Daily News Roundup

September 21, 2020



Victoria’s police chief says his officers have been confronted with a worrying spike in mental health issues throughout the state’s lockdown period.    

Chief Police Commissioner Shane Patton said anecdotal reports from officers indicated they were dealing with increasing numbers mental health problems.

“Each day, when I check the reports from across the state and see what’s been occurring, it seems, anecdotally, that my members are attending a lot more incidents where we do have mental health issues. People are feeling the pressures a lot more,” he told 3AW.

“When you think about the pressures that are being placed on people economically and restrictions and a whole range of different matters, as well as the fatigue in the community … our members are experiencing that.”

Meanwhile, Daniel Andrews is tipped to ease some lockdown restrictions as early as Sunday, as Victoria’s cases continue to plummet.

The state recorded just 11 new cases today – marking the eleventh consecutive day the state has recorded a daily infections number of below 50.

In NSW, health officials are working to locate people who may have come into contact with a Sydney taxi driver who is believed to have worked for up to 10 days while infectious.

Queensland has recorded one new case of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, a teenager who returned from overseas and is already in hotel quarantine.

Health Minister Steven Miles said the state’s “very strong” hotel quarantine program had kept Queenslanders safe.

“I want to thank, on behalf of all Queenslanders, those hotels, hotel owners and hotel workers who have assisted us, and police, in enforcing this hotel quarantine,” he said.

“It’s been incredibly effective and important as we seek to increase the number of overseas travellers able to come back into Queensland.”

There are currently 17 active cases in the state, including 11 in the West Moreton region.

“While the numbers continue to go down, they’re clustered in the southern suburbs and around Ipswich,” he said.

NSW coronavirus contact tracers have used a “variety of mechanisms” to identify passengers who travelled with an infected taxi driver, but have been left stumped by nine of his trips.

At the weekend, health authorities revealed the Silver Service driver worked eight days in several areas around Sydney’s west and south-west earlier this month.

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said authorities had already identified “a large number” of passengers who may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the cab from September 7 to 10, and 14 to 18.

“We have been urgently attempting to contact anyone who undertook trips with that taxi driver,” Dr Chant said.

“We have managed to use a variety of different mechanisms to identify a large number of the people who shared a ride with that taxi.”

NSW Health identified four new coronavirus infections in the 24 hours to 8.00pm yesterday, three of whom were returned travellers in hotel quarantine.


Marine conservation experts are being deployed to Tasmania’s West Coast where a pod of about 70 whales has reportedly been stranded.

The animals, which are thought to be pilot whales, are believed to be stranded on a sandbar inside Macquarie Heads.

Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) staff and Tasmania Police are on site and managing the incident.

Additional crews are on their way with whale rescue gear.

Marine experts will assess the situation on arrival with further updates expected throughout the day.

The exact species of the whale is yet to be confirmed.

According to DPIPWE’s Marine Conservation Program, Tasmania is the only Australian state where mass strandings of whales and dolphins regularly occur.

This can be for a range of reasons including misadventure, disorientation caused by complex or shallow waterways or rough seas, or a flight response from a perceived threat.

Long-finned pilot whales are one of the species most frequently involved in mass strandings in Tasmania.


A Chinese international high school student who was the victim of a “virtual kidnapping” scam has been found safe and well after her family paid more than $200,000 in ransom.

The elaborate phone scam involves fraudsters posing as Chinese authorities, convincing a student to fake their own kidnapping and demanding ransom payments from their relatives.

The woman, 18, was reported missing to police in the early hours of September 8 by concerned friends.

She was found by police in the inner Sydney suburb of Pyrmont on September 15.

NSW Police said she spent eight days at the home of a Chatswood man, 22, who was also a victim of the scam and thought he was providing shelter for a woman in witness protection.

“The 22-year-old man was contacted by people pretending to be Chinese police and told that he needed to meet with this girl and take her to his home address and keep her there because she was a protected witness for the Chinese police,” NSW Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett said.

Images of the woman had been sent to family members overseas.

The man and woman arranged to meet near the Sydney Fish Market before they went back to his apartment in Sydney’s lower north shore.

In the next few days, the year 12 student sent videos of herself back to her family, telling them she was the victim of a kidnapping and they had to pay money for her release.

The videos and images were sent to her family via Chinese social media app WeChat and were taken when the man was attending university, without his knowledge.

“The videos were essentially just her sitting on a mattress or chair and a message that she was being detained. There was very little detail but it was enough to concern her parents,” Superintendent Bennett said.

Her parents transferred $213,000 into an offshore bank account in the Bahamas.

“At no stage were these people at any risk … they paid over $200,000 in ransom for no reason whatsoever,” Superintendent Bennett said.

Police have established a crime scene at the apartment in Chatswood, but the 22-year-old is not facing charges.

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