Daily News Roundup

July 14, 2021

 

Wednesday, July 14

NSW has recorded 97 new COVID-19 cases, 24 infectious while out in community.

The lockdown affecting Greater Sydney and its surrounds has been extended until 11:59pm on Friday, July 30.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it “always hurts to say this” when announcing the extension.

The extension means schools in the lockdown areas will continue with remote learning and restrictions in regional parts of the state will continue as well

Ms Berejiklian thanked residents in the Fairfield LGA for heeding the calls to stay at home.

But she said the data from the Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool areas showed that people were still moving around too much. 

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said there were currently 71 COVID-19 patients in hospital.

Twenty of them were in intensive care, four of whom were ventilated.

Of the 20 in ICU, one person is in their 20s, two are in their 30s, two in their 40s, five in their 50s, five in their 60s, three in their 70s and two in their 80s.

Queensland recorded five new COVID-19 cases today but all were acquired overseas and detected in hotel quarantine.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said three of those people tested positive on day one of their quarantine which means they were likely to be infectious on their flights so other passengers will be closely monitored. 

Mr Miles said Queensland authorities are continuing to closely monitor the situation in New South Wales but will not close the border at this stage.

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Charges against a Queensland woman accused of putting needles in strawberries have been dropped.

My Ut Trinh, who was a farm supervisor at Berrylicious farm in Caboolture, north of Brisbane, was arrested in 2018 after needles began showing up in punnets at supermarkets.

The contamination scare saw supermarkets pull strawberries off the shelves and tonnes of the fruit dumped at the peak of the growing season.

Police at the time warned people to check before eating strawberries after more than 180 reports of contamination.

More than 65 strawberry brands were affected across the country.

Ms Trinh was facing eight counts of contamination of goods with intent to cause economic loss.

She was set to face a four-week trial in the Brisbane District Court this week but proceedings were delayed by ongoing legal arguments between her lawyers and the prosecution.

Judge Michael Byrne this morning told Ms Trinh’s interpreters to relay to her: “The prosecution have indicated that they will no longer proceed against you with these charges.

“You are now discharged and you can leave the dock.”

Outside court, defence lawyer Nick Dore thanked Ms Trinh’s supporters and said it was a “huge relief”.

“The decision made was the right decision to be made when considering all the evidence that was produced over the course of a very long and convoluted prosecution,” he said.

“At this stage, she would just like to maintain a little bit of privacy and try and get her life back to some sort of normalcy.”

When asked how she felt Ms Trinh, who speaks minimal English, said: “Very good thank you.”

Mr Dore said the allegations have had a “damning effect” on Ms Trinh.

“It’s something she’s had to live with,” he said.

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The Prime Minister has defended the extra Commonwealth support announced for New South Wales, dismissing claims the state is receiving more help than Victoria did during its most recent lockdown.

Yesterday, Scott Morrison announced an increase to the COVID emergency disaster payment, as well as a jointly funded payment for businesses that can demonstrate a 30 per cent decline in turnover.

The support is to help address the likely extension of the Greater Sydney lockdown, but will be available in the future to any state or territory that enters a lockdown extending beyond three weeks.

The additional support drew criticism from the Victorian Premier Dan Andrews, who accused the federal government of having double standards.

He said during Melbourne’s outbreak earlier this year, also driven by the highly infectious Delta variant, his government was forced to “shame” federal counterparts into offering support.

Mr Morrison told Channel Seven that claim was incorrect.

“That’s nonsense, it’s not true. The numbers don’t bear it out,” he said.

“When Victoria needed Australia [during last year’s lockdown], they were getting $750 million of Commonwealth support every week. This package to New South Wales is delivering half a billion a week.

“These are two different situations — the Victoria lockdown went for two weeks.

“We [in NSW] are now going into a longer lockdown.”

The support announced yesterday will see emergency payments rise from $325 to $375 for people who have lost up to 20 hours of work, and from $500 to $600 for those who have lost more than 20 hours of work because of the lockdown.

The joint Commonwealth and New South Wales government package for businesses includes a payment of between $1,500 and $10,000 a week to businesses that can demonstrate a 30 per cent decline in turnover.

The business support is a shift from what was agreed at National Cabinet earlier this year, where states and territories agreed to take on the responsibility for business payments, while the Commonwealth would handle support for individuals.

Mr Morrison said the change was necessary given the likely extension of Sydney’s now three-week lockdown.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg took aim at Mr Andrews’ comments, saying Victoria received exactly the same kind of support for its two-week lockdown.

“The Victorian government unfortunately is being petulant, childish and playing politics here,” he said.

“The facts tell a very clear story.

“What we offered NSW for the first two weeks of the lockdown is exactly what Victoria received.”

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Former Wallabies star Quade Cooper says his application for Australian citizenship has been repeatedly knocked back despite playing 70 Tests for the country.

Born in Auckland, Cooper moved to Australia with his family aged 13 and still holds New Zealand citizenship.

The 33-year-old played for the Wallabies between 2008 and 2017, including at two World Cups, but that wasn’t enough to satisfy government officials when he applied to become a dual citizen.

“Awkward moment @ausgov refuse your citizenship applications (again)!” Cooper tweeted.

“Wearing the green and gold 70 times apparently is not enough these days.”

A screenshot of the response to his application showed he was deemed to have not provided evidence to satisfy special residency requirements which refer to “persons engaging in activities of benefit to Australia” and “persons engaged in particular kinds of work requiring regular travel outside of Australia”.

Cooper said he had made previous attempts to gain citizenship while he was still playing for Australia. His last Test was in 2017.

World rugby rules say a player can play for a country if they have lived there for at least three years before selection. Citizenship is not a prerequisite.

After playing for Queensland and Melbourne in Super Rugby, Cooper currently represents Japanese side Kintetsu Liners.

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A Chinese man has been reunited with his son after a 24-year search that saw him travel more than half-a-million kilometres around the country on a motorbike, Reuters news agency reports. .

Guo Gangtang’s son was snatched by human traffickers in front of their home in east China’s Shandong province when he was two years old.

Mr Guo, a 51-year-old farmer, spent his life savings searching, becoming a prominent member of missing-persons organisations in China and helping at least seven other parents reunite with their abducted kids.

His story has long tugged at the heart of the nation, with his determined efforts to find his son even being made into a movie six years ago.

However, a happy new chapter was added on Sunday as Mr Guo’s son, Guo Xinzhen, who had been trafficked to the neighboring Henan Province in 1997, was reunited with his family in Shandong’s Liaocheng City.

The moment was widely shared online with people across the country sending warm messages and offering congratulations to the family.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Public Security held a press briefing that revealed some details into how the case was cracked using DNA tracing.

Ministry of Public Security criminal investigation bureau deputy director Tong Bishan said DNA samples were collected from people in Henan after “clues” narrowed down the search. 

According to the ministry, a man and a woman in Shanxi province had been arrested over the original abduction. 

Back in September 1997, the two-year-old Xinzhen was abducted by an unknown woman when he was playing near his home.

More than 500 people volunteered to search for the boy in nearby bus and train stations, but no clues were found. 

However, Mr Guo never gave up hope.

He magnified his son’s photo and had it printed on a flag with the message, “Where are you, my son? Daddy will take you home”, before embarking on a tireless search across the world’s most populous nation.

“I thought maybe there is a ray of hope to find my son if I go out searching for him,” he told China Central Television (CCTV) in 2015.

“The kidnapper would never send my son back anyway. If I stayed at home, there is no chance. So, since the end of 1997, I began the search for my son.”

Mr Guo left his footprints in almost every part of the country as he embarked on a mammoth cross-country search, distributing fliers from his motorbike.

He even learned to use the Internet to hunt for more clues, and printed tens of thousands of letters to seek help from relatives, friends, volunteers and police across China.

While looking for his own son amid the murky world of human trafficking, Mr Guo was able to find a number of other lost children for several other families, and carried around a collection of missing-person notices.

The moving story was adapted into a full-length motion picture, titled Lost and Love, which premiered in 2015 and starred renowned Chinese actor Andy Lau playing the leading role.

Upon hearing the good news of the family reunion, Lau posted a special congratulatory message online on Monday, and called for more concerted efforts to combat the issue of child trafficking.

“I met Mr Guo because of the film Lost and Love,” he said. 

“Today, I feel very happy and very excited, because Guo’s abducted son was finally reunited with his parents after 24 years, thanks to the efforts of public security organs.”

He said he admired Mr Guo’s persistence.

A number of film crew members who worked on the movie also sent their congratulations, while some said on social media they would like to see a sequel that features this happy ending.

The Ministry of Public Security said Chinese police had located and rescued 2,609 missing or abducted children, including adults who had gone missing or were kidnapped as children, since a nationwide campaign was launched in January.

Police had solved 147 cold cases involving child abduction and trafficking during the period, and arrested a total of 372 suspects linked to such crimes.

One victim was traced after a span of 61 years, the ministry said.