Daily News Roundup

October 23, 2020

(AAP Image/James Gourley)


A special repatriation flight carrying 161 Australians who had been stranded in the United Kingdom has landed in Darwin, where they will begin their quarantine process in the Northern Territory.

The flight, QF 110, is the first of eight such flights, which have been chartered to repatriate about 5,000 Australians in South Africa, Europe and India back home.

The 787 Dreamliner carried the passengers, including 22 children, nine of whom are infants, from London, and they will be transferred directly from a RAAF part of the airport to the Howard Springs quarantine facility.

The direct flight was more than 14,000 kilometres and took close to 16 hours to arrive in Darwin.

The eight flights are set to bring 1,300 Australians home, but more than 30,000 Australians who want to return home are still believed to be stuck overseas.

These new arrivals will be processed at RAAF Base Darwin and will undergo health checks before being taken to the Howard Springs for two weeks’ mandatory quarantine.

Up to 500 people a fortnight will quarantine at the Howard Springs facility as part of a plan to bring Australians stranded overseas home.

The NT Government has updated its guidelines for people staying inside the quarantine facility including rules that international arrivals will not be allowed to leave balconies attached to their rooms, unlike people who have travelled from interstate.

The guidelines said international arrivals will be “subject to regular health checks” to “support the early detection of COVID-19”.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne told ABC Local Radio Darwin the Federal Government was still working through whether it would consider rolling out more special flights after the initial eight.



A three-year-old girl with “a thousand sparkles in her eyes” has become the third child to die in Australia since 2013 after swallowing a button battery, the ABC reports.

Lorraine and David Conway have spoken publicly for the first time about the death of their youngest child Brittney.

“She just had a beautiful nature … just a really content and happy little girl,” Mrs Conway said.

“She had a thousand sparkles in her eyes.”

The special ABC report said Brittney died on July 28 in the Queensland Children’s Hospital, three weeks after she swallowed a battery and enduring significant medical procedures to save her life.

Her Gold Coast parents hoped that urgent government changes would be made to regulate the use of button batteries and make them inaccessible to small children.

The small, shiny batteries are often used in common household items including TV or key remotes, scales and toys and once swallowed, they start to burn internally causing life-long injuries or death.

Each week nationally, 20 children go to hospital suspected of swallowing a button battery.

Button batteries range in size and are used in lights, watches, remote controls, thermometers, greeting cards, scales and toys. (Supplied: Choice)

Not suspecting her daughter could have swallowed a button battery, Mrs Conway said she knew something was wrong with her youngest child on the afternoon of July 6.

“I had just given her a [lollipop] and I thought she had eaten too big of a chunk and swallowed it.

“That’s when I sat her on the lounge and monitored her and then she vomited another two times, that’s when I called the house call doctor.

“He actually just thought it was food poisoning.”

After a play date the following day, Brittney vomited in the car after eating solid food, had a sudden, unexplained nose bleed and complained of a terrible pain in her chest.

“She put her hands straight on her chest and she bent over, the extraordinary pain in her voice when she said, ‘Mummy, Mummy, my boobies are hurting’,” Mrs Conway said.

After taking Brittney to the Robina Hospital, Mrs Conway said the doctor’s diagnosis was that her daughter probably had a virus.

“I demonstrated how she was pressing on her chest, the way she was bending over, the whole lot and I said to him, “Can we get an X-ray?”

“And he just said, ‘We will monitor her’ but no chest X-ray was ever done.

“He didn’t physically examine her at all.”

Queensland Health declined to comment on the specifics of the case as the matter is under review.

Nine days after first coming to her mother with a sore throat, Mrs Conway said she was becoming very concerned that her daughter barely wanted to eat.

Having put her to bed for the night, she checked on her daughter after hearing her cough.

“Brittney was lying in a pool of blood, unconscious,” she said.

Rushed by ambulance to the Gold Coast University Hospital and X-rayed immediately, Mrs Conway finally learned what was wrong with her daughter.

“That’s when I was told that she had a button battery ingested in her chest area,” she said.

“It had burnt through her oesophagus, into her aorta.”


A parent of a student at East Preston Islamic College in Melbourne’s north has now tested positive to coronavirus — the only new case recorded in the state in the past 24 hours.

The school remains closed after a student attended for two days earlier in the week and later returned a positive test.

The parent, who is not linked to a student who earlier tested positive, is the only person in Victoria to have returned a positive test result in the past 24 hours. There have been no deaths.

Melbourne’s 14-day rolling average for new cases is now 5.5, down from 6.1 yesterday, and there are 10 cases with an unknown source of infection from the past two weeks.

Regional Victoria’s rolling average has fallen from 0.4 yesterday to 0.3, taking the 

Asymptomatic testing has now been offered to all members of the college community as health authorities attempt to contain the outbreak.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the parent who tested positive lived in Preston but did not appear to have had any contact with the boy who tested positive earlier in the week.

“The advice I have is that … their child did not come into contact with the other positive case and that person had not been to the school. There is no link,” Mr Andrews said.

“That is why it is a little bit uncertain and we have to try run that to ground.”

That student attended school because his family believed he had been cleared to do so by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Some members of the boy’s family who had been infectious had been cleared to leave isolation, but the boy was meant to remain in quarantine.


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