NSW floods: Warning issued on risk of water-borne disease as recovery process begins

With no major rain forecast for at least a week, the huge task of cleaning up can begin.

New South Wales Health is warning residents to be aware of the risk of contamination and the water-borne diseases during the clean up. 

“Many parts of NSW have been badly affected by flooding and some people are beginning to return home,” Dr Adi Vyas, acting director of environmental health at NSW Health, said. 

“Though this will be a distressing and difficult experience, we want to remind people of the need to be safe when cleaning up their home to protect their health.

“Floodwater can be extremely polluted and contaminated with sewage and chemicals. Contact can lead to skin and stomach infections and other rare, but serious conditions, such as leptospirosis.”

More than a dozen evacuation orders remain, and about 60,000 people are on standby to evacuate, with major flood warnings still in place for the Macintyre, Gwydir, Clarence, Hawkesbury, Nepean and Colo rivers.

Some of the 20,000 people forced to leave in NSW have been cleared to return home.

‘No one has ever seen it this bad’: NSW residents shocked by extent of flood damage

The SES issued an all-clear notice for parts of Greystanes in Sydney’s west, and the Kempsey CBD and nearby areas.

Hydrologist Victoria Dodds said flood warnings would likely remain in force across the state, particularly in inland areas, for the days and weeks ahead.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian pleaded with people to stay out of floodwaters after two drivers died trapped in their cars.

A man died in Glenorie in northwest Sydney on Wednesday and the body of another man was found submerged in a ute in Queensland’s southeast.

“You may have heard your local river has peaked or that the worst of the rising waters may have may have ceased (but) the currents underneath the surface are very strong and the flows are doing things that they don’t normally do,” she said.

There have been 11,000 calls for help to the NSW State Emergency Service, and 950 flood rescues.

Fire and Rescue NSW have also rescued three people who were swallowed by a sinkhole near the Mehi River in Moree, where major flooding is occurring.

There is still significant flooding along a number of rivers, but the focus has turned to the northern rivers region, particularly Grafton, Maclean and Ulmarra.

Those in low-lying areas of Ulmarra, Bushgrove and Cowper were ordered to leave on Wednesday afternoon.

Major flooding is also occurring along the Hawkesbury River and authorities say it’s likely to continue in North Richmond and Windsor until the end of the week.

Moree in the northwest, the Upper Hunter around Singleton and parts of the Central Coast are still of concern.

Eighty-nine schools remain closed across the state.

Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said while tens of thousands of customers have had their electricity restored, about 3600 customers were still without power.

Access to flood areas remains difficult, with some cables still submerged.

Defence and emergency service personnel are flying in essential supplies to isolated communities, particularly North Richmond.

ADF members have already been embedded in emergency operations centres in areas of concern, and are part of teams assisting with damage assessments.

The defence force’s role will be stepped up to a force of about 700, with troops brought in from northern NSW and Newcastle.

“As soon as the all clear has been given, we’ll assist with those SES-lead teams in assisting with the clean up,” ADF Brigadier Mick Garraway said.

Resilience NSW Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the clean-up would be dirty, emotional work for the communities, many of which were hit by drought and bushfire before the floods.

“When you think about the last 18 months to two years … our hearts break for these people,” he told Nine’s Today Show.

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Eight-year-old Monty lives with a rare disease. Here’s what his family want you to know

Monty Hui has long dreamed about swimming in his school swimming carnival.  


But for an eight-year-old boy living with pontocerebellar hypoplasia, a rare disease that affects the development of the brain, it was no easy task.  


“He had to have speech therapy to learn to close his mouth and to blow bubbles,” his mother Jess Hui told SBS News. “That was before he even went in the pool. But he was so committed to that goal.”  


Monty recently achieved this goal, and says next year he hopes to swim again without a noodle.  


For Ms Hui and her husband, Danny, the uncertainty of having a child living with a rare disease wasn’t eased by the diagnosis.  


“It was a scary time. At the time they were trying to rule out a lot of things that it might be. Even having a diagnosis of pontocerebellar hypoplasia – it helped in some ways to have a name for it, but that uncertainty of what will come next,” Ms Hui said.  


The Hui family.

SBS News


Approximately eight per cent of Australians live with a rare disease – around two million people in the country.  


But they can often go misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, and are unable to get treatment due to a lack of awareness about the conditions.  


This Rare Disease Day, Nicole Millis CEO of Rare Voices Australia, an advocacy group, is calling for more awareness among governments, policy makers and the broader community.  


“Our health system isn’t geared for rare diseases,” she told SBS News. “It works really well for diseases that are common. But for rare diseases it can be quite tricky and overwhelming.”


“I think one of the hardest things about rare disease is you are constantly living with uncertainty. Often when you are diagnosed you haven’t heard of it, and your doctors haven’t heard of it as well.


“It’s really quite overwhelming. You don’t know who to go and see, you don’t know what to do.”



Ms Millis, who herself is a parent of a child with a rare disease, says finding and building a sense of community among those with rare diseases is a hugely important step.  


“It’s common for people to go years and years without a diagnosis. It’s really important to get a diagnosis. It’s important to get treatment, but also so you can connect with other people who have similar or the same disease to get a sense of community, because living with a rare disease can be really isolating,” she said.  


There are around 7,000 different diseases commonly called rare diseases. Ms Millis says while the symptoms often vary greatly, many of the experiences of those living with rare diseases – such as misdiagnosis and having to explain your condition all the time – are the same.  


“When you live with a rare disease you are learning all the time, but also educating others all the time,” she said.  



Associate Professor Kim Hemsley is a research scientist at Flinders University looking at Sanfilippo syndrome, a rare genetic condition that causes fatal brain damage and is a type of childhood dementia.  


Professor Hemsley said while the condition is rare childhood dementia affects around one in 2,800 babies. Those with Sanfilippo syndrome, which is currently untreatable, rarely live to adulthood.  


“Given the devastating nature of the disorders, it’s absolutely imperative that the research on these conditions is better funded and there is greater awareness of the impact of rare conditions on families and society,” she said.


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White spot prawn disease now endemic to wild populations in Queensland’s Moreton Bay region

Authorities had previously been trying to eradicate the disease but will instead move to contain and control it.

Agriculture Minister Mark Furner told ABC Radio Brisbane the Aquatic Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Disease had declared the disease as “established in the wild”.

The new classification means efforts will no longer be focused on eradicating the virus but instead on containing and controlling it within the movement restricted zone.

Areas of Moreton Bay stretching from Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, to the New South Wales border and west to Ipswich, have been declared as “containment zones”.

“Anywhere in the world where there is white spot, there has been no cases where there’s been an ability to eradicate it,” Mr Furner said.

“The best thing we can do and my department, Biosecurity Queensland, does extremely well is containment.”

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Former Clinton advisor warns of totalitarian USA: Constitution does not say it can be suspended for ‘bad disease’

by WorldTribune Staff, February 23, 2021 Coronavirus rules imposed by tyrannical officials are advancing totalitarianism in the United States, said a prominent feminist author and former adviser to Bill Clinton. “We’re really moving into a coup situation. That transcends everything you and I might agree or disagree on,” Naomi Wolf told Fox News host Tucker […]

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In WWII Soviet Forces Lost Estimated 7.5 Million to Combat, Accidents and Disease

Note: With the upcoming 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War just around the corner we are publishing more material related to that epic conflict that is so important to Russian collective memory.

Comprehending the massive human and material losses suffered by Russians and other peoples of the Soviet Union is crucial to understanding why this is so.

This article is the third chapter of a research paper from the pen of RI deputy editor and contributor Marko Marjanović. Other chapters are to follow in the coming days. Here are the links to the first chapter and second chapter.

Soviet Regulars

G.F. Krivosheev has established that Soviet records indicate the Red Army and the NKVD sustained 8.67 million irrecoverable demographic losses in the Soviet-German War. This is probably the most widely cited figure for Soviet military losses in WWII particularly in Russia, but also in the West. It is the case, however, this figure is not actually synonymous with deaths among Soviet military persons.

First of all Krivosheev himself points out his estimate refers only to losses from listed strength. They do not include losses among 500,000 reservists who were called to service in the first days of the war, but were captured by the enemy before they could be integrated into their units and by and large perished in Wehrmacht’s POW camps in 1941-42.[18]

Even more importantly Krivosheev’s figures permit just 1.1 million deaths from listed strength to have taken place in German POW camps. He estimates the Red Army and the NKVD lost 4,059,000 men from listed strength captured. Of these he maintains 1,836,000 were repatriated after the war and 939,700 were re-taken on strength before the end of the war and nearly 180,000 managed to avoid repatriation and emigrate.[19] This leaves a difference of 1,103,000 who perished in German custody.

German historiography, however, has established that a far greater number of Soviet POW died in such circumstances. The lowest figure given is at least 2.5 million, with usually figures above 3 million being cited. It is the case that numerous reservists en route to their units, militiamen and members of various Soviet paramilitary formations, as well as simple civilians of fighting age were captured as prisoners of war and left to starve to death in German camps, however, the great majority must have been Red Army regulars, meaning there must have been far more than 1.1 million of them.

Krivosheev’s figures can not be reconciled with what we know about the occurrence of death among Soviet prisoners of war. His total of 8.7 million irrecoverable losses (or 8.5 million deaths after accounting for losses due to prisoners of war who avoided repatriation after the war) is therefore almost certainly a sizeable underestimate.

Krivosheyev’s research, however, is nonetheless the best starting point in determining the extent of deaths among Soviet regulars due to causes not connected to mortality in German POW camps. According to their records the Red Army and the NKVD sustained 5227 thousand killed in action, 1103 thousand died of wounds, 270 thousand died of disease and frostbite, 155 thousand died of other causes, mainly accidents.[20]

Additionally of the 3396 thousand Red Army regulars reported missing in action and 1162 thousand unreported losses from units in encirclement Krivosheyev estimates that 4059 thousand entered captivity, but the other 500 thousand fell in combat.[21] In sum there were some 7.25 million deaths of Soviet regulars due to combat, accidents and disease.

The figure for combat deaths in reality includes a small number of Soviet soldier who were shot by their officers for refusing to carry out orders without procedure in the heat of battle and a greater number of Soviet soldiers executed by German combat troops immediately upon capture. From the onset of the German invasion of the Soviet Union the Germans treated any Red Army soldiers who in the course of a retreat found themselves behind their lines as franc-tierurs and especially targeted female soldiers and political officers for execution. Occasionally they massacred captured soldiers deemed to have put up too much of a fight prior to capture.

Soviet Irregulars

Most Soviet citizens who fought in the Soviet-German War fought as regulars in the units of the Red Army or the NKVD. Many others, however, ended up fighting and dying in the various auxiliary and irregular forces. These included local anti-aircraft defense units, the paramilitary formations of policeman and railwaymen and the istrebitel’nyi militia. By far the biggest of such organizations, however, were the opolchenie militia and the Soviet partisans. Deaths in the ranks of these two forces made a significant portion of deaths among Soviet combatants as a whole. 

It is without a doubt the case that Soviet partisan guerrillas in fighting the much better euqipped, provisioned and positioned enemy troops took much greater casualties than they inflicted themselves. Thus the Swiss historian Christian Gerlacht has established on the basis of German records that major German anti-partisan operations on the territory of Belarus cost the occupier the lives of 1,500 German and auxiliary troops but killed some 9,500 Soviet partisans. Altogether Gerlach estimates the Germans suffered between 6,000 and 7,000 dead against the partisans in Belarus. Gerlacht also accepts as reliable the work of Pjotr Kalinin according to whom the partisan formations in Belarus reported the loss of 37,800 dead and missing.[22]

The British military historian Matthew Cooper estimated that across the entire USSR some 15 to 20 thousand German troops were killed fighting the Soviet partisans.[23] Presuming the basic ratio of German to partisan losses of 1:6 that may be gleaned from some of the indices relating to the partisan war in Belarus this would imply the Soviet partisans suffered some 100 thousand combat deaths in turn. Accounting for deaths from disease and deprivation and unreported deaths the partisan dead may be in the ballpark of 150,000.

In 1941-42 about two million men, who were mainly volunteers from the Soviet urban centers, served in the battalions and divisions of the opolchenie militia. These units were hastily assembled directly by the Communist Party apparatus rather than the military and were normally terribly under-equipped. When employed on the front they often suffered grievous losses with numerous captured and killed. Several of people’s militia divisions suffered annihilation or near-annihilation, particularly in the Vyazma cauldron, as well as did numerous opolchenie battalions in the Kiev encirclement.

Total opolchenie losses may number in the low hundreds of thousands, however, a very high portion of its losses came in enemy encirclement operations. This means a very high percent of its losses was in terms of captured rather than dead. The casualty reports of the regular army themselves indicate that in 1941 it lost three or four captured for every soldier killed. Opolchenie then likely primarily died in German POW camps rather than in combat, with the front perhaps directly claiming the lives of some 100,000.

Non-Soviet Forces 

Many other Soviet citizens fought and died from 1941 through the end of 1945, but not as part of Soviet forces. The most numerically significant of these were the deaths among Soviet citizens in German service. They include a relatively small number of members of the Polish and Lithuanian nationalist resistance, a comparatively tiny number of anti-Soviet partisans in Estonia and Latvia, as well as a large number of UPA fighters in Western Ukraine.

During the war up to one million Soviet citizens entered into German service. They served in the Waffen-SS, the Wehrmacht and the Auxiliary Police. For many the motivating factor was local nationalism from which stemmed a principled opposition to rule from Moscow. For many others it was a matter of basic survival. Entering into German service meant escape from starvation rations, access to sometime badly-needed medical care, or a shot at winning the release of a relative in German captivity. For numerous people carrying a rifle for the Germans was not a matter of politics, but the difference between life and death of disease or malnutrition in captivity or under the occupation. In any case Krivosheev estimates some 215,000 Soviet citizens in German service lost their lives in battles against Soviet forces.[24] A much smaller number would have also fell in other theaters, in Italy and France against the Western Allies and in the Balkans against the Yugoslav partisans. 

The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) was organized by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and became active in early 1943. Under the German occupation it mainly fought the Soviet partisans, albeit between August and December 1943 it also took on the Germans. When it moved to expell ethnic Poles from Volhynia and Galicia it clashed heavily and bitterly with the Polish Home Army. After the Soviets reoccupied Western Ukraine it resisted Soviet rule battling the Red Army, the NKVD, police and the government-sponsored Istrebitel’nye militia into late 1940s and early 1950s.

Unlike the UPA the Polish Home Army (AK) was active against the Germans from the start. However, until 1944 it fielded fewer than 7,000 active fighters across the entire pre-war Poland. For the most part it did not seek battle against the Soviet partisans who were instructed by Moscow to do the same and the engagements between the two were limited. The Polish government in exile in November 1944 instructed the Home Army to cease any operations against the Soviets and in January 1945 the movement was formally disbanded by its leadership. Though many Polish fighters disregarded these instructions this nonetheless meant that Polish nationalist resistance after Soviet reoccupation was limited.

The Lithuanian nationalists did not offer armed resistance against the German occupation, but organized a number of guerrilla formations to combat the Soviets. 

Soviet reports indicate the various Ukrainian, Lithuanian and Polish anti-Soviet guerrillas suffered nearly 120,000 deaths in 1944-1945, the great majority of them UPA members in Western Ukraine, but including 12,000 in Lithuania. This figure is almost certainly greatly inflated, since the same reports indicate only 6,000 deaths among the Soviet NKVD, police, militia and army members, which would give a fantastic casualty ratio of 20:1.[25] If the 120,000 figure for the losses of anti-Soviet guerrillas is halved this produces a more plausible death ratio of 10:1. 

The Ukrainian Insurgent Army may have lost some 60,000 members from 1943 through 1945, the majority of them after Soviet reoccupation, but with some 10,000 during the German occupation. Perhaps some 10,000 Soviet citizens lost their lives in the ranks of the Polish Home Army, the majority of them under the German occupation, with a few thousand at most in the Polish anti-Soviet struggle after the Soviet reconquest. By the end of 1945 some 5,000 Lithuanians fell in the Lithuanian nationalist anti-Soviet struggle.


In all about 7.5 million fighters for the Soviet side died due to combat, accidents and disease (as opposed to dying in German captivity or being executed by the Soviet military authorities), of whom 7.25 million were regular soldiers and 250 thousand were militiamen and partisans. Some 290,000 Soviet citizens simultaneously lost their lives as part of various non-Soviet fighting forces, including 215 thousand in German service and the rest as part of Ukrainian Insurgent Army, the Polish Home Army and the Lithuanian anti-Soviet resistance.

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Red Army dead in combat6,825,000
Red Army dead due to disease270,000
Red Army dead due to accidents155,000
Total Red Army dead due to combat, accidents and disease7,250,000
Soviet partisan deaths150,000
Opolchenie militia deaths100,000
Total frontline deaths among Soviet forces (that is excluding POW and court martialed)7,500,000
Soviet citizens killed fighting in German service215,000
Soviet citizens killed as part of Ukrainian Insurgent Army60,000
Soviet citizens killed as part of the Polish Home Army10,000
Soviet citizens killed as part of Lithuanian anti-Soviet resistance5,000
Total Soviet citizens who died as fighters for non-Soviet formations290,000
Total Soviet ciziens who died under arms7,800,000

18. G. F. Krivosheev, ed., Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century (Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books 1997): 236. 

19. G. F. Krivosheev, “Nekotorye novye dannye analiza sil i poter’ na sovetsko-germanskom fronte”, Mir Istorii, no.1 (1999).

20. Krivosheev, Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century, 85.

21. Ibid., 236

22. Christian Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde: Die deutsche Wirtschafts-und Vernichtungspolitik in Weissrussland 1941 bis 1944 (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 1999). 

23. Matthew Cooper, The Phantom War: The German struggle against Soviet partisans 1941-1944 (London: Macdonald and Jane’s Publishers Limited, 1979).

24. Krivosheev, Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century, 278.

25. Alexander Statiev, The Soviet Counterinsurgency in the Western Borderland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010) 110, Table 4.4, 125, Table 4.10.

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What’s behind racial disparities in kidney disease?

My first exposure to kidney disease and its impact on communities of color occurred when I was in high school. An elderly neighbor, who was like a grandfather to me, had been diagnosed with kidney failure. At about the same time, my older first cousin, who had children about my age, was starting dialysis due to kidney failure attributed to hypertension. She would go on to get a kidney transplant. If you ask any African American, he or she is likely to have at least one relative with kidney disease requiring dialysis or transplantation.

Disparities in kidney disease not noted in medical literature until early 1980s

When I began my training in nephrology (kidney disease) in 1993 in Birmingham, Alabama, it was already apparent to me that people of African descent were much more likely to suffer from kidney disease than people of European descent. The dialysis units in Birmingham were filled with black and brown people of all ages, and sometimes multiple family members. In one of the dialysis units, my patients included an African American grandfather and grandson, an African American mother and daughter, and two African American sisters.

Nephrologists had noted anecdotally the striking disparities in rates of kidney disease in African Americans relative to white patients, but it was not widely reported in the medical literature until 1982, when a report titled “Racial Differences in the Incidence of Treatment for End-Stage Renal Disease” was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The authors found that in Jefferson County, Alabama, the risk of end-stage renal disease due to hypertension was approximately 18 times greater for African Americans relative to whites.

Underlying conditions do not adequately explain disparities

The explanations for the higher rates of kidney disease in African Americans have generally fallen into two broad categories: higher rates of diseases such as diabetes and hypertension that lead to kidney disease; and poorer access to insurance and medical care, leading to delayed diagnosis and faster progression of kidney disease. Therefore, efforts to reduce the rates of kidney disease in African Americans typically focused on diagnosing and treating diabetes and hypertension.

Despite these efforts, the disparities have persisted. The most recent report from the United States Renal Data Service shows an end-stage renal disease prevalence of 5,855 cases per million for African Americans, compared to 1,704 cases per million for white Americans.

Genetics and biology play only minor role in excess risk

A game-changer in terms of understanding some of the excess risk for kidney disease in African Americans relative to other racial and ethnic groups came in 2010, with the publication of reports showing that variants in the APOL1 gene could confer additional risk. Inheriting two copies of the APOL1 risk alleles carries a significantly higher risk of kidney disease. HIV-positive African Americans with two copies of the risk allele are essentially the only people who develop kidney disease associated with HIV infection. African Americans who develop COVID-19 and carry two of these risk alleles also appear to be at higher risk of acute kidney injury related to the coronavirus infection.

Just as the sickle cell gene carried evolutionary benefits in the form of protection against malaria, the APOL1 risk alleles conferred protection against the parasite that causes African sleeping sickness.

Social determinants of health, race, and racism are key to health disparities in African Americans

While we now understand more about the genetics and biology of kidney disease in African Americans, they play a relatively minor role in their excess risk. Social determinants of health, race, and racism are equally — if not more — important in explaining the excess risk of kidney disease in African Americans relative to white Americans.

Kidney disease is not unique in having a clear difference among ethnic groups with respect to risks and outcomes. The same can be said for many chronic diseases including diabetes, heart failure, peripheral arterial disease, asthma, and cancer, as well as for pregnancy. Maternal and fetal outcomes are known to be worse for African American women and infants compared to their white counterparts, even after accounting for education and income.

These disparate health outcomes are indelibly linked to decades of social and economic injustice rooted in racism, the legacy of Jim Crow segregation laws, unfair housing laws, the redlining of communities of color, separate and unequal education systems, environmental racism, an unfair criminal justice system — and the list goes on.

In her presentation for Harvard Medical School’s webinar series, “Addressing Health Disparities: Clinical Insights on Race and Social Justice,” the Reverend Traci Blackmon, a former nurse and nationally known social justice advocate, described divides found in major cities across the United States, in which African Americans live in neighborhoods that are food deserts with depressed home values, few jobs, and inferior schools. These divides result from governmental policies and societal choices. In order to move the needle on disparities in kidney disease outcomes, it is not enough solely to understand the genetics and the biology of the condition. The societal and institutional barriers that have been erected to benefit one group of individuals over another must be torn down.

Access and advocacy will help, but systemic change is needed to meaningfully improve outcomes

As an additional step to improve outcomes of people of color with kidney disease, individuals with kidney disease should receive timely referrals for specialty care. Those from under-resourced communities are less likely to see a nephrologist prior to starting dialysis, and are therefore also more likely to have poorer outcomes on dialysis. Furthermore, they are less likely to have been evaluated and listed for kidney transplantation prior to starting dialysis. Patients with kidney disease should be empowered to understand the stage of their kidney disease by knowing their eGFR (a way of measuring the kidney’s filtering function), to advocate for themselves for referral to a nephrologist, and to advocate for themselves for referral for kidney transplantation.

It will take patients, families, clinicians, and community health advocates working cooperatively to eliminate disparities in rates of kidney disease and its outcomes.

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WHO team investigating coronavirus in China visits Hubei Centre for Disease Control and Prevention

A World Health Organization-led team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic has visited the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in China’s central region of Hubei, where the outbreak emerged in late 2019.

The group of independent experts spent about 4.5 hours on its longest site visit since completing two weeks of quarantine last Thursday, and did not speak to waiting journalists.

The WHO, which has sought to manage expectations for the mission, said its members would be limited to visits organised by their Chinese hosts and would have no contact with community members because of health curbs.

The group has so far also visited hospitals where early cases were detected, markets, and an exhibition on the battle with the outbreak in the provincial capital of Wuhan.

No full itinerary for the group’s field work has been revealed, and journalists covering the tightly controlled visit have been kept at a distance from team members.

Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow with the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington, said two weeks in the field was not much time for the experts.

“I don’t think they have the time to get any conclusive results,” he said.

“It is more like communication and information exchange.

Evidence gathered could take years to process

The WHO says its members are limited to visits organised by their Chinese hosts, including to the CDC.(AP: Ng Han Guan)

Beijing has sought to cast doubt on the notion the coronavirus originated in China, pointing to imported frozen food as a conduit.

That hypothesis emerged again on Sunday in the Global Times tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily.

On Sunday, the experts visited the Huanan seafood market linked to initial infections, and the Baishazhou wholesale food market, where a loudspeaker repeatedly announced the sale of imported cold chain products was banned.

Members of the World Health Organization team leave after seeing an exhibition on COVID-19 in Wuhan.
Members of the World Health Organization team visits a hospital in Wuhan.(AP: Ng Han Guan)

The evidence the team assembles will add to what is expected to be a years-long quest for answers.

Pinning down an outbreak’s animal reservoir requires massive amounts of research including taking animal samples, genetic analysis and epidemiological studies.

It could take years of research, including taking animal samples, genetic analysis and epidemiological studies.

China has largely curbed domestic transmission of coronavirus through strict testing and contact tracing.

Mask wearing in public is observed almost universally and lockdowns are routinely imposed on communities and even entire cities where cases are detected.

Despite that, China recorded more than 2,000 new domestic cases of COVID-19 in January, the highest monthly total since the final phase of the initial outbreak in Wuhan last March.

Schools have gone online and travel has been drastically cut during this month’s Lunar New Year holiday, with the Government offering incentives for people to stay put during the most important time for family gatherings across the vast nation.


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AFL brain disease cases ‘tip of the iceberg’, says US expert Dr Chris Nowinski

“There are universal changes that can be made,” he said. “If we just talk about tweaking the rules at the pro level, we’re not going to stop CTE. The risk accumulates over an athlete’s entire career.”


Dr Nowinski said it was not just about concussion. Bigger, stronger footballers, starting younger, training harder, playing more games and finishing later because of the money on offer had deepened the problem in all codes.

“I would say it’s safer when it comes to concussion. We’re acknowledging them and we’re managing them appropriately,” he said. “But we don’t have any evidence to support the idea that changing how we treat concussions will significantly change CTE outcomes. We hope it’s true, but there’s no guarantees.

“If you have 30 per cent fewer concussions because of rule changes, but you still have as many hard blows to the head, you’re not going to see a big difference.

“Tackling is dangerous. There’s no safe way to do it. There are fair ways to do it, but there’s no safe way to bring another man – or woman – to the ground and stop their momentum at the same time.”

Dr Nowinski said there was no reason for children to play adult forms of any contact sport. “You just don’t start hitting children in the head,” he said. “When they’re young, you don’t play the adult, dangerous version of the game. What’s the point? We’re crazy to have children who are not getting paid and don’t even understand what CTE means playing by the same rules as adults.”

Melbourne AFLW champion Daisy Pearce said she was not deterred from encouraging her two-year-old twins, Roy and Sylvie, from playing when they are older.

Daisy Pearce, right, has weighed in on the concussion debate. Credit:Getty Images

“Footy has made me a healthier, happier person, and it’s given me so much in a physical sense,” she said. “My emotional wellbeing, social wellbeing, my mental health, I attribute footy to so much of that.


“I’m not in denial that I’m going to be exempt from it [CTE]. But I don’t sit here worrying. It’s something we have to consider. More time and more attention and more research on these things will give us more information.

“But right here and now, whilst it’s an unfortunate part of the game and it looks like it’s going to become more prevalent as more cases come through, I think I trust that with every bit of new knowledge and research and information that does come through, the league and medical staff are taking it very seriously.

“We’re in the best possible hands, and getting the best possible information. I have full faith that they’re going to manage us to the best of their ability.”

Adult recreational football – a staple in Australia – presented a different challenge, said Dr Nowinski. “That’s educational, not ethical or about advocacy,” he said. “If you’re 30 years old and you feel like you need to tackle other people to get through the week – or are willing to be tackled – who are we to say you can’t do that?”


Dr Nowinski said that as a rule, park footballers played fewer games at a lesser intensity than pros, were under less pressure to sacrifice themselves and did not have a crowd to please.

“The audience should only matter when we’re talking about professional sport,” he said. “I’d say that if it’s not professional, it really shouldn’t be that dangerous.”

For pros, the calculus is different. “I’m all for adults doing dangerous jobs if they choose, to support their families. But there’s reasonable danger and there’s stupid danger,” he said.

This Pearce accepts. “Whilst you know you have to acknowledge that there is this risk, I’m prepared to take it on because of all the benefits that I get from playing footy as well,” she said. “It’s certainly made me a healthier and happier person to date, so I have to factor that into my decision to play as well.”

For everyone, Dr Nowinski’s remedies are in line with those of Dr Michael Buckland from the Australian sports brain bank: start them older, modify training, continue to search for ways to minimise heavy contact in games and play fewer games.

“Changes need to be made from the moment they step onto the field for the first time as a child all the way through to the end,” he said. “I would say start later, hit less and we’ll have fewer cases of CTE going forward.”

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NHS urged to recognise ‘Covid tongue’ as official sign of the disease

Professor Tim Spector, from King’s College London, said he’s seeing an increasing number of infected patients with sores on their tongue and unusual mouth ulcers

The NHS is being urged to recognise ‘Covid tongue’ as an official symptom of coronavirus amid fears it is becoming more widespread. 

Professor Tim Spector, from King’s College London, said he’s seeing an increasing number of infected patients with sores on their tongue, unusual mouth ulcers and swollen tongues.

The epidemiologist, who is monitoring the UK crisis through his Covid symptom tracker app used by millions of Brits, warned one in five sufferers show symptoms the NHS doesn’t recognise.

Professor Spector warned 20 per cent of infectious people may be slipping through the cracks and continuing to spread the disease because of it. 

The NHS currently only lists three signs of the infection — a fever, continuous cough and loss of smell or taste. It suggests only people with these three symptoms may have Covid-19 and therefore should self-isolate and get tested. 

This means Britons suffering from the virus’ less common symptoms are not getting access to swabs and may be continuing to pass the virus to others. 

The UK has repeatedly been accused of playing catch up with the rest of the world when it comes to spotting Covid-19 throughout the crisis.

In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns of 11 primary symptoms, including fatigue, body aches, headache, sore throat and shortness of breath — but admits the virus can cause an array of other side effects.

He is urging the NHS to recognise 'Covid tongue' as an official symptom of coronavirus amid fears it is becoming more widespread.

He is urging the NHS to recognise ‘Covid tongue’ as an official symptom of coronavirus amid fears it is becoming more widespread.

The UK has been accused of missing 'the majority' of Covid-19 cases because it still only recognises three tell-tale signs of the infection (the NHS website, shown)

The UK has been accused of missing ‘the majority’ of Covid-19 cases because it still only recognises three tell-tale signs of the infection (the NHS website, shown)

The medical name for acute swelling of the tongue as the result of a viral infection is ‘glossitis’. Professor Spector tweeted about the symptom last week.

He said: ‘One in five people with Covid still present with less common symptoms that dont get on the official PHE list – such as skin rashes. 

‘Seeing increasing numbers of Covid tongues and strange mouth ulcers. If you have a strange symptom or even just headache and fatigue stay at home!’

He added today: ‘Keep those Covid tongue pics coming – important to draw attention to these, skin rashes, Covid toes and the 20 plus other symptoms of Covid that go ignored.

‘Thirty-five per cent of people have non-classic symptoms in the first three days when most infective.’

Professor Spector has repeatedly called for the NHS to expand its list – which he described as the ‘briefest in the world’ – to ensure Covid-19 infections are spotted in the early stages – reducing the risk of it being spread as Britons self-isolate earlier.

Professor Spector is drawing attention to the Covid tongue symptom of the virus

Professor Spector is drawing attention to the Covid tongue symptom of the virus

‘We’re still missing 35 per cent of cases that have symptoms that aren’t in the NHS 111 list which is the briefest list in the world,’ he told MailOnline.

He added that anyone using the Covid-19 symptom app can get a test for the virus if they’re suffering any symptom, rather than just the NHS-identified ones. 

Analysis of NHS hospital records show a cough, fever and shortness of breath are the three most common symptoms, with seven out of 10 patients suffering at least one of the three.  

But up to a third of patients also experience respiratory problems, stomach pains and musculoskeletal symptoms — including muscle and joint pain, and fatigue.  

Professor Spector told MailOnline today: ‘We are collecting many anecdotal reports of COVID tongue via the ZOE app and it is associated with Long COVID patients. 

‘We need more analyses before we can put some numbers on how common it is and how predictive it is of COVID. 

‘Until then, unusual tongue symptoms are likely to suggest COVID while the virus is still common.’ 

However, red and white patches can also be caused by other infections, including thrush, according to British Dental Association spokesman Professor Damien Walmsley. 

‘The white patches usually rub off, leaving a sore red patch underneath,’ he said.

But sore patches are often only an indication that a person is run down and their immune system is not firing on all cylinders, he added.

‘It could also occur in those who have been taking antibiotics, or using asthma inhalers.’ 

Single white patches on the tongue ‘can be a bit more worrying,’ according to Professor Walmsley.

It could simply be down to the fact the tongue is rubbing against a tooth or filling and being irritated, but there’s a small chance it could indicate oral cancer.  

A localised white patch or red patch which has been there for more than three weeks should be checked out by your dentist or GP, the expert said.


Professor Spector and researchers from King’s College London have developed a symptom-tracking app which has seen millions of Britons sign up and report their symptoms. 

The full list of symptoms, in order of how predictive they are of the disease, include:

1. Loss of smell/taste

2. Persistent cough

3. Fatigue

4. Loss of appetite

5. Skin rash

6. Hives

7. Fever

8. Severe muscle pain

9. Shortness of breath

10. Diarrhoea

11. Delirium

12. Abdominal pain

13. Chest pain

14. Hoarse voice

15. Eye soreness

16. Sore or painful throat

17. Nausea or vomiting

18. Headache

19. Dizziness or light headedness

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AFL 2021: Neale Daniher, new walkway, FightMND, motor neurone disease, Essendon, MCG bridge, Daniher’s Way

A famous walkway to the MCG will be renamed in Neale Daniher’s honour, the Victorian government has revealed.

Daniher, part of one of Australian football’s most iconic families, has been raising awareness of motor neurone disease since being diagnosed with the illness seven years ago.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews announced that the walkway from William Barak Bridge to the MCG will be renamed ‘Daniher’s Way’, while also noting the state government had contributed a $1 million donation to FightMND, the organisation founded by Daniher.

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