Daily News Roundup

August 17, 2021

 

TUESDAY, August 17

NSW recorded 452 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8:00pm yesterday.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said a woman aged in her 70s from Western Sydney had died at Westmead Hospital.

“Tragically, overnight we had the death of a female in her late 70s at Westmead Hospital who was unvaccinated, and we extend our deepest condolences to her loved ones,” she said.

THE 452 new cases is a slight drop from yesterday’s 478 new cases, but Ms Berejiklian said that cases will jump around over the next couple of weeks and we’re likely to see a big surge at some point.

“We envisage that case numbers in the next two or three weeks will bounce around and are likely to rise substantially and we have to brace ourselves for that, but our key aim will be keeping people out of hospital and keeping people alive and that’s why the vaccination rate obviously helps us with that,” she said.

Ms Berejiklian also outlined what she wants to see happen over the coming weeks.

“Obviously we’re keen to make sure we hit the 70 per cent double dose and 80% double dose targets,” she said.

“Now, as this stage, those targets will be met at the end of October for 70% double dose and mid-November for 80% double dose. I want to make this very, very important point – life will be much freer than what it is today once we get to 70% and 80%.

“It doesn’t mean we’ll be completely free. It doesn’t mean that we will let’s let the virus be rampant in the community no matter our number of cases, but it will be freer than it is today.”

*Two new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Queensland, but neither were infectious in the community, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says.

One of those people is in hotel quarantine, while the other is linked to the Indooroopilly cluster and has been isolating at home, the Premier said.

Meanwhile Queensland authorities remain concerned about the worsening situation in New South Wales.

Ms Palaszczuk said police had stopped and checked 10,000 cars at the Queensland border in the past 24 hours, and turned back 1,000 of those cars.

An extra 25 police officers will arrive at Coolangatta tomorrow, with a further 25 to be sent to border posts out west, she said.

Speaking on the Gold Coast, Ms Palaszczuk said Brisbane’s Ekka public holiday would now be held on Friday October 29 for people in Brisbane, Moreton Bay and Scenic Rim council areas.

*Victoria has recorded 24 locally transmitted Covid cases on the first day of its harsher lockdown restrictions.

The lockdown was extended with more restrictions introduced on Monday afternoon. These include a curfew, ban on mask removing to drink alcohol and the closure of playgrounds and outdoor exercise facilities. 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews blasted members of the  community for their “selfish” and “sh*tty” decisions to attend a pub crawl and engagement party last week (SEE ATTACHED)

Of the 24 new cases, 21 have been linked to known outbreaks and 14 have remained in isolation while infectious.

*The Northern Territory Health Minister says authorities have identified about 300 close and casual contacts of a man who has tested positive for coronavirus in the NT.

The positive case triggered a snap three-day lockdown on Monday for the Greater Darwin and Katherine region after health authorities said the infected man spent several days in Darwin before driving to Katherine on Sunday

The lockdown is scheduled to finish at midday on Thursday, but Ms Fyles said it was too early to say if the regions would exit lockdown as planned.

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 President Joe Biden says he stands squarely behind his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, after the Taliban seized power in just over a week.

Mr Biden said the collapse of the Afghan armed forces was quicker than anticipated, but insisted contingency plans were in place.

His statement came as Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton says it is not yet clear when it will be safe for Australian troops to begin evacuating citizens and local staff from Afghanistan.

Australia is deploying 250 troops and several aircraft as part of a mission to rescue Australians, as well as Afghans who served alongside the ADF.

Chaotic scenes unfolded at Kabul airport overnight, with Afghans who were trying to flee the Taliban clinging onto US military planes, and some apparently falling to their deaths after take-off

One image showed hundreds of people crammed into the hold of a US transport plane.

Mr Dutton described the events as “terrible” and said order needed to be restored before Australian aircraft could land.

“We won’t be landing into Kabul in these circumstances,” he told Channel Nine.

Mr Biden said he would not repeat “the mistakes of the past” by fighting in a conflict that was no longer in the interests of the United States.

He said the collapse of the Afghan armed forces was a sign that the withdrawal was the right decision.

“The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated,” Mr Biden said.

“So what has happened? Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed. Sometimes without trying to fight.

“If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending US military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision.”

Mr Biden said he had to follow through with an agreement made by his predecessor, Donald Trump, under which US forces would be out of the 20-year war by May of this year.

Mr Biden, who spent the weekend at Camp David, said he had no choice under the agreement but to further draw-down troops, or else re-engage in a military conflict during the Taliban fighting season.

He said he would not repeat mistakes of the past and did not regret his decision to proceed with the withdrawal.

“I stand squarely behind my decision,” Mr Biden said

“After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces.” 

Mr Biden said he would rather take the criticism over the fallout in Afghanistan than leave the decision to another president.

He said the decision to leave Afghanistan was “the right one for America.”

US deputy national security adviser Jon Finer said the United States would focus on securing the Kabul airport.

A defence official said the US was intent on getting tens of thousands of at-risk Afghans who worked for the US government out of Afghanistan and was looking at temporarily housing them at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and Fort Bliss in Texas.

Mr Biden coupled his defence of the withdrawal with a warning to Taliban leaders, saying they would face devastating force if they impeded the evacuation.

“As we carry out the departure, we made it clear to the Taliban, if they attack our personnel or disrupt our operation, the US presence will be swift and the response will be swift and forceful,” Mr Biden said.

“We will defend our people with devastating force if necessary.

“Our current military mission will be short in time, limited in scope, and focused in its objectives: Get our people and our allies [out] as safely, as quickly, as possible, and once we have completed this mission, we’ll conclude our military withdrawal.

“We’ll end America’s longest war, after 20 long years of bloodshed.”

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan says the Afghan military is to blame for the Taliban’s swift takeover over of Afghanistan.

“Despite the fact that we spent 20 years and tens of billions of dollars to give the best equipment, the best training and the best capacity to the Afghan security forces, we could not give them the will,” Mr Sullivan said.

“They ultimately decided that they would not fight for Kabul and they would not fight for the country.”

He added the “worst-case scenario” for the US would be to send thousands of troops to fight in a civil war when the Afghan army “wasn’t prepared to fight itself”.

*A US air force plane touched down safely in Qatar yesterday after carrying more than five times its suggested load when hundreds of desperate Afghan refugees flooded the plane.

Reach 871, a C-17 Globemaster III massive military cargo plane used by the US and its allies for the past 30 years, flew from Kabul International Airport late on Sunday, local time.

According to US defence officials, and photos obtained by Defense One, the crew safely evacuated more than 640 Afghan people.

Authorities believe the passenger load was likely one of the largest ever flown by a C-17.

The cargo plane had not been planning on carrying so many passengers however hundreds of Afghans, cleared to evacuate, managed to pull themselves up onto the aircraft’s half-open ramp.

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The Melbourne couple who hosted an illegal engagement party say they want forgiveness but the fallout from the potential superspreader event is just beginning, reports news.com.au.

Sixty-nine people attended the party in the St Kilda area last Wednesday but footage of the event only surfaced over the weekend.

Videos, seen by news.com.au, show the groom-to-be telling jokes as those in attendance cheer him on.

“Clearly this is legal because it’s a group-therapy session,” he says.

Two doctors closely linked to the family were in attendance. One is seen laughing along in the videos. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency is launching an investigation following dozens of reports on Monday.

Speaking to reporters, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said “many, many Victorians” are rightly upset about the footage.

“It shouldn’t have happened, some of the commentary in the video is just blatant, but what makes me really angry about it is that there are 69 people at that event, no matter what you are told or what you read … there has been transmission at that event.

“The only question is will it be a superspreader event.”

A woman and her son have tested positive to Covid-19 after the event and more cases are expected on Tuesday.

Victoria Police are slapping everyone who attended with $5000 fines. The party is set to cost more than $350,000 in penalties for breaches of the chief health officer’s directions.

Melbourne is in lockdown and indoor gatherings of any kind are prohibited.

The couple say they are sorry, that they have been cyber bullied and want forgiveness. The mother of the groom told the Herald Sun: “We did wrong but the hate coming our way is just so mean … Look into your heart and try to find forgiveness.”

But many Victorians are finding forgiveness difficult. On social media, the hashtag #engagementparty continues to trend as people lament the things they have sacrificed during six lockdowns while a single act of defiance can bring all the good work undone.

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Toutai Kefu and his son have undergone surgery for their injuries following an alleged violent home invasion yesterday morning, while his wife and daughter will be operated on today.

Mr Kefu’s other daughter, Olivia, gave an update on the family’s status this morning, while thanking people for their support.

The Wallabies legend, 47, and his family were allegedly attacked in their Coorparoo home in the early hours of Monday morning, leaving four family members with serious stab wounds. 

Police have charged a 15-year-old boy with four counts of attempted murder, three counts of grievous bodily harm, and one count each of unlawful use of a motor vehicle, break and enter, burglary and deprivation of liberty.

A second 15-year-old boy is in custody after admitting himself to a hospital in Brisbane’s south later in the day.

A third person remains on the run, with police saying a stolen silver Hyundai iX35 with number plates 435VJP was used in the alleged attack, which they do not believe was targeted.

Olivia Kefu posted an update on her family’s condition on Facebook on Tuesday morning.

“Both Josh and Dad had their surgeries yesterday and are recovering well,” she wrote.

“Madi and Mum will have their operations this morning.

“Thank you to everyone for all the kind messages and support, it means the absolute world to us all.”

Toutai Kefu was a forward for the Wallabies.

Mr Kefu played 60 tests in the forwards for Australia in a seven-year international career.

He finished as the most capped Wallaby number eight of all time.

He was appointed head coach of the Tongan national rugby side in 2016 and coached the squad through to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.