U.K. Eliminates the Tampon Tax


In 2015, the government established the Tampon Tax Fund, which allocated 47 million pounds raised from the tax on period products to charities working with vulnerable women and girls.

In January 2019, Gemma Abbott, the director of the British nonprofit Free Periods, said the group had started a campaign threatening the government with legal action, saying a lack of access to menstrual products affected a child’s educational experience.

Two months later, the government changed course, she said.

Since last year, the British government’s initiative to make period products more accessible has also included putting free sanitary products in schools, colleges and hospitals.

Ms. Abbott said she and Free Periods were trying to hold the government accountable for the initiative, especially about funding it and getting more schools and colleges to sign up.

Over the last few years, governments around the world have revised measures on sanitary products.

In November, Scotland became the first country to make period products available for free. Last year, Germany officially changed its stance on menstrual products by declaring them essential, and reducing their tax rate after they had long been classified as “luxury goods.”

Australia, which also once considered the products a “luxury,” and Canada, India and Malaysia have also abolished the tax.

In the United States, 10 states since 2016 have eliminated the tax: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington, said Jennifer Weiss-Wolf of the organization Period Equity.



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State eliminates virus with 28 consecutive days of zero COVID-19 cases as borders reopen with Tasmania


Victoria has officially eliminated COVID-19 after 28 consecutive days of zero coronavirus cases, as Tasmania’s borders reopen to the state today.

The state recorded another quadruple ‘donut day’ today, with zero new infections, deaths, active cases and cases with an unknown source.

Elimination of the virus is defined by epidemiologists as 28 days without new infections or mystery cases in the community.

“Today is a big day, a milestone day in what has been a really challenging year,” Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said.

“We can all feel really pleased and proud of the effort that each and every Victorian has made to achieving these significant results.”

However, Ms Allan warned against complacency, saying the state could only return to normal once a vaccine was made available.

“The pandemic is not over, there is still a way to go, we still have to wait and see the impacts a vaccine brings,” she said.

Nearly 10,000 COVID-19 tests were conducted in the state in the past 24 hours.

The positive news comes as Victorians will be free to travel to Tasmania from today after months of the borders being tightly shut.

About 700 travellers are expected to arrive in Tasmania from the state today, with eight flights on the Melbourne-Launceston route.

“It is great to see that the movement of people between Tasmania and Victoria has recommenced,” Ms Allan said.

“It just demonstrates it’s another big step forward after what’s been a really difficult year, where there’s been a lot of sacrifices.

“We have achieved something really precious here in Victoria.

“I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of happy families reunited.”

The Spirit of Tasmania at Port Melbourne. (Fairfax Media)

Queensland’s border will reopen to Victoria on December 1, with South Australia also then lifting its border.

However, the Victorian Government has not yet confirmed when it will open its border to South Australia.

Western Australia previously claimed it would consider reopening to states when they reached 28 days of no community transmission.

Despite Victoria reaching the milestone, WA has not confirmed when it would reopen.

Hotel quarantine preparations underway

The premier has rejected home-based quarantine as an option for international arrivals returning to the state, despite the model being recommended in the Hotel Quarantine Inquiry.

Melbourne will re-establish hotel quarantine on December 7. (9News)

“There is not a consensus, there is not a view at a National Cabinet level that home quarantine is an appropriate response to the risk we face at the moment,” he said.

Trial-runs are underway at Melbourne quarantine hotels as the government works to finalise the overhauled program.

The government is considering adopting South Australia’s approach and transferring travellers who test positive to a dedicated medi-facility.

National Cabinet is also set to discuss the requirement of all travellers being tested and returning a negative result for COVID-19 before arriving into Australia to further mitigate the risk of infection.



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Victoria ‘eliminates’ COVID-19 after 28 days without a new case


While the tests worried health authorities, they say there have been no recent cases in the area.

According to the working definition, a state or territory has achieved elimination of community transmission of coronavirus if it goes 28 days with no mystery cases, a period which represents two long incubation cycles for the virus.

University of Melbourne epidemiologist Tony Blakely said new cases will almost certainly leach back into the community as a result of international arrivals and hotel quarantine breaches. But he said the state’s contract tracing program has been improved so dramatically they pose less of a threat than at the outset of the pandemic.

“It was a bit of a longshot to actually get all the way to elimination,” he said, “I’m pleasantly surprised that we’ve been able to bring it back from that high point.”

Professor Blakely said the milestone was a “huge tribute” to Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton, and his deputy Professor Allen Cheng. “They are the masterminds of this,” he said.

“When we got down to 10 [cases] per day, it was stubbornly there, I thought this might be our new reality.”

He said the key to reaching elimination was fixing Victoria’s contract tracing efforts in Melbourne’s northern suburbs so that small outbreaks could be quickly shut down.

“I used to say that quarantine wasn’t rocket science, I’ve had to modify my view – this virus is so sneaky,” he said.

Melbourne will start to receive international arrivals again on December 7, with Mr Andrews confirming the state will stick with a modified version of its original hotel quarantine program.

The Premier ruled out a home-based isolation scheme for low-risk travellers, as was recommended by the state’s hotel quarantine inquiry, but said Australians returning to Melbourne will be required to be tested for coronavirus before they board a flight.

The last patient in Victoria infected with the virus, a man aged in his 90s, was discharged from hospital on Monday night, after being admitted last month. The man was treated at the Monash Medical Centre for more than 40 days alongside his wife who also contracted the virus.

Victoria achieved its first “triple doughnut day” on Tuesday, with no new coronavirus cases, no deaths and no active cases, for the first time since February 29.

There have been 20,345 cases of COVID-19 in Victoria and 819 deaths, most of them among the elderly in aged care.

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Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said on Thursday that the results from the Corio treatment plant were unexpected as there have been no recent COVID-19 infections in the area where the viral fragments were found.

The positive result could be from a person who has recovered from the virus and is living in the area or visited and is still “shedding” the virus.

“We have had few of these positive wastewater results recently and, while we haven’t discovered any undiagnosed case of coronavirus, it is possible that there may be an infectious person in this catchment,” Professor Cheng said.

“We encourage people in this area who are symptomatic to be tested and will update the community once more testing results become available. It is also a timely reminder for local businesses to re-check their COVID Safe plans to keep themselves, their colleagues and customers safe.”

Last week, viral fragments were found in wastewater samples from Altona, Benalla and Portland. No cases have been detected in those areas following the findings.

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