Australia news live: Sydney and Melbourne on alert over Covid cases as Australian Open begins

By Josh Taylor (now) and Matilda Boseley (earlier)















Peter Greste from the Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom (AJF) has called for the immediate release of Australian journalist Cheng Lei.

The Australian government says Chinese authorities on Friday revealed they’d formally arrested Cheng “on suspicion of illegally supplying state secrets overseas”.

The development comes about six months after Cheng – an anchor for the Chinese state-owned English-language news channel China Global Television Network – was first detained.

Australian journalist Cheng Lei

Australian journalist Cheng Lei has been formally arrested in China and accused of supplying state secrets. Photograph: Australia's Department of Foreig/AFP/Getty Images

In a statement, Greste said Chinese authorities had already had ample time to gather evidence and unless they were willing to show it, they should release Cheng immediately.

Greste, an Australian journalist who spent about 400 days detained in Egypt over his reporting for Al Jazeera, said:

“China’s record on press freedom is already deeply troubling. In the absence of evidence, Cheng’s arrest only adds to the impression that Beijing does not care about the freedom of the press. Her case stands as a clear warning to other journalists to support the government or risk being imprisoned too.”

For more on this development in the Cheng Lei case, see our news wrap:







NSW Health is exploring the possibility of transmission within Sydney’s Sofitel Wentworth quarantine hotel as part of an “extensive investigation” over a returned traveller who tested positive to Covid-19 two days after a fortnight in hotel quarantine.

The new day-16 testing measure introduced in New South Wales successfully detected coronavirus in the returned traveller, who tested positive in Wollongong on Sunday.

A NSW Health statement on Monday morning said “the person did not have any symptoms but underwent testing as part of the recently enhanced day-16 follow-up”.

“Test results indicate that the person has a low level of infection and their household contacts have returned negative results to date.”

Later on Monday, NSW Health released a statement revealing that several returned overseas travellers in the Sofitel Wentworth hotel tested positive for Covid-19 while the Wollongong returned traveller was quarantining there, and that possible transmission within the hotel was being investigated.

This contradicted NSW Health’s initial assumption that the returned traveller had contracted Covid-19 overseas.

“All returned travellers who stayed on the same floor in the Sofitel Wentworth during this time are being contacted by NSW Health contact tracers and requested to be tested if they have not already been tested, as part of the day-16 testing program,” the statement said.

The traveller entered hotel quarantine on January 19 after arriving from South America, and left quarantine on 2 February.

NSW Health called him last Thursday to encourage a day-16 test. He agreed to take a test on Friday despite not having symptoms. A positive result was returned on Saturday, and a follow-up test confirmed the positive result on Sunday.

The person visited several locations in the Wollongong region, including Headlands Hotel in Austinmer, Bulli Beach Cafe in Bulli, and Officeworks in Fairy Meadow.

In NSW, returned travellers now receive a phone call two days after exiting hotel quarantine, strongly encouraging them to arrange an appointment at their local testing clinic.

The test is not mandatory and if a returned traveller has no symptoms and agrees to the test they do not have to isolate while waiting for results.