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What we know today, Wednesday January 20

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Today’s breaking news from South Australia, the nation and abroad.

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Listeria found in leg ham sold in SA supermarkets

A health warning has been issued following the discovery of Listeria in leg ham sold in South Australian supermarkets.

SA Health said Listeria had been found in O’Brien’s leg ham, sold at various Foodland, IGA and other independent butchers and continental delicatessens.

People – especially pregnant women, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems – are advised not to consume the ham.

SA Health’s food and controlled drugs branch acting director Karen Ferres said the Listeria was found by the manufacturer during routine testing.

She said O’Brien’s was working to remove any potentially affected product from supply and there hadn’t been any cases linked to the product reported to SA Health.

“The ham is sometimes sold loose from affected businesses and therefore has no distinct packaging,” she said.

“While many people exposed to Listeria often have only mild illness it can be more serious in at-risk groups, so all South Australians at-risk should avoid eating the product.

“As a precaution, we recommend anyone who has purchased any of the listed O’Brien’s leg hams to not eat it and either return it to the place of purchase, or discard it.”

The hams have been available for sale since December 2020.

The use-by dates affected are 24/03/21, 1/04/21 and 06/04/21:

SA Health said Listeriosis starts with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, and sometimes diarrhoea.

People can start experiencing symptoms within a few days, but they can take up to six weeks to appear after eating contaminated product.

SA Health said people should see their GP if symptoms develop, with those in the at-risk groups advised to consult their doctor as early as possible if any symptoms appear.

Three more virus cases linked to Australian Open

Three more people linked to the Australian Open have tested positive for coronavirus in Victoria, bringing the total number of cases associated with the tournament to 10.

Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville confirmed the new cases had been detected on Wednesday morning, meaning they would be included in Thursday’s figures.

She said authorities are “very confident” one of the cases is a tennis player who is shedding the virus and is not infectious.

The player is already in hard lockdown as they were on board a flight into Melbourne with another positive case.

The other two cases are a player and their support person.

The duo and their close contacts are isolating while the test results are confirmed.

A total of 72 players remain in hard lockdown after being deemed close contacts of positive cases on three charter flights into Melbourne from Abu Dhabi, Doha and Los Angeles.

Australian Open director Craig Tiley said 3200 tests have been conducted on the more than 1200 players, support staff and tournament officials.

“We’re in our sixth day and so far the numbers have been extremely low and if they are active cases they go straight to the medi-hotel,” he told ABC News.

Tiley rebuked a “minority” of players who continue to complain about the conditions in hotel quarantine on social media.

“Culturally there’s a different approach to how the virus is managed,” he said.

“We’re proud here in Victoria and Australia of how we have done it and protected the community like we have. We’re going to continue to do that.”

The three new cases follow yesterday’s announcement of two cases linked to the tournament, although both were reclassified as viral shedding.

Tiley said late Tuesday the two positive cases were not contagious and hence they players were not removed from the regular player hotel.

“The acute cases that we have right now, in other words the ones at the medical hotel, are six people and none of them are players,” Tiley said.

“The DHHS will need to confirm that they are viral shedding but I can tell you that they’re not in the medical hotel.”

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the change in classification of any cases didn’t mean players could leave isolation early, with 72 bunkered down for 14 days.

Tiley earlier Tuesday rejected calls to shorten men’s matches at the grand slam amid player unease at the lockdown’s impact on their preparation for the tournament starting February 8.

But he conceded the lockdown for some players meant preparations for the grand slam was “not an even playing field” with others such as world No.1 Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal still allowed out for five hours practice a day in Adelaide.

Tiley said they would do whatever they could to support affected players, including changing the format of the lead-in tournaments and looking at the Open draw scheduling.

Commissioner warns against QR code complacency

South Australians have been urged not to skip checking in at businesses and other venues with QR codes, with the state’s police commissioner warning against complacency in the fight against COVID-19.

Grant Stevens said that while South Australia was doing exceptionally well, the virus had not gone away.

“In South Australia, things are almost normal and that carries some risk and that makes people less vigilant,” Stevens told radio FiveAA on Wednesday.

He said while police had received considerable feedback suggesting people were “streaming” into venues without checking in, the issue was not as simple as it seemed.

The commissioner said scanning the code was not actually a condition of entry.

The only requirement is for people to check in at some stage while in a shop or other venue. It can be done at any time they are there.

“But there is a need to really reinforce that requirement and we need to reinforce with businesses that they are obligated to make sure people check in,” Mr Stevens said.

Premier Steven Marshall said he believed there had been widespread acceptance of the technology which provided invaluable information for contact tracing.

Stevens also moved to reassure the public on Wednesday that QR codes were not here to stay with no plans to keep the system in place once the pandemic was over.

He said that threshold would come when the state’s public health officials no longer believed COVID-19 was a threat to the broader community and particularly the vulnerable.

“When we know that we’ve hit that threshold we will remove these things. They are not here forever,” the commissioner said.

“They are here for the foreseeable future until we know we’ve got a handle on COVID-19.”

On Thursday, South Australia’s transition committee will meet to consider possible relaxing of local restrictions ahead of Australia Day.

Discussions are expected to include increasing the size of private gatherings, currently capped at 50 for homes and 200 for other venues.

The committee is not expected to make changes to SA’s current border restrictions with NSW, with people coming from Greater Sydney, the Central Coast and Wollongong not allowed into SA unless they are a returning local resident, have an exemption or are an essential worker.

SA authorities want to wait for 14 days of no community transmission before easing the border rules, which would suggest a timeframe towards the end of January, assuming there were no more cases.

South Australia reported one new COVID-19 case on Wednesday, in a man in his 30s who recently returned from overseas.

He is one of six active infections in the state, all in hotel quarantine.

There have still been no reported positive cases among tennis players and their support staff in Adelaide for an exhibition tournament later this month.

PM touts HomeBuilder success as scheme hits $2 billion

The federal government’s HomeBuilder program has received more than 30,000 applications above Treasury forecasts.

The construction stimulus scheme is now expected to cost about $2 billion after a surge in applications in the final two months of last year.

More than 75,000 households have applied for the $25,000 cash grants, with 80 per cent of applications to construct a new dwelling.

The remaining 20 per cent of applications have been for major renovations.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison touted the success of the scheme.

“This program has been really effective,” the prime minister told Sydney’s 2GB radio on Wednesday.

“This has more than doubled our expectations for that program, it’s set residential building up for the next two years.”

Assistant Minister Michael Sukkar expects the scheme to support up to $18 billion worth of residential construction projects.

“On all counts HomeBuilder has more than achieved this objective, and it has kept hundreds of thousands of tradies in work who would have otherwise been facing the unemployment queue,” he said on Wednesday.

“This is a phenomenal outcome for our tradies and for our economy at a time it needs it most.”

The grant program was due to expire at the end of December, but has been extended until March 31 at a reduced rate of $15,000.

New home sales almost doubled in December compared to November as people clamoured to get the full benefit program before it was wound back.

Used PPE blowing out of Vic quarantine hotels: neighbour

A resident living next door to a quarantine hotel housing Australian Open players and staff says used PPE is being blown into her apartment foyer.

The woman told the ABC she lives next door to the View hotel on St Kilda Rd and was concerned to see biohazard bins overflowing with personal protective equipment at the weekend.

She said windy weather had blown used face masks and gloves across to her apartment block.

“Prior to witnessing the rubbish all throughout our street, I trusted that the right processes and protocols were being in place. Since then I’ve been a bit worried,” Sarah, who did not give her surname, told ABC Radio Melbourne on Wednesday.

“If something quite basic like rubbish is not really being managed efficiently, or sort of dealt with any kind of urgency, that there might be other measures that aren’t really being taken seriously.”

Sarah said she had contacted COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria, the hotel and Tennis Australia, but had not received a reply.

Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville said she could “assure the residents … that this is not PPE from the COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria program”.

“I want to be really clear about this,” Neville said.

“100 per cent this is not CQV PPE. The PPE is maintained by CQV in locked, underground carparks where it’s collected.

“No public have access to it, it has no ability to move out to the streets.”

A COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria spokeswoman also said biohazard bins are stored and collected from the secure basement car park of the hotel with “no public access”.

“This measure ensures the bins are safely collected within a secure environment to reduce any risk to public health,” she said.

“We are reviewing CCTV of the street to find the source of the discarded PPE and will take any appropriate action necessary.”

While Victoria has gone two weeks without recording a locally acquired case of COVID-19, three more people in hotel quarantine have tested positive to the virus.

Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley told 3AW he was not sure if the three cases are associated with the contingent in town ahead of the tournament, which begins on February 8.

Two unnamed players and another person connected to the tournament were among four new coronavirus cases reported in Victorian quarantine on Tuesday.

One was a woman in her 20s and the other two were men in their 30s, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.

Queensland Premier set to ease restrictions

Coronavirus restrictions in Greater Brisbane are on track to be eased on Friday as the Queensland government continues to look at relocating quarantine to outback camps.

No new locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases were reported in the 24 hours to 9am (AEDT) on Wednesday with two cases reported in travellers already in hotel quarantine.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says restrictions like mandatory facemasks in indoor public places and social distancing are “100 per cent” on track to be lifted at 1am on Friday.

“We’ve got one more day to go, it’s all looking very positive, and we’ll be able to advise the Greater Brisbane region tomorrow will be able to ease,” she told reporters.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said despite the lack of cases there were still traces of the virus being picked up in sewage testing across the state.

She said it was understandable sewage testing had detected the disease on the Gold Coast, where virus cases are in hotel quarantine, and Cairns, where it’s believed a returned traveller is still shedding the virus.

However, Dr Young said a positive sewage testing result at Cannonvale in Mackay reinforced her call for people to keep coming forward to get tested, like the 7990 people who had done so in past 24 hours.

“(If) anyone, anywhere in the state has any symptoms at all, please come forward and get tested and isolate until you get a result that will then keep us all safe,” she said.

The lack of new cases suggests that a cluster that emerged among staff and guests at the Grand Chancellor quarantine hotel in Brisbane, which triggered a three-day citywide lockdown, has not spread any further.

Earlier today, Victoria recorded no new locally acquired COVID-19 cases for the 14th day in a row, while NSW also recorded zero new local cases in the 24 hours up until 8pm on Tuesday.

Trump’s final speech doesn’t mention Biden

US President Donald Trump, in a farewell address, has urged prayers for the new administration of President-elect Joe Biden but declined to acknowledge his Democratic successor by name.

“This week, we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous,” the Republican president said in the video remarks.

“We extend our best wishes, and we also want them to have luck – a very important word.”

Trump has refused to offer a full concession to Biden, who won the November 3 election with 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232.

The outgoing president is not meeting with Biden before the Democrat’s inauguration at 4.00am AEDT on Thursday and instead plans to fly to Florida, where he is expected to reside after his White House term.

Trump campaigned on a pledge to “Make America Great Again” but leaves office with nearly 400,000 people dead of the coronavirus whose risk he downplayed, an economy struggling from the pandemic, and relationships strained with key US allies.

“The greatest danger we face is a loss of confidence in ourselves, a loss of confidence in our national greatness,” Trump said.

“America is not a timid nation of tame souls who need to be sheltered and protected from those with whom we disagree.”

Meanwhile, Google says that Trump will be banned from uploading videos or live-streaming to his YouTube channel for at least an additional seven days.

YouTube banned Trump from posting videos a week ago for violating its content policies, saying that a seven-day suspension was the required punishment.

Top Republican blames Trump for Capitol attack

The top Republican in Congress, Mitch McConnell, has blamed outgoing US President Donald Trump for the violent mob that attacked the US Capitol this month.

“The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people,” Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said on the floor of the chamber.

It is likely McConnell’s last speech in his role, with the Senate set to be split 50-50 as of Wednesday.

Vice president-elect Kamala Harris, a Democrat, will be the tie-breaking vote in the event of split decisions, giving her party an edge.

The comments by McConnell come as the Senate seems likely to soon hold a trial for Trump, after the House of Representatives impeached him last week for a second time.

Once the formal article of impeachment is sent over from the House to the Senate, the trial can begin, with a two-thirds majority needed to convict.

It is unclear how many Republicans might join the Democrats for such a vote, which would also bar Trump from holding office again.

Trump is accused of inciting the insurrection, with fiery rhetoric that sought to delegitimise the victory of Joe Biden in the presidential election, including through allegations of voter fraud.

At least five people, including a police officer, were killed during the attack on January 6, which came just after a rally held by Trump.

Trump to issue scores of pardons on final day as US President

US President Donald Trump is expected to spend his last full day in office issuing a flurry of pardons and bidding farewell to the US public from a near-deserted White House and surrounded by an extraordinary security presence outside.

In one of his final acts as president, Trump was expected to grant clemency to as many as 100 people, according to two people briefed on the plans.

The list of pardons and commutations is expected to include names unfamiliar to the US public – regular people who have spent years languishing in prison – as well as politically-connected friends and allies like those he’s pardoned in the past.

Trump also has been using his final days in office to issue a steady a stream of executive orders as he tries to lock in initiatives that president-elect Joe Biden is likely to ignore.

He has recorded a video offering a final message to the US public before a farewell event at nearby Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday morning.

Once there, he will board Air Force One for a final time, flying to Florida and becoming the first outgoing president in more than a century to skip the inauguration of his successor.

Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president on Wednesday at noon local time in Washington DC (3.30am Adelaide time on Thursday).

UK reports record daily coronavirus deaths

The UK has reported a record number of deaths from COVID-19 with 1610 people dying within 28 days of positive coronavirus test, exceeding the previous peak set last week.

The number released on Tuesday was steeply up from the 599 deaths reported in Monday’s official figures.

There is often a lag in reporting new deaths after the weekend.

There were 33,355 new cases recorded, down from the 37,535 reported on Monday.

England and Scotland announced new lockdowns on January 4 in a bid to stem a surge in cases after the discovery of a more transmissible UK variant of the coronavirus late last year.

The lockdown has resulted in new cases coming down from a seven-day average peak of about 60,000 new daily cases on January 7 although health officials have warned that the numbers of deaths will rise even as reported cases start to come down.

“Whilst there are some early signs that show our sacrifices are working, we must continue to strictly abide by the measures in place,” said Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England.

“By reducing our contacts and staying at home we will see a fall in the number of infections over time.”

Government figures showed that 4,266,577 people had received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The UK is hoping to vaccinate 15 million high-risk people by the middle of February.

Meanwhile, the US death toll from the coronavirus has eclipsed 400,000, according to Johns Hopkins University figures.

The number of US fatalities is almost equal to the number of Americans killed in World War II.

US accuses China of genocide

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement that China has committed “genocide and crimes against humanity” in its repression of Uighur Muslims in its Xinjiang region will further strain relations between the world’s top two economies.

Just a day before US president-elect Joe Biden is set to take office, US officials briefing reporters on the move said in a call that “an exhaustive documentation of (China’s) own policies, practices and abuse in Xinjiang” viewed by Pompeo led him to make the determination that such acts had been committed since at least March 2017.

“After careful examination of the available facts, I have determined that the PRC, under the direction and control of the CCP, has committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,” Pompeo said in a statement.

“I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state,” he added.

The move, on the day before Biden’s inauguration, is certain to strain further already frayed ties between the world’s top two economies.

The rare determination follows intensive internal debate after Congress passed legislation on December 27 requiring the US administration to determine within 90 days whether forced labour or other alleged crimes against the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are crimes against humanity or a genocide.

“This is a decision that we do not take lightly,” one of the US officials on the call said.

“It has gone through a lot of process and a lot of analysis. The Secretary made the determination in his role… that this is the tool that we need to deploy at this time in order to advance this vitally important cause.”

China has been widely condemned for complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centres” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills but which others have called concentration camps.

Officials in Beijing deny accusations of abuse.

Biden’s campaign declared before the November 3 US election that genocide was occurring in China’s western Xinjiang region.

The US decision does not automatically unleash any penalties but it means countries will have to think hard about allowing companies to do business with Xinjiang, a leading global supplier of cotton.

Last week the United States imposed a ban on all cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang.

Paine has “unfinished business” after shock Test loss

National cricket captain Tim Paine is looking no further ahead than a tour of South Africa but feels confident he is the right man to lead Australia.

Paine’s team crashed to a 2-1 series defeat to India in Brisbane yesterday.

Australia’s star-studded attack failed to run through the tourists on day five of the series-deciding fourth Test, as was the case on day five of the drawn SCG Test.

The shock loss to an inexperienced Indian XI, minus a stack of injured stars plus captain Virat Kohli, will ensure near-unprecedented scrutiny of Paine.

Adam Gilchrist has already questioned Paine’s tactics, pointing to the fact the Tasmanian is juggling the burden of batting, wicketkeeping and captaining.

Australia’s next Test assignment is a tour of South Africa, which is yet to be locked in because of the COVID-19 pandemic but likely to start in early March.

Paine, who was just three years old when a star-studded West Indies inflicted Australia’s last Test loss in Brisbane, knows he will now “cop heaps of flak”.

“This has certainly been slightly different for me in the last two weeks with lots of criticism coming my way,” Paine said.

“In the past, it probably hasn’t come my way.

“But that’s par for the course. International cricket is a big-boy business and you have to have a very, very thick skin.”

Australia will now need to win its three-Test series in South Africa starting next month to be a chance to qualify for the Test Championship final at Lord’s in June.

Paine, 36, made it clear that he wants to “keep leading this team”.

“Still looking forward to going to South Africa … we had a goal to make this Test championship final and I think that’s still achievable,” he said.

“We’ve got some unfinished business … I intend to finish that.”

Cycling festival hits road after track opening

World sprint champ Matt Glaetzer returned to the track after an extended time away with injury and COVID lockdowns as the six-day Festival of Cycling kicked off with the Adelaide Track League at the Adelaide SuperDrome last night.

Glaetzer made a strong return alongside Australian Olympic endurance riders Sam Welsford and Kelland O’Brien who put on a masterclass of Madison racing to take two laps to surge ahead in points.

The racing moves to the road tomorrow for a four-stage National Road Series (NRS) race with men’s and women’s stages showcasing the Barossa, Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu regions.

The 2020 Santos Tour Down Under winner Richie Porte returns to South Australia for the race after his historic third place at the Tour De France, only the second Australian in history to stand upon the podium in Paris.

The men and women will take on the classic Barossa TDU route tomorrow.

The six-day domestic cycling event showcasing a variety of cycling disciplines, including Road, Paracycling, Track, BMX, Mountain Bikes and Cyclo-Cross.

– with AAP and Reuters

https://www.willyweather.com.au/sa/adelaide/adelaide.html
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