense flames in Sydney, in a video shared by them to show the dangers of bushfires

Sydney may be blanketed in smoke for weeks, if not months.

Is this fire season particularly bad?

It hasn’t come close to the fatalities of 2009, when nearly 200 people died, but the scale of the damage has been huge.

  • How bad is bushfire smoke for health?
  • Toxic smoke affects golfers at Australian Open

More than 1.6 million hectares of land have burned in New South Wales alone.

The season has hit earlier than normal and has been exacerbated by drought conditions.

RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said: “There is an absolute lack of moisture in the soil, a lack of moisture in the vegetation… you are seeing fires started very easily and they are spreading extremely quickly, and they are burning ridiculously intensely.”

Is climate change to blame?

The BOM says that climate change has led to an increase in extreme heat events and raised the severity of other natural disasters, such as drought.

Last week, the bureau noted that NSW had endured its driest spring season on record. It also warned that Australia’s coming summer was predicted to bring similar conditions to last year’s – the nation’s hottest summer on record.

  • Australia may see 50C days ‘in decades’
  • Climate emergency ‘clear and unequivocal’

The government has been criticised over its efforts to address climate change. PM Scott Morrison has dismissed accusations linking the crisis to his government’s policies.

  • Final call to halt ‘climate catastrophe’
  • What could be wiped out by temperature rise

Hundreds of bushfire survivors and farmers converged on the nation’s capital, Canberra, this week in protest. One woman displayed the charred remains of her home outside Parliament – on which she had written: “Morrison, your climate crisis destroyed my home.”

Image copyright
Dean Sewell/ Greenpeace

Image caption

Melinda Plesman called for the government to take action on climate change

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