Covid-19 UK: NHS waiting list hits ANOTHER record-high amid pandemic, official figures show


Boris Johnson today promised the NHS would ‘get all the funding it needs’ to fight the Covid backlog, with a record 4.7million patients in England now on the waiting list for routine treatment.

The Prime Minister pledged to help the health service back to its feet, as official data showed 400,000 people have waited over a year for surgery.

And the proportion of cancer patients who hadn’t been treated within the two month target after being diagnosed has also jumped to a record 30.3 per cent.

Medics said NHS England’s performance figures laid bare the true toll of the Covid pandemic on hospitals, which were forced to turf out patients with other illnesses during the national lockdowns. 

Cancer charities described coronavirus as being ‘catastrophic’ for treatment. While MPs called for an NHS rescue plan to cut down waiting lists as hospitals scramble to cope with a Covid-induced backlog. 

Mr Johnson said during a visit to a military base in Dartmouth, Devon: ‘We do need people to take up their appointments and to get the treatment that they need.

‘We’re going to make sure that we give the NHS all the funding that it needs, as we have done throughout the pandemic, to beat the backlog.’

A record 4.7million people are now waiting for routine hospital treatment, official data showed today as the NHS scrambles to catch up with a Covid backlog

Speaking on a visit to the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, Devon, today, Boris Johnson said: 'We're going to make sure that we give the NHS all the funding that it needs'

Speaking on a visit to the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, Devon, today, Boris Johnson said: ‘We’re going to make sure that we give the NHS all the funding that it needs’

Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said today: ‘Ten years of Tory underfunding, cuts and chronic staff shortages left the NHS exposed when the pandemic hit.

‘Patients are now left paying the price with waiting lists at record highs.  

‘Labour is calling for an NHS rescue plan to bring down waiting lists and ensure patients can receive the quality care they deserve.’

Figures from NHS England show 387,885 people were waiting more than a year for treatment in February.

For comparison, the figure for the same month in 2020 — before Covid spiralled out of control — was 1,613.

Almost 4,000 Covid patients were being admitted to hospital every day in England during the peak of the second wave in January. Rates fell in February, following the effect of lockdown restrictions and vaccination.  

It has now been five years since the NHS met the Government’s target of ensuring all patients receive planned treatment.

Tim Mitchell, vice president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: ‘The NHS had a brutal start to the year because of the second wave of Covid, and this is reflected in today’s figures. 

LESS THAN 70 PER CENT OF PEOPLE GIVEN FIRST TREATMENT FOR CANCER WITHIN TWO MONTHS OF AN URGENT REFERRAL  

Fewer than 70 per cent of patients diagnosed with cancer were treated within two months of being referred for urgent tests by their GP — a record low.

NHS England figures today showed just 69.7 per cent of newly-diagnosed patients met that target in February this year. 

For comparison, the figure for February 2020 was 74.0 per cent.

The number of people seeing a specialist for suspected cancer in the first full year of the pandemic is now more than 370,000 lower than in the previous year — a 15 per cent fall.

And there was a six per cent drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment compared with this time last year, with no improvement over 2021.

The total number of people starting treatment between March 2020 and February 2021 is now at least 38,500 lower than expected.

Sara Bainbridge, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: ‘Today’s data further illustrates the catastrophic impact of Covid-19 on cancer diagnosis and treatment. 

‘Whilst there has been a marginal improvement from January in terms of urgent referrals, the number of people starting treatment remains lower than we’d expect. 

‘Tens of thousands of people are still missing a diagnosis due to disruption caused by the pandemic, which could affect their prognosis.

‘It’s vital that cancer services continue to be prioritised and that those with cancer are not forgotten. 

‘To address the extensive challenges that lie ahead, the NHS urgently needs a long-term, fully-funded plan for its workforce, ensuring there are more dedicated staff are able to provide the best care for cancer patients, now and in the future.’

‘Although we did see the number of patients with Covid decline in February, hospitals were still under huge pressure due to having to separate Covid and non-Covid care, staff having to isolate or being ill with the virus, and the massive resource needed to support the essential national vaccination effort.

‘Although the most urgent operations, for cancer and life-threatening conditions, went ahead, hundreds of thousands of patients waiting for routine surgery such as hip and knee operations, cochlear implants and vascular operations had their treatment cancelled or postponed.

‘387,885 patients have now been waiting over a year for planned treatment. That is a year of uncertainty, pain, and isolation. 

‘People have been patient as they’ve seen the battering the pandemic has given the NHS, but how much longer can they be expected to wait?’

He added: ‘Hitting the inauspicious milestone of a half a decade since the Government’s 18-week target for planned treatment was last met, reminds us the NHS’ capacity problem predates the pandemic. 

‘We already had too few beds and not enough staff to keep wider services, such as planned operations, going through hard winters and flu outbreaks.

‘The symptoms were there even before the pandemic, but the problem has now become ‘chronic’ and needs ‘long-term treatment’. 

‘As we try to get the NHS back on its feet, we must consider how to future-proof our health service, so that vital and life-changing operations can continue, no matter what comes our way. 

‘We need a New Deal for Surgery, with investment on a scale last seen in the 2000s, to get back on track meeting NHS waiting time standards.’

The total number of people admitted for routine treatment in hospitals in England was down 47 per cent in February 2021, compared with a year earlier.

Some 152,642 patients were admitted for treatment during the month, compared with 285,918 in February 2020.

Because 2020 was a leap year, February contained 29 days rather than the usual 28 days. But the extra day will make little overall difference to the figures.

The year-on-year decrease recorded in January was 54 per cent, while in December 2020 the drop was 25 per cent.

Dr Susan Crossland, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: ‘This data shows pressure is high and growing despite the fall in Covid cases and this was prior to the country starting to come out of lockdown.

‘Just this week the workload in acute medical units has felt to many like the pre-pandemic ‘eternal winters’ we had been working through for too long.’

She said the ‘scale of pressure on the system’ was best illustrated by separate data showing that 700 A&E patients were left waiting more than 12 hours for treatment in March. 

For comparison, the figure was around 330 in March 2019, when casualty units were busier. 

Statistics also show 174,624 urgent cancer referrals were made by GPs in February, compared with 190,369 a year before – a year-on-year drop of eight per cent. 

But the proportion of suspected cancer patients seeing a consultant within the two-week time target was 90.3 per cent, compared to 92.6 per cent last February. It was just 83.4 per cent in January 2021.

Urgent referrals where breast cancer symptoms were present – though not initially suspected – were down from 13,627 in February 2020 to 12,199 in February 2021, a fall of 10 per cent. 

The number of people seeing a specialist for suspected cancer in the first full year of the pandemic is now more than 370,000 lower than in the previous year — a 15 per cent fall.

Fewer than 70 per cent of patients diagnosed with cancer were treated within two months of being referred for urgent tests by their GP — a record low

Fewer than 70 per cent of patients diagnosed with cancer were treated within two months of being referred for urgent tests by their GP — a record low

And there was a six per cent drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment compared with this time last year, with no improvement over 2021.

The total number of people starting treatment between March 2020 and February 2021 is now at least 38,500 lower than expected.

Sara Bainbridge, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: ‘Today’s data further illustrates the catastrophic impact of Covid on cancer diagnosis and treatment. 

‘Whilst there has been a marginal improvement from January in terms of urgent referrals, the number of people starting treatment remains lower than we’d expect. 

‘Tens of thousands of people are still missing a diagnosis due to disruption caused by the pandemic, which could affect their prognosis.

‘It’s vital that cancer services continue to be prioritised and that those with cancer are not forgotten. 

‘To address the extensive challenges that lie ahead, the NHS urgently needs a long-term, fully-funded plan for its workforce, ensuring there are more dedicated staff are able to provide the best care for cancer patients, now and in the future.’ 

NHS England said staff completed almost 2million operations and other elective care in January and February this year, while also providing hospital treatment for nearly 140,000 coronavirus patients.

It said two in five of all patients who have received hospital treatment for Covid were admitted in the first two months of the year.

Data shows 1.9million elective procedures or support for patients took place amid the winter surge of Covid infections and there were some 2.6million A&E visits in that period, NHS England said.

Professor Stephen Powis, the national medical director for the NHS in England, said: ‘Treating 400,000 patients with Covid-19 over the course of the last year has inevitably had an impact on the NHS but it is a testament to the hard work and dedication of staff that they managed to deliver almost two million ops and procedures in the face of the winter wave and improve waiting times for them along with A&E and ambulance service.

‘It is good to see that people kept coming forward for checks cancer and other care with 22,000 who needed it starting treatment.

‘And the NHS recently announced a £1bn elective recovery fund which will be used to accelerate the restoration of services and treat as many people as possible, so we continue to urge anyone who needs the NHS to come forward so we can help you.’

But Dr Nick Scriven, immediate past president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: ‘It is becoming clearer that people with chronic illness, such as heart failure, have struggled on throughout the pandemic with community care but have now reached the limit of their endurance and now need hospital inpatient care.

‘Therefore it is imperative to rebuild face-to-face teams in the community as a matter of urgency as these are invaluable for patients with chronic diseases.

‘We must put emphasis on the safe ‘flow’ of patients through hospitals to effective discharge home to enable front door acute and emergency teams to do their jobs with manageable pressure on staff.

‘While no-one wants to see waiting lists increase any further, the priority will always be to ensure the most sick and in need get their care promptly and safely.

‘The job of government and NHS leaders is to make sure systems are in place across the board so that all patients are seen at the right place, by the right person at the right time to really effect change and we are not there yet.’

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Removal of humpback whales from threatened species list would come too soon, say conservationists


The removal of humpback whales from Australia’s threatened species list comes too soon and would add further dangers to emerging ‘complex’ risks, according to nine research and marine conservation organisations.

The Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is considering removing the species from the list, with estimates that there are more than 40,000 humpback whales in Australian waters.

In a submission to the department on behalf of the nine organisations, Griffith University research fellow in Marine Science Dr Olaf Meynecke, said it was too early to delist the species.

“What now is an issue, is a combination of other threats that are a lot harder to address,” he said.

“They’re complex and they’ll all interact with each other.”

At the height of the commercial whaling of humpbacks in 1962, their population was estimated at only 1,000 to 1,500.

The International Whaling Commission estimated in 2012 that the number of humpbacks living off the West Australian coast had recovered to 90 per cent of its pre-commercial whaling level.

Meanwhile, the population of humpback whales along Australia’s east coast is estimated at more than 26,000 — up from just 200 to 500 in 1962.

According to the Department’s consultation document, the humpback population has been recovering “at close to their maximum possible rate” of 11.8 per cent per year.

As such, the department suggests “the species is not eligible for listing”.

Dr Meynecke said humpbacks could, on average, reproduce every one to two years whereas other species may only produce a calf every three to four years.

“Humpbacks are more widespread throughout the ocean and able to adapt to very different feeding strategies,” he said.

Given this fast reproduction rate and the depletion of other whale species competing for the same food sources, Dr Meynecke said humpbacks could be considered “the rabbits of the baleen whales”.

“We’ve seen them feeding on schooling fish, we know they’re feeding on krill, they can also feed on different krill species socially or by themselves.”

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment found that the principal cause of decline for humpback whales was commercial whaling, which has “largely ceased”.

But the consultation document outlines other threats including climate change, noise interference, over-harvesting of krill, pollution, habitat degradation, vessel strikes and entanglement from debris, fishing and shark control nets.

For instance, there have been 104 reports of cetaceans affected by plastic debris since 1998 and 48 humpbacks have been entangled in nets.

But Dr Meynecke said the biggest threat was climate change, especially the absorption of more carbon dioxide into the ocean, reducing the main food source of whales — krill.

“We can see change is happening already in other [whale] populations where documentational studies show decline of calving rates,” he said.

“The window of actual feeding is a lot smaller and the places where it occurs is not necessarily where it used to be anymore.

Dr Meynecke said the data presented in the department’s consultation document, which suggested there were at least 47,000 humpback whales prior to whaling, is based on statistics gathered from 1900 onwards.

“”We’re pretty sure that the numbers were likely higher and also the conditions have really changed in the past 20, 30 years,” he said.

While there have been concerns around the level of funding allocated to the protection of threatened species, they are typically afforded greater resources and protections under federal legislation.

But even if humpback whales were delisted, they would remain protected as a “matter of national environmental significance” under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Nonetheless, Dr Meynecke said humpbacks should remain listed as threatened until a long-term plan to more accurately observe and monitor the population was put in place.

“What if in five years time their numbers are declining and we have a rapid decrease?” he said.

“We won’t actually notice until it’s too late.”

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Current contact tracing sites in Queensland, list expected to lengthen again today


More venues are expected to be added to Queensland’s growing list of possible exposure sites but as of Good Friday, this is the current list.

Anyone who visited the sites listed must quarantine at home immediately for 14 days from the time of contact, and complete an online contact tracing self-assessment or phone 13HEALTH.

Saturday, March 20

Sunday, March 21

Monday, March 22

Tuesday, March 23

Friday, March 26

Saturday, March 27

Monday 29 March 

Dozens of locations are on the list of casual contact sites, that carry a lower risk of exposure.

Anyone who visited these locations is advised to get tested immediately and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Tuesday, March 16

Wednesday, March 17

Thursday, March 18

Friday, March 19

Saturday, March 20

Sunday, March 21

Monday, March 22

Tuesday, March 23

Wednesday, March 24

Thursday, March 25

Friday, March 26

Saturday, March 27

Sunday, March 28

Monday, March 29

Queensland Health has just one low-risk site on their list. 

Anyone who was outside the Westpac at Peninsula Fair shopping centre in Kippa-Ring between 3:00 and 3:30pm on Tuesday, March 23 is asked to monitor for symptoms.

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I’ve been to a place on the contact tracing list. What should I do?


Queenslanders are keeping a close eye on the growing list of contact tracing venues linked to the Greater Brisbane coronavirus outbreak.

So what should you do if you see that you’ve been to one of these venues? And what should you do if you didn’t check-in while you were there?

Here are answers to some of your questions about contact tracing in Queensland. 

The Queensland Government provides an updated list of close contact and casual contact venues on its website.

If you have been to any of the close contact venues at the relevant times, you should quarantine at home immediately and get a COVID test.

Even if your test result is negative, you should quarantine until 14 days have passed since you attended the close contact venue as it can take 14 days before you show symptoms or test positive.

If you have not yet been contacted by Queensland Health, you should complete the contact tracing self-assessment or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

Once a venue has been identified as an area of concern, they have 24 hours to provide check-in information to Queensland Health contact tracers.

A Queensland Health spokesperson said data from the Check In Qld app had been requested and used to contact those at risk.

Information collected by the Check In Qld app is kept for 56 days by the Queensland Government, not with businesses.

If you believe you are a close contact or a casual contact and have not been contacted by Queensland Health, you should complete the contact tracing self-assessment.

If you are unable to complete the assessment online, contact 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

If you are concerned that you have been in a high-risk venue, call 134 COVID (13 42 68) for further advice.

You must provide your contact information when you attend a hospitality venue in Queensland.

Currently this can be done by using the Check In Qld app or other various electronic means such as QR codes or online booking systems.

On Wednesday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the Check In Qld app would be mandatory for hospitality venues from May 1.

Queensland businesses have been required to collect and store contact details electronically since December last year.

If you don’t have a smartphone, you must tell the venue immediately so they can provide an alternative method of electronically recording your contact details.

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Full list of schools and roads closed as disastrous flood waters rise


Schools in flood-affected parts of the state have begun to reopen following days of closures, however more than 60 schools remain shut due to the disaster.

The latest information from the Department of Education lists 65 public and non-government schools currently shut for the fifth day in a row.

More than 23,000 people state-wide have been evacuated with thousands more still on alert.

A woman walks down a flooded Kurrajong Road as water levels begin to subside on March 25, 2021 in Richmond, Australia. s) (Getty)

Officials from the Department of Education said more than 50 other schools have been damaged so far, the majority sustaining damage from flooding and roof leaks, strong winds, fallen trees and debris. Repairs and clean-up has started where possible, to ensure that schools can be returned to normal operations as soon as possible.

“We are continuing to work closely with emergency services to ensure our school communities remain safe and fully informed about any disruption to schooling,” the NSW Education spokesperson said.

“Before leaving home, parents and carers should consider their local situation including any existing road closures, transport disruptions and forecast weather conditions. 

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it may take some time before people are able to return to their homes and schools with the full extent of the damage yet to be determined.

“Life won’t be normal for a people of people for a long time and we have to face that,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“We have to accept we’re still going through the crisis itself … I’m not going to pretend the clean-up will be easy.”

Road into North Richmond underwater leaving residents stranded. (9News)

Students affected by the flood emergency will be able to learn from home, the department said.

Before and after school care services will not be available for schools that are closed.

Parents and carers should consider their location situation before leaving home, including any existing road closures, transport disruptions and forecast weather conditions.

  • Aldavilla Public School
  • Beechwood Public School
  • Bellbrook Public School
  • Boggabilla Central School
  • Brewongle Environmental Education Centre
  • Bullarah Public School
  • Cattai Public School
  • Colo High School
  • Comboyne Public School
  • Coopernook Public School
  • Cowper Public School
  • Crescent Head Public School
  • Elands Public School
  • Eungai Public School
  • Frederickton Public School
  • Gladstone Public School
  • Glossodia Public School
  • Green Hill Public School
  • Harwood Island Public School
  • Hawkesbury High School
  • Hopetown School
  • Huntingdon Public School
  • Kempsey East Public School
  • Kempsey High School
  • Kempsey South Public School
  • Kempsey West Public School
  • Kinchela Public School
  • Leeville Public School
  • Long Flat Public School
  • Longneck Lagoon Environmental Ed Centre
  • Macdonald Valley Public School
  • Mallawa Public School
  • Megalong Public School
  • Melville High School
  • Moree East Public School
  • Moree Public School
  • Moree Secondary College Albert St
  • Moree Secondary College Carol Ave
  • Orama Public School
  • Palmers Island Public School
  • Penrith Lakes Environmental Ed Centre
  • Pitt Town Public School
  • Rollands Plains Upper Public School
  • Rowena Public School
  • Smithtown Public School
  • South West Rocks Public School
  • Telegraph Point Public School
  • Toomelah Public School
  • Tucabia Public School
  • Wauchope High School
  • Wauchope Public School
  • Willawarrin Public School
  • Wisemans Ferry Public School
SES rescue Windsor residents as their homes become isolated and inundated as the Hawkesbury River floods across the region. (Nick Moir)

Independent and Catholic schools closed

  • Bede Polding College South Windsor
  • Chisholm Primary Bligh Park
  • Hunter Trade College
  • Kempsey Adventist School
  • Kuyper Christian School
  • McAuley Catholic College, Grafton
  • Moree Christian School
  • St Matthew’s Primary Windsor
  • St Monica’s Primary Richmond
  • St Paul’s College, Kempsey
  • St Philomena’s Central School, Moree
  • St Joseph’s Primary School, Kempsey
Flooding above South Creek bordering Windsor Downs. (Benjamin Johnson)
An aerial view of flooded farmland on the Colo river. (Jenny Evans/Getty)

Motorists and public transport passengers in flood affected areas of the state are advised to avoid non-essential travel and work from home again today.

Motorists needing to travel should take extreme care, be prepared for conditions to change quickly and never drive through floodwaters.

Public transport passengers who need to travel are also advised to allow plenty of extra travel time and take extreme care.

  • Between Narrabri and the Queensland border – the Newell Highway is closed
  • Between Moree and the Queensland border – the Carnarvon Highway is closed
  • The Gwydir Highway is closed east of Moree at Biniguy, and about 30km west of Moree near Mallawa Road
  • In Myrtle Creek – Summerland Way is closed at Elliotts Road
  • Between Glenthorne and Taree – Manning River Drive is closed over the Martin Bridge
  • Between Walcha and Gloucester – Thunderbolts Way has reopened
  • At Failford – Failford Road is closed between Bullocky Way and The Lakes Way
  • Walcha to Yarras – the Oxley Highway is closed in both directions
  • Between South Grafton and Townsend – Big River Way is closed
  • At Macksville – Giinagay Way is closed between Wedgewood Drive and Upper Warrell Creek Road
  • Between Thora and Dorrigo Mountain – Waterfall Way is closed
A man stands on the main Windsor Road whilst taking photos in the suburb of McGraths Hill on March 23, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (David Gray)
  • In Albion Park Rail – the Illawarra Highway is closed between Tongarra Road and Croome Lane
  • At Bombala – Cathcart Road is closed across the Coolumbooka Bridge
  • Between Bemboka and Steeple Flat – the Snowy Mountains Highway has reopened
  • On the South Coast Line – buses are replacing trains between Wollongong and Dapto due to signal equipment repairs at Unanderra.
  • Between Ivanhoe and Wilcannia – The Cobb Highway is closed

In the state’s north west:

  • In Walgett – the Kamilaroi Highway is closed between the Castlereagh Highway and Cryon Road
  • Between Ivanhoe and Wilcannia – The Cobb Highway is closed
  • The Silver City Highway has reopened for Four-wheel-drives only between Packsaddle and Tibooburra, but is now closed to all vehicles between Tibooburra and the Queensland border

In the Hunter/Central Coast:

  • Between Cliftleigh and Gillieston Heights – Main Road/Cessnock Road is closed between Avery Lane and Russell Street
  • Between Nelson Bay and Anna Bay – Nelson Bay Road is closed between Salamander Way and Frost Road
  • On the Central Coast & Newcastle Line – buses are replacing trains between Newcastle Interchange and Fassifern due to flooding at Cockle Creek.
  • On the Hunter Line – buses are replacing trains between Newcastle Interchange, Maitland and Dungog/Scone due to flooding
Floodwaters reach the rooftops of buildings in Richmond. (9News)

In the State’s Central West and Riverina:

  • Between Wallendbeen and Temora – Burley Griffin Way is closed
  • Between Temora and West Wyalong – Goldfields Way is closed
  • Between Cowra and Young – the Olympic Highway has reopened

In Sydney’s North West and West:

  • Between Bell and Mount Tomah – Bells Line of Road is closed in both directions
  • At Windsor:
    • Windsor Bridge is closed between Macquarie Street and Wilberforce Road
    • Windsor Road is closed between Pitt Town Road and Court Street
    • Macquarie Street is closed between Brabyn Street and Bell Street
  • At North Richmond – North Richmond Bridge is closed
  • At Yarramundi – Yarramundi Bridge is closed
  • At Colo – Colo River Bridge is open to vehicles up to 15 tonnes
  • Hawkesbury Valley Way has reopened between Macquarie Street and Day Street in Windsor but is still closed between Moses Street and just west of Percival Street in Clarendon
  • At Pitt Town – Pitt Town Road is closed between Saunders Road and Glebe Road
  • At Riverstone – Garfield Road West is closed between West Parade and Carnarvon Road
  • At Wilberforce – Wilberforce Road is closed between Freemans Reach Road and Rose Street
  • Between Cattai and South Maroota – Wisemans Ferry Road is closed across the Cattai Creek Bridge between Mitchell Park Road and Sackville Ferry Road
  • At Glenorie – Cattai Ridge Road is closed in both directions at The Causeway
  • At Wallacia – Mulgoa Road is closed between Water Street and Roscrea Drive and Silverdale Road is closed across the Nepean River
  • At East Kurrajong – Putty Road is closed between East Kurrajong Road and Stannix Park Road
  • Selected Busways services in Penrith, Blacktown and surrounding areas are running
    • Busways services in the Hawkesbury are still not running
  • On the T1 Western Line and T5 Cumberland Line – buses are replacing trains between Schofields and Richmond due to flooding
    • The buses cannot access Vineyard, Mulgrave, Clarendon and East Richmond stations due to road closures caused by flooding.
  • Buses are replacing F3 ferries between Meadowbank, Rydalmere and Parramatta due to the Parramatta Weir overflowing at Parramatta and strong currents at Rydalmere

Motorists are advised to avoid any non-essential travel. Anyone who needs to travel, should exercise extreme caution, allow plenty of extra travel time and never drive through flood waters.

  • Between North Narrabeen and Oxford Falls – Wakehurst Parkway is closed
  • At Oxford Falls – Oxford Falls Road is closed between Wakehurst Parkway and Aroona Road
  • Audley Weir is closed in the Royal National Park
  • At Menangle Park – Menangle Road is closed over the Nepean River
  • At Douglas Park – Douglas Park Drive (causeway) is closed between Moreton Park Road and Mitchell Place

This article will be updated throughout the day.

There are also a number of other minor road closures. For a full list and the latest traffic information, visit www.livetraffic.com, download the Live Traffic NSW app or call 132 701.

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Canberra wines on show as Mada Wines takes over Rebel Rebel wine list




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Canberra wines on show as Mada Wines takes over Rebel Rebel wine list
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Tyson Stengle will seek AFL return after Adelaide Crows cut him from their list


FOLLOW ALL THE ACTION FROM THE SEASON OPENER ON THURSDAY NIGHT WITH OUR LIVE COVERAGE OF RICHMOND v CARLTON FROM 6.30pm AEDT

Tyson Stengle will attempt to return to AFL football after Adelaide cut him from their list several months after they stood him down from all club duties in a financial settlement bound by a confidentiality agreement.

The 22-year-old was contracted until the end of 2022 but the club lost patience with him after they became aware of a third off-field matter involving Stengle in late 2020 when they received an image of him sitting near what appeared to be an illicit substance.

Small forward Tyson Stengle wants to continue his football career.Credit:Getty Images

He had been charged with drink driving in April when the game was shut down due to COVID-19 and was then involved in a misdemeanour in October with former teammate Brad Crouch when the pair were found in possession of cocaine after being searched by South Australian police.

Stengle had played 12 matches with the Crows in 2020 (including the last four matches of the season) bringing his career tally to 16, having played two games for Richmond in 2017.

Stengle was already suspended for the first four matches this season and Crouch, who joined St Kilda in the off-season, is suspended for the first two matches.

After being banished from the club, the small forward had been training with his SANFL club Woodville-West Torrens since February in the hope of regaining his position but the decision to part ways seemed inevitable to parties close to the negotiations weeks ago.

Sources familiar with Stengle’s situation expressed dissatisfaction with the time it took for the club to provide certainty to the player about his immediate future after his transgressions had been dealt with under the AFL’s illicit drugs policy.

Stengle’s management company W Sports and Media released a short statement after the agreement was reached.

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Travel news latest: Four more countries added to UK ‘red list’



While its idyllic island of Zanzibar is packed with Russian tourists, Tanzania faces a Covid conundrum with a mysteriously absent president, writes Sarah Marshall.

Although many airlines will only carry travellers with a negative PCR test, Tanzania has no official requirements. Enticed by the promise of easy entry, guaranteed sunshine and slashed resort rates, a new type of tourist is appearing.

Several times a week, direct scheduled and charter flights from Moscow bring coachloads of Russian holidaymakers to Zanzibar. 

Response from locals is mixed. “Some arrive with a beer in each hand,” one guide joked to me. “But they keep us busy; we are grateful for that,” he quickly added.

Reports from other hoteliers I met were less favourable. One manager of a boutique beach resort in the north complained of non-guests trespassing onto the property and leaping into the pool; another, based in Stone Town, was concerned by the number of skimpy dressers walking through the historic streets of what is still a predominantly conservative Muslim society. 

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Siege gunman not on counter-terrorism watch list, inquest told


Mr Hao’s death came less than two months after the 36-year-old was married. The sex worker, who cannot be identified, was physically unharmed. There was no bomb.

Coroner Audrey Jamieson is conducting an inquest into the siege and investigating how closely Khayre was being monitored while on parole and whether his actions could have been prevented.

Khayre was in 2010 acquitted of terror charges related to a foiled attack on the Holsworthy army base in NSW, but by 2012 was back in prison over a home invasion. He also had convictions for assault, weapons, arson, theft and drug offences.

Barrister Rachel Ellyard, the counsel assisting the coroner, said that in the months before the siege, Khayre – while on parole – bought guns from associates and began accessing ideological and violent material online.

A search of Khayre’s devices after his death showed that from May 14, 2017, he was watching terrorist and extremist material – including the sermons of an Islamic preacher, the siege at Sydney’s Lindt cafe and the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris – and was researching martyrdom.

He had also highlighted June 5, 2017 on his calendar with the word “Inshallah” (God willing), Ms Ellyard said.

Police in Brighton on the night of the siege.Credit:Luis Ascui

But an officer who was formerly with the Victoria Police counter-terrorism unit, said by late 2016 and 2017 Khayre was no longer considered a “profile target” on a list of people who were closely monitored.

The officer, who cannot be identified, said Khayre’s “lifestyle” of drug-related offending meant authorities considered him “incompatible” with ideological or terrorist-inspired offending. Police also had no evidence of “pious type behaviour”, such as social media posts or that Khayre was a follower of an imam, on which to act.

“That information didn’t come to us, we weren’t aware of it,” the officer said of Khayre’s internet searches.

Had police received that sort of information, authorities would have raised Khayre’s risk level and begun closely monitoring his behaviour.

Police at the scene of the Brighton siege on June 5, 2017.

Police at the scene of the Brighton siege on June 5, 2017.Credit:Eddie Jim

“That would have been one of those indicators we look out for … and something we were concerned about,” the officer said.

The inquest will also examine Khayre’s involvement in a court program aimed at helping Muslim men re-integrate into their communities after serving jail terms.

Ms Ellyard said Khayre’s involvement in the program included more than 100 sessions with his case manager and a religious mentor, and that he complied with all requirements although he declined to switch to another religious instructor when the mentor took leave from February 2017.

Ms Ellyard told the coroner that in hindsight, it appeared Khayre either left out key details about his radicalisation to his case worker and religious mentor, or had a “rapid change in direction” over the last weeks of his life.

The inquest continues.

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Flyers to be put on ‘no fly’ list for 3 months


Passengers not following Covid-19 protocol despite repeated warnings will be handed over to security agencies

New Delhi: Passengers refusing to wear a mask properly during a flight can be de-boarded or could be placed on a no fly list for a period of three months to two years or more, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said on Saturday. Also, passengers not following Covid-19 protocol despite repeated warnings will be handed over to security agencies.

The DGCA circular comes days after Delhi high court took suo moto cognisance and registered a writ petition in this regard after Justice C. Hari Shankar found passengers not wearing masks during a flight. The court had said that if a passenger, despite being reminded more than once in flight, refuses to follow this protocol, then action should be taken against the passenger, including placing the passenger on a “no-fly” regimen, either permanently or for a stipulated time. Observing that some passengers after entering the airport do not wear their mask properly and maintain social distance while being in the airport, the DGCA said that some passengers have been noticed not wearing their masks properly while on board the aircraft.

 

“On board the aircraft, in case any passenger does not adhere to wearing a mask properly even after repeated warnings, he/she should be de-boarded, if need be, before departure. In the case of any passenger on board an aircraft refusing to wear a mask or violates the ‘Covid-19 Protocol for passengers’ even after repeated warnings, during the course of the flight, such passengers may be treated as ‘Unruly’ passengers,” the DGCA circular said. The move was felt to be necessary to contain the rising cases of Covid-19. On Saturday India registered 24, 882 new cases and 140 deaths, which also the highest daily rise in the last 83 days. As many as 26,624 new infections were recorded on December 20.

 

Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and MP reported 87.72 per cent of the new cases in the last 24 hours.  Maharashtra accounts for 63.57% of India’s total active cases. Considering the recent spike, the Pune administration has directed schools and colleges to remain shut till March 31 and curtailed the operating time for hotels and restaurants.

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