Tuesday 11 May, 2021.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that the coronavirus variant first identified in India last year was being classified as a variant of global concern, with some preliminary studies showing that it spread more easily.
“We are classifying this as a variant of concern at a global level,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO technical lead on COVID-19.
“There is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility.”
The variant has already spread to other countries, and many nations, including Australia, have moved to cut or restrict movements from India.
With this news, alarmingly, India has seen bodies washed up on the river banks from suspected COVID-19 victims. The Ganges river in northern India has seen over 100 swollen bodies wash ashore with many more expected to turn up.
Fast spreading, the pandemic has hit rural hinterland within the country which has overwhelmed the local health facilities, crematoriums and cemeteries.
Many of the bodies are believed to have been dumped, including by families who cannot afford for funeral plans.
Experts believe the COVID crisis in India is far worse than what official figures suggest.
Locals said they believed the bodies had been dumped in the river because cremation sites were overwhelmed or because relatives could not afford wood for funeral pyres.
According to official statistics, about 4,000 people a day are dying from coronavirus in India, and the death toll has reached almost 250,000.
India recorded more than 750,000 new cases over the weekend, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University, bringing the cumulative total past 22 million.
Indian coronavirus infections and deaths have hovered around record daily highs consistently for weeks.
And health authorities have been reporting more and more cases of a dangerous black fungal infection in people recovering from COVID-19, adding to the crisis.
But pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce a nationwide lockdown, as he did during the first wave of infections last year.
Internationally, there is a call for a full lockdown in India, including from White House medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci, which is backed by domestic bodies such as the Indian Medical Association.
Mr Modi is battling criticism for allowing huge gatherings at a religious festival and holding large election rallies during the past two months even as cases surged.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the WHO Foundation was launching a “Together for India” appeal to raise funds to purchase oxygen, medicines and protective equipment for health workers.
With the Federal budget being announced this evening it is expected that the government will extend the tax offset for millions of low and middle income earners as part of tonight’s federal budget rollout.
As per last year’s tax offset, the $1080 for singles of $2160 for couples on low and middle incomes will be automatically added to your bank account when you complete your tax return, which will hit millions of Australian’s bank accounts in July.
With fingers crossed on this continuation of cash assistance from the government all will be revealed this evening with Josh Frydenburg presenting the budget live from 7:30pm from Parliament House.
A suspected 13 year old homeless boy who was asleep in an industrial bin has died, after the bin was collected by a garbage truck at Port Lincoln.
SA Police said the boy was one of three — aged 11, 12 and 13 — who were inside the bin as it was being emptied just after 5:20am.
Emergency services were called to the Repco carpark next to the drive-through of a McDonald’s outlet on Liverpool Street about 5:30am.
One of the boys managed to jump out, but the 13-year-old sustained serious injuries and died at the scene.
The third boy was not injured, police said.
Police said the three boys, all from Port Lincoln, “were allegedly asleep in an industrial bin when the bin was being emptied”.
“It is believed the truck driver was unaware the boys were in the bin at the time and is extremely shaken by the incident,” police said in a statement.
Police have described the boy’s death as “tragic” and said a report would be prepared for the coroner.
SafeWork SA has been advised of the incident.
Queensland has opened a vaccine hub for Olympic Athletes ahead of the Tokyo Olympic games with over 2000 athletes expected to be getting the jab.
Olympic swimmer Cate Campbell was one of the first to get the vaccine.
“I think the majority of our competitors from first world countries will have had the vaccine as well and we definitely want to even the playing field as much as we can with the Brits and the Americans,” she said.
“I think the rest of the world, the COVID situation they’re dealing with is much more dire than here in Australia and that’s why getting this vaccine is so important because we are going into a completely unknown situation,” she said.
“The pandemic has impacted everyone, let’s not understate that, but we are incredibly privileged here in Australia and exist in a society where COVID doesn’t impact us on a day-to-day basis.
“I can still access all my training facilities and everyone who I need to see and that’s been really helpful in preparing for these games.”
By the end of next week most athletes would have received their first jab of Pfizer vaccine and will receive their second shot four weeks later, explains AOC Chief Executive Matt Carroll .
“Time was getting tight, I must admit, but we are able to get Pfizer, the two jabs in before the athletes head overseas,” he said.
Athletes will be restricted to a tight Olympic bubble however “Quarantine will still be when they come back home and it’s still 14 days.”
“There will be over 1000 Australians coming back so we’re working very close with the state governments to manage that within the cap so that other Australians coming home aren’t affected.”
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