Daily News Roundup

July 16, 2021


Queensland has recorded one new locally acquired case of Covid-19 as Annastacia Palaszczuk slammed the border closed to all of Victoria.

The Premier declared the southern state as a hotspot after Melbourne was plunged into a snap five-day lockdown, with any Queenslanders returning from Victoria from 1am Saturday forced into 14-day hotel quarantine.

NSW recorded 97 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8:00pm yesterday.

Twenty-nine of the people who tested positive were out in the community for the entire time they were in the community.

NSW Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said the fact that so many were still going about their normal business was “incredibly concerning”.

“I can’t stress to the community my absolute concern that we need to work harder at reducing mobility and reduce our interactions with others if we will bring the situation under control,” she said. 

The updates came as the Australian Olympic Committee confirmed that tennis star Alex de Minaur is out of the team for Tokyo after testing positive to COVID-19.

Chef de mission Ian Chesterman said De Minaur had had his mandatory pre-tests, which had come back positive, so the Sydneysider would not be able to come to Tokyo to join the team.

“We are very disappointed for Alex and he is shattered, not being able to come,” Chesterman said.

“It has been his dream to represent Australia at the Olympic Games since he was a child, but he sent his best wishes for the team.”

The new Queensland case recorded in the Sunshine State was the mother of the 12-year-old boy reported on Thursday.

Chief health officer Jeannette Young said all three members of the family have been confirmed to be infected with the highly contagious Delta strain, with the same genome sequence as is circulating through Sydney.

The top doctor also revealed the international airport worker reported as a new infection on Thursday is a supervisor at the boarding gates at the Brisbane terminal.

She is vaccinated but genome sequencing revealed she had also contracted the infectious strain of the virus.

The two new clusters are not linked. Health authorities have scoured CCTV footage and identified 23 close contacts of the airport worker as well as 22 casual contacts.

“Those people have been very prompt in getting back to us,” Dr Young told reporters on Friday.

 “We texted messaged all those people and we will follow them all up today and make sure we get all their test results and that they are in quarantine. We just have to work through all that.”

The update comes after the state reported three new local infections on Thursday, including the international airport worker who was infectious during three shifts this week.

The new cases ignited the list of exposure sites across Brisbane and led to Annastacia Palaszczuk extendING the mandatory mask-wearing policy by another week from Frida

Victoria has recorded 10 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, including four that were announced in press conferences yesterday.

All 10 are linked to the current outbreaks, Victorian health authorities said. It takes the state’s current outbreak to 24.

The results were detected among 33,129 tests received on Thursday, and there were 17,188 vaccine doses administered at state-run sites.

Victoria is today waking to its fifth lockdown and there are more than 120 exposure sites now listed.

In another blow to Victoria, a rugby fan who attended the Wallabies-France test match in Melbourne on Tuesday night has returned a positive result for Covid-19.

Melbourne and Olympic Parks, which manages AAMI Park, confirmed early on Friday morning that a patron had tested positive to the virus.

The fan arrived at the stadium at 8.08pm via Gate 7 and sat on Level 1, Aisle 21, on the western side of the venue in Zone 2.

Management said those who were seated on Level 1 in Aisles 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 have been classified as tier 2 contacts and must immediately isolate, get tested and stay isolated until they receive a negative result.

“Guests who were seated in high-risk areas will be contacted directly by the health department and will need to follow their specific advice,” AAMI Park said in a statement.

“The rest of Zone 2 has been classified as a tier 3 exposure site.

“Guests should monitor for symptoms and if they develop, get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.”

Patrons zones are listed on their ticket.

Management said the stadium had now been closed and would undergo an “intensive clean”.


New research has found grey hairs can be reversible if you are able to reduce or eliminate psychological stress.

Ever thought that stress is turning your hair grey? You are probably right, says a new study from Columbia University.

But there is some good news out of the research reports ABC Radio’s Isaac Muller.

Going grey is not necessarily permanent, according to associate professor of behavioural medicine and senior author of the study, Dr Martin Picard.

“We discovered that in normal people without any special treatment, grey hairs are actually reversible,” Dr Picard said.

“That seems to happen when psychological stress goes away or reduces.”

The research team was able to quantify the link between stress and greying hairs for the first time using a new imaging technique that allowed team members to visualise a single hair in detail.

When they compared a patient’s reported stress levels with the colour of their hair, Dr Picard said there was a clear link between stress and hairs going grey.

In some cases where stress was reduced, pigment returned to the hair.

“We don’t think this is a unique phenomenon of hair, this reversibility of ageing,” he said.

“This flexibility of ageing at a cellular level … is likely to happen in most cells of the body and we just happen to be able to see it with the naked eye in the hair.”

Although reducing stress is likely to have other benefits, only some people will be able to get their hair colour back naturally.

“If you are 60 years old and you have had grey hairs for 20 years, it is unlikely that they are reversible,” he said.

Scientists are now reading hair follicles in a similar way to reading “tree trunk rings” or layers in the “Earth’s core”.

Because hair is initially inside the body, it is impacted by things including what you eat and how you feel.

“Hairs grow at about 1 centimetre per month. So, if your hair is [around] 1 cm [in length], then you have no more than one month of your biological history hanging on your scalp,” Dr Picard said.

“Some people have hairs that are 12cm or 24cm, then you have a year or two years’ worth of biological history that you are walking around with.”

Understanding how grey hairs can return to their younger, pigmented state as they grow, could be the key to finding out more about the impact of stress on human aging more generally.

“We think there is information in there that might tell us something about the state of the body and the state of the mind,” Dr Picard said.


More than 60 people have died and dozens are missing after severe flooding in Germany and Belgium turned streams and streets into raging torrents of water that swept away cars and caused houses to collapse.

Storms across parts of western Europe over recent days made rivers and reservoirs burst their banks, triggering flash floods on Wednesday night when the saturated soil couldn’t absorb any more water.

“I grieve for those who have lost their lives in this disaster,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a visit to Washington, expressing shock at the scope of the flooding.

“We still don’t know the number [of dead]. But it will be many.”

She pledged that everything would be done to find those still missing, adding: “‘Heavy rain and flooding’ doesn’t capture what happened.”

Authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia state said at least 30 people had died, while 28 deaths were reported in Rhineland-Palatinate state to the south.

Belgian media reported eight deaths there.

Among the worst-hit German villages was Schuld, where several homes collapsed and dozens of people remained unaccounted for.

Rescue operations were hampered by blocked roads and phone and internet outages across the Eifel, a volcanic region of rolling hills and small valleys.

Some villages were reduced to rubble as old brick and timber houses couldn’t withstand the sudden rush of water, often carrying trees and other debris as it gushed through narrow streets.

Karl-Heinz Grimm, who had come to help his parents in Schuld, said he had never seen the small Ahr River surge in such a deadly torrent.

“This night, it was like madness,” he said.

The floods left a regional train in the German municipality of Kordel half submerged. (AP: Sebastian Schmitt/DPA)

Dozens of people had to be rescued from the roofs of their houses with inflatable boats and helicopters. Hundreds of soldiers were deployed to assist in the rescue efforts.

“There are people dead, there are people missing, there are many who are still in danger,” the governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state, Malu Dreyer, told the regional parliament.

“We have never seen such a disaster. It’s really devastating.”

The 52nd Civil Engineer squadron and several volunteers from the US air base at Spangdahlem filled and distributed hundreds of sandbags to help protect homes and businesses in the area, the US European Command said.


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