Daily News Roundup

February 20, 2020

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20

Labor’s longest-serving state MP Jo-Ann Miller has resigned, effectively immediately, amid escalating tensions within the Labor Party.

It comes three days after Ms Miller publicly acknowledged growing tensions between herself, some backbench MPs and Labor’s senior leadership amid claims of bullying.

Ms Miller, who this month celebrated 20 years as the Member for Bundamba, broke down as she resigned in Parliament this morning, citing a “health scare”.

“Mr Speaker, I will now come up to you and hand to you a signed copy of my resignation,” she said.

Ms Miller fell over after passing on the letter, only to be assisted by former foe and Opposition MP Jarrod Bleijie.

She was told to leave the house minutes after her resignation, but received more than a dozen hugs from fellow members, with the exception of Cabinet ministers.

In her resignation letter tabled to Parliament, Ms Miller said she was the “last of a generation of Labor MPs in Parliament”.

“We will never see their like again in this house,” she said.

“I close the door on this era.”

She said her decision to leave came after a health scare.

“I recently had an operation to remove a tumour,” she said.

“Incidences like these make you reflect on your life and this has played a part in my decision to leave my role.”

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A plane load of Australians has landed in Darwin for a second 14-day quarantine period after being evacuated from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

The passengers, numbering around 180, who had been confined to the ship to contain a coronavirus outbreak which eventually infected at least 612 people, left Japan in the early hours of Thursday morning on an Australian Government-chartered evacuation flight.

The mercy flight came as  criticism mounted of Tokyo’s handling of the onboard outbreak of the disease and China reported the death toll in mainland China passed 2000 but the number of new cases there fell for a second straight day. 

The outbreak on the liner, owned by Carnival Corp, resulted in the biggest concentration of new coronavirus infections outside China despite more than two weeks of quarantine for its approximately 3700 passengers and crew on board.

As questions swirled over how the virus spread so readily on the ship, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato defended Japan’s efforts.

“Unfortunately, cases of infection have emerged, but we have to the extent possible taken appropriate steps to prevent serious cases, including sending infected people to hospital,” Kato said in a report by state broadcaster NHK.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Japan’s efforts might have slowed down the virus but were not enough.

The passengers from the ship, who arrived in Darwin overnight, will be housed at the Howard Springs quarantine facility, which is currently home to 266 evacuees who were evacuated from Wuhan in China just over a week ago.

Health officials say the new group, which includes a considerable number of elderly people, will be separated from the Wuhan evacuees and undergo daily health checks.

The new arrivals have already spent close to two weeks in quarantine aboard the Diamond Princess ship, where many were forced to stay inside small cabins with limited access to fresh air and outdoors.

But Australian health authorities have made the decision to quarantine them for an extra 14-day period, due to the continued increase in the 

“These people need to go into quarantine because we are not entirely convinced that the quarantine procedures on that ship were 100 percent effective,” the Northern Territory’s acting chief health officer, Di Stephens, said.

Overnight, the number of Australians from the Diamond Princess cruise ship who had tested positive for coronavirus rose to 46 — jumping by 10 cases since Wednesday morning.

Those 46 Australians were not aboard the evacuation flight to Darwin, with authorities saying they will be treated within the Japanese health system.

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Eight people have been killed in shootings in the city of Hanau, near Frankfurt.

Local media reported that the first shooting (of three people) took place at a shisha smoking bar in Hanau’s CBD on Wednesday evening. 

The gunmen, according to news agencies, then reportedly drove to the suburb of Kesselstadt and killed another five people at another shisha bar.

Police said special units were hunting the perpetrators, who fled the scene of the first attack in a dark-coloured car.

The mass-market newspaper Bild reported one man had been arrested, but that was not confirmed by police.

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Two passengers from the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship have died, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

News of the death of the man and woman in their 80s, came shortly after a plane load of Australians evacuated from the ship landed in Darwin for a second 14-day quarantine period. 

The passengers, numbering around 180, who had been confined to the ship to contain a coronavirus outbreak which eventually infected at least 612 people, left Japan in the early hours of Thursday morning on an Australian Government-chartered evacuation flight.

The mercy flight came as  criticism mounted of Tokyo’s handling of the onboard outbreak of the disease and China reported the death toll in mainland China passed 2000 but the number of new cases there fell for a second straight day. 

The outbreak on the liner, owned by Carnival Corp, resulted in the biggest concentration of new coronavirus infections outside China despite more than two weeks of quarantine for its approximately 3700 passengers and crew on board.

As questions swirled over how the virus spread so readily on the ship, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato defended Japan’s efforts.

“Unfortunately, cases of infection have emerged, but we have to the extent possible taken appropriate steps to prevent serious cases, including sending infected people to hospital,” Kato said in a report by state broadcaster NHK.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Japan’s efforts might have slowed down the virus but were not enough.

The passengers from the ship, who arrived in Darwin overnight, will be housed at the Howard Springs quarantine facility, which is currently home to 266 evacuees who were evacuated from Wuhan in China just over a week ago.

Health officials say the new group, which includes a considerable number of elderly people, will be separated from the Wuhan evacuees and undergo daily health checks.

The new arrivals have already spent close to two weeks in quarantine aboard the Diamond Princess ship, where many were forced to stay inside small cabins with limited access to fresh air and outdoors.

But Australian health authorities have made the decision to quarantine them for an extra 14-day period, due to the continued increase in the 

“These people need to go into quarantine because we are not entirely convinced that the quarantine procedures on that ship were 100 percent effective,” the Northern Territory’s acting chief health officer, Di Stephens, said.

Overnight, the number of Australians from the Diamond Princess cruise ship who had tested positive for coronavirus rose to 46 — jumping by 10 cases since Wednesday morning.

Those 46 Australians were not aboard the evacuation flight to Darwin, with authorities saying they will be treated within the Japanese health system.

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