Qld cyclone strengthens, barrels south

North Queensland residents are battening down the hatches, with a tropical cyclone strengthening to a category two storm and shifting direction a second time.

The Bureau of Meteorology says Cyclone Kimi was barrelling south about 195km north of Townsville at 1pm AEST on Monday.

Kimi is set to slow and stall between Hinchinbrook Island and Townsville and potentially weaken before crossing the coast on Tuesday.

However, forecasters warn it could still make landfall as a category two storm, packing winds up to 150km/h, on Monday night or on Tuesday.

“Considerable uncertainty remains with the future movement of the system, and a category two coastal crossing between Hinchinbrook Island and Townsville tonight or on Tuesday remains possible,” the bureau says in an alert.

Residents from Innisfail to Bowen, including Townsville, are being told to prepare for gales up to 120km/h, heavy rains and abnormally high tides.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is urging people to listen carefully to media reports and updates on where the cyclone moves.

“Everybody in the north … should be listening to the media reports very, very closely because the bureau will be giving those reports every three hours, and we’ll be giving a further update from the state government this afternoon,” she told reporters.

People between Innisfail and Ayr are being urged to get ready and secure their boats and homes in particular.

“I know we’re Queenslanders, I know we go through cyclones every single year but please do not be complacent,” Police Minister Mark Ryan said.

The bureau also warns that heavy rainfall could bring flash flooding and major river flooding to coastal and hinterland areas between Port Douglas and Ayr on Monday and Tuesday.

Mr Ryan said a flood watch was issued for waterways including the Jeannie, Endeavour, Daintree, Mossman, Barron, Mulgrave, Russell, Johnstone, Tully, Murray and Herbert rivers.

“So if you’re in those areas you need to prepare … if it’s flooded forget it, have a plan about where you’ll be travelling, bear in mind where those river catchments are, be aware that during this event you could have flash flooding,” he said.

Parts of the Wooroonooran, Girramay and Paluma Range national parks, and the Abergowrie State Forest, have been closed.

With the cyclone set to dump rain on large parts of Queensland’s interior, flood warnings have also been issued for a number of inland rivers.

The Norman and Gilbert rivers in the Gulf Country and most of the Queensland tributaries of Lake Eyre could break their banks.

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



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
Duration: 38sec










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South Australia to relax coronavirus border restrictions for regional NSW travellers

South Australian health authorities will relax coronavirus restrictions to allow travellers from regional New South Wales back into the state, but will keep quarantine requirements in place for arrivals from Greater Brisbane for the time being.

Premier Steven Marshall said that from 12:01am, NSW travellers from outside high community transmission zones in Greater Sydney, Wollongong, the Central Coast and Blue Mountains will be able to enter SA.

Currently, NSW residents outside a buffer zone which includes Broken Hill and Wentworth are banned from entering, after a hard border was imposed a fortnight ago.

Regional and rural arrivals will still need to be tested on days one, five and 12, but will not have to quarantine once changes come into effect tonight.

“We have not wanted to keep restrictions in place for one day longer than we need to,” Mr Marshall.

“As of one minute past midnight, we will be opening up for people coming in from regional NSW, so outside of the high community transmission zones of Greater Sydney, Wollongong, Central Coast and the Blue Mountains.”

But the Premier said SA’s requirement for arrivals from Greater Brisbane to quarantine for two weeks would remain in place for now.

“I know people had been hoping we could do that yesterday or today but we’re not in a position at the moment.”

Two travellers test positive

South Australia today recorded two new coronavirus cases — both of them men aged in their 30s.

The two individuals are unrelated and recently returned from overseas.

They are currently in a medi-hotel, and returned positive results on day one and day five tests respectively.

Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said it was too early to say whether the two cases belonged to the highly contagious UK strain.

She said a decision was still being made on whether arrivals from rural NSW who had entered SA before the hard border was imposed would need to remain in quarantine.

“We will still require people to be tested coming in,” Professor Spurrier said.

“We’re just reviewing people who are currently in quarantine who have come from rural NSW and we will make that a little clearer later this afternoon.”

Professor Nicola Spurrier said SA’s two new cases are both returned travellers.(ABC News)

Professor Spurrier said authorities were also monitoring the situation in Queensland, where an urgent incident response is underway after genomic testing discovered six previously identified COVID-19 cases were linked.

All six cases stayed on the same floor of the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane, where one of the hotel’s cleaners tested positive for the UK strain on January 7.

“Those people [would] need to go into quarantine.

“We are still trying to get to the bottom of what’s happened in that particular hotel. It is very reminiscent of what happened here in South Australia with [the Parafield cluster].”

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NRL 2021: Wayne Bennett steps down Queensland Maroons, Origin, next coach, Paul Green, South Sydney Rabbitohs

Wayne Bennett won’t return to coach Queensland in 2021, and the Maroons are considering a shock succession plan involving a group of retired legendary players.

The QRL announced on Thursday Bennett would not coach the State of Origin side again next year, having answered an SOS and led the team to victory as coach at the end of last year.

His departure opens the door to a shock succession plan involving retired legends like Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Justin Hodges, and Cooper Cronk.

Media outlets including News Corp newspapers have confirmed the QRL may install someone like Paul Green in the role for 2021, but then replace him with one or a combination of those former players before the 2022 series.

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South Hedland gas, battery deferred

A $200 million battery and gas power expansion in South Hedland has had development approval deferred three months to ensure the project is EPA compliant.

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Josh Mansour signs with South Sydney Rabbitohs

“The next morning my thoughts became reality. It was tough hearing. I was in shock. I was flooded with emotions. I was disappointed, angry, I was a bit bitter, I’m not going to lie.

“I just didn’t see my time ending at the Panthers the way it did.”

Josh Mansour has signed a two-year deal with the Rabbitohs.Credit:NRL Photos

Despite claiming the minor premiership with the club, the Origin star was told by the head coach he had no future at the foot of the mountains as the club was eager to use youngster Charlie Staines on the wing.

Mansour said he and his young family had been so sure about his future with the Panthers that they had begun house hunting around grand final time, but that was suddenly “all flushed down the toilet” in November.

“It was tough for myself, but also for my family because it gave us a lot of uncertainty,” he said. “I didn’t see it coming … two days after the grand final loss that was the last thing on my mind at that time.”

With no clubs showing real interest until January, Mansour was quickly branded unwanted during the off-season with the Rabbitohs offer coming as a “massive wave of relief”.

“I actually didn’t really have enough time to get over [the grand final loss],” he said. “Everything just piled on top of each other.

“I wanted to try and relax as much as I could because it was such a long year … but it was really hard too because I had this cloud of doubt and uncertainty hanging over my head the whole time. It was really tough.”

Heading into the new year, clubs began to show interest, with the Tigers, Dragons and Eels also meeting with Mansour’s management. But, having played 48 games in the national under-20s competition and an NYC grand final alongside Adam Reynolds, Mansour said South Sydney was always his first pick.


“My decision to go to Souths wasn’t only based on the team … I have a personal connection,” he said. “I don’t hold any grudges [towards the Panthers], I’ve moved on and I just want to start my new chapter in my life.”

Rabbitohs head of football Mark Ellison said Mansour coming into the squad was made possible by Corey Allan’s move to the Bulldogs.

“Josh is a highly experienced NRL and representative player that will bring many attributes to our team, the club and our community,” he said.

“He is a high work rate winger who is one of the competition’s leading players in terms of kick-return metres, as well as a renowned finisher.

“More importantly, he is a quality team and club man that inspires his teammates and brings energy to any team of which he is a part.

“He knows what our club is about and respects the tradition and history of South Sydney, as well as the community that the club represents.”

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South Australia retains coronavirus border restrictions with NSW and Brisbane

South Australia’s border rules with New South Wales and Greater Brisbane will remain unchanged for now, but authorities say the situation will be reviewed during the week.

NSW residents are not allowed to enter SA, while people from Greater Brisbane need to quarantine for two weeks.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the state’s Transition Committee had considered the number of cases of the UK coronavirus strain in Queensland before deciding to retain the status quo.

“There’s no changes to our any border arrangements at this stage,” she said.

“We have met as a Transition Committee today and we’ve looked at the epidemiology and the case numbers both in New South Wales and also what is happening up in Queensland, and we have not made any changes.

“[Travellers are] not being stopped coming from Greater Brisbane but will require a 14-day quarantine period coming into our state as well as testing.”

Professor Spurrier said she was “very keen to have that border arrangement lifted” and would raise the matter with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) tomorrow.

But she said the state’s border restrictions with New South Wales were a “completely different situation”, with COVID-19 cases still appearing around Sydney.

“We would be looking for that 14 days of no community transmission [in New South Wales],” she said.

Nicola Spurrier says she hopes SA can open to Brisbane “sooner rather than later”.(ABC News: Michael Clements)

South Australia today recorded zero new cases, and has 15 active cases in returned travellers, including two known to have the UK variant.

“We have had four cases of that in our state. Two of those people … are now out of isolation but there are still two in our medi-hotel,” Professor Spurrier said.

“No matter what form of COVID it is, which variant it is, it will still be very significant for us in South Australia if we had any form of community transmission.”

Tennis stars to undergo ‘more stringent testing’

Professor Spurrier today confirmed that tennis stars taking part in a lead-up tournament to the Australian Open would not be staying in any of Adelaide’s existing medi-hotels.

Instead, they will be quarantining in a separate facility.

“But it will be a medi-hotel and they will have, in fact, more stringent testing than anybody else,” Professor Spurrier said.

Adelaide is due to host the event — dubbed A Day At The Drive — at Memorial Drive Tennis Centre on January 29.

Six international tennis stars — Serena Williams, Simona Halep, Naomi Osaka, Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal — have been confirmed for the one-off exhibition tournament.

Serena Williams hits a forehand in front of empty stands at the French Open.
Serena Williams in front of empty stands at the French Open.(AP: Alessandra Tarantino)

SA Health will not reveal which hotel they will be staying in, but says it will be run like any other medi-hotel which includes having police and security patrols on duty around the clock.

“They are, because they are elite athletes, able to have training privileges and we did something similar when we had international cricket players [in Adelaide],” Professor Spurrier said.

“It’s not going to be a luxury resort, but hopefully they will find it comfortable.”

Authorities have also confirmed the tennis stars will be escorted to and from training to ensure they do not come into contact with members of the public.

Labor calls for return of Brand SA

South Australia’s Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas today urged the SA Government to bring back tourism organisation Brand SA, and fund a new local brand promotion campaign, to assist the state’s COVID-19 recovery.

Brand SA had been running the “I Choose SA” campaign before its funding was cut in 2019.

“If we can promote local, South Australian-produced goods to South Australians, and that results in a greater take up of those products, it will inject more money into these businesses and that of course means more local jobs,” Mr Malinauskas said.

“It’s a very small investment that can go a very long way.

Restaurant owner Nicole Bugeja said any additional help would be welcome after an “unprecedented” year for the state’s small businesses and producers.

“Anything that can support local businesses, promoting the fact that they are local, is absolutely a positive,” she said.

But Health Minister Stephen Wade said bringing back Brand SA was “not on the table at the moment”.

“Particularly in the context of the pandemic, we’ve seen the strong focus of this Government on maintaining both the economic health and public health of South Australia,” he said.

“We’ll continue to support South Australian businesses to both grow their local business and grow their export business.”

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NRL 2021: Corey Allan signs with Bulldogs, South Sydney Rabbitohs release, Trent Barrett

Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett has continued his signing spree with yet another impressive coup… and this one took just one meeting and four days to land.

Queensland Origin fullback Corey Allan took part in his first training session as a Bulldog on Monday after signing a three-year deal with the club last week.

The 22-year-old joins a list of key signings rubber stamped by Barrett including Nick Cotric, Kyle Flanagan and Jack Hetherington as well as Josh Addo-Carr and Matt Burton — who will both join the club in 2022.

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Given Allan faced a battle to lock down a starting position with South Sydney, he jumped at the deal on offer — which is reportedly worth more than the $350,000 he was going to earn at Redfern this year.

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Today’s coronavirus news: Northern Ontario schools reopen to in-class learning; WHO experts arriving in China to begin probe of virus origins; South Korea to vaccine its 52M people for free


  • 5:10 a.m. South Korea to vaccine its 52M people for free

  • 5:02 a.m. WHO experts arriving in China Thursday for virus origins probe

  • 4 a.m. Northern Ontario schools reopen to in-class learning as southern students stay home

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

5:16 a.m. The Japanese Health Ministry has found a coronavirus variant in people arriving from Brazil that’s different from the ones in Britain and South Africa.

The variant was found in four people tested at the airport, the ministry said Sunday. Japan was working with other nations, the World Health Organization and other medical experts to analyze the variant.

The previously identified variants from Britain and South Africa are more contagious, but the behaviour of this variant and the illness it causes are not yet known.

5:12 a.m. Authorities in northern France launched a weeklong mass testing program on Monday to assess the rate of coronavirus infections and the spread of a more contagious variant that first appeared in southern England in November.

In the city of Roubaix, health officials said they hope to test 10% of the population by Saturday. That represents 10,000 people.

Sequencing will be carried out on the positive samples to detect whether the variant is present.

France has been criticized for its slow vaccination program, having vaccinated only a fraction of some of its neighbours.

5:10 a.m. South Korea’s president says it’ll offer COVID-19 vaccinations to all its people free of charge in phases.

President Moon Jae-in made the comments in his New Year’s address on Monday. He has maintained an earlier government announcement that the inoculation will start from February.

South Korean officials have said they’ll have vaccines for 56 million people, an amount seemingly enough for the country’s 52 million people.

Who will get vaccinated first has not yet been decided but is likely to be people at long-term care centres and nurses and doctors.

After weeks of a resurgence, South Korea’s virus caseload has gradually slowed amid tough distancing rules that include a ban on social gatherings of five or more people. Earlier Monday, South Korea reported 451 new virus cases, the first time for its daily tally to come below 500 in 41 days. The country’s total stands at 69,114 with 1,140 deaths.

5:05 a.m. More than 80% of people in Japan who were surveyed in two polls in the last few days say the Tokyo Olympics should be cancelled or postponed, or say they believe the Olympics will not take place.

The polls were conducted by the Japanese news agency Kyodo and TBS — the Tokyo Broadcasting System.

The results are bad news for Tokyo organizers and the International Olympic Committee as they continue to say the postponed Olympics will open on July 23.

Tokyo is battling a surge of COVID-19 cases that prompted the national government last week to call a state of emergency. In declaring the emergency, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he was confident the Olympics would be held.

5:02 a.m. Experts from the World Health Organization are due to arrive in China this week for a long-anticipated investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, the government said Monday.

The experts will arrive on Thursday and meet with Chinese counterparts, the National Health Commission said in a one-sentence statement that gave no other details.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the experts would be travelling to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected in late 2019.

Negotiations for the visit have long been underway. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed disappointment last week over delays, saying that members of the international scientific team departing from their home countries had already started on their trip as part of an arrangement between the WHO and the Chinese government.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said China had approved the visit following consultations between the sides and called it an opportunity to “exchange views with Chinese scientists and medical experts on scientific co-operation on the tracing of the origin of the new coronavirus.”



4:54 a.m. Alberta kids return to full-time in-person classes this week, but the back-to-school story is a bit more complicated in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced last week that lockdown restrictions imposed last month would continue until Jan. 21, but schools were an exception and would reopen Monday.

A full return to classes in Manitoba, however, won’t happen until Jan. 18, although in-person learning has been available as an option for children in kindergarten through Grade 6 as well as for older kids with special needs.

Students’ return to the classroom in Saskatchewan depends on the schedule of each school division.

Regina Public Schools kept elementary and high school students learning at home last week with the plan to resume in-person learning today.

Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, meanwhile, already welcomed students back last week.

Monday 4 a.m. Elementary school students across northern Ontario can return to in-class learning this morning.

The northern portion of the province is allowed to return to school buildings as positivity rates for COVID-19 are relatively low.

The provincial government announced on Thursday that schools across southern Ontario, meanwhile, would not be returning to in-person classes today as planned.

Instead, students in southern Ontario will continue attending classes remotely until at least Jan. 25.

To account for the change, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced Saturday that the list of essential workers eligible for emergency child care would be expanded.

It now includes RCMP officers, custodial and clerical education workers and postal staff.

Sunday 9:30 p.m.: Now that COVID-19 vaccines have started arriving in Canada, where’s the national public awareness campaign around their safety and effectiveness?

It’s a question public health experts have been asking as vaccinations have begun for high-risk populations, with access for the general public likely to start in the spring.

“You always want to start this stuff sooner rather than later,” said Dr. Nitin Mohan, a physician epidemiologist and partner at ETIO Public Health Consultants, on the need for a public awareness campaign.

Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada told the Star that a “mass campaign” is planned for the spring, although a budget estimate hasn’t been finalized.

In the meantime, a campaign for winter 2021 budgeted at $4.5 million “will include regular updates on vaccine distribution and administration, as well as advertising, outreach and social media marketing to provide Canadians with vaccine information, including facts and expert answers, and to address misinformation,” the agencies said in a written statement.

Read the full story here.

Click here to read more COVID-19 coverage from Sunday.

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NRL 2021: South Sydney target David Nofoaluma as Corey Allan leaves, transfer news, Wests Tigers

The Wests Tigers face a fresh fight to retain Dally M winger of the year David Nofoaluma with the South Sydney Rabbitohs poised to make a play to sign the robust speedster for 2022.

Nofoaluma had a breakout 2020 season for the Tigers, scoring 17 tries in 20 NRL matches and collecting the club’s best and fairest Kelly-Barnes Award award.

With Corey Allan switching from South Sydney to Canterbury-Bankstown effective immediately as of Monday, the Bunnies are now eyeing off making a play to lure the Wests Tigers winger for next season.

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