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When will it end

Good morning! The infamous TikTok comedian John-Bernard Kairouz – who had on five consecutive days predicted the forthcoming case numbers in NSW – has finally been exposed, after NSW Health leaked his source phony numbers the night before.

What we would like to know why it takes until 11:00am the following day to announce the figures when they're clearly available by 8:30pm on the day. So much for a state "committed to the open government principles of transparency". 🤔

Unfortunately Victoria did make an early announcement yesterday – that its ongoing lockdown will be extended, although no details on the duration will be provided until later this morning...


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Note: Brent oil, gold bullion and iron ore prices are the second futures contract.

There was carnage on Wall Street overnight, with the S&P500 falling 1.59% – its worst day in 2021 – as investors flooded into bonds (10Y yield down to 1.177%), worried about a slower economic recovery due to rising COVID-19 cases and rising inflation. Locally, the ASX200 fell 0.85% in-line with the decline on Wall Street on Friday and weakness in Asia.

Cartel agreement: Brent crude prices fell 6.5% on fears about the recovery and because the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia – together, OPEC+ – agreed to boost oil output from August. The deal was struck after the cartel conceded to the UAE, with higher output quotas for several members to commence from May 2022, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kuwait and Iraq.

Inflation watch: A report released by CoreLogic showed that rents in the June quarter rose at 6.6% per annum across Australia, the fastest annual rate since January 2009. According to CoreLogic, the rise is due to "increased government stimulus through COVID-19, accumulated household savings through lockdown periods, the swift economic recovery seen as restrictions eased, and a lack of rental supply in some markets".

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When will it end

Greater Sydney's lockdown – now into its fourth week – will only ease when the number of cases active in the community drop to whatever is deemed an 'acceptable' level. Yesterday NSW reported 98 local cases of the Delta variant, with 20 of them still active in the community before they tested positive (see the red bars in the chart below).

Chart showing the number of NSW cases and whether they have been in the community.
The red bars are the ones to keep an eye on. NSW Health/The Guardian

Why this matters: So far five lives have been lost in this outbreak, the most recent of which was a woman in her 50s in Sydney's south-west. Economists last week estimated that the economic damage of Sydney's lockdown would run $A700 million a week, but that was before the 250,000-person strong construction sector was ordered to stand down, which could double the cost.

Looking forward: NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday implied that the state's lockdown will not end until almost all new cases are already in isolation (the orange bars above). Referring to the 20 cases that had been active in the community, Berejiklian said [emphasis ours]:

"We need to get ahead of that number in order to reduce the cases in the community and the closer we get that number to zero, the sooner we can end the lockdown."

Berejiklian also offered up a new, more distant target in terms of when lockdowns will be over for good: "until at least the end of October". That's the point at which Berejiklian expects "vaccination rates [will get to] at a level that will protect the community", which she has previously said was 80% of adults.

Thankfully close to 1 million Pfizer doses landed in Australia yesterday, with the same expected every week through to the end of August before deliveries increase again, in-line with the federal government's 'Vaccination Horizons'. While the end of October is an ambitious target, it is technically possible.

The Wrap Up

  • 🙌 Less than 24 hours after the UK's 'Freedom Day' began, new restrictions have been announced, with proof of full vaccination required to enter nightclubs and other venues with large crowds from the end of September.
  • ✈️ Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk arrived in Tokyo yesterday to lobby for Brisbane's 2032 Olympics bid despite a 130,000+ petition to deny her an exemption to leave.
  • 👎 ScoMo's approval rating fell to 51% over the last three weeks, "the lowest level since he faced criticism early last year over his response to devastating bushfires".
  • ❌ Australian border officials cancelled the visa of "far-right" British commentator Katie Hopkins after she bragged about flouting hotel quarantine rules on social media.
  • 🎻 Victoria released its own COVID-19 vaccination advert, featuring the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Certainly an improvement on the Commonwealth's attempt.
  • 🏅 Major sponsor Toyota will not air Tokyo Olympics-related TV commercials and CEO Akio Toyoda will skip the opening ceremony. 3 days to go...
  • 🤭 Speaking of the Olympics, have you seen the 'anti-sex' cardboard beds with plastic mattresses in the athletes' village? Yeah, that'll stop 'em. An Irishman has already put it to the test.
  • 🥞 Malaysian authorities quite literally steamrolled 1,069 Bitcoin machines from miners alleged to have stolen the electricity needed to power them.
  • 🕵️ 20% of Americans believe the government is microchipping people with COVID-19 vaccines.