Daily News Roundup

July 11, 2018

The 12 soccer teammates who were trapped in a flooded Thai cave for more than two weeks are finally out, and are now being closely monitored in hospital.

The boys, who ranged in age from 11 to 16, emerged in relatively good shape, but still face possible health issues. Here is a breakdown of what lies ahead for the boys, published by ABC News.

What condition were the boys in?

The first eight boys to be rescued came in with low body temperatures and were provided with heaters, Thai doctors said yesterday.

One had a low heart rate, and one had a scratch on his right ankle. Doctors suspected two had lung infections — probably pneumonia — based on irregular X-rays.

How are they feeling after treatment?

Overall they were feeling better, with no fever, and were getting around on their own and smiling.

But doctors said the boys were being kept quarantined. Parents were allowed to see them through a glass isolation barrier and talk to them via hospital phones.

It could be at least seven days before they can be released from hospital, said Jedsada Chokdumrongsuk, permanent secretary at the Public Health Ministry.

Why are they being quarantined?

The boys were malnourished and weak, and doctors are probably worried they could be susceptible to germs spread by family members or other visitors, said W Ian Lipkin, a Columbia University infectious diseases expert.

But it’s also possible they are infection risks to others. Thai doctors said they don’t know what type of unusual illnesses the boys may have picked up in the cave.

“We have never experienced this kind of issue from a deep cave,” and doctors are running a battery of tests on the boys, Mr Jedsada said.

Bats live in caves. They can spread viruses ranging from rabies to Nipah, which can cause pneumonia, seizures and death. The boys told doctors they did not see any bats or other animals, and experts say it’s unlikely bats would dwell as deep in a cave as the boys were.

Dr Lipkin said more likely risks were tetanus bacteria that could infect a wound, diarrhea-causing bacteria that could have contaminated the cave waters, and inhalable fungal spores that could cause breathing problems, including pneumonia.

What lies ahead for the boys?

Dr Lipkin said the most likely problems would stem from “the stress associated with this harrowing experience”.

One of the Thai doctors said the boys were happy but psychologists would be evaluating them.

The guided escape was stressful, and Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said the boys were given an anti-anxiety medication to help calm their nerves.

People who endure such an intense and dangerous event can go on to suffer lasting anxiety, depression and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Thailand’s Department of Mental Health said hospitals were working with the families to help the boys mentally recover, including by not digging for details about what they endured.

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The consumer watchdog says a household could save up to $415 a year on power bills if its call for a big boost to competition in the electricity sector is implemented, reports A BC political correspondent Louise Yaxley

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has declared the national electricity market is broken and says it needs to be reset.

A lack of competition and policy mistakes have added significant costs to power bills, the ACCC said.

“It is clear that most households are paying far too much for electricity. In addition, some of the most vulnerable in our community are forced to struggle through freezing winters and scorching summers with many others also having difficulty paying their bills,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

He has recommended changes to the way people are charged for power, saying retailers have made the price structures confusing and difficult to compare.

Mr Sims said many customers are paying an excessively high charge to their power retailer and said the standard price should be a new default offer which is consistent across all retailers so it is easier to compare.

The ACCC also wants a crackdown on comparison websites so that offers are recommended on the best outcome for the customer and not the commission paid.

Mr Sims said his recommendations would bring down prices by between 20 and 25 per cent for the average household or about $290 and $415 per year.

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State of Origin players from both New South Wales and Queensland are adamant that there is no such thing as a dead rubber, says ABC sports journalist Warren Boland, adding “So what is the point of Game Three?”

It’s certainly not the series decider. That happened a fortnight ago when Queensland heads were bowed after the unfamiliar experience of losing the first two games.

Blue-wigged New South Welshmen shouted “we did it” and showered themselves with cans of beer in boisterous dressing room celebrations.

What is there left to play for?

The Maroons have a powerful motive — to avoid the embarrassment of a clean sweep. The hat-trick is hard to achieve and hard to swallow if you’re on the wrong end of it.

Through their recent era of dominance, when they plundered 11 out of 12 series, the Maroons managed the whitewash only once (2010) and the Blues haven’t achieved the feat since 2000.

A consolation win would restore some pride for the north and provide a springboard into 2019 with the conviction that all is not lost after the extinction of the best spine since Homo erectus — Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater.

Slater will captain Queensland for the first time in his final Origin match. The electrifying Slater, widely regarded as the best full-back ever, will be given a hero’s farewell.

The Maroons will be desperate to win for Slater but their opponents won’t share the same emotion.

After years of hurting, New South Wales would love to rub Queensland’s nose in defeat and stamp the beginning of a new dynasty with a blue rinse.

With only one injury (Reagan Campbell-Gillard) and one optional change to his line-up (Tariq Sims in for Matt Prior) throughout the series, coach Brad Fittler has a Blues team unified in winning and determined to maintain the momentum.

The Origin period is always mentally draining for players. With a young squad, 12 of them on debut this series, Fittler will strive to keep them focussed and energised but calm in front of 50,000 fans baying for revenge at “The Cauldron” in Brisbane.

The Blues have shown they have the team and the spirit. But, with the series in the bag, have they got the intensity to dig deep one more time?

Queensland surely has the burning desire and but have the Maroons got the cattle?

Two of their best so far, skipper Greg Inglis and Kalyn Ponga, are out injured, as is Dylan Napa.

Their replacements are Corey Oates, Daly Cherry-Evans and Tim Glasby, with Dane Gagai switching to left centre and Ben Hunt demoted to the bench.

Big winger Oates has earned his place as a finisher and early in sets will boost the outgunned forwards. The selectors shuffled the positions of the relatively small pack but the benefit looks minimal.

Most contentious is the recall of Cherry-Evans in the critical position of half-back at the expense of Hunt. It will be Cherry-Evans’s first appearance since 2015 amid speculation he was on the outer.

His record stands at six Origin games, two as half and four as an interchange option. On the three occasions where he filled in for an injured Cronk Queensland lost, though that is over-simplifying the circumstances.

Cherry-Evans says he is a different, more mature player now. The Sea Eagles captain is a leader. He has the running, passing and kicking game to control the Maroons game.

But, at 29 years old, he only has one shot to deliver a victory.

In 2019 the half-back contenders will be lining up for the job. Michael Morgan, who was so impressive last year, will be back from injury. Ash Taylor will be a year more experienced. Hunt may have won a grand final with the Dragons.

Cronk and Thurston set the bar high for those that followed. At his first two attempts, Hunt got a pass mark until the second half of Game Two when he failed to nail the big plays.

With the series lost, Cherry-Evans has rightly been given the chance to show he can be the man for the big moments.

Hunt still has an important role as a versatile utility as he has done for the Kangaroos. Next year Morgan and Anthony Milford will be breathing down his neck.

Evans and Hunt aren’t the only Queenslanders playing for their Origin futures.

Will Chambers has been well below par. Forwards Jarrod Wallace, the 32-year-old Gavin Cooper, Coen Hess and dummy half Andrew McCullough need to have more impact.

In 12 months Ponga, Matt Gillett, Joe Ofahengaue and Jaydn Su’a — among others — will be raring to go.

Individually the Blues will feel more secure. Nevertheless, a clean sweep will make it harder for the likes of Wade Graham, Ryan James, Nic Cotric and Luke Keary to oust anyone come 2019.

It’s Queensland coach Kevin Walters that has ammunition to fire.

Will he stick to the positive as he motivates his charges, reminding them they could have finished in front in Game Two and this is their chance to prove it?

Or will he put his players on notice that he’s sharpened the axe and another loss won’t be forgotten?

There may be no such thing as a dead rubber, but some Origin careers could be dead and buried after it.

This daily news roundup is curated with stories from ABC News.

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