Daily News Roundup

October 13, 2021


 

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 13

The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne will introduce mandatory rapid COVID-19 testing for visitors after a virus scare at the hospital’s neonatal ICU.

It comes as Victoria records 1,571 new cases and 13 deaths — the highest single-day death toll of the current outbreak.

The new cases were identified from 79,200 test results received yesterday, and 38,072 doses of vaccine were administered at state-run sites.

There are now 19,861 active cases of the virus in Victoria and 114 lives have been lost in the current outbreak.

The rapid testing precaution at the RCH came after a parent attended the neonatal ICU on Friday and later tested positive to the virus, informing the hospital on Monday night.

There were 29 infants in the unit at the time of the exposure, and all have been tested.

None has returned positive to the virus, and all will continue to be tested.

The hospital’s chief executive, Bernadette McDonald said no staff have had to isolate, as all were wearing full protective clothing.

Ms McDonald said the rapid testing regime will begin at the hospital this week.

*NSW has recorded 444 COVID-19 cases and four deaths in the 24 hours to 8:00pm yesterday.

Three-out-of-four people in NSW over 16 years old are now fully-vaccinated and 90.8 per cent have had their first jab.

There are currently 716 COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital, with 150 people in intensive care.

A total of 105,508 tests were conducted in the reporting period.

A significant number of lockdown restrictions were eased for fully vaccinated people on Monday, after 70 per cent of people aged over 16 were fully vaccinated.

Restrictions will be relaxed again the Monday after NSW reaches 80 per cent double-dose coverage.

Yesterday, Premier Dominic Perrottet said that could happen as early as this weekend.

Mr Perrottet said the government’s COVID and Economic Recovery Committee — which was previously known as crisis cabinet — would meet tomorrow to discuss easing restrictions next week.

“The success of our vaccination rate has been absolutely superb and we’ve asked everybody across our state to make that effort and we hit 80 per cent,” the Premier said.

“We’ve always said it’ll be the Monday following. We will have this discussion with our team on Thursday, and we’ll make a decision probably that night and to be announced on Friday in relation to that.

“I want to see New South Wales opened as quickly as possible, but ultimately, it needs to be as safe as possible.”

*The ACT has recorded 51 new cases of COVID-19, as Canberrans count down the days until the end of lockdown.

Of the new cases, at least 22 spent some of their infectious period in the community. 13 were in quarantine for their entire infectious period.

Of the total cases, 32 are linked to a known source.

There are currently 16 COVID-19 patients in hospital — eight are in the intensive care unit, five requiring ventilation.

###

Australia’s east coast should prepare for a “miserable couple of days” with large hail – and perhaps even wilder weather over coming months – after forecasters upped their La Nina climate alert.

Heavier than expected summer rainfall across the nation’s north and northeast is looking more likely after the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) on Tuesday raised its ENSO outlook from a La Nina “watch” to “alert”.

The bureau said continued cooling in the tropical Pacific Ocean throughout September – and subsequent warmer oceans near Australia – had boosted the chances of La Nina from 50 per cent to 70 per cent, roughly three times the normal likelihood of an event forming in any year.

The majority of international models used by the BOM meet La Nina criteria from November.

“A La Niña ALERT is not a guarantee that La Niña will occur, rather it is an indication that most of the typical precursors of an event are in place,” the BOM said in a blog post.

The update comes amid warnings the rain system that has lashed communities from Queensland to Tasmania in recent days should intensify.

BOM duty forecaster Jonathan How said a “deep and complex” low pressure system sitting over the Great Australian Bight would bring wet weather to Adelaide, Victoria, and Southern NSW on Wednesday before morphing into a rain band and washing over western NSW and the Riverina.

Moisture coming down from the tropics is also expected to bring rain from Central Queensland to Sydney on Wednesday before the arrival of widespread thunderstorms on Thursday.

Mr How said severe storms were a chance to bring heavy rainfall, damaging winds and hail up to 5cm across all the way from the Illawarra to Capricornia region, with the Darling Downs and Wide Bay areas in Queensland particularly warned.

###

It’s official. Redcliffe’s Dolphins have been announced as the NRL’s newest franchise, with the club to enter the league in 2023.

The Dolphins, a powerhouse club in Queensland rugby league, beat rival bids — put forward by the Firehawks and the Jets — to become the league’s 17th franchise.

With the announcement of the decision, rugby league fans will again have a second national team based in Brisbane, alongside the Broncos, making a total of four in the NRL from Queensland.

In 1992, Brisbane gained a second rugby league team in the South Queensland Crushers, which joined the then-new Australian Rugby League in 1995 but folded after the 1997 season before the re-branded NRL began the following year.

It is the first time the NRL has expanded since 2007 when the Gold Coast Titans were admitted to the competition.

###

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has named 50 high schools which will host GPs as part of a pilot program.

The program will be rolled out from May.

Schools have been selected across the state, including in remote and regional areas.

Amongst the schools are Brisbane, The Gap, Ipswich and Benowa state high schools. 

The Premier said it would make healthcare more accessible for students.

“For many young people, getting in to see a doctor is often difficult and time-consuming,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Every Queenslander deserves to be able to book a doctor’s appointment when they need one.”

Education Mister Grace Grace said when her department received 50 applicants, they decided to go with that instead of the 20 originally envisioned.

“We had an enormous, great expression of interest from schools,” she told ABC Radio Brisbane.

Ms Grace said the process would be simple, with appointments organised by an admin officer.

If successful, the program may be rolled out to more schools.

“Who knows where this goes? But it really is all about the mental health wellbeing for students, to get the most out of them when they’re in school,” she said.

A trial program has been running at Mabel Park State High in Logan since 2019.

The school has been hosting one GP who comes in once a week for two years.

Principal Mick Hornby said it had been a “huge” success.

“She’s built a really good relationship with our school community,” he told ABC Radio Brisbane.

He said although the whole school community was benefiting from the program, it was the experience of one student that really exemplified its success.

“He wasn’t engaging, really struggling and there’s that sort of light-bulb moment that we knew he needed some support, medically, and we couldn’t get it for him,” he said.

“So that led on to researching what else is out there.

“The US has been doing it, New Zealand has been doing it and Victoria has just started it.

“So after researching the best practices in the world, we formulated the pilot.

“There were unforeseen benefits too, with students learning about how the medical system works and how to seek medical support.

“We have lots of students from a range of different cultural backgrounds. So when students would book in, they actually became educated on how our medical system and our health system works.

“That was a bonus that we didn’t really realise before we started.”

Mr Hornby said students booked appointments, but could also drop in to see the GP.

He said the school had measures in place to make sure students did not “wag” classes or lessons.

“There’s a bit of a process there to make sure that we don’t take any students that are just trying to wag out of maths.”

###

A United States coroner has found that travel-blogger Gabby Petito was strangled to death three to four weeks before her body was found.

The 22-year-old vanished on a road trip with her boyfriend and later turned up dead near a camping area in remote Wyoming last month.

Speaking at a news conference, Teton County Coroner Brent Blue said Ms Petito had died three to four weeks before her body was found on September 19.

Police at the time named Ms Petito’s boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, as a person of interest in her death and he remains the subject of a massive nationwide search being directed by the FBI.

It is not clear if the coroner’s determination may lead to additional charges being brought against Mr Laundrie, who remains unaccounted for.

Dr Blue declined to give more details about the autopsy’s findings, nor the case overall, saying he was prevented by Wyoming law that limits what coroners can release.

Ms Petito was reported missing on September 11 by her parents after she did not respond to calls and texts for several days while the couple visited parks in the West.

Dr Blue had previously classified Ms Petito’s death as a homicide but had not disclosed how she was killed, pending further autopsy results.