Daily News Roundup

October 6, 2020

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6

Dozens of Sydney suburbs have been put on high alert as fragments of COVID-19 was detected during surveillance of Sydney’s sewage, news.com reports.

Fragments of the virus were found during routine analysis of the wastewater, and it suggests there are undetected cases of coronavirus in the community.

The COVID-19 fragments were found at wastewater treatment plants at North Richmond and in West Camden.

Last month there was one positive case of COVID-19 in West Camden, but there have been no recent cases of the virus from the North Richmond area according to NSW Health.

Dr Richard Broome, acting executive director from Health Protection NSW said the findings could mean there are undetected cases in the community. But he also said recovered cases can continue to “shed” the virus for up to four weeks.

“We’re calling on people in these catchments to come forward for testing with even the mildest of symptoms such as a runny nose or scratchy throat,” he said.

Dr Broome said NSW Health had been working with Sydney Water to analyse wastewater samples since July.

He added there is no evidence COVID-19 can be transmitted through wastewater, and said the virus is deactivated by the treatment process.

The worrying find comes as NSW reports its 11th consecutive day with zero community transmission in the state, and the state failed to reach its target for testing over the long weekend.

NSW needs 28 consecutive days of no cases of community transmission before Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will consider reopening the border to NSW. However, the Premier has also said testing rates and sewage analysis would be taken into consideration.

NSW has a target of 8000 people being tested per day. In the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday, only 5385 people were tested. In the 24 hours prior to that, only 4789 people were tested.

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The Federal Government appears to have struck a deal with South Australian minor party Centre Alliance to back its contentious changes to university course funding, a day after they were urged not to back the legislation by Senate crossbenchers.

The shake-up of the tertiary sector is one of the most significant in a generation and will result in sweeping changes to the way certain courses are funded.

Education Minister Dan Tehan has argued the current funding model results in a glut of graduates with degrees in areas such as humanities, and wanted to increase fees for those courses while reducing the cost of qualifications in fields like maths and nursing.

Centre Alliance’s sole remaining senator, Stirling Griff, was the last vote needed by the Coalition to secure passage of the bill through the Upper House.

Senator Griff and his Lower House colleague Rebekha Sharkie announced they had secured concessions from the Government on Tuesday morning.

The bill had proposed that university students who failed more than half of their subjects would lose access to government loans and subsidies under changes announced by the Federal Government.

Ms Sharkie told Sky News that she and Senator Griff would support the reforms on the condition that those students have some protections.

“You can be going through university qualification and can have some unexpected events in your life — bushfire, death of a spouse, death of a parent,” she said.

“We’re saying to the Government that needs to be in the legislation so that those protections are there and it’s not at the discretion of a university so that students have a legislative framework that they can see as protection should they be in those circumstances — and Government agreed to that.”

Ms Sharkie said they had also negotiated for South Australia to be treated the same as Tasmania and regional Australia.

This means there will be more Commonwealth Supported Places for South Australian universities, Senator Griff said.

“This means substantial extra funding for our three universities over four years, over and above current funding allocations, and an additional 12,000 students will have access to a university education over a four-year period,” he said.

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United States President Donald Trump has told Americans not to let COVID-19 “dominate” them and says he is “better” after being treated for the disease.

Mr Trump tweeted a video message shortly after arriving back at the White House from the Walter Reed Medical Center.

The President reiterated that he had “learned a lot” about the disease after testing positive to the virus last week and being treated at the hospital.

“One thing that’s for certain, don’t let it dominate you,” he said.

“Don’t be afraid of it.

“We’re going to beat it. We have the best medical equipment, we have the best medicines all developed recently.”

He said that he “didn’t feel so good” originally, but two days ago he started to feel “better than 20 years ago” and could have left hospital then.

“Don’t let it take over your lives,” he said. “Don’t let that happen. We’re the greatest country in the world. We’re going back to work. We’re going to be out front.

“As your leader, I had to do that, I knew there was danger to it.

“I stood out front and led. Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did.

“I know there’s a risk, there’s a danger. But that’s ok. And now I’m better.

“Maybe I’m immune? I don’t know.”

The vaccines were coming “momentarily”, he added.

US President Donald Trump flies back to the White House where he will continue treatment for COVID-19.

Mr Trump spent three nights in hospital after being admitted on Friday.

He emerged from the hospital on Monday evening wearing a suit and mask and raised a fist and a thumbs up as he walked to his car.

He was then driven a few hundred metres to the presidential helicopter, Marine 1, for the 15-minute flight back to the White House where he will continue his recovery.

On arrival, he stood on the White House balcony for several minutes, took off his mask and saluted as the helicopter took off again.

Earlier, the President tweeted that he was “feeling really good” and flagged that he would be leaving the hospital.

“Don’t be afraid of COVID,” he said in the tweet.