Partner of Brisbane hotel quarantine worker tests positive to UK strain


The partner of the quarantine hotel cleaner who tested positive to the UK strain of coronavirus has also tested positive.

The initial case sent all of Brisbane into a three-day lockdown due to fears of the highly contagious strain of the virus.

This new case will be counted in today’s coronavirus figures.
Police monitor entrances to the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane’s CBD, used as a COVID-19 quarantine site, the day after a casual cleaner in her 20s tested positive for the virus, marking Queensland’s first case of community transmission in 113 days. (Matt Dennien)

The man has been in quarantine for four days, the same day the cleaner went into quarantine, Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said.

“The man has been in quarantine since 7 January and has undergone two tests, with one resulting in a positive result today,” Dr Young said.

“Genome sequencing is underway, however it’s likely to be the UK variant.

“We are determining the man’s potential infectious period and contact tracing is underway.”

Queen St Mall in Brisbane during the three-day lockdown. (Tertius Pickard)
The city of Brisbane resembled a ghost town on Saturday after the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a three day lock down. Pictured is the Story Bridge. (Tertius Pickard)
In the meantime, Queensland Health has urged close contacts of the cleaner to get tested, regardless of symptoms presenting, and undergo 14-days quarantine.

This includes anyone who visited locations where the cleaner attended:

  • Coles Sunnybank Hills Shoppingtown on 5 January 2021, between 7.30am and 8am
  • Woolworths Calamvale North on 3 January 2021 between 11am and 12pm
  • Nextra Sunnybank Hills Newsagent Sunnybank Hills on January 5 between 8am and 8.15am.
Traffic lines up onto the street from the entrance to a Brisbane COVID drive through testing clinic. (Getty)

“We are also asking those people to come forward for testing – regardless of whether they have symptoms or not,” Dr Young said.

“Critically, even if a negative test result is received, please continue to monitor for symptoms and get retested if necessary.”

Testing of close contacts of the man and woman will continue this week.

Despite the new case, there is no change to the restrictions due to come into force in Greater Brisbane tonight.

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Farm worker from Timor Leste killed in Tasmanian crash



A 25-year-old Timor Leste man has been killed in a car crash on a private farm in Tasmania’s north.

The body of the man, who was working as a berry picker at the farm in Exton, near Deloraine, was found just before 6:00am Sunday.

Tasmania Police Inspector Ruth Orr said the man was driving a car on the property late Saturday night when he lost control negotiating a right-hand bend and was thrown out the car window.

“The car slid into an embankment and rolled into that embankment and rolled about 20 metres or so,” Inspector Orr said.

The man had a valid international drivers licence, but was not wearing a seatbelt — a factor Ms Orr said contributed to his death.

“Despite the fact this happened on a private property rather than a public street, it’s advisable to put your seatbelt on and drive to the conditions,” she said.

“Seatbelts save lives, particularly if the vehicle is involved in a rollover.”

Drugs and alcohol are not believed to have contributed to the crash.

Police are still investigating why the man, who lived in a workers residence on the farm, was driving at night.

Fellow workers in mourning

The farm, which supplies berries for Driscolls, employs a large number of seasonal workers, most of whom are from Timor Leste.

About 50 workers crowded around the site of the crash today in an impromptu grieving ceremony.

The man worked alongside his cousin. And he leaves behind a wife in his home country.

He had also worked on the farm last season.

Inspector Orr said the employees he worked alongside were very distressed.

“Because he worked here last year, he’s quite well known to the farm owner-operator,” she said.

“The other seasonal workers are quite upset about it, which is completely understandable.”

Complicated path back home

Inspector Orr said the process of repatriating the man’s body to Timor Leste was long.

“We’re working with the ambassador to Timor Leste through their embassy to get the appropriate authorisations,” she said.

“Firstly he’ll go to Hobart, where he’ll remain for the foreseeable future while we work through the coronial investigation and then at the earliest opportunity there’ll be arrangements made through the embassy to get his body back to Timor Leste, but I couldn’t  say how long that would take.”

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Man accused of posing as NHS worker and charging elderly woman for fake COVID-19 vaccine



Police are searching for a suspected conman who administered a fake COVID-19 vaccine to an elderly woman in her London home.

Detective Inspector Kevin Ives, from City of London Police, said police were appealing for help to identify the man because he “may endanger people’s lives”.

Police said the victim, 92, allowed the man into her Surbiton home on December 30 after being told he was from the National Health Service (NHS) and there to administer the vaccine.

The woman reported she was jabbed in the arm with a “dart-like implement” before being asked for £160 (AU$280).

The man was paid and left the home but later returned on January 4 asking for a further £100.

“It is not yet known what substance, if any, was administered to the victim, but she was checked over at her local hospital and has suffered no ill effects following this encounter,” police said in a statement.

Inspector Ives said it was crucial the man was found.

“This is a disgusting and totally unacceptable assault on a member of the public which won’t be tolerated,” he said.

The man is described as having a London accent, aged in his early 30s, of medium build with light brown hair.

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Pfizer COVID vaccine may begin in February, Brisbane’s Hotel Grand Chancellor worker tests positive, NSW and Victoria record zero cases


The federal government yesterday announced its plan to vaccinate half of the population by the middle of this year. The first priority group – frontline quarantine workers, health workers, aged care staff and aged care residents – could begin to receive the Pfizer vaccine by mid next month.

Professor Kelly said Australia was “really well-prepared” for the rollout.

“We’ve had that advantage, unlike the US and the UK and so many other countries that are really grappling with an enormous pandemic right now,” he said.

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“I think yesterday it was the second highest death toll [since] the start of the pandemic… In Australia, that is a very different picture. That has given us the ability to wait until we get full approval from our regulator, the [Therapeutic Goods Administration], and to be absolutely certain.”

He said it had also given Australia the chance to learn about the vaccination rollout from other countries.

“We are talking to Israel today, actually, to some very senior officials because they have been one of the key standout countries about getting a large number of vaccines out of the population,” Professor Kelly said.

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Quarantine hotel worker confirmed to have UK strain of coronavirus as visits to Greater Brisbane aged care facilities restricted



A cleaner who tested positive to coronavirus after working in a quarantine hotel in Brisbane has been confirmed through genome sequencing as having the more contagious UK strain of the virus, Queensland Health says.

The woman, aged in her 20s, is the first locally acquired case to be contracted from hotel quarantine in Queensland.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said she had enforced restrictions to vulnerable facilities in Greater Brisbane as a precaution while contact tracing efforts continued.

“We’re taking a very cautious approach with this case, now that we know for sure this person has the UK variant of the virus,” Dr Young said in a statement.

“Evidence shows that this variant is 70 per cent more infectious than other strains.

“This is why I’m taking this firm action swiftly, to protect our most vulnerable facilities.”

Dr Young said visitors would be restricted to aged care, hospitals, disability services and corrections facilities, with these restrictions imposed immediately.

“These restrictions apply to the Metro North, Metro South and West Moreton Hospital and Health Service regions,” Dr Young said.

The woman’s positive case has brought the state’s streak of 113 days without community transmission to an end.

Earlier on Thursday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the woman, who is from the southern Brisbane suburb of Algester, developed symptoms yesterday and was tested on the same day.

Health authorities said the woman was believed to have been in the community while infectious for five days and worked a shift as a casual cleaner at the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane’s CBD on January 2.

It came after she received a negative result on December 29 as part of routine weekly testing.

There have been four other cases previously linked to the hotel, including one person who was diagnosed with the UK strain.

Queensland Health issued a health alert on Thursday for three southern Brisbane suburbs: Algester, Sunnybank Hills and Calamvale.

Any residents from those suburbs have been urged to get tested immediately.

The case has health authorities very concerned and has prompted an increase in testing of staff members in hotel quarantine to ensure they are tested for the virus every shift, rather than every week.

Queensland Health has also urged anyone who has visited the below locations to get tested immediately.

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Snakes alive: Slippery serpent keen to work gives worker a fright | Goulburn Post



community,

One slippery serpent was keen to start the new year with a new job. Read also: Goulburn Rugby Union Club welcomes new president A juvenile Highlands Copperhead was waiting to start his working day at Pirtek in Moss Vale when a worker found the young snake on a toolbox, 1.5 metres off the floor. Cory Kerewaro from Reptile Relocation Sydney was called to remove the wannabe apprentice from the work site on January 4. “It was pretty bizarre,” he said. “We got a call saying there was a copperhead at Pirtek and they said it was on top of a toolbox. When we got down there, the toolbox was a metre and half off the ground. We don’t know how the snake got up there. “One of the workers said he was getting stuff out of the draw from the toolbox when he saw it and thought someone was playing a joke on him. “As he went to have a closer look he realised that it definitely wasn’t fake.” Cory said the toolbox was not a place where you would expect to find a small snake up that high. Read also: Motorists speeding into 2021 but road toll down “It is definitely uncommon,” he said. “It was only 15 to 20 cm long. It was only tiny. But how it got up there is a bit of a mystery. There’s no reason for the snake to be up there; there’s no food source, there’s no water.” While the snake on a toolbox is first, Cory said he has found snakes in some weird locations. “We’ve pulled them out of two-story roofs before where there are no trees or any way to climb up, we’ve pulled them out of toilets and weird spots all the time,” he said. “This one was interesting because they thought it was a practical joke, they’re just lucky that they didn’t pick it up thinking it was fake.” The workers at Pirkek can breath a sigh of relief as the solitary serpent won’t have a mother snake looking for it. “Snakes are solitary reptiles, there’s no maternal instinct. Highlands Copperheads are born live as well, so there’s no eggs or anything like that. Once the mum gives birth, it’s pretty much a case of dropping them and leaving them,” he said. “The babies spread out and go their own way as well, so there’s not going to be a big influx of snakes hanging around together. “These guys are definitely not communal.” Read also: Goulburn greyhound owners take the pack on ‘sniffari’ Cory’s advice for anyone that spots a snake, whether inside or out, is to always know where the snake is and keep a safe distance. “If the snake is inside the house or office and in a room, the best thing to do is shut the door, put a towel under the door so it can’t come out and call a licensed catcher to remove the snake,” he said. “If it was out in the yard and someone spotted a snake, they could take a photo and send it to use for identification and we could give them the advice they need. “Snakes won’t stick around in the one spot for too long, unless someone wants the snake removed, they can wait it out as it will move on in its own time. “The best thing for someone to do though is to keep an eye on it from a safe distance, take a photo and work out if they want it removed. If they want the snake removed, they should keep an eye on it from a safe distance until someone gets there.” Cory also advises people to not catch snakes or approach them. “The only time people get bitten is when they are trying to catch or kill a snake,” he said. “As long as they don’t approach a snake, there’s no issue. People can safely observe a snake from 10 metres away. If a snake is right at there feet, the best thing would be to stand still. “Snakes react quickly to movement; The more you move, the more they freak out and view you as a threat. If you don’t make fast move movements and don’t move around – they won’t see you a threat and will mosey along by themselves.” If someone does get bitten by a snake, Cory’s advice is to compress and mobilise the area straight away and call 000. “If they have been bitten or are concerned that they’ve been bitten, they should apply pressure and mobile the area,” he said. “The most common parts of the body that get bitten are the hands and lower legs. “If it’s on the ankle, take the shoe off and start wrapping an elasticised bandage from the lowest part of the limb up to the bite site, wrap around twice and do the whole limb. “From there, the person should stay still and not move and then call an ambulance. You don’t need to catch the snake to show the paramedics which snake bit you because they have identification kits. “They swab the bite site and it tells them which anti-venom needs to be used. So don’t try to suck the venom out, don’t wash the bite site. “The best thing to do is stay calm, don’t touch the bite site, apply pressure and mobilise with a bandage, ring an ambulance and do not move around. “The quickest way for the venom to move around your body is through the lymphatic system, so the more you move around the quicker it goes through.” Read also: Goulburn mayor could ask ACT government for border permits for NSW residents Did you know the Southern Highland News is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up below.

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COVID-19: US health worker sacked after deliberately spoiling 500 vaccine doses | US News



A health worker in Wisconsin has been sacked after deliberately spoiling 500 doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

Police, the FBI and the US Drug Administration are all investigating after the worker removed the doses from where they were being refrigerated at the Aurora Medical Center on the outskirts of Milwaukee.

Detectives said they had been told about the tampering on Wednesday evening. As of Thursday there had been no arrests.

In a statement, the Aurora centre said the employee involved had “acknowledged that they had intentionally removed the vaccine from refrigeration”.

The statement made no mention of a motive.

It said: “We continue to believe that vaccination is our way out of the pandemic. We are more than disappointed that this individual’s actions will result in a delay of more than 500 people receiving their vaccine.”

The number of coronavirus cases in Wisconsin is on the rise, following a brief slowdown at the start of December.

Johns Hopkins University states that there have been 516,226 total cases of the virus in the state, with 5,192 deaths.

Around 47,157 people have been vaccinated in Wisconsin, out of a total population of around 5.8million.



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Malaysia to charge second glove maker over poor worker accommodation


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia aims to file 30 charges against glove maker Brightway Holdings and two of its subsidiaries, after raids that found workers’ accommodation was not up to legal standards.

The Labour Department, part of the Ministry of Human Resources, conducted a raid on one of the glove-making factory in Kajang district, just outside Kuala Lumpur, last week where they found workers living in cramped, dirty shipping containers stacked behind the premises.

The ministry said in a statement late on Sunday (Dec 27) it had found “facilities that do not meet the minimum standard specifications” and the employer did not have a proper certificate of accommodation.

Brightway did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ministry said it was in the process of completing investigation papers against Brightway and its subsidiaries Biopro and La Glove.

Malaysia is the world’s top producer of rubber gloves and its factories have been particularly busy meeting orders since the novel coronavirus pandemic began.

READ: Malaysia’s Top Glove fired whistleblower before virus outbreak

The charges come as Malaysia steps up scrutiny of workers accommodation at glove manufacturing firms after a COVID-19 outbreak at Top Glove, the world’s biggest maker of medical gloves.

Malaysia said this month it would file charges against Top Glove because of poor worker accommodation, which it found to be cramped and poorly ventilated.

Malaysia has seen a spike in coronavirus cases since September, with more than 105,000 cases and 452 COVID-19 deaths reported as of Sunday.



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Former Australian Taxation Office worker jailed for child sex offences and indecent filming


A predator who secretly took photos up the skirts of schoolgirls and young women on public transport, and photographed girls at the beach, has been jailed for at least 18 months.

South Australian District Court Judge Adam Kimber sentenced 52-year-old Alan Leon Baden to two years and 10 months in jail for his crimes, with a non-parole period of one-and-a-half years.

The former Australian Taxation Office (ATO) information officer pleaded guilty to 13 offences, including possessing child exploitation material and indecently filming.

He was caught after a work colleague found one of his SD cards at the ATO in Adelaide.

The card was handed over to police in August 2018.

Judge Kimber said police found two photos of a “prepubescent female” on the beach, which included a “close-up of her bottom”.

He said there were 22 images of a teenager’s bottom on public transport.

“There were six images of another female — images taken up her skirt,” he said.

“Five images of another girl in school uniform [were] taken on public transport, the photos are also taken up her dress.”

Judge Kimber said while Baden had engaged in some therapy since his arrest, he had sought to “deflect blame” for the offending.

Baden was sentenced in the District Court.(ABC News: Michael Clements)

The father-of-three was also found in possession of hundreds of child exploitation images and videos across multiple devices found at his office and Hove home.

“Child exploitation material is a serious social evil,” Judge Kimber said.

Despite Baden denying he was sexually aroused by the material, Judge Kimber found that he was.

During a sentencing hearing last month, prosecutor Sophie Taylor said Baden’s crimes were perpetrated against individuals ranging in age “from 10 to young adults”.

Defence lawyer Jane Powell told the court that Baden started using methamphetamine recreationally and associating with a convicted paedophile, who has since died, about eight years ago.

“Mr Baden says he had no idea the drug would have such a profound effect on him,” she said.

“He then got into chat sites and began pretending to be someone else — that gave him a social connection with the world that he otherwise did not have.

“He role-played in these fantasies. He admitted he would obtain clothed images from websites and pass them off as himself.

“In that way, he would engage in fantasy role-play with other men who believed, or wanted to believe, that he was a young girl.”

Ms Powell said the indecent filming offending was “spontaneous”.



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Pizza worker seeks SA Health secrets


The lawyer for the Spanish pizza bar worker accused by SA authorities of sparking last month’s statewide lockdown has asked SA Health to hand over the information it refused to give to SA Police about his client’s alleged “lie”.

The 36-year-old, who worked in both the Stamford medi-hotel and the Woodville Pizza Bar, was last month accused by Premier Steven Marshall of “lying” to SA Health contact tracers about his employment situation, with Police Commissioner and state emergency coordinator Grant Stevens declaring that “had this person been truthful to the contact tracing teams, we would not have gone into a six-day lockdown”.

Through his lawyer, Camena Legal and Migration principal Scott Jelbert, the Spanish national has previously said he was “extremely remorseful and deeply sorry for any part his conduct played in any unnecessary lockdown actions”, saying he “did not foresee or intend that things might unfold as they have”.

However, he has also insisted some of the Government’s commentary “is not fair, accurate or complete”.

A police investigation into the issue came to nothing after SA Health refused to cooperate with SAPOL, citing “their obligation to claim privilege” over any material relating to the agency’s dealings with the man, who is currently in SA on a bridging visa pending a request to renew his graduate visa which expired this week.

But Jelbert today told InDaily he had lodged a formal request with SA Health “to get our hands on the information that no-one can get”.

“We’ve requested all information in the relevant timeframe that SA Health holds in relation to my client,” he said.

“We are formally requesting any relevant information relating to him held by SA Health.”

He said he would “expect that information to be largely the [same] information that SA Police were interested in before”, but which health authorities refused to provide “under the public health act”.

If the application is successful, he said, “we’ll get to the bottom of if there’s anything more my client has to answer for”.

“If there is, he’ll do that – and if there’s not, that really dispels the suggestion that there was information there that my client’s done a terrible thing and hurt so many people, but some bureaucratic bar has prevented police from prosecuting him.”

Asked if he was confident any documents would show the latter, Jelbert said: “Why would we poke a sleeping bear if we don’t have to?”

He suggested SA Health’s refusal to provide the information was “different to SA Police’s inability to take that information”, suggesting “they could exercise a general search warrant [which] they didn’t do”.

“The left hand and right hand of the same body can’t clap,” he said of the standoff, which he also likened to two people sitting at a table with a glass of water between them.

“Just because one person says they can’t hand the glass of water to the other person, that doesn’t mean the other can’t reach out and take the glass of water,” he said.

“The fact they can’t give it… doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t take it off them.”

But he said his client’s “focus” was “not on arming himself with weapons to go to war with this information”.

“It’s to try to make sure people understand what happened and what part, if any, that played in this lockdown,” he said.

He did not comment on Marshall’s suggestion that his client had “lied”, but said: “Whether or not he lied is a separate issue.”

“It’s been bundled up with the suggestion that my client was a cause of this lockdown,” he said.

“We’re hoping this is information we’re able to use together [with the Premier] to set the record straight.

“[My client] doesn’t want to keep living like this… worried that he’s seen as this demon, some selfish, hurtful, greedy person that puts his own interest over and above other South Australians’.”

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