Daily News Roundup

March 31, 2021



Queensland has recorded two new community cases of COVID-19, both linked to an existing cluster, in an encouraging sign that lockdown could be lifted tomorrow if the situation doesn’t worsen, reports the ABC

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said both were connected to the cluster at the Princess Alexandra Hospital. 

Ms Palaszczuk said one of the new cases recorded today was another nurse at the hospital who received her first dose of the vaccination nearly a fortnight ago.

Ms Palaszczuk said today’s numbers were “very encouraging” with more than 33,000 tests conducted in the last 24 hours.

She said a decision about the lockdown would be made tomorrow, with an update due at 9:00am.

“The fact we do not have any unlinked community transmission in the south east or in our state is absolutely encouraging,” she said.

“Fingers crossed all will be looking good for Easter.

“If we see very good testing rates across Queensland and we don’t see any unlinked community transmission, the signs for Easter are looking positive.

“If it’s encouraging news tomorrow we will be lifting the hotspot for Greater Brisbane.”

Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital was placed into lockdown late yesterday and the nearby Mater Mothers’ Hospital sent home staff amid “escalating” concerns over the two COVID-19 clusters, that also prompted the Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Officer to declare Greater Brisbane a hotspot.

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the second PA nurse, whose infection was confirmed today, was given the first dose of the vaccine on March 19.

“Remembering she’s only had the first dose, so it usually takes a week after your first dose before you get a significant degree of immunity, then you need to have a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine three weeks later, and it takes another week after that,” Dr Young said.

Two of the positive community cases are in the Gold Coast University hospital.

In addition, Ms Palaszczuk has insisted the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is on track, with all remaining healthcare workers to receive their first dose of vaccine “over the next 48 hours”.

The assurance comes after a nurse at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital became the second unvaccinated healthcare worker to catch the virus this month, following a doctor just weeks ago at the same hospital.

The major hospital was last night sent into lockdown for the second time this month over the unfolding coronavirus outbreak that has been linked to the hospital’s infectious diseases ward.

“The rollout of the vaccine has been happening, so I just want to reassure Queenslanders about that,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

The promise comes as Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates criticised the government’s vaccine rollout for being too slow.

Frontline healthcare workers are the first round of people to receive the vaccine in a priority group known as 1a.


Google’s Maps app will start directing drivers along routes estimated to generate the lowest carbon emissions based on traffic, slopes and other factors, the company has announced.

“Soon, Google Maps will default to the route with the lowest carbon footprint when it has approximately the same ETA (estimated arrival time) as the fastest route,” vice president of product Dane Glasgow said in a blog post.

“In cases where the eco-friendly route could significantly increase your ETA, we’ll let you compare the relative CO2 impact between routes so you can choose.”

Unless users opt out, the default route will be the “eco-friendly” one if comparable options take about the same time, Google said.

When alternatives are significantly faster, Google will offer choices and let users compare estimated emissions.

“What we are seeing is for around half of routes, we are able to find an option more eco-friendly with minimal or no time-cost tradeoff,” Russell Dicker, a director of product at Google, told reporters.

Google said it derives emissions-relative estimates by testing across different types of vehicles and road types, drawing on insights from the US government’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL).

Road grade data comes from its Street View cars as well as aerial and satellite imagery.

NREL mobility group manager Jeff Gonder said the lab, which developed a tool known as FastE to estimate vehicles’ energy usage, reached a deal this month to get funding from Google to study the accuracy of its estimates.

The eco-friendly routes feature will be launched in the US later this year, with expansion to the rest of the world “on the way”, the company said.

The potential effect on emissions from the feature is unclear.

A study of 20 people at California State University, Long Beach, last year found participants were more inclined to consider carbon emissions in route selection after testing an app that showed estimates.

Google’s announcement included additional climate-focused changes.

Another new “air quality layer” feature, to be rolled out in Australia, India and the US “in the coming months”, will show travellers how clean the air on their route is — ” information that’s especially helpful if you have allergies or are in a smoggy or fire-prone area,” the company said.

From June, it will start warning drivers about to travel through low emissions zones where some vehicles are restricted in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.

In the coming months, Maps app users will be able to compare car, biking, public transit and other travel options in one place instead of toggling between different sections.


Movie star Russell Crowe has announced the sad passing of his father, John Alexander Crowe, at the age of 85.

And the heartbreaking circumstances of Crowe’s father’s death emerged overnight, with 7 News reporting the actor’s father had died on board a Qantaslink flight from Sydney to Coffs Harbour.

“They basically gave him CPR for who knows how long … probably 18 to 20 minutes,” fellow passenger Andrew Fraser told 7NEWS.

“They worked tirelessly and continued after the flight had landed.”

Crowe announced the death of his “dear old man” on Twitter yesterday.

“I arrived back in the bush last night. Today, although the sun is shining and the torrential rain has abated, this date will forever be tinged by sadness,” Crowe wrote.

“My dear old man, my beautiful dad, the most gentle of men, has passed away. 

“I’m posting this because I know there are people all over the world who’s heart he touched and who’s ribs he tickled with his sparkly eyes and his cheeky attitude to everyone, and everything, and this is probably as efficient a method as any to pass on the news.

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