More people to be allowed on public transport in NSW from Monday


More people will be allowed on public transport in NSW next week as coronavirus caps are increased.

From Monday, capacity on city services will increase to about 75 per cent and return to 100 per cent capacity on regional services.

Passengers are still encouraged to wear masks where social distancing can’t be guaranteed.
Trains in Sydney will take more passengers from Monday. (Nick Moir)

“Health advice now allows public transport services to increase capacity, which means people can now sit next to each other on their trip,” Minister for Regional Transport and Roads and Acting Minister for Transport and Roads Paul Toole said.

“We know the fight against COVID isn’t over, so we’ll keep green dots on services in case we need them again down the track.

“We’ve already started to see people returning to the network, and this announcement will give customers even more confidence to use our services in a COVID-safe way.”

Transport for NSW Chief Operating Officer Howard Collins said other measures such as extra cleaning will stay in place.

“We are still asking customers to plan ahead before they leave home, register their Opal card for contact tracing when needed and follow good hygiene practices including staying home if unwell,” Mr Collins said.

“Wearing a face mask is still an important part in limiting the spread of the virus if there is an outbreak, and remains strongly recommended on public transport, especially during those busier times on the network.”

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Indianapolis shooting leaves eight people dead at FedEx facility in US



Eight people have been shot and killed at a FedEx facility in Indiana, US police say.

Multiple people have injuries and the gunman has died, according to authorities.

When police arrived, officers reportedly observed “an active shooting scene at the facility”, according to Indianapolis police spokesperson Genae Cook.

Ms Cook confirmed multiple people were shot but did not give a specific number.

She added that the gunman had died and the public is not believed to be in immediate danger.

FedEx released a statement saying it was cooperating with authorities and working to get more information.

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“We are aware of the tragic shooting at our FedEx ground facility near the Indianapolis airport,” the company said.

“Safety is our top priority, and our thoughts are with all those who are affected.”

Live video from news outlets at the scene showed crime scene tape in the parking lot outside the facility.

A witness who said he works at the facility told US media he saw a man with a gun after hearing several gunshots.

Another man who told media he was a witness said his niece was sitting in her car in the driver’s seat when the gunfire erupted, and she was wounded.

“She got shot on her left arm,” Parminder Singh said.

“She’s fine, she’s in the hospital now.”

He said his niece did not know the shooter.

Family members of workers reportedly gathered at a local hotel to await word on loved ones.

Some said employees were not allowed to have their phones with them while working shifts at the facility, making it difficult to contact them.

More to come.

AP

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Yoga for young people | Brisbane City Council


Date & time

Fri 16 Apr 2021
9:30am to 10:30am

Age

5-17 years old

Cost

Free

Find your centre, your breath, your relax zone, stretch your body and have loads of fun. Develop self-regulation tools, build confidence and have a challenge in a safe supported space.

This is a Chillout event suitable for young people 5-17 years.

Bookings

No bookings required. For more information email Yoga and Wellness for All or phone Ellen on 0402 901 358.

Requirements

Yoga mat, sunscreen and water

Meeting point

Meet by the rotunda under the big tree.

Venue

New Farm Park, 137 Sydney Street, New Farm

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Can digital currencies bring people together? Sen. Lummis says yes.



Sen. Cynthia Lummis says federal laws on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t likely to come in the next couple of years.

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Jack jumper ants send more people to hospital in Tasmania than in rest of Australia


Four-year-old Marley Dowde was playing cricket in her northern Tasmanian backyard in January 2016 when she was stung twice in quick succession by a jack jumper ant.

The toddler screamed in pain and then almost immediately went into anaphylactic shock, terrifying her family.

“She flopped on the bench, she became unconsciousness within five minutes of being bitten,” Marley’s mother Belinda said.

“The ambulance took 40 minutes to arrive and during that time she was unconscious for the whole time.”

If humans disturb jack jumpers, “They think you’re an echidna trying to steal their larvae and their eggs,” an expert explains.(

Supplied: John Douglas/QVMAG

)

Ms Dowde said she feared the worst as relatives with first aid experience quickly placed Marley on the Lulworth property’s front deck and tried to pump Ventolin into her through a cordial bottle they had cut up in order to keep her airways open.

“I was not really much help to anybody,” Ms Dowde said.

“I was screaming. I was terrified. I thought she had died.

“It was a horrendous experience for all of us and 40 minutes is a very long time to wait for an ambulance when your child is so unwell.

Fortunately, Marley was no longer in anaphylaxis when the ambulance arrived, and she rapidly improved to the point where she was discharged from the Launceston General Hospital after an overnight stay.

‘They storm out of their nests in large numbers and they sting’

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data released on Wednesday showed Tasmania had Australia’s highest age-standardised rate of hospitalisations in 2017-18 due to contact with ants, ticks and caterpillars.

Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery collections officer Simon Fearne attributed that to jack jumpers’ habit of savagely defending their nests.

A black ant holding a spider it has captured.
Reactions to stings vary widely from swelling to a loss of consciousness.(

Supplied: John Douglas/QVMAG

)

There are four jack jumper species in Tasmania, but Mr Fearne says it is only really one, Myrmecia pilosuela, that causes painful stings and allergic reactions.

Mr Fearne said Tasmania tended to have the most severe reactions and deaths due to jack jumper bites because of their large numbers in the state, Tasmania having a lot of bushland, and a lot of Tasmanians residing in jack jumper habitats.

Tasmania also had the second-highest age-standardised rate of people being hospitalised due to contact with all venomous plants and animals in 2017-18, behind the Northern Territory.

Allergy program helps prevent severe reactions

Wun Lau, an allergist/immunologist with the Royal Hobart Hospital’s Jack Jumper Allergy Program, said about 1 per cent of Tasmania’s population was at risk of a reaction like Marley’s in response to a jack jumper sting, with a further 2 per cent at risk of a serious, but less life-threatening reaction.

Reactions to a sting can vary from itching and redness to swelling, stomach pain and vomiting, shortness of breath and dizziness, and a loss of consciousness caused by low blood pressure.

The allergy program desensitises people who have severe allergic reactions to jack jumper stings by exposing them to small amounts of the ant’s venom over at least five years.

The program has between 200 and 300 patients at any one time.

Dr Lau said it received about 150 referrals each year, with many of those either not eligible or unwilling to receive treatment.

Desensitisation helps Marley play without fear

After initially rejecting it, Marley started treatment with the Jack Jumper Allergy Program when she was seven, starting with venom injections three times a week.

While the treatment lasts for five years, Marley was told she was no longer anaphylactic after three months, meaning she could be bitten by multiple jack jumpers without having a serious reaction.

Belinda Dowde with her daughters Sylvie and Marley sitting on grass.
Belinda Dowde plays with her daughter Sylvie (left) and Marley at around the time she was bitten by the ant.(

Supplied: Belinda Dowde

)

That news meant Marley was finally able to shed the gumboots she wore everywhere and again play in the sand dunes and roll in the grass with abandon.

“I still remember the first time she went in the grass at my mum and dad’s place and she just rolled around in the grass for about 20 minutes,” Ms Dowde said.

The crucial test came in December when Marley was stung on the foot by a jack jumper in her backyard.

Fortunately for the Dowde family, the sting was itchy and painful, but Marley did not go into anaphylaxis.

“She just had a normal mild reaction like anybody would have. It was just marvellous and we’re so thankful for everything the Jack Jumper Allergy Program did for us,” Ms Dowde said.

The Dowde family smiles at the camera.
Marley (second from right) can now play in the grass with her parents Matthew and Belinda and her sister Sylvie.(

Supplied: Belinda Dowde

)

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Neighbours star Meyne Wyatt addresses crowd at Sydney rally demanding justice for Aboriginal people


Former Neighbours star Meyne Wyatt has addressed large crowds at a protest demanding justice for Aboriginal people who have died in custody.

The national day of action comes days before April 15 – which marks 30 years since a Royal Commission handed down more than 330 recommendations into Aboriginal deaths in custody.

“Recommendation after recommendation being ignored completely,” Mr Wyatt chanted at large crowds outside Sydney’s Town Hall on Saturday afternoon.

“You sick of hearing about racism? I’m sick of f**king talking about it,” he yelled.

It comes as actors in the long-running soap Neighbours came forward with allegations of racism on the set of the iconic Australian show.

Aboriginal actor Shareena Clanton was the first actor to make detailed allegations of racism on the series earlier this week.

Production company Fremantle issued a statement in response to the claims.

Thousands of people across Australia attended protests demanding justice for Aboriginal people who have died in custody today.
Camera IconThousands of people across Australia attended protests demanding justice for Aboriginal people who have died in custody today. Credit: David Geraghty/News Corp Australia

“Neighbours strives to be a platform for diversity and inclusion on-screen and off-screen. Our quest is always to continue to grow and develop in this area and we acknowledge that this is an evolving process,” a spokesperson said.

Thousands gathered at meeting points in Alice Springs, Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne on Saturday afternoon.

About 1000 people listened to speeches at Parliament House on Spring Street in Melbourne, where federal Indigenous Greens Party senator Lydia Thorpe addressed the crowd.

“You say justice, we say murder,” she chanted to crowds before they then marched through the streets towards Flinders Street Station.

An Aboriginal flag flown at half mast in memory of Prince Phillip at Parliament House in Melbourne was condemned by some people in the large crowd and on social media.

One Twitter user quipped: “The Aboriginal flag being flown at half mast for Prince Philip while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and allies rally to end Black deaths in custody is all you need to know about this country.”

The nationwide protests on Saturday followed the deaths of five Aboriginal people in custody since March this year.

Australians also took the streets then where Wurundjeri leaders led protests and mourned for Aboriginal lives lost in police custody.

The traditional custodians of the land also expressed solidarity with the US Black Lives Matter movement and the family of George Floyd, who suffocated on a Minneapolis street under the knee of a police officer.



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Chris Wallace grills Buttigieg on false jobs claim: ‘Why mislead people?’


“Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace on Sunday grilled Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for exaggerating the number of jobs that would be created by President Biden’s $2 trillion-plus spending proposal.

Wallace noted that Buttigieg and other Biden administration officials overstated the number of jobs that would be created by Biden’s “American Jobs Plan” last Sunday and then asked, “Why mislead people?”

“You’re right. I should have been more precise,” Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg then attempted to spin the projected number of jobs created by saying that there would be over 2 million more jobs created with the “infrastructure” plan than if there wasn’t a plan.

BUTTIGIEG SAYS AOC DEMAND FOR ‘EVEN BOLDER’ SPENDING ‘NATURAL PART’ OF TALKS ON $2T JOBS PLAN

Wallace said there was a huge different between 2 million jobs created and 19 million jobs, prompting Buttigieg to say it’s “very important” for Americans to know 2.7 million jobs will be created. He then asked Buttigieg whether he agrees that he and other Biden admistration officials exaggerated the “jobs impact.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg takes a question from a reporter at a press briefing at the White House, Friday, April 9, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
((AP Photo/Andrew Harnik))

During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press” last Sunday, Buttigieg claimed that Moody’s estimated the Biden plan would create 19 million jobs. National Economic Council Director Brian Deese also pushed the talking point last week on “Fox News Sunday.”

On Sunday, Buttigieg claimed there were several analyses on the spending plan estimating millions of jobs created, but Wallace pointed out that he was the one who cited an analysis from Moody’s.

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“Secretary, you’re the one who cited Moody’s Analytics as 19 million, and it’s actually 2.7 million, which is a bunch, but it’s not what you said,” Wallace said.

“It’s part of a scenario that Moody says will create 19 million jobs, but the bottom line is it’s going to add jobs and this is a direct refutation of people who are saying otherwise,” Buttigieg said. “So yeah, you’re right, I should be very precise. The difference in jobs that that particular analysis suggests is 2.7 million more. That is a great place to be.”

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People under 50 turned away from Melbourne vaccination centre after new AstraZeneca advice


A consent process for people under 50 who still want to get the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine is being developed, following confusion that led to healthcare workers getting turned away from vaccination sites in Melbourne.

The federal goverment on Thursday night said the Pfizer vaccine would become the preferred vaccine for people under 50 amid concerns about a rare blood clotting condition linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

ATAGI (the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation), which advises the federal government on immunisation issues, said the advice was based on assessment of the risks and benefits of the vaccine.

The expert panel said the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine may be used in adults aged under 50 years where the benefits were likely to outweigh the risks for that individual.

While Pfizer is now the preferred vaccine, ATAGI and the federal government have made it clear that people could still choose AstraZeneca if they wanted to, as long as it was an “informed decision”.

On Friday the states were waiting for the federal government to finalise a formal consent process for this situation.

In Victoria, health services have been encouraged to contact people under 50 who were booked to get an AstraZeneca vaccine before Monday and reschedule unless they can offer Pfizer instead.

“Until updated consent forms and consumer information are available from the Commonwealth Department of Health, and immunisation teams have been familiarised with these materials, it is advised that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is not administered to eligible persons aged under 50 years,” Victoria’s Department of Health said in a statement.

“When consent forms and consumer information from the Commonwealth are available, eligible persons for whom the benefits of protection against COVID-19 are likely to outweigh the risks of the side effect and who provide informed consent can receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“Appointments should not proceed until these resources are provided.”

But on Friday afternoon, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the consent process would be updated soon.

“One of the recommendations from ATAGI was to make sure that that informed consent process was absolutely and totally informed by this new information and so that will be available today,” he said.

“In some states there was an issue there because of the lack of that new informed consent process being available. They have made changes to the program today.”

On Friday morning dozens of people with appointments for COVID-19 vaccines were turned away from the hub at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne.

Athena Stathoulas, who works for St John Ambulance, had been sent a confirmation email two days ago for her vaccination today.

“I had no correspondence whatsoever about this,” she told the ABC.

“They just turned me away. I had no idea it was for 50s and over. I had no notification. So it’s a bit annoying.”

She said she had evaluated the potential risks of the AstraZeneca vaccine and was still happy to get the jab. 

“Well [the risk is] pretty minimal from what I’ve heard. It’s less than the contraceptive pill,” she said.

Sushanta Saha, who is a 35-year-old registered nurse, spent around 90 minutes getting to the site.

“I took the appointment. No-one told me anything,” he said.

“Now they say you can’t even go in.  They’re saying it’s a last-minute change.”

The New South Wales government briefly halted its vaccine rollout to frontline health workers but it has now resumed.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday stressed that the AstraZeneca vaccine had not been banned, and that the side effects were “very rare”.

“We are talking in the vicinity of five to six per million which is a rather rare event,” he said in a press conference today.

“But it must be acknowledged.

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France reports 5,705 people in intensive care units with COVID-19


FILE PHOTO: ICU for COVID-19 patients in Vannes
FILE PHOTO: A medical staff member works in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are treated at ELSAN’s private hospital Clinique Oceane in Vannes, France, April 7, 2021. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

April 8, 2021

PARIS (Reuters) – The French health ministry on Thursday reported the number of people in intensive care units with COVID-19 fell by 24 from Wednesday, to 5,705, the first decrease in eight days.

France also counted 71,944 deaths in hospitals due to the virus, up 343 from the previous day, while the number of people in hospital for COVID-19 was down by 349 to 30,555.

France also reported 84,999 new infections, although the total was from several days following recent data collection problems.

It said the figure included 30,785 new cases from Wednesday, 49,754 from Tuesday and 1,542 from Monday, which was a public holiday in France. The rest were from previous days.

The ministry has repeatedly struggled to publish up-to-date data on the outbreak and vaccinations.

(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten, Jean Terzian and Leigh Thomas; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler)

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