Tuck CTE diagnosis another wake-up call for players: concussion expert


Pearce has advocated for players to spend at least 14 days sidelined after being concussed even though his research shows 30 days is the ideal time to recover as he doesn’t want to deter players from being honest about symptoms.

“We don’t want players to start hiding their symptoms or under-reporting for fear of being out for four weeks,” Pearce said.

“Let’s be a little bit realistic here and work on the education and awareness that players then do take ownership of their brain health.”

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Under current AFL concussion protocols introduced ahead of the 2020 season players are unable to be considered for selection unless they pass a concussion test five days before a match but there is no mandate on how long a player should be sidelined with the AFL long arguing that each case was different.

Former Melbourne and Suns player Kade Kolodjashnij was the latest AFL player to admit underplaying the extent of his symptoms when he was concussed while former Saint Paddy McCartin admitted in an SEN interview in 2019 that he would fudge baseline concussion tests to make it easier to pass return to play tests.

Pearce said it was still too common for people within the sport to elevate the actions of those who cop big hits rather than wondering whether a safer alternative was preferable.

He also said introducing biomarkers to assist doctors diagnose concussion would be a positive step as there was still too much reliance on the player being frank about what they were experiencing.

Tuck died in 2020 after experiencing mental health issues and Pearce said there was emerging research overseas that identified the link between concussion and mental health however more work needed to be done in that area.

“The science is still emerging and that is one of the things we desperately need is funding research for us to look at the strength of that relationship because obviously in science correlation doesn’t mean causation,” Pearce said.

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He said the Australian Sports Brain Bank, which has more than 300 people committing their brain to research, was keen to increase the number of footballers who play country and suburban football prepared to pledge their brains to increase the pool of evidence.

“We have to acknowledge that CTE is a real disease and it’s certainly a risk in contact sports,” Pearce said.

“We can’t deny that it’s no longer the exception, that maybe it’s more prevalent than we realise but we won’t know that unless we complete the research on it.

“We have to reduce the exposure [of players to head knocks] so whether that means modifying the game at a junior level to reduce that exposure at a young age … we don’t want to stop anyone from playing the sport, we just need to look at ways of making safer and then as adults they can make that decision based on the risks and benefits.”

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Workplace law expert says employers can require staff vaccinate for COVID-19


Employers will be allowed to require workers to vaccinate against coronavirus, a workplace law expert says, despite assurances from the federal government the jab will be voluntary.

As the vaccine’s national rollout approaches, there are calls for greater clarity around the authority of businesses and rights of their employees.

It comes after a Brisbane care worker who was terminated for refusing a flu jab launched an unfair dismissal case against her former employer.

Zana Bytheway, executive director of employment rights legal centre JobWatch, said employers had a responsibility to provide a safe work environment.

As part of fulfilling that obligation, they may require that workers are vaccinated at the company’s expense.

“Under occupational health and safety law, an employer is required to do whatever is reasonable and practicable to ensure workplace health and safety,” she said.

“Given the ongoing global pandemic, this can reasonably include requiring employees to wear masks, do COVID-19 tests and receive vaccinations once they are available.”

Disability discrimination law requires that employers make reasonable adjustments for employees to do their job, and medical exemptions to vaccine rules may apply in some cases.

But Ms Bytheway said the situation was complicated by federal and state laws and directives, and the balance of risk to the community against impact on individuals.

“We’ve seen instances of this already, where aged care workers in Victoria have been required to wear fitted face masks through government orders – individual medical exemptions did not apply in these circumstances because of the high-risk nature of their work,” she said.

“I think employers, like the entire community, are looking to the government to provide us with some clear guidance.”

Although the federal government’s policy is that the coronavirus vaccine is voluntary, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also acknowledged that some people may be required to get one.

Earlier this week, the Fair Work Commission ruled that care worker Maria Corazon Glover would be allowed to pursue an unfair dismissal case against her former employer, Ozcare.

Ms Glover, 64, who works with vulnerable people, was terminated after she refused to comply with a policy that required workers undergo flu vaccination by May 1.

She told the commission she refused the jab on medical grounds, following an anaphylactic reaction she suffered after a flu vaccine when she was seven years old and living in the Philippines.

Ms Bytheway said her case could set a crucial precedent.

“At the moment, the courts have not tested this, and Maria Glover is, in fact, going to be the person that tests it,” she said.

“I think, for her, one of the questions is that this was a long time ago when she had an adverse impact and things may be different now.”

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NIMH » NIMH Expert Dr. Krystal Lewis Discusses Managing Stress & Anxiety


Transcript

KRYSTAL LEWIS: Hello, and happy new year. Thank you for joining us today. My name is Dr. Krystal Lewis. I’m a licensed clinical psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health or NIMH, which is part of NIH, the National Institutes of Health. At NIH, I provide clinical services to youth who are participating in the pediatric anxiety study, and my research interests focus on identifying mechanisms of treatment such as self-efficacy and other factors which impact the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT, which I’ll talk a little bit more about later on.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: So with the new year upon us, it’s a good time to check in on ourselves. 2020 was challenging for many reasons. The continued uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the social unrest is still also very stressful for many of us. We know that everyone experiences stress from time to time, and it’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions when you’re feeling stressed, such as anxiety or fear, anger, and even grief, especially during challenging times such as these. However, there are long-term stress impacts, so the more you experience stress for long periods of time, this can significantly impact our overall health. People who are diagnosed with anxiety disorders also may be experiencing a heightened level of anxiety. For those individuals, the anxiety tends to persist and does not go away. It’s often very distressing and interferes with daily functioning and can get worse over time if not treated.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: So during the next half an hour together, I’m going to share some information about stress and anxiety. I’ll suggest some coping techniques for maintaining your mental health during this pandemic and discuss when it might be appropriate to get professional health. I’ll wrap up at the end with a brief guided meditation, and if there’s some time, I’ll take a few of your questions from the comments. It is important to note that I cannot provide specific medical advice or referrals. Please consult with a qualified healthcare provider for diagnosis, treatment, and any answers to your personal questions. If you need help finding a provider, please visit www.nimh.nih.gov/findhelp. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, 8255. 1-800-273-8255. You can also ask for help in the comments section of this feed, and someone from NIMH will assist. All of the websites and phone numbers that I mentioned will be posted in the comments section below so that you can easily access them.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: So to get started, let’s talk a little bit about stress and anxiety. It’s first important to distinguish between stress and anxiety. Stress is the physical or mental response to an external cause such as having a lot of homework to do, having an illness, or experiencing difficulty paying your bills. A stressor might be a one-time or a short-term occurrence, or it can happen repeatedly over a long time. Stress can have a positive or a negative effect on your behavior. For example, if you are stressed about meeting a deadline, it might actually cause you to get the work done so that you can meet that deadline. But the stress might also cause you to lose sleep or have difficulty sleeping because you’re stressed out about meeting that deadline. Different effects. Likewise, stress can be a result of positive or negative experiences. So starting a new job, that’s a positive stressor. It can be. But losing a job or getting fired, that’s a negative stressor.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: Now, anxiety, anxiety is your body’s reaction to the stress and can occur even if there’s no current threat. So its origin is internal. Usually, anxiety involves a persistent feeling of apprehension or dread that seemingly may not go away. You might experience uncomfortable physical feelings that interfere with how you live your life. But both stress and anxiety can affect your mind and your body. You may experience such symptoms like excessive worry, feeling uneasy or having trouble relaxing, having tension in your body, or that might be headaches or muscle pain. Even physically it can affect you, and you might experience high blood pressure, or you might have difficulty sleeping. If stress or anxiety doesn’t go away and begins to interfere with your life, it could affect your health. You could experience problems with sleeping or with your immune, digestive, cardiovascular, and even your reproductive systems. You might also be at higher risk for developing a mental illness such as an anxiety disorder or depression.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: So with that said, we’re going to talk about some ways you might be able to cope with this stress or anxiety. It is necessary to have coping mechanisms in place. You want to avoid potentially harmful behaviors such as drinking alcohol, excessive news watching, overeating, isolating yourself, which can lead to poor hygiene. Keeping a routine is a key piece to maintaining some sense of normalcy. Eating properly, staying hydrated, exercising and moving around, and getting enough sleep are all very important. The first step to restoring a sense of calm is what I call disrupting anxiety. Once you’re aware of the anxiety, you can do certain things to disrupt the worrying and the anxious feelings that you experience. This means you can challenge anxious or irrational thoughts by reframing your worries and using previous example going back to that deadline for work. So you have a deadline, and you’re stressed about it. Instead of saying to yourself, “I should have already done this. They’ll think I’m incompetent. I can’t do anything right,” catch yourself. And once you catch yourself experiencing those unhelpful thoughts, you can say, “I’m doing the best that I can. No one is perfect. Sometimes things might be late right now, and that’s okay.” It can also be helpful to reach out to loved ones to vent or problem solve. And sometimes, it might be necessarily to employ calming or relaxation techniques, which I’ll discuss a little bit later.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: Oftentimes, we, as parents, friends, or colleagues, may want to tell people with anxiety or those who seem stressed to just calm down. Things will be okay. However, we know that this is not an effective approach. We want to be the person who is able to provide a listening ear and perhaps impart more helpful suggestions after you learn a few things here today because, as noted, this is a tough time for us all right now. When thinking of parents, parents can help children deal with stress and anxiety by using some of the techniques I just mentioned and helping kids to focus what is in our control. As an example, worries about COVID-19 are common. However, what we can do is remind kids that there are certain things we can do in the situation such as wearing our mask, washing our hands, and engaging in social distancing. If there’s a family member who, unfortunately, has COVID, or a neighbor, we can write get well cards, or we can make food or drop food off for them. Having discussions with your children about the social unrest that’s occurred, when appropriate, explain to them how you’re keeping them safe and discuss things that the family can do. Oftentimes, when you feel stressed and anxious it’s because we don’t believe we can handle things. However, this is a reminder that we are stronger than we believe, and we can get through this. So we can engage in great practices to help manage feelings of stress and being overwhelmed.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: Earlier last year, this acronym, GREAT, was developed as an easy reminder to engage in these helpful practices to manage stress and anxiety. G, G stands for grateful. Be grateful. Find small things each day to be grateful about. This might be when you wake up in the morning or in the evening before bed, thinking of, what are the small things throughout the day that you can express gratitude for, such as the bed that you’re about to fall asleep in or a nice meal that you’ve had earlier that day. R stands for relaxation. Practice relaxation. Do things that help you to calm down and relax. That might be different for each of you, but find ways to integrate that throughout your day. E stands for exercise. Engage in exercise, some type of activity. We know that physical health and mental health are tied together. We know that activity is important, so you try to implement that in your day. A stands for acknowledge. Acknowledge your feelings. Be aware of the many feelings, and accept them as they occur. Right now, things are very frustrating. You may be feeling angry at some of the things that we’re seeing on the news. We might feel anxious about our health and our family’s health. Whatever feelings that you are experiencing, know that it’s okay. Accept them, acknowledge them, and then make sure that you use one of these practices to help manage them. And lastly, T. T is for track your thinking. Track your thoughts and change them. Ensure that you are engaging in helpful thinking. We all have thoughts that, oftentimes, aren’t the most helpful. So if you pay attention to your thinking patterns, you can then engage in more helpful thinking.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: So to build on that acronym of GREAT, I’m going to talk a little bit more about other strategies that may help promote resilience during these tough times right now. So change your expectations of daily productivity and accept that this is your norm right now. This is our norm. We have to acknowledge that we have different demands being at home than before maybe when we were in the office. We have to limit comparisons to friends or peers or colleagues who seemingly are living productive lives and have it all together. Remember that everyone may have different circumstances, and what people tell you and what you might see on social media often isn’t a comprehensive picture of what’s going on. So the comparisons aren’t very helpful. As noted earlier, focus on what is in your control. We don’t know when we’ll be able to safely return to work or when our kids are going to go back to school. Therefore, we need to attend to what we do have control over. Create schedules and deadlines, and remember that your expectations should be adjusted for this current time, and you may not be able to do everything that you would like to do and plan to do, but that’s okay. Acknowledge and validate your thoughts and feelings. Pay attention to your own physical and mental fatigue. There is no right or wrong way to feel right now, so work on accepting your feelings as they come. Practice self-compassion. You’re going to have some good days, and there may be some days that aren’t so bad, but that’s okay.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: What can be helpful is engaging in mini breaks throughout the day, which can help with you managing general stress and potentially even increasing your productivity by taking a break. Watch a funny show. Watch a funny clip on YouTube. You can engage in social media briefly. Call a loved one. Just take a minute to detach from the pressures of work and your expectations throughout the day. Give yourself a break, and that can help improve your overall mental health. Use relaxation strategies to help reduce your anxiety throughout the day. These include deep breathing, taking a few minutes, sitting, and taking some deep breaths in through your nose, out through your mouth. Visualizing pleasant places, places that you’ve been in the past, places that you see yourself going in the future. Close your eyes and picture yourself in that location. Body scanning includes just paying attention to how you’re feeling, different areas of your body. Are you stressed? Do you need to relax in those areas? Do you need to stretch? You can meditate. You can light candles. You can do anything that you find brings you a sense of calm, but make sure that you do those things. And maintaining a regular schedule or routine during the work week, as I noted. This can help with managing your time more efficiently. The schedule can take many forms, and it might be a shared schedule with a partner, or it might be your schedule with your child or elder care. Be flexible and forgiving. Have a schedule, but if you don’t stick to it, something gets in the way, that’s okay. We’re going to try again tomorrow.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: And lastly, ask for help. We might feel that we’re expected to solve all of our own problems and figure things out, but we know that these are uncharted waters for all of us right now. And if we ask for support, whether that be extra time on a project for work or seeking support from a friend or a colleague, verbalize to your partner when you need a break, or even reaching out for professional help from a therapist, these are all ways that we can help ourselves. So how do we recognize when we need more help? If you notice that you are struggling to cope, and the symptoms of stress and anxiety just won’t go away, it may be time to talk to a professional. Maybe you’ve tried some of these strategies, and it just seemingly is not helping. You can reach out to a professional and engage in psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, or medication if need be. These are the two main treatments for anxiety, and many people benefit from a combination of the two.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: So let’s talk a little bit about the anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental health in adults. There are several types of anxiety disorders, which include generalized anxiety, panic, social anxiety, and various phobia-related disorders, just to name a few. Generalized anxiety disorder display excessive anxiety or worry for most days for at least six months about a number of things. This can be personal health, work situations, social interactions, essentially everyday work/life circumstances create some worry. The worries cause significant problems in different areas of your life, such as interactions with other people, school, work. And you may often feel some physical symptoms of just being restless, difficulty relaxing, having sleep difficulties, and a few others.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: People with panic disorder have recurrent or unexpected panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear that seem to come quickly out of the blue and reach their peak within minutes. These attacks can occur unexpectedly or can be brought on by a trigger such as a feared situation or a feared object. During a panic attack, people may experience a racing heart. They might be sweating. They might have a feeling of impending doom, something bad’s going to happen, feel like they’re out of control. People with panic often worry about when this next attack will happen, and they actively try to prevent their future attacks by avoiding places, people, things, behaviors that they associate with panic attacks. And the worry about the panic attacks and the effort spent trying to avoid these attacks causes significant problems in different areas of your life.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: And we’ll do social anxiety. People with social anxiety disorder have a general intense fear or anxiety in social situations or situations requiring a performance. So they worry that their actions or behaviors associated with the anxiety will be negatively evaluated by others, leading them to feel embarrassed. And this worry often causes people with social anxiety to avoid social situations. So there might be physical symptoms that they experience such as chest pain or feeling hot, shakiness, headaches, a racing heart, muscle tension. The social situations almost always provoke fear or anxiety, and the situations are avoided or at least endured with intense anxiety when they’re in those situations. So the fear is persistent, lasts for six months or longer, and causes significant distress. There are other anxiety disorders, and you can visit our website for more information.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: Researchers are finding that both genetic and environmental factors tend to contribute to the risk of developing an anxiety disorder. And although the risk factors for each type of anxiety disorder might vary, some general risk factors for all types of anxiety disorders include what’s called behavioral inhibition or a temperamental trait of being shy that is often noticeable in early childhood, exposure to stressful and negative life events that occur in childhood or in adulthood, a history of anxiety or other mental illnesses in biological relatives in the family, and some physical health conditions like thyroid condition, heart arrhythmias. Caffeine consumption or other substances can produce and aggravate anxiety symptoms. A physical health examination is helpful in evaluating the possibility of anxiety disorder. So it’s really important that you seek help from a provider to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment if you experience any of these symptoms.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: So let’s talk a little bit about treatment. Despite anxiety being very common, the good news is that anxiety is quite treatable. Anxiety disorders are generally treated with psychotherapy or medication or both. There are several ways to treat anxiety, and people should work with their doctor to choose, well, what treatment is best for you. Psychotherapy or talk therapy can help people with anxiety disorders. And to be effective, psychotherapy must be directed at the person’s specific anxieties or tailored to their needs. So this therapy can be adjusted to meet the needs of each individual. Cognitive behavioral therapy is an example of one of the psychotherapies that can help people with anxiety disorders. CBT has plenty of scientific support which demonstrates its effectiveness for people with anxiety. CBT teaches people different ways of thinking, feeling, and reacting. And when we’re in these situations, we teach people how to manage the anxious thoughts that they may be experiencing. Generally, people with anxiety fear that bad things will happen, and they won’t be able to handle them. So CBT can also help people learn skills and strategies which increases general efficacy.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: Cognitive therapy and exposure are two CBT methods that are often used together, and they treat the different anxiety disorders. Cognitive therapy focuses on identifying challenging and neutralizing unhelpful or disordered thoughts that underline anxiety disorders. Exposure therapy focuses on confronting fears underlying the anxiety and helping people engage in the different activities that they’ve been avoiding. So therapists who are trained in exposure therapy can help people to safely face their fears through graduated or step-by-step practice. And during CBT, you might also learn different ways to manage the extreme anxiety you have through learning relaxation and coping tools that you can use outside of the session when you’re feeling very anxious.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: So sometimes when therapy’s not as effective or symptoms get in the way of engaging in therapy, medication is a great option. Medication does not cure anxiety disorders, but it can relieve symptoms. So medication for anxiety is prescribed by doctors such as psychiatrists or primary care providers. Some states also allow psychologists who have received specialized training to prescribe. The most common class of medications to combat anxiety disorders are anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and beta blockers. So anti-anxiety medications can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, panic, or extreme fear, and the most common anti-anxiety medication are called benzodiazepines. Although benzodiazepines are sometimes used as a first-line treatment for generalized anxiety, other anxiety, they have benefits and drawbacks. Some benefits of benzos are that they– of benzodiazepines are that they’re effective at relieving anxiety and take effect, basically, more quickly than antidepressant medications. Some drawbacks are the benzodiazepines, people can build up a tolerance to them, and if they’re taken over a long period of time, then you might need a higher and higher dosage to get the same effect, and people might even become dependent on them. So to avoid these problems, doctors sometimes prescribe benzodiazepines for short periods of time. They’re helpful for adults, older adults, maybe people who have substances abuse problems and people who become dependent on medication easily. If people suddenly stop taking these medications, they may have withdrawal symptoms, so we advise that you work closely with your doctor when you decide it’s time to stop the medication.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: So again, for long-term use, the first line of treatment we say to use is antidepressant medication. So benzodiazepines can be considered as a second-line treatment, but for long-term use, we suggest antidepressants. And these are helpful for treating anxiety. They might improve ways that your brain uses certain chemicals that control your mood or control stress. You might need to try several different ones before finding one that improves your symptoms and has manageable side effects. Knowing a family member who’s taken an antidepressant can be helpful in knowing if a medication may work for you as well. So do know that antidepressants can take some time to work, so it’s important to give the medication a chance before reaching a conclusion about if it’s effective. If you begin to take antidepressants, don’t stop them without the help of a doctor. Again, any medication that you’re on, consult with your doctor, and you guys can come up with a plan for how you can slowly and safely decrease your dosage. It is best to engage in CBT while on medication for the greatest benefit when treating your anxiety disorder, so it’s important that you find a provider with whom you feel comfortable so you can work together to find the best treatment for you, whether that be CBT, medication, both. But talk with a qualified professional.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: Okay. So thus far, I’ve given you a lot of information, and now is a good time to sit back and do a guided meditation with me. Meditation is a useful tool for calming stress and anxiety and helping you to relax, refocus, and bring you to the here and now. We’ll do a brief meditation to connect to the present moment. So take a few seconds to find a comfortable position. If you’re sitting, keep your back straight but relaxed, and keep your feet planted to the ground. You can close your eyes to really get into it, or, if you’d like, rest your eyes on one particular spot on the wall or in front of you. Take a deep breath in, hold, and release. Take one more deep breath in through your nose. Focus on the sensation of the air passing through your nose and into your body. Feel the slight movement in your chest as you breath and exhale, gently letting the air out. Focus on the calmness of the space around you. Relax your muscles as you continue to breath. Notice any tension and relax those areas of your body.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: As you continue to breath, slowly in and out, notice how your body feels in that chair or on the couch, what you’re feeling as your body is resting in that space. Notice the pressure on the different parts of your body. There’s no particular way to be. Just notice how you are in this moment. If you notice physical discomfort or distressing thoughts, simply allow them to be. Let them come and go. Be open to any sensations, feelings, or thoughts that you may be experiencing and know that they’re going to come, and then they’re going to pass. Continue to breath and focus on any physical sensations. Do you feel the air around you? Do you feel it on your skin? Is the air still? Imagine yourself as light as the air. Relax. Can you hear the air coming from your vent or through the window? What else do you hear? Pay attention to the sounds around you. Do you hear other voices in your home or just my voice? Let the sounds come and go as they please.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: Now, let’s shift your attention and awareness to your emotions. How would you describe what you’re feeling right now? Are you happy? Sad? Irritated? Bored? Are you not sure what you’re experiencing? Be aware of your emotional experience and allow it to be. Whatever emotion you’re experiencing is fine. It’s okay. Refocus on your breathing. Hold and release. Focus on air moving in and out of your body and the quiet that surrounds you. Let any sounds, thoughts, and feelings come and go as they occur. Notice and acknowledge them and let them leave. Bring yourself back to your physical space. Open your eyes and take a few more deep breaths, in and out. Now, pat yourself on the back for taking time to engage in this meditation. Take note of how you’re feeling before you jump right back into your day. Remember that you can use this exercise or any similar exercises like this whenever you feel you need to take a break. And you see it only takes a few minutes to do. You can integrate breaks throughout your day and do a relaxation tool– or use a relaxation tool to help yourself calm down and refocus yourself to the present moment.

KRYSTAL LEWIS: Okay. So at this time, be mindful. We’ve reached the end of our discussion today on managing stress and anxiety. Thank you for joining us today. Get the latest shareable resources on coping with COVID-19 from NIMH at www.nimh.nih.gov/covid19. Thank you so much for joining us today, and please, everyone, stay well.

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Decision on Queensland lockdown as expert slams premier


Expert SLAMS Annastacia Palaszczuk’s ‘unreasonable’ decision to plunge Brisbane into three-day lockdown amid fears it won’t stop the dangerous UK mutant Covid strain – as nervous Queenslanders await a key decision

Brisbane‘s three-day lockdown won’t prevent the highly infectious UK strain of Covid-19 from spreading around the community, a disease expert has warned.

Professor Peter Collignon of the Australian National University said three days was not long enough because it normally takes an infected person five days to show symptoms after catching the disease.

‘Three days will not solve the problem because the average incubation period is five days,’ he told 2GB radio on Monday morning.

Brisbane’s three-day lockdown won’t prevent the highly infectious UK strain of Covid-19 from spreading around the community, a disease expert has warned. Pictured: Brisbane on Sunday

‘You really have to wait, people have to isolate for 10 to 14 days, even 28 days for two full incubation periods.’

But instead of arguing for a longer lockdown, Professor Collignon said it was ‘unreasonable’ to contain 2.5million people in their homes over one coronavirus case. 

‘This is a single case, and I don’t think anyone in the world has ever done this before,’ he said of the three-day lockdown.

‘It almost says we don’t have faith in our contact tracing system.’

Professor Collignon said New South Wales has done a good job of managing outbreaks with contact tracing rather than city-wide lockdowns and cautioned premiers against following an elimination strategy. 

‘The trouble I have with elimination is that people become complacent … It’s inevitable we will have leaks,’ he said.

‘That is the reality, we just need to make the probability lower, but you have to accept you might get it.

‘I don’t think it’s reasonable that every time we get a case we lock down our cities.’ 

The Greater Brisbane region was put in lockdown from Friday until 6pm on Monday after its was confirmed that a hotel quarantine cleaner had caught the highly contagious UK strain of Covid-19.

She was out and about for five days, taking trains and buses, before testing positive and going into isolation. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he supported the three-day lockdown to buy contact tracers time to get in touch with all of the cleaner’s contacts. 

Queensland recorded zero local cases on Saturday and Sunday. 

‘Let’s see what our numbers are tomorrow (Monday), and then we will update Queensland about what the proposed steps forward are following on from that,’ Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters on Sunday.

Victoria has recorded zero new local cases of Covid-19 on Monday, for the fifth day in a row. There was one new case in hotel quarantine.

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Cybersecurity expert calls for replacement technology following Tasmanian ambulance patient data leak


A cybersecurity expert has called on the Tasmanian Government to replace its ambulance communication technology to prevent future breaches of confidential patient information.

It was revealed on Friday the private details of every Tasmanian who had called an ambulance since November last year had been published by a third party to a list online that was still updating each time paramedics were dispatched.

The unencrypted information came from pagers being used by paramedics.

Darren Hopkins, a partner at McGrathNicol — a national company which advises governments and businesses on cybersecurity risks — said it was very difficult to protect sensitive data on radio because it was such old technology.

Mr Hopkins said replacement technology would be needed because while pagers work well in remote areas, it was very complicated to encrypt the information being transmitted by them.

“When you find an issue with the technology you’re using, you research and find an alternative and implement it as soon as you can,” he said.

He said governments across the country struggled with this issue, with a similar incident happening in Victoria in 2014, but most data breaches were internet-based, not radio-based like this one was.

The details of every Tasmanian that had called an ambulance since November 2020 was published online.(ABC News)

“They’ve taken what was radio data, converted it into text-readable data and published it online, and that’s particularly concerning because anyone could have captured and have a copy of that information by now,” he said.

Mr Hopkins said because the website was not run by a corporate entity, it was pretty much impossible to know who has accessed the information and when.

He said it was vital important information was not easily accessible.

“Just don’t make it publicly available, just encrypt it … it’s a fundamental concept of most security to be honest.”

Tasmanians’ private information ‘no longer secure’

Tasmanian Labor MP Michelle O'Byrne
Michelle O’Byrne says the Government had been warned repeatedly about the risks of data breaches.(ABC News: Laura Beavis)

The Government has been criticised for years about its lack of investment in information and communications technology (ICT), including by industry professionals.

Shadow Minister for ICT Michelle O’Byrne slammed the Government’s response so far, saying simply referring the matter to police did not address the years of inaction on data protection.

She said the Government had been warned repeatedly information stored in the Department of Health and Human Services was particularly vulnerable, with auditor-general reports in 2015 and 2018 and 2019.

“This Government has failed to address a known risk about patient information, and while they’ve always promised to do something, have failed to do anything,” she said.

She said Tasmanians should be concerned about how safe their information was.

“If the Government is not able to keep their information safe now and can’t do anything about that information that’s been published now, then what safety and security and confidence can we have that our information will be secure into the future?” she said.

“The fact that you can access this data so easily is an absolute betrayal of Tasmanians’ trust.”

Tasmania Police Assistant Commissioner Adrian Bodnar confirmed in a statement the matter had been referred to them for assessment.

Health Minister Sarah Courtney speaks at a media conference
Tasmanian Health Minister Sarah Courtney says an internal review of the data breach is underway.(ABC News: Scott Ross)

“Tasmania Police has contacted the administrator of the site who has voluntarily removed it,” he said.

In a statement, Health Minister Sarah Courtney said the data breach was “extremely concerning” and Ambulance Tasmania was taking appropriate steps to address it.

“I understand it may be distressing for those affected and I can assure Tasmanians that the Government is taking all the necessary steps to protect the privacy of our patients,” she said.

“An internal review into the circumstances which led to the breach is underway.”

Thank you for visiting My Local Pages and checking this post on current TAS news titled “Cybersecurity expert calls for replacement technology following Tasmanian ambulance patient data leak”. This story was shared by My Local Pages as part of our local news services.

#Cybersecurity #expert #calls #replacement #technology #Tasmanian #ambulance #patient #data #leak



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Risk with Will Pucovski return but ‘up to him’, says concussion expert


Chris Nowinski, a professional wrestler turned neuroscientist who has been a prominent figure in tackling the concussion crisis in US sports, said that advice could not be disputed and the outlook for cricketers avoiding long-term consequences from repeated head knocks was much better than for athletes in codes such as American football.

“The odds are [the concussions] won’t destroy his life, but there is a chance they will,” Nowinski told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age from Florida. “We just can’t quantify that risk and we can’t quantify the additional risk of one more concussion that could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

“My own personal experience was zero diagnosed concussions, even though I now know I had them, and then one gave me permanent symptoms, which are difficult to live with. No one can predict when the next one will bring a decade of headaches and all these other cascading issues.

Concussion Legacy Foundation founder Chris Nowinski (left) at the opening of the Australian Sports Brain Bank in 2018.Credit:Wolter Peeters

“We’ve all just got to watch with bated breath and hope there is a happy end to the story. You hope with good education, good medical care and continued tweaks to the rules to protect the athlete, it will allow him to get through unscathed. But in that same conversation, we have to respect the fact that nine concussions in seven years is extraordinary and could be a real problem. We’re just not seeing it today.”

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Nowinski said there were few neurological findings that would prompt a doctor to tell an otherwise healthy athlete that they could not or should not resume the sport they loved.

“It’s a drip, drip, drip of a problem,” he said. “Each additional concussion makes you wonder what’s going to happen in the future. [Nine] is a big number and it’s almost certain there are some changes to his brain that are permanent that are not good. But make him stop? It’s up to him … he’s a grown man … as to how much risk he wants to endure.”

Paine said he wouldn’t have anxiety watching Pucovski face an inevitable burst of short-pitched bowling at the SCG to welcome him to the Test arena.

“There will be anxiety I’m sure for everyone watching someone play in their first Test match, there always is,” Paine said.

“Will has been hit in the head a few times, but he plays the short ball really well and as long as he’s comfortable we’re comfortable and so far he’s indicated that he’s good to go and it’s not a concern to him.”

Australia (likely): David Warner, Will Pucovski, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Cameron Green, Tim Paine (c), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

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Be ready for the workplace of tomorrow with ASUS Expert Series


No longer a buzzword tossed around in business conferences, digital transformation has become a reality across the world. Primarily due to the need to reduce face to face interaction to protect both the safety of employees and customers from the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have migrated to the digital space virtually overnight.

Digital technologies including consumer-facing applications such as grocery and food delivery services, business-to-business e-commerce applications, and applications such as videoconferencing have swept the globe. Not only that, work culture has transformed to accommodate emerging work-from-home environments. To survive in this new landscape, companies have to be fast, adaptable and focused on providing the best products and services they can offer for their consumers.

Needless to say, the professionals that drive the growth of these companies have to be agile, determined, and versatile too.

This is why ASUS, the top computer components maker in the world and one of the world’s top PC manufacturers, has launched its ASUS Expert Series. Designed with the ever-changing needs and priorities of businesses in mind, the ASUS Expert Series blends the latest technologies with the reliability, manageability, and security that is needed to excel in the increasingly digital world.

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Tech expert reveals Ga. voting machines connected to Chinese vendor


Voters cast their ballots at Centreville High School in Clifton, Virginia. (Photo credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 9:30 AM PT – Friday, January 1, 2021

Just days ahead of the Senate runoff elections in Georgia, a tech expert unveiled key vulnerabilities in the peach state’s voting machines.

During a Thursday livestream, inventor Jovan Pulitzer revealed dominion machines set to be used in the key election seem to be connected to a vendor in China.

This followed Pulitzer’s Wednesday testimony before the Georgia Senate Judiciary subcommittee when he demonstrated his ability to connect a dominion voting machine to the internet. This came despite claims by state election officials that the electronic voting machines do not connect to the web.

“At this very moment at a polling location in the county, not only do we now have access through the devices to the poll pad, the system, but we are in,” Pulitzer stated.

The inventor noted this as a key design flaw which opens up the machines to tampering efforts by malicious actors.

Pulitzer announced he will bring forward two reports on his findings in the coming days.

MORE NEWS: Ariz. Citizens Hold Press Conference On Voter Fraud





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Expert says Canadian economy will improve in 2021, though ‘not spectacularly’


TORONTO —
After a tumultuous 2020, those with their eyes on the Canadian and global economies can expect improvements in 2021, according to one expert.

“I actually think the economy is going to do very well in 2021,” Ian Lee, an associate professor at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business, told CTV News Channel on Friday. “Not spectacularly, but much better than in 2020.”

Lee attributes this in part to Canadians’ saving rate in 2020, which he said has “gone through the roof.”

Lockdown measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 meant that those with disposable income had less to spend it on. Statistics Canada reports that after the first quarter of 2020, Canadians saved an average of 7.6 per cent of disposable income, up from 2.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2019.

But by the second quarter of 2020, Canadians were saving 28.2 per cent, a dramatic increase from the 3.1 per cent they were saving in 2019’s second quarter.

“I cannot remember it being this high,” Lee said.

With vaccines being rolled out in 2021, Lee said there is renewed hope that Canadians will soon be able to leave their homes and make the kinds of purchases that will stimulate the economy.

“I think we’re going to see a very significant increase in spending because people are going to be so grateful and so happy it’s behind us,” he said. “We can get out of our houses, go to restaurants, go out flying and travelling and so forth. So I think we’ll see that pent-up demand express itself in 2021.”

 

WILL SMALL BUSINESSES BOUNCE BACK?

Even with this expected spending ahead, small businesses in Canada are barely holding on, with some already forced to shutter.

“Small businesses always had much smaller profit margins than big business,” Lee said. “I think it’s inevitable we’re going to see a significant increase in failures – small business bankruptcies – over the winter months.”

Lee said he believes this “inevitable” outcome may be why many provinces have not gone into universal lockdowns, instead trying to focus restrictive measures where they were most needed to try to help those whose livelihoods are at stake.

“I don’t think it’s going to be as bad on small businesses,” Lee said of the year ahead. “But it’s still going to be negative, no question about it.”

But he adds if governments continue to make these lockdown considerations in the new year, it could allow small businesses to generate some cash flow.

“Between that and the backstops provided by the government, I think they’re hoping it’ll be enough to carry them through the winter into the spring when the vaccine starts rolling out,” he noted.

 

REAL ESTATE MAY NOT BE NOT AS GOOD AS IT SEEMS

One of the key backstops provided by central banks, including the Bank of Canada, is record low interest rates, which has led some to seek approval for a home mortgage.

And while low rates may be good for those seeking a loan, it’s also led to rising home prices, making the buyer’s market more competitive and pricey.

“I don’t think we’re going to see in 2021 the average increases in real estate prices that we saw in this last year,” Lee said. “It’s not sustainable.”

Lee points to a collapse in immigration levels in Canada due to the pandemic as a contributing factor.

“People don’t realize […] the impact of immigration – the positive impact of immigration,” Lee said.

Immigrants need homes in Canada, Lee said, but can also bring wealth with them to spend in the Canadian economy.

All this, he said, will yield lower real estate prices in 2021: “I think it will be much more modest this year.”

 

U.S. POLITICS COULD IMPACT STOCK MARKET

With several uncertainties still ahead in 2021, a rise in the stock market is anything but a sure thing despite low interest rates, reopening economies and more liquidity.

“I don’t think it’s going to explode,” Lee said, pointing to the changing administrations in the U.S. as a possible “wildcard.”

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has announced plans for a stimulus for Americans, as well as plans for improving infrastructure, which Lee said could “rev up” the U.S. economy, but Biden’s plans may be constrained by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Democrats have an opportunity to take hold of the Senate Jan. 5, but only if they can win both of the Georgia runoff elections.

“It’s unpredictable, but I don’t think we’re going to see huge increases in the stock market averages for 2021,” Lee said.



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League adopts ‘Apollo Standby’ protocols as biosecurity expert says pre-season bubble ‘unnecessary’


The NRL confirmed on Monday that players from the northern beaches had been granted exemptions from lockdown protocols so they could attend training.

NSW Health guidelines state workers who are unable to work from home are able to travel to and from the northern beaches.

Of all the NRL sides, the Sea Eagles have been most affected by the coronavirus outbreak on the northern beaches.Credit:Getty Images

“The lockdown orders do permit certain activities to occur, so necessary training activities in preparation for an elite sportsperson, which the NRL players are, are permitted,” Heslop said. “But that has to be done acknowledging the risks.”

The Sea Eagles have been most affected by the restrictions. A handful of players at other Sydney clubs are based on the northern beaches.

Manly have been told they are allowed to continue training with their full squad given the exemptions for work. Every Sea Eagles player will be required to be screened at training and must document their daily movements. Staff have been asked to work from home where possible.

Heslop said the only reason he would advise the NRL to move back to full Apollo protocols was if there was another wave before the start of the season.

“My view is that the current outbreak looks to be a spike,” he said. “There’s no requirement to move the entire competition and all clubs back into a strict protocol, that’s unnecessary.”

Instead, Heslop will advise the NRL to move to a more relaxed Apollo bubble before the season start in March.

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“If we’ve got very little cases going through the community, then a modified version of the protocols, which were toned down, much like the end of the season, is what we will probably look at,” he said. “We’ll have some of the protocols back but not as strict as what they were last season.”

Heslop also believes the NRL will be able to welcome full-capacity crowds for the entire season.

“There’s no difference in fundamental terms to what’s happening now, compared to the grand final,” he said. “So, no, I don’t see any barriers to having crowds.”

Originally, the NRL hoped its players would be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccination ahead of the season’s start. But the game has since been told players will be low on NSW Health’s priority list, meaning modified COVID protocols will be needed.

“What we’re going to have is gradually lowering the risk in the general population to the NRL and, hopefully, no outbreaks,” he said.

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