AFL 2021: Richmond COVID-19 breach before Port Adelaide loss, Jack Riewoldt


Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt has revealed players at the club were privately worried about getting busted over a COVID-19 protocol breach that went unreported last year.

Riewoldt and teammate Dylan Grimes have spoken of the situation publicly for the first time in a video series on YouTube where it was revealed Richmond’s Adelaide hotel may have exposed the entire team to a biosecurity protocol breach before the team’s loss to Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval in Round 11.

Richmond experienced one of the most turbulent seasons in recent memory with a series of off-field scandals, but it did nothing to stop the club powering to another premiership.

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Round 1

Richmond was last year issued with a series of wrist-slaps by the AFL, including a $100,000 fine for the Gold Coast strip club protocol breaches by Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones.

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Pfizer COVID vaccine approved by TGA, NSW Police to watch 2021 Australia Day celebrations, Victoria records no local COVID-19 cases


However, there are many unknowns –this is a provisional approval, rather than full registration. It remains unclear if the vaccine will have any effect on reducing the transmission of the virus. It also remains unclear what effect the vaccine has on asymptomatic COVID-19, as people in the trial were only tested for COVID-19 if they had symptoms.

It also remains unclear just how long the vaccine will be effective. In monkeys, declining antibody and immune-cell levels over five weeks were noted.

On the basis of the data at hand, the TGA decided to approve the vaccine only for people aged over 16.

For the very frail – people aged over 85 – the TGA recommends nurses and doctors vaccinate on a “case by case basis”, as the potential benefits of the vaccine must be weighed against the risks of exposing a very frail person to the vaccine’s standard flu-like side-effects.

They will also need to decide themselves whether to jab pregnant women, with the TGA saying there is only limited human data to guide advice. The same goes for people with autoimmune disorders or those with compromised immune systems.

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Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine approved for use by TGA in Australia ahead of rollout



The nation’s medical regulator the Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in Australia.

The TGA said following a thorough and independent review of Pfizer’s submission, it was decided the vaccine met the high safety, efficacy and quality standards required.

It is the first COVID-19 jab to be approved for use in Australia.

The approval is on a provisional basis, meaning it is valid for two years.

It allows the vaccine to be supplied in Australia for people aged 16 and older. Two doses will be required at least 21 days apart.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the decision.

“Australians should take confidence in the thorough and careful approach taken by our world-class safety regulator,” he said.

“Our priority has always been to keep Australians safe and protect lives and livelihoods.

“Today’s approval is another big step forward for our community, particularly in the protection of our most vulnerable people.”

COVID-19 vaccine not mandatory

The Government wants to start rolling out the vaccine in February, prioritising groups such as healthcare workers and Australians in aged care homes.

The vaccine will not be mandatory, even for staff in aged care homes.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the TGA “placed safety above all else”.

“The TGA’s processes are, I believe, the best in the world, and we have ensured that they are thorough,” he said.

“This approval and the upcoming rollout of the vaccine will play an important part in our ability to manage the pandemic in 2021.”

The TGA said it would continue to monitor the safety of the Pfizer vaccine both in Australia and overseas and “will not hesitate to take action if safety concerns are identified”.

Australia has purchased 10 million doses of the vaccine.

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Taiwan Tightens COVID-19 Regulations Amid String of Hospital Infections – The Diplomat


China Power | Society | East Asia

Taiwan is working to contain a domestic outbreak and maintain its remarkable success in containing the coronavirus.

People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus go through gates of a metro in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020.

Credit: AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying

Taiwan has reported 12 total cases of COVID-19 linked to a cluster of infections at a northern hospital, leading the country to stiffen some regulations to prevent further community spread.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung announced two new domestically transmitted cases on January 22, both linked to the cluster infection at Taoyuan General Hospital.

Taiwan went over eight months without a locally transmitted case of COVID-19 before a pilot for Taiwan’s EVA Air infected a Taiwanese woman in December. It has reported 12 cases in the hospital cluster since January 12.

On January 19, Taiwan’s government canceled celebrations for the Taiwan Lantern Festival, held annually to celebrate the Lunar New Year. The presidential office has also canceled its Lunar New Year reception, while some city governments have canceled their own lantern festival events.

The Taiwan Railway Administration said it would stop leasing main halls in the country’s train station. It also installed partitions in food court areas and positioned tables further apart.

Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsang said on January 21 that Taoyuan General Hospital had completed a mass evacuation of patients so that hospital buildings could be disinfected by a team of government workers and members of the army’s “chemical warfare” group.

Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center said the next day that all discharged or transferred patients listed as high risk from the hospital must go into quarantine.

The hospital cluster has jolted Taiwan, especially as some of the infections occurred outside the hospital when workers infected their family members.

The country has largely existed in a COVID-free bubble due to a speedy, efficient, and transparent early response, which has led to a high level of trust between government and the population.

The new cluster showed signs of testing this trust. Chen, the health minister, did not initially reveal the location of the cluster, leading to days of speculation among citizens and the media.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Liu Kang-yen on Thursday ripped the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) for “political maneuvering” after KMT magistrates warned against unnecessary travel to Taoyuan, the location of the hospital cluster.

Taoyuan, which is home to around 2.2 million people along with the nation’s primary international airport, has become enveloped in fear of the virus, even as the total case count remains low. “Chemical warfare” army troops have been seen disinfecting the city on a regular basis throughout the week.

KMT spokesperson Chen Wei-chieh said the magistrates were only speaking on behalf of public health and noted Taiwan’s defense ministry has asked military service people to avoid visiting Taoyuan.

Taiwan has reported a total of 881 cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths as of January 22. Only 93 of those cases have been classified as community infections, most of which occurred before April 12, 2020.

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New Zealand records first local COVID-19 case in months; today marks one year since Australia’s first confirmed cases


Israel will close its only major airport for at least a week, authorities said Sunday, effectively sealing itself off from international travel in a bid to vaccinate more of its population before new variants of the coronavirus take hold.

The cabinet agreed Sunday to bar incoming and outgoing international passenger flights at Ben Gurion International Airport from midnight Monday until at least the end of January, unless a parliamentary committee votes to overturn the plan.

Ben Gurion Airport in Israel (note, photo is from pre-pandemic timesCredit:Andrew Burton

The few exceptions will include cargo flights, medical evacuations and “firefighting flights,” according to the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Departures will be banned except for certain extreme cases, including family funerals and legal proceedings, which will require individual approval by health authorities.

A variant of the virus first identified in the United Kingdom, which appears to be significantly more contagious, has been detected in some of Israel’s latest positive cases, according to media reports.

Washington Post

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Push for new laws to tackle COVID-19 misinformation ahead of vaccine rollout


The letter will also be sent to every federal politician. The campaign is being led by responsible technology advocacy group Reset Australia, and has also been backed by the Immunisation Coalition and the Immunisation Foundation of Australia.

Kim Sampson, chief executive of the Immunisation Coalition, which collaborates with state and territory health departments, said vaccine hesitancy was a “real threat to Australia and the world’s ability to return to some semblance of normalcy”.

“Understanding who is being targeted and what kind of lies they’re being fed would help us relieve community concerns and fears,” Mr Sampson said.

Reset Australia executive director Chris Cooper said new laws were necessary because the public did not have any oversight on how the tech companies’ algorithms operated.

“We know that COVID-misinformation is prevalent on these platforms but no one knows the scale of that misinformation. Only the platforms have the bird’s eve view and oversight of what their algorithms are amplifying,” Mr Cooper said.

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The campaign comes as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed on Sunday that the rollout of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Australia remained “on track” to begin in mid-to-late February, despite continued shortages overseas.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, and Google which owns YouTube, both defended their current processes for tackling misinformation.

“This work includes providing a free, publicly available CrowdTangle Live dashboard of trending COVID-19 content across our apps, including in Australia,” a spokeswoman for Facebook said.

Facebook said between March and October of 2020 it had removed 12 million pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram for containing misinformation that may lead to imminent physical harm, such as content relating to fake preventative measures or exaggerated cures.

A Google spokesman said the company had been “working closely with public health authorities and epidemiologists throughout the pandemic and we will continue to do so”.

“In terms of COVID-19 related misinformation on YouTube, we are updating our policies regularly and they now prohibit a range of vaccine related misinformation claims (for example: that vaccines cause death or infertility, that vaccines will include tracking devices),” the spokesman said.

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Force sweat on NSW, QLD COVID-19 cases as Super Rugby AU forges on


That threshold is believed to be a streak of 14 days with five or fewer new cases transmitted within the community.

“The Western Force are monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely, and are in constant contact with Rugby Australia and the police commissioner,” Force head of rugby Matt Hodgson said.

“We have not been advised of any proposed changes to the home-and-away schedule already published.”

RA have several contingency plans in place if the WA border is locked to the Reds and Waratahs and Hodgson said the Force were also prepared for “alternatives”, should the current schedule be thrown out due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

“As you’d expect in the current environment, our preparations include a number of alternatives if a traditional home-and-away season is not achievable,” he said.

“But we’re well into preparation for our first home game against the Brumbies on 19 February, and looking forward to welcoming WA rugby fans back to live Super Rugby AU matches.”

RA are desperate to avoid a situation similar to last season, which left the Rebels on the road for months.

Some Rebels staff who then joined the Wallabies did not see their families in person for almost nine months.

The one element RA have up their sleeve is time.

The Brumbies are due to travel to Perth in round one before the Force enjoy their first bye of the season in round two.

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If the WA border situation is not resolved by the time round three arrives – when the Waratahs will host the Force in Sydney – RA will likely activate a bubble set-up which would permit travel to and from Perth but restrict players and staff from doing anything outside of playing and training.

If that isn’t possible, RA would then look to relocate the worst affected franchise as they did with the Rebels last season.

But RA will push on with Plan A – which involves playing the season as is currently scheduled – until it is impossible to do so.

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COVID-19: Boost for teachers’ vaccine hopes but uncertainty over schools reopening | Politics News


Teachers have a “good shout” to be “very high” on the next priority list for a coronavirus vaccine, the health secretary has told Sky News.

Matt Hancock said discussions are under way about which groups will be prioritised for vaccinations once the elderly and clinically extremely vulnerable have all been inoculated.

So far, more than five million people have had their first dose – with the UK government and devolved administrations aiming to hit 15 million by mid-February.

Live COVID updates from UK and around the world

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Most pupils are learning remotely at the moment

Asked about the second phase of the vaccines rollout, Mr Hancock said: “There is a perfectly reasonable debate to be had about who should go in what order next, where teachers have got a good shout to be very high on that list.”

Only vulnerable pupils and children of key workers are currently able to attend school, and the prospect of classrooms reopening again next month appears remote.

In a blow to parents, Mr Hancock said he wasn’t sure even if schools in England will reopen by Easter.

Asked if he could promise they will, he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “We have got to look at the data, we have got to look at the impact of the vaccination programme.

“The education secretary has said that we will ensure schools get two weeks’ notice of return.

“I don’t know whether it will be then or before then. We have got to watch the data.”

It comes as The Sunday Times reported the government is preparing to rule out children returning to the classroom after the February half-term holiday, with the prospect of home schooling continuing for several months.

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Hancock ‘worried’ about new COVID variants

The paper quoted a government source as saying: “We are in this for the long haul.”

Officials told Sky News it was too early to say when schools would re-open due to the “unpredictable” nature of the pandemic.

However it is understood that pupils are likely to return to the classroom based on the wider strategy in which restrictions are lifted.

More details are expected to be set out in the next two weeks.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We continue to keep plans for the return to school under review and will inform schools, parents and pupils of the plans ahead of February half term.”

They added: “We will continue to work to reopen schools as soon as possible.”

A classroom is set out with socially distanced seating for year 6 pupils but remains empty due to lack of pupils returning in that year group, at Greenacres Primary Academy in Oldham, northern England on June 18, 2020. (Photo by OLI SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Image:
The government said it wants schools back ‘as soon as possible’

The case for teachers and other professions who may be more at-risk of catching COVID-19 getting vaccinated sooner was also boosted in comments by Prof Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

He said one key piece of information scientists don’t know yet is how much the jabs stop someone passing on coronavirus.

“If studies do show they prevent transmission, it could be a whole new board game in terms of who you vaccinate and in what order,” Prof Harnden explained.

“But at the moment our clear focus is trying to prevent hospitalisations and deaths.”

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Sen. Hawley, Rep. Stefanik call for int’l probe into Chinese Communist Party’s involvement in COVID-19 cover up


WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 22: Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO). (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 6:45 PM PT – Saturday, January 23, 2021

Several GOP lawmakers urge the Biden administration to hold China accountable for covering-up the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) announced they will re-introduce a bill to launch an international investigation.

The probe will focus on the Chinese Communist Party’s role in covering up the pandemic and it will be spearheaded by American health experts.

Hawley believes the WHO is a pawn for the Chinese Communist Party, rendering them incompetent to conduct an effective investigation. This is a sentiment shared by the Trump administration, which prompted their withdrawal from the WHO.

“China and the World Health Organization did not play straight with the American people,” Vice President Mike Pence stated. “They did not let our personnel into China to get information on the coronavirus until the middle of February. Fortunately, President Trump, in dealing with China from the outset of this administration, standing up to China that had been taking advantage of America for decades in the wake of Joe Biden’s cheerleading for China.”

Stefanik stressed it’s imperative for America to take the lead and find out why the WHO promoted Chinese misinformation. She highlighted the pandemic’s devastating human toll by citing the more than 400,000 American lives lost.

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 05: U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY). (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Stefanik demands that the Biden administration fight for American interests as well as stand up to the WHO and China. Additionally, she condemned Biden’s early action to rejoin the WHO before pushing for reforms fought for by President Trump.

“The Chinese government and the World Health Organization, which is virtually controlled by China, falsely declared that there was no evidence of human to human transmission,” President Trump said. “Later, they falsely said people without symptoms would not spread the disease.”

In the meantime, both lawmakers will bring forward a resolution originally brought to the Senate back in March 2020. Hawley and Stefanik urge the international community to find a way for China to compensate all affected nations.

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Richmond COVID-19 breach before Port Adelaide loss, Jack Riewoldt


Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt has revealed players at the club were privately worried about getting busted over a COVID-19 protocol breach that went unreported last year.

Riewoldt and teammate Dylan Grimes have spoken of the situation publicly for the first time in a video series on YouTube where it was revealed Richmond’s Adelaide hotel may have exposed the entire team to a biosecurity protocol breach before the team’s loss to Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval in Round 11.

Richmond experienced one of the most turbulent seasons in recent memory with a series of off-field scandals, but it did nothing to stop the club powering to another premiership.

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Richmond was last year issued with a series of wrist-slaps by the AFL, including a $100,000 fine for the Gold Coast strip club protocol breaches by Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones.

Richmond were also busted when the wife of Trent Cotchin, Brooke Cotchin, broke the strict COVID-19 protocols by attending a beauty spa on the Gold Coast.

The list of breaches may have been even longer than first thought after Riewoldt’s surprising YouTube admission — which suggested the Tigers may have unwittingly broke the rules again just two weeks later when their hotel welcomed homeless visitors to stay at the same accommodation as part of the South Australian government’s emergency accommodation COVID-19 program.

“It (hotel) felt like a hospital which had been abandoned. It was really old and it was like, ‘This is weird’,” Grimes said.

“We came down from a meeting or a team walk or something and the hotel lobby was filled with homeless people.

“In Adelaide, if it gets above or below a certain temperature the hotel opens up as a homeless shelter.

“I don’t know how this never got out and the AFL have done an amazing job of covering this up (because) at this stage we were wearing masks coming out of the airport, to the airport, to the bus.

“We weren’t allowed to come into contact with anyone, but next thing you know we were crammed like sardines into a lift.

“We were like ‘How does this happen?’.

“We were so sterile for so long and now we are staying in a homeless shelter right before a game.”

He said the club was expecting the situation to play out as another headline-making drama – but nothing eventuated.

“We had just been done for the Brooke Cotchin thing, there was something else, and they (AFL) were all over us,” Grimes said.

“I was like ‘The AFL are going to cop it for this. Sit back and wait and watch the media roll in (because) Richmond was staying in a homeless shelter’ but crickets, (there was) nothing (about it).”

The Tigers have continued to make headlines off the field during their summer break with coach Damien Hardwick’s separation from his wife, Danielle.

Hardwick’s new relationship with an employee of the club was confirmed last month after reports the marriage breakdown “rocked staff within the club”.

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