Foreign military personnel to be released from Darwin CBD quarantine days after COVID cases recorded


More than 80 foreign military personnel and their family members staying at a Darwin CBD hotel are being released from quarantine over the next two days, despite concerns from an Aboriginal health group that genomic sequencing on two positive coronavirus cases detected at the hotel last week is yet to be made public.

Last Wednesday, a foreign military official and the partner of another official tested positive to COVID-19 at the Darwin Travelodge, where up to 300 foreign military staff and their families were given approval by the NT’s Chief Health Officer to quarantine for 14 days.

The decision to allow the cohort to stay at the inner-city hotel, rather than at the government-managed Howard Springs quarantine facility, which is considered Australia’s ‘gold-standard’ for infection control, has previously been labelled as inexplicable by the Darwin-based Danila Dilba Aboriginal Health Service.

NT health authorities previously said the two positive cases — who were part of a batch of personnel that arrived one week ago — had been relocated to Royal Darwin Hospital, while 19 close contacts were taken to the Howard Springs facility to isolate as a precaution.

The Defence Department today said 83 people, including 28 foreign military officials and their families who all arrived in Darwin two weeks ago, would be heading interstate for training programs over the next two days after completing their mandatory 14 days of quarantine.

Another 181 people, including 67 officials and their families, remain in quarantine, and will exit the hotel between January 25 and February 1.

Defence has previously stated that all personnel and family members at the Travelodge are subject to strict conditions, including the need to have a negative COVID-19 result before being released.

But on Monday, Associate Professor John Boffa, a spokesperson for the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), said it would be a serious mistake to release any of the foreign military personnel before health authorities know which variant of the virus had been recorded within the Travelodge.

“[The genomic testing] was going to take six days to come back. I don’t think it is back yet. It has not been made public if it is.

“If it is one of the more infectious variants of the virus … it can spread beyond what you think to be the primary contacts in a quarantine facility, particularly if part of the facility that is being used is the indoor high-rise section of the facility rather than the open-air rooms.”

The ABC has asked NT Health whether genomic sequencing from the two positive cases has been completed.

The Travelodge hotel in Darwin’s CBD has been housing up to 300 foreign military personnel.(ABC News: Tiffany Parker)

Last week, the Queensland Government announced guests quarantining at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, where six cases of the mutant UK strain of the virus were recorded, would have their quarantine stays extended despite some guests already completing 14 days of quarantine.

“That’s what we should potentially be doing here,” Dr Boffa said.

“You can’t assume with one of the more infectious variants that the traditional method of just going with primary contacts is sufficient.”

CBD quarantine ‘ludicrous’: AMSANT

Dr Boffa added his voice to the growing chorus of criticism from organisations like Danila Dilba and the NT Branch of the Australian Medical Association regarding military personnel quarantining in a CBD hotel rather than Howard Springs.

“It’s ludicrous, it makes no sense that this exemption is given. It’s the position of AMSANT and other leading Aboriginal organisations in the Northern Territory that this is not good enough,” he said.

“We’ve got Howard Springs, it is the state-of-the-art national quarantine facility. The staff there have had immense training.

“It’s a risk that we shouldn’t have taken in the first place exempting these people to be in the facility.”

An ADF soldier, wearing uniform, stands outside the Travelodge in Darwin.
An ADF soldier stands outside the Travelodge in Darwin.(ABC News)

The Department of Defence has previously stated that the Howard Springs facility was not being used to accommodate military personnel to free up space in the facility in case of an emergency.

However Dr Boffa said that logic made little sense when one weighed up the risk of infection spread.

“Of course, there has to be planning for major disasters and there has been a lot of planning around that scenario, but remember Howard Springs has the capacity of 3,000 people and it is not operating at anywhere near full capacity,” he said.

“In the event there is such a disaster by all means you have to move people, and in that situation you might move significant people en masse to somewhere like the Travelodge. But you don’t pre-empt that, you actually start with the best facility.”

NT the ‘greatest risk-taking jurisdiction’

Pointing to the quarantine arrangements for foreign military and what he described as a trigger-happy attitude towards revoking domestic hotspots, Dr Boffa said the NT had become Australia’s most exposed jurisdiction to coronavirus.

Last week AMSANT released a statement labelling the NT Government’s revocation of the majority of its Greater Sydney hotspot, despite most other jurisdictions maintaining tighter restrictions on Greater Sydney, as “not consistent with reasonable public health practice”.

“We think a systemic pattern has emerged where the NT now is the greatest risk-taking jurisdiction in the country, even though we have the most vulnerable population, and we are the least ready to deal with an outbreak,” Dr Boffa said on Monday.

At the time of last week’s revocation, the NT’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Hugh Heggie, said he would continue to review and assess the health situation across NSW and a hotspot could be declared “at any time if required”.

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GWS Giants AFLW player Brid Stack released from hospital after neck injury in trial game



Greater Western Sydney’s Irish import Brid Stack has been released from hospital after suffering a fractured vertebra in an AFLW practice match in Adelaide.

Play was stopped in the fourth quarter of the game at Norwood Oval on Sunday after a collision.

They were fears Stack may have severely injured her spine after she was stretchered off the field.

The 34-year-old player was taken to hospital by paramedics after spinal protocols were enacted.

But in a statement released on Monday, the Giants said scans revealed Stack had a stable fracture of the C7 vertebra and no injury to surrounding nerves.

She will be required to wear a neck brace but will not be required to undergo surgery.

Stack was released from hospital late on Sunday night and will re-join the Giants squad in Adelaide for her rehabilitation.

“Bríd and her family have made incredible sacrifices to come to Australia to play in the AFL Women’s competition and we will be supporting them all the way through her recovery.”

Stack is entering her first AFLW season after a successful career in Gaelic football.

The 11-time All-Ireland winner for Cork joined the Giants last year and has been living in Australia with her husband and one-year-old son.

She spent Christmas in hotel quarantine in Perth with her family before joining her new teammates in Sydney.

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Health authorities say most of the travellers quarantining in South Australia will be released.



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Posted

January 15, 2021 17:07:03

South Australia will allow anyone from greater Brisbane into the state without having to quarantine from Sunday morning.


Source: ABC News
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Duration: 38sec

Topics:

rural,

health-policy,

health-administration,

states-and-territories,

government-and-politics,

forms-of-government,

sa,

australia

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Thousands of baby snapper to be released into SA gulf waters to boost fish stock recovery


Hundreds of thousands of snapper fingerlings will be released off South Australia’s coastline over the coming months, as part of a desperate attempt to replenish critically low stocks of the native fish.

A “drastic” total fishing ban was introduced in September 2019, applying to all coastal areas except the state’s south-east, in an attempt to safeguard snapper from overfishing.

An SA Research and Development Institute (SARDI) restocking program was launched around the same time the ban was introduced, resulting in 300,000 fish being spawned.

SARDI’s research director of aquatic sciences, Dr Mike Steer, said the introduction of the fingerlings into SA waters would give the species a chance of recovery.

“This initiative is trying to circuit-break [low numbers] by introducing a number of small fish to give the stock a kickstart in recovery,” Dr Steer said.

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Adult snapper stock from both Gulf St Vincent and Spencer Gulf were collected last year to be bred at SARDI’s fisheries facility at West Beach, in Adelaide.

SARDI scientists said they “cracked the code” for successful snapper spawning in October last year, resulting in 300,000 fingerlings.

“We’ve nursed them through their early vulnerable stages … we’ve provided adequate food, we’ve maintained the environment, the water quality has been really good,” Dr Steer said.

Now that they have reached a “healthy” length of 40 to 60 millimetres, they are ready for release.

About 150,000 of the fingerlings will be released from Gulf St Vincent next week, with the remainder to be released into Spencer Gulf during autumn.

“They aggregate in muddy, sea-weedy nursery grounds, so we’ve identified similar nursery grounds in Gulf St Vincent off Ardrossan for the release,” Dr Steer said.

Recovery not guaranteed

Primary Industries Minister David Basham said that, so far, the fishing ban had not produced any promising signs of the species replenishing itself naturally.

Overfishing concerns prompted a ban on catching snapper.(ABC News: Brittany Evins)

Mr Basham said it was extremely difficult to know how much recovery would occur naturally, or what the impact of the introduced fingerlings would be.

“We know it will take these fingerlings three to five years to be catchable size — so these aren’t an instant fix.”

The ban is being reassessed each year, and could be lifted in early 2023 if stocks increase by then, but there are no guarantees.

“We’ll have to wait and see how the science assesses this,” Mr Basham said.

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Anthony Albanese released from hospital after car crash


“Part of the recovery is just trying to control the pain. It’s expected the next 24 hours will not be terribly comfortable for me.”

Mr Albanese was driving home in the inner west suburb of Marrickville on Friday evening when a Range Rover ploughed into his Toyota.

The driver of the Range Rover, a 17-year-old P-plater, has since been issued with an infringement notice for negligent driving by police.

Mr Albanese was reluctant to speak about the particulars of the accident due to the possibility of future “legal consequences”. However, he revealed that while he was trapped in his vehicle at the scene unable to move, the teenager approached him and apologised for his actions.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s car was badly damaged in Friday’s accident.

“All I know is it showed some character,” he said.

“I hope that this experience leads this young man to commit to becoming one of the safest drivers that Australia has ever seen.”

The 57-year-old revealed he was on strong pain relief as he fronted the media pack gathered outside the hospital on Saturday afternoon after he was admitted overnight to undergo a battery of tests.

He would have to return to the hospital for further MRI scans, he said.

“Obviously I’ve undertaken pain killers now, which is why I don’t want the press conference to go on for too long,” he said.

Anthony Albanese was assessed by paramedics on scene and taken to hospital.

Anthony Albanese was assessed by paramedics on scene and taken to hospital.Credit:Nine News

Mr Albanese thanked the paramedics, police and hospital staff who assisted him, as well as an off-duty nurse who rushed to his aid at the scene.

“[The nurse] certainly gave me a lot of comfort as well as medical advice,” Mr Albanese said.

“I was suffering some significant shock due to the nature of the incident.”

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Mr Albanese said the accident could have been far more serious had it not been for large strides in car safety technology in recent years.

“If this accident was 10 years ago I wouldn’t be speaking to you here,” he said.

Mr Albanese said he had been inundated with well-wishes over the past 24 hours, including from parliamentary colleagues of all stripes, distant friends and relatives and religious leaders.

The crash occurred on Hill Street, close to Mr Albanese’s home in his electorate of Grayndler.

Police have confirmed the 17-year-old driver of the other vehicle was breath tested and returned a negative result,

Mr Albanese said he still intended to be in Canberra for the resumption of parliament and the accident had not dampened his hopes that 2021 would be a better year than 2020.

“I was always very confident I could deal with anything, any of the challenges that 2021 threw up,” he said. “After yesterday, I’m not just confident, I’m absolutely certain.”

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Actor Lori Loughlin released from prison after two months for college admissions scam


Loughlin and Giannulli had insisted for more than a year that they believed their payments were “legitimate donations” and accused prosecutors of hiding crucial evidence that could prove the couple’s innocence because it would undermine their case.

The case shattered the clean image of Loughlin, who gained fame for her role as the wholesome Aunt Becky in the sitcom Full House that ran from the late 1980s to mid-1990s, and later became queen of the Hallmark channel with her holiday movies and the series When Calls the Heart.

Prosecutors said Giannulli deserved a tougher sentence because he was “the more active participant in the scheme,” while Loughlin “took a less active role, but was nonetheless fully complicit”.

The couple funneled money through a sham charity operated by Rick Singer – the admissions consultant at the centre of the scheme – to get their two daughters into USC as crew recruits, even though neither was a rower, authorities said. Singer, who has also pleaded guilty, was expected to testify against them if they had gone to trial.

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Hundreds to be released from SA quarantine amid confusion over NSW coronavirus restrictions


South Australia’s police commissioner has apologised for confusion for incoming travellers from New South Wales, saying the majority of about 550 arrivals were incorrectly advised to quarantine.

Yesterday, it was announced that anyone who arrived in SA from Greater Sydney, Wollongong or the Central Coast after midnight would have to spend 14 days in quarantine.

But due to what Commissioner Grant Stevens called a “miscommunication”, authorities at Adelaide Airport and road borders enforced that rule on arrivals prior to midnight.

Some paid for flights back to Sydney, while others said they were forced into quarantine at hotels or at home.

Police said about 100 travellers at road borders made the decision to turn around and go home, based on the incorrect information.

Several hundred other arrivals were ordered to quarantine — but will be contacted individually for further instructions.

“Each of those travellers is being contacted directly and will be given specific advice as to whether they are required to quarantine or not.”

Commissioner Stevens said most of them would be able to leave quarantine, provided they had not been in the northern beaches area.

“The majority of those people will be allowed to leave quarantine immediately but they must wait until they are spoken to by a member of our team in South Australia Police,” he said.

“This is a very unfortunate set of circumstances, at a very unfortunate time of the year when people are travelling to spend Christmas with their families.

“We apologise for that inconvenience, but we would ask that people appreciate the exceptionally difficult work undertaken by a team of people who are doing their very best to protect South Australians from COVID–19.”

A Virgin Australia flight landing at Adelaide Airport yesterday.(ABC News)

Commissioner Stevens said police and security at the airport and the NSW border had misinterpreted information they were given about border restrictions, rather than them being written incorrectly.

“There was some miscommunication that resulted in specific instructions going out to our border checkpoints that people coming in from the Greater Sydney area were required to quarantine on arrival in South Australia immediately.” he said.

Situation ‘really complicated’, health chief says

The current restriction on travellers from Greater Sydney marks the first time South Australia has split a state into zones, rather than considering it as a whole — a situation which had previously created frustration in regional centres including Broken Hill and Mildura.

From today, people who arrive from areas considered “high community transmission zones” — Sydney, Wollongong and the Central Coast — will be tested three times for the virus: on arrival, on day five and on day 12 of quarantine.

People arriving from regional areas need a test on their arrival, day five, and day 12, but will not need to quarantine.

Anyone who has been in the northern beaches area of Sydney is now barred from entering the state.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the question of compensation for people forced to stay at hotels or drive or fly back to NSW was still open.

A woman with grey hair stands behind a podium with microphones
Professor Spurrier said compensation would be considered.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

“Look, I think we need to have a look at it on a case-by-case basis,” she said.

“I’m more interested in if anybody has turned around at the border and is waiting in rural NSW if they want to come back into South Australia to spend Christmas with their families.”

SA Health’s border exemptions committee will consider allowing people who have returned to NSW but not Sydney to come back into South Australia, she said.

Earlier, Dr Spurrier’s deputy, Mike Cusack, sowed confusion by saying people who had been in the Greater Sydney area since December 11, or the Central Coast and Wollongong since December 20, should do a 14-day quarantine, backdated to when they left.

“Based on what we know we now believe, if you have been in Sydney on those dates … you are considered to have been in a high-risk location,” Dr Cusack said.

“On that basis, you need to undertake a 14-day period of quarantine.”

Dr Spurrier later clarified that was not the case, but said the situation was “really complicated”.

“I’m sure everyone will forgive Dr Cusack for making that error this morning but hopefully the information that is now out and is going up on our website will be clear,” she said.



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Almost 40 per cent of residents in aged care facilities have been abused, data released by royal commission shows


Research into Australian aged care facilities shows 39.2 per cent of residents have experienced some form of abuse.

The data released by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was calculated using responses to a survey of 391 aged care residents in 67 homes.

Joe Ibrahim, head of the health, law and ageing research unit at Monash University, said the findings did not surprise him.

“There’s a great deal of neglect and abuse that has been underreported,” he said.

The survey was not conducted for the purpose of measuring the level of elder abuse in care facilities but it estimated the prevalence of abuse by examining elderly residents’ responses to questions.

Residents answered questionnaires about their quality of life, the level of care and their concerns or complaints about the facility where they lived.

The survey did not look into social, financial and sexual abuse.

‘Neglect is a huge factor in aged care homes’

From the responses received, the researchers reported 30.8 per cent of respondents experienced neglect.

This included concerns about how they were helped to shower, toilet, eat and use continence aids, as well as how medication was managed, how wounds were looked after and how pain was addressed.

Vivian Poloni, who discovered her father was being roughly treated in the dementia ward at Bupa Templestowe, said she witnessed ongoing neglect at the facility during her weekly visits.

Ms Poloni and family members noticed Ernie Poloni’s teeth were not being brushed and he was not being given a shower.

Ernie Poloni’s family discovered he was being neglected and handled roughly by carers at the facility where he spent four years.(Supplied)

“Neglect is a huge factor in aged care homes,” said Ms Poloni, who first revealed concerns about how her father was treated in September 2019.

“They don’t have the staff or they won’t put on the staff.”

Professor Ibrahim said it was appalling to discover nearly a third of residents were being neglected and said more research was needed to work out why it was happening and how it could be stopped.

“There’s very little funding or support to investigate or interrogate this type of information,” he said.

“I think the regulator, the Government and the general population do not like or find it challenging to confront the reality of abuse and neglect.”

One in 20 reported physical abuse

A photo of Ernie Poloni's pyjamas taken by one of his relatives shows a large tear in the fabric.
Ernie Poloni’s family became concerned he was being handled roughly when they noticed his pyjamas were being torn.(Supplied)

The report also showed an estimated 22.6 per cent of residents experienced emotional or psychological abuse, including feeling like they were being treated like children, being shouted at, or not having their concerns listened to.

One in every 20 residents reported having been physically abused, which included people being roughly treated by staff, restrained, or not being allowed out of their bed, chair or room.

Over 200,000 Australians currently live in aged care facilities, which means more than 10,000 elderly people could be subject to physical abuse.

Ms Poloni suspected her father was being roughly handled after the family noticed his pyjamas were being ripped.

They installed a hidden camera in his room and discovered staff at the care home were pushing Mr Poloni around when they changed him.

Ms Poloni and other family members felt they had to constantly check how her father was being cared for.

One lady in the facility, whose family rarely visited, “lost so much weight she just deteriorated because no-one was making sure she was fed”, Ms Poloni said.

Bupa has apologised “unreservedly” for failures across its network of aged care facilities.

Professor Ibrahim said the findings pointed to widespread abuse in care homes, given residents from so many homes were surveyed.

In his view, abuse of elderly people is a major problem in every type of facility, no matter who the owners are, and the onus is on regulators and the Government to set standards that address the issues.

He is hopeful the report will provide a catalyst for more research into how the abuse of elderly people can be addressed.

But he is concerned few people can see how bad the problem is.

“You can’t believe that people would be so awful in an environment that is supposed to be one that cares for you,” he said.



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AFL 2021 fixture: first six rounds released


The Brisbane Lions and Collingwood will clash on Easter Thursday at the Gabba, while there will be a double-header on Good Friday when North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs meet at Marvel Stadium, while the Crows take on the Gold Coast in Adelaide.

There will also be AFL and AFLW double-headers in rounds one and two. The timeslots for matches beyond round six will be confirmed once the season begins.

In a remarkable year when the 2020 campaign had to largely be held outside of Victoria because of COVID-19 issues, AFL executive manager of clubs and broadcasting Travis Auld again cautioned the industry on the ongoing challenges of the pandemic that have most recently resurfaced in Sydney.

“We must not lose sight of the ongoing pandemic, we will remain diligent and take every precaution, both at clubs during the week and in stadiums on match day, to ensure the health and well-being of everyone continues to be the key priority,” he said.

“Scheduling the fixture in blocks provides an added level of flexibility to adjust where required, and as our recent season demonstrated, our clubs and industry have the resilience and open-mindness to adapt where needed to keep footy going for the fans.”

Collingwood (14 games, including five “away”) will have the most matches at the MCG, while Richmond will have 13. All teams will have at least one match at the venue.

AFL executive Travis Auld at the fixture announcement on Monday.Credit:Getty Images

Beyond the opening six rounds, the AFL has scheduled the Sir Doug Nicholls round to be spread over rounds 11 and 12, and include matches in Darwin and Alice Springs, as well as the Dreamtime Game and Sydney’s Marn Grook contest. Cairns will later play host to a St Kilda home game against the Crows in round 13.

“We begin season 2021 with a renewed level of optimism, focusing on delivering fans a blockbuster schedule of matches to open the season,” Auld said.

“Having so many different clubs feature in marquee timeslots is testament to the success of the AFL’s equalisation policies. The competitiveness and the ability for any team to win on any day gave us great confidence in the spread of marquee timeslots to begin the season.

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“The first six weeks looks as exciting as any recent season in memory. We know supporters are looking forward to the return of the AFL season and there is much for fans to look forward to, whether that be attending matches or watching the broadcast.”

Auld said it had been important to schedule matches early in the season in the cities and states that had largely been without football because of the pandemic.

“Bringing footy back to capital cities that faced a very uncertain and challenging time this year due to the COVID pandemic will be uplifting for not only the fans in those states, but also for the teams themselves that haven’t played in front of home crowds for basically a whole season,” he said.

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When land will be released in next stage of subdivision 


NEW residential lots of a Murwillumbah housing subdivision are expected to be released in the new year.

Most of the Hundred Hills estate has been established for some time, but Hewittville Pty Ltd acquired the 12.58 hectares remaining of approved – but not yet developed – subdivision in 2017.

There are a remaining 105 residential lots approved across the upcoming stage, and one final stage to follow.

The upcoming stage will involve 36 new lots.

“After we purchased the site, we approached Tweed Shire Council with a proposal to change the staging of the development to deliver 36 premium lots to the market,” development manager Grace Waugh said.

 

<< Earthworks begin on new phase of housing development >>

 

A plan of lots to be released in the next stage of the Hundred Hills residential development in Murwillumbah.

“The design and approval process was lengthy, but we believe the resulting product was worth the wait.

“We were due to begin the construction in July this year but we delayed due to the

pandemic and economic uncertainty.

“Following announcements from the government for the Home Builder program and an extreme shortage in land supply in Murwillumbah, we decided to get the start construction in October.”

The original development, on the western edge of Murwillumbah, was approved by the NSW Land and Environment Court after a deemed refusal appeal in April 2006.

That development application sought approval of 342 residential lots, eight rural residential lots, reserve lots and one lot for a shopping centre precinct on what was a 44.6 hectare property, involving an estimated $11.9 million worth of civil works.

No shopping centre has been built within the development but a childcare centre was established on the corner of Old Lismore Rd and Riveroak Dr.

Earthworks have begun on an area at the western end of Riveroak Drive in the Hundred Hills estate in Murwillumbah. Picture: Liana Boss

Earthworks have begun on an area at the western end of Riveroak Drive in the Hundred Hills estate in Murwillumbah. Picture: Liana Boss

Changes to the development plans for the next stage – at the top of Riveroak Dr – were subject to a modification application.

This was submitted with Tweed Shire Council in February 2019 and approved six months later.

Lots in the upcoming stage are to range from 451 sqm to 1284 sqm.

This will include 19 lots of less than 500 sqm and the other 17 will be between 522 and 1285 sqm.

“Our project is currently in the bulk earthworks stage which is due to be completed in January,” Ms Waugh said.

“Civil works will begin in January with expected completion in late April.

“The lots will be released to the market in January 2021 and we anticipate registration mid 2021.”





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