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Concern over new Sydney cluster as Australia virus cases surge

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Sydney residents were warned Monday to put the brakes on partying as a new coronavirus cluster emerged at a city pub on the heels of a major outbreak in Melbourne.

Three pubs in Sydney and its surrounds were closed after being linked to outbreaks or failing to comply with social distancing requirements, while other events were under investigation with Australia on edge over a resurgence of the virus.

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The new cluster emerged after Melbourne entered a six-week lockdown on Thursday, and surrounding Victoria state was sealed off from the rest of the country in an effort to contain the virus.

Authorities reported 177 new infections in and around Melbourne Monday, marking a week of triple-digit increases.

New South Wales police assistant commissioner Tony Cooke on Monday slammed the “moronic behavior of people at dance parties”, after local media published footage of large private get-togethers in Sydney’s wealthy eastern suburbs.

City residents are allowed a maximum of 20 visitors to their homes under restrictions which have been gradually eased in recent weeks as the number of infections dwindled.

At least 21 infections have now been linked to a growing cluster at Sydney’s Crossroads Hotel — a popular drinking spot on a major traffic route — raising concern the virus could be spreading in the state.

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– Stepped-up penalties –

A dozen military personnel who visited the pub while poised to deploy on an anti-virus mission were on Monday in isolation at an army base in rural New South Wales.

The state’s police minister David Elliott warned that if the situation was not brought under control, pubs could be closed again.

“If we have to close hotels and clubs again, the patrons will have to take some of the ownership of that,” he told a press conference Monday.

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“I will, however, work to my dying breath to make sure that that doesn’t happen.”

Police have stepped up penalties for breaching coronavirus restrictions in recent days, with almost Aus$220,000 ($153,000) in fines handed out across Melbourne in the past 24 hours.

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On Friday, a group whose house party was exposed by their large KFC order was fined Aus$26,000 while six people from Victoria who tried to cross Queensland’s border illegally were each fined Aus$4,000 the following night.

Australia has recorded just under 10,000 coronavirus cases and 108 fatalities.

Most states and regions have reported few or no new daily cases of the disease in recent weeks, allowing much of the country to ease restrictions on movement and gatherings.

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‘That’s not true’: CNN host disputes ex-Trump adviser who says ‘typical’ family won’t work because of $600 checks

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Former White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett claimed on Tuesday that a "typical median family" is being paid $90,000 to stay home during the pandemic if they are receiving the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefits.

In an interview on CNN, host Poppy Harlow challenged the former Trump adviser when he downplayed the urgency of extending the unemployment benefits.

"You and I don't rely on $600 a week to pay our rent or feed our family," Harlow explained. "That's not our situation. But for millions of Americans, it is. And they stopped getting those checks on Friday and that's why I don't think it's too far to say that it's a failure [of government]."

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The loneliness of social isolation can affect your brain and raise dementia risk in older adults

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Physical pain is unpleasant, yet it’s vital for survival because it’s a warning that your body is in danger. It tells you to take your hand off a hot burner or to see a doctor about discomfort in your chest. Pain reminds us all that we need to take care of ourselves.

Feeling lonely is the social equivalent to feeling physical pain. It even triggers the same pathways in the brain that are involved in processing emotional responses to physical pain.

Just like feeling physical pain, feeling lonely and disconnected from others is also a signal that we need to take care of ourselves by seeking the safety and comfort of companionship. But what happens when we are unable to find companionship and the loneliness persists?

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‘Would be comical if it didn’t involve real lives’: Trump interview spotlights deadly failure of his COVID-19 response

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"If you wrote this as grotesque farce" for a movie script, wrote actor and progressive activist John Cusack, "no one would believe it."

In an interview with Jonathan Swan of Axios that aired late Monday, President Donald Trump sputtered, declared "You can't do that," and continued trying to downplay the massive and rising coronavirus death toll when confronted with the fact the U.S. has a higher mortality rate by percentage of population than major countries like South Korea and Germany.

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