Daily News Roundup

March 30, 2021

[Suez Canal Authority/Handout/Reuters]

 

TUESDAY, March 30

Queensland’s COVID-19 outbreak has grown overnight, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announcing 10 new cases, eight of those locally acquired.

She said six are close contacts of confirmed cases, and two others are still under investigation.

But health authorities have now identified two distinct clusters, both strains of the highly infectious UK variant. 

It comes as Brisbane enters its first day of a snap three-day lockdown, introduced after health authorities revealed a COVID-19 cluster involving the highly contagious UK strain had grown to seven people yesterday.

Among them is a nurse at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and her sister, who both visited Byron Bay for a hens party during their infectious period.

The nurse, who wasn’t vaccinated, is the second public hospital frontline health care worker to contract the virus this month after a doctor from the same hospital.

Ms Palaszczuk said she could not give certainty over whether the region would remain in lockdown for the Easter long weekend.

“We just have to take this day by day,” she said.

“So far the fact that we have these cases that are linked is good news. That is good news.

“Do we expect to see more cases? Probably. Probably, we will see more. The big question will be whether or not we see unlinked community transmission.”

“The good news is, these cases are linked and we now believe there are two distinct clusters,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“We have a cluster linked of course to that PA doctor, and we have a second cluster linked to the PA nurse.”

There are now 78 active cases of COVID-19 in Queensland hospitals.

“Now, of course, we want to get on top of this community transmission, so the steps that we took to go into this lockdown, as you can see by those numbers of community transmission today, was absolutely the right call,” she said.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said there was no community transmission “we’re not aware of”.

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The giant container ship that blocked Egypt’s Suez Canal for almost a week has been fully floated and traffic in the waterway has resumed, the canal authority said in a statement.

Live footage on Egyptian television showed the ship surrounded by tug boats moving slowly in the centre of the canal.

“She’s free,” an official involved in the salvage operation said.

The 400-metre long ship had been blocking one of the world’s busiest trade routes, forcing companies to reroute ships and causing long tailbacks of hundreds of vessels.

Helped by the peak of high tide, a flotilla of tugboats managed to wrench the bulbous bow of the Ever Given from the canal’s sandy bank, where it had been firmly lodged since last Tuesday.

After hauling the fully laden vessel over the canal bank, the salvage team pulled the vessel towards the Great Bitter Lake, a wide stretch of water halfway between the north and south end of the canal.

It is where the ship will undergo technical inspection, canal authorities said.

“Admiral Osama Rabie, the Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), announces the resumption of maritime traffic in the Suez Canal after the Authority successfully rescues and floats the giant Panamanian container ship EVER GIVEN,” a statement from the SCA said.

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Former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin squeezed the life out of George Floyd while joining other officers in arresting him last May, a prosecutor has told jurors at Chauvin’s murder trial.

But Chauvin’s lead attorney, Eric Nelson, said in his opening statement that the former officer had simply followed his police training.

Jerry Blackwell, a prosecutor with the Minnesota attorney-general’s office, told jurors that officers who wore the Minneapolis police badge pledged to never use “unnecessary force or violence”.

“You will learn that on May 25, Mr Derek Chauvin betrayed this badge when he used excessive and unreasonable force upon the body of George Floyd,” said Mr Blackwell, who addressed the jury for almost an hour.

He displayed a still image from a bystander’s cellphone video of Chauvin, who is white, with his knee on the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old black man in handcuffs.

He said it showed Chauvin “grinding and crushing him until the very breath … the very life was squeezed out of him.”

Mr Floyd’s death ignited a global protest movement over police brutality against black people.

In the preceding two weeks of jury selection, many jurors told Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill that they recognised the scrutiny their deliberations would come under.