Daily News Roundup

July 6, 2021

 

TUESDAY, JULY 6

Queensland has recorded just one new locally acquired Covid-19 case in the past 24 hours.

The case is linked to the Alpha Covid-19 cluster and is a close contact of a case reported yesterday from Sinnamon Park.

The woman is a close contact of the man  reported yesterday from Sinnamon Park (in Brisbane).  

Meanwhile, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said NSW had recorded 18 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8:00pm yesterday.

Eleven of those were in isolation for their infectious period while five were in isolation for part of their infectious period.

Two were in the community while infectious.

Chief health officer Kerry Chant said she was hoping residents in Fairfield and Bossley Park come forward for additional testing as the lockdown end looms.

“I would like to see incredibly high testing rates in those communities as we try to identify any unrecognised chains of transmission,” she said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said today’s announcement about her state was “good news” and thanked Queenslanders for their hard work during this period.

“Great news today, thank you Queensland for the wonderful work that you’re doing and, as I said, if we’re all doing the right thing we will get through this together,” she said.

Altogether there were six new cases of COVID-19 overnight, with five in quarantine. 

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the young woman is a student nurse.

“She was picked up and went into quarantine yesterday and then was tested and was found to be positive,” Dr Young said.

“She is perfectly well. Asymptomatic which means that we can’t identify the start of her infectious period, so we have gone back to when she first had contact with the man who lives in Sinnamon Park — that is 26 June. 

“I think it is unlikely that she was infectious back then but, to be absolutely sure, we have gone back that far.”

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said Queensland would receive 200,000 extra doses of Pfizer vaccines this month.

“We will be getting 64,350 Pfizer vaccines per week each week of July, that is the state allocation for our clinics,” Ms D’Ath said.

“This is 10,000 extra compared to what we were getting each week in June. For July, the state-run clinics will be getting an extra 40,000.

“The GPs will be getting 168,480, so it is correct that for the whole of Queensland, there will be over 200,000 extra Pfizer vaccines coming into the state.

“People can start looking at where there is a GP to book for Pfizer or an AstraZeneca vaccine throughout July, or they can continue to look at booking in with a state-run clinic into the future and we encourage people to do that and we will contact everyone who has already registered to let them know when bookings are available.”

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced his government will no longer force people in England to wear face masks from later this month, and social distancing will be scrapped. 

Mr Johnson confirmed the government’s COVID-19 restrictions would be scrapped on July 19, dubbed “Freedom Day” by many around the country, which will also see limits on the number of people that can meet indoors end.

The announcement comes amid a third wave of the pandemic, with rates of infection at their highest since February this year as the Delta variant spreads throughout the country.

More than 178,000 new coronavirus infections were recorded in the past week. 

On Monday, the United Kingdom recorded 27,334 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, while during that time period another nine people died after testing positive for COVID-19 in the past 28 days – taking the total death toll to 128,231 people since the pandemic began early last year. 

Deaths and hospitalisations are significantly down, thanks mainly to the UK’s ambitious vaccination drive that has seen more than 45 million people – nearly 86 per cent of adults – receive their first vaccine, while 33 million have had two doses. 

Speaking during a press conference at Downing Street, Mr Johnson said summer was the right time to undergo the final unlocking. 

“We must be honest with ourselves that if we can’t reopen our society in the next few weeks, when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and by the school holidays, then we must ask ourselves when will we be able to return to normal?” he said. 

“We will move away from legal restrictions and allow people to make their own informed decisions about how to manage the virus.” 

Under the unlocking plans, nightclubs will be allowed to reopen and patrons will be allowed to order from the bar at pubs, removing the requirement for table service at hospitality venues. 

People will also no longer be asked to work from home beyond July 19, and the intervals between vaccine doses for those under 40 will be reduced from 12 weeks to eight. 

The final decision will be announced on July 12 following a review of the latest data, with additions to the plans surrounding overseas travel and schools set to be released later this week. 

The devolved administrations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales set their own coronavirus rules, with Wales and Northern Ireland set to review the easing of restrictions later this month. 

Scotland’s government has indicated it may require mask wearing in some settings beyond August 9, when it has signalled most other restrictions will end. 

Mr Johnson warned there would be more deaths from COVID-19 as the restrictions were lifted, and also refused to rule out further lockdowns. 

“Obviously we have to be cautious, and we will continue to look at all the data as we progress,” he said in response to a question about hospitalisations after the unlocking. 

“We always did say there would be a third wave, and the projections when we outlined the roadmap were for sadly more hospitalisations, and sadly more deaths.” 

Mr Johnson also conceded restrictions could be brought back in if needed. 

“Obviously, if we do find another variant that doesn’t respond to the vaccines … then clearly, we will have to take whatever steps we need to do to protect the public,” he said. 

The decision to remove all coronavirus restrictions in one hit has brought criticism from some corners of the medical world and from opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer. 

Sir Keir, the leader of the Labour Party, said that some restrictions, such as the requirement to wear masks on public transport, should be kept in place to limit transmission of the virus. 

“We all want the restrictions to be lifted, and we are going to have to find a way of living with the virus,” he said. 

“But that can’t be a soundbite – we need a proper plan and to throw off all protections at the same time when the infection rate is still going up is reckless.” 

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Pope Francis is “in good, overall condition, alert” and breathing on his own after undergoing a three-hour operation that involved removing half of his colon.

Francis, 84, is expected to stay in Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic, which has a special suite reserved for popes, for about seven days, assuming no complications, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said on Monday local time.

The Vatican has given few details about the procedure.

The Holy See said the pope needed the procedure because of a narrowing of a portion of his large intestine that doctors say can be quite painful.

When the Vatican announced on Sunday afternoon that Francis had been admitted to hospital, it said the operation had been planned.

“His Holy Father is in good, overall condition, alert and breathing spontaneously,” Mr Bruni said in a written statement, adding the operation lasted about three hours.

The procedure generally entails removing the left side of the colon and then joining up the remaining healthy parts of the large intestine. 

Doctors said a risk of the operation is that the connection between the joined-up parts of the colon can sometimes fail, causing more pain and possibly an infection.

Such a failure is very rare but would require another surgery.

Get-well messages continued to pour in for the pope.

Italian Premier Mario Draghi’s office said he “expresses affectionate wishes for a rapid convalescence and quick healing”.

Italian state TV said among those praying for Francis was his ailing predecessor in the papacy, Benedict XVI, who has been living a life of prayer and meditation in a monastery on Vatican grounds since retiring in 2013.

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A professional hockey player has died after being hit by a firework while getting out of a hot tub at a Fourth of July party, in what authorities have described as a “tragic accident”.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks, 24, died on Sunday night of chest trauma caused by a fireworks mortar blast.

Police said the mortar-style device began to tilt and fire at a group of people attending a party in Michigan.

Kivlenieks was in a hot tub and among those trying to exit the tub to get out of the way, police Lieutenant Jason Meier said.

Investigators are calling his death accidental.

The Detroit News said Mr Kivlenieks was taken to Ascension Providence Hospital in Novi, where he was pronounced dead.

“We are shocked and saddened by the loss of Matiss Kivlenieks, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his mother, Astrida, his family and friends during this devastating time,” John Davidson, president of hockey operations, said in a team statement.

“Kivi was an outstanding young man who greeted every day and everyone with a smile and the impact he had during his four years with our organisation will not be forgotten.”

Police initially said Mr Kivlenieks died from a head injury, saying he fell and hit his head on the concrete while hurriedly trying to get out of the hot tub amid the fireworks malfunction.