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What we know today, Sunday January 31


Welcome to your serving of the day’s breaking news from South Australia, the nation and abroad.

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South Australians told to reconsider WA travel

South Australian State Coordinator Grant Stevens has urged South Australians to reconsider plans to travel to Western Australia in the coming days.

South Australia Police and SA Health report that they are monitoring the situation in Western Australia after a hotel quarantine security guard in Perth tested positive to COVID-19, sending Perth and surrounds into a lockdown.

South Australians holidaying or travelling in Western Australia should consider returning as soon as possible, authorities say.

“South Australia Police have a presence at the airport to ensure all people entering the state from interstate have submitted a cross border travel application,” SAPOL said in a statement.

Th application will ensure a record is maintained of those people entering the state, so if there is another outbreak they can be contacted.

The situation is currently being reviewed and will be monitored overnight.

Perth goes into lockdown after positive case

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has announced that Perth and surrounding regions will  go into a five-day lockdown, after a hotel quarantine security guard in his 20s tested positive to COVID-19.

“We are told the guard was working on the same floor as a positive UK variant case,” McGowan said at a Sunday press conference.

He added that there are currently four positive cases in hotel quarantine at the Sheraton Four Points in Perth where the guard worked.

“Of those four cases, we have at least three confirmed variant strains, two UK and one South Africa,” McGowan said.

The lockdown, which begins at 6pm on Sunday, includes the Perth metropolitan area, the Peel region and the south-west region.

Residents will be required to stay home unless they are shopping for essentials, need to tend to medical issues, or to care for the vulnerable.

Exercise within one’s neighbourhood is allowed with one other person for one hour per day.

People may go to work if they cannot work from home or remotely.

Residents who leave home in locked down areas are required to wear a mask at all times outside, at work, or on public transport.

Schools will not return as planned on Monday, with the holidays extended for a further week.

A range of businesses will need to close, including pubs, gyms, cinemas, places of worship, and libraries, while restaurants and cafes can provide takeaway service only.

Weddings are cancelled for the next five days and funerals have a limit of ten attendees, while elective surgeries will be suspended from Tuesday.

The infected security guard may have a second job as a driver for a rideshare company.

The WA government is updating a list of possible exposure sites.

WA had gone nearly ten months without a virus case in the community.

Flights from NZ to Australia can resume

Australia is reopening its doors to New Zealand travellers after health authorities gave the go-ahead.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said Acting Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd made the recommendation that the pause in flights from NZ did not need to be extended.

“The Commonwealth has accepted this advice, meaning green zone flights will commence this afternoon,” Mr Hunt said in a statement on Sunday.

He said the acting CMO noted there have been no further confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the community in New Zealand since the initial three cases originated from transmission within hotel quarantine.

Mr Kidd also noted all close contacts of the three New Zealand cases have returned negative test results, and there have been no further cases found to date in the casual contacts, previous residents of the hotel or hotel staff.

Pharmacies asked to aid vaccine rollout

Pharmacies across the nation are being asked to assist with the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine in the coming months.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said he will be issuing an expression of interest to the 5800 community pharmacies to voluntarily participate with the rollout as they do with the flu jab.

“They are experienced, they are trained in dispensing medicines, and … that means more points of presence for Australians in terms of where they can receive their COVID-19 vaccine,” Mr Hunt told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

Pharmacies would participate from what is known as Phase 2A of the rollout, which starts with vaccinations of people in their 60s.

The initial phases deal with the elderly, health care and high-risk workers.

Mr Hunt said Australia is on track for the roll-out commencing from late February and completing in October.

Australia recorded 14 consecutive days of no community transmission on Sunday.

South Australia recorded one case from a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

Proud Boys indicted over Capitol storming

Two members of far-right group the Proud Boys have been indicted in connection with the storming of the US Capitol building earlier this month.

The US Attorney’s office in the District of Columbia said on Friday evening the New York men, 31 and 43, were accused of conspiracy, civil disorder and unlawfully entering restricted buildings or grounds, among other charges.

The 43-year-old faces additional charges including robbery of personal property of the United States, assaulting, resisting or impeding officers and destruction of government property.

The two men were initially arrested on January 12 and January 15 and are members of the nationalist Proud Boys according to charging documents.

A violent mob of supporters of then-president Donald Trump attacked the Capitol building in Washington on January 6 following one of his rallies, leading to the death of five people.

China ignoring new trade minister Tehan

The appointment of a new trade minister doesn’t appear to have cracked the ice in Australia’s troubled relationship with China.

Dan Tehan, who took on the role after Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s cabinet reshuffle in December, has written to Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao to get the relationship back on an even keel.

But he hasn’t had a reply.

Mr Tehan said he had written a very detailed letter to his Chinese counterpart, who had coincidently been promoted to the position at roughly the same time as he was.

“I have said there are a lot of ways we can constructively work together, so now I wait patiently for that reply,” he told the ABC on Sunday.

China has been at odds with Australia since it promoted the idea of an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus in Wuhan last year.

However, Mr Tehan said the two countries are still able to work together in multilateral forms like the World Trade Organisation.

“I was on a hook-up with other trade ministers with my Chinese counterpart on Friday night where we were discussing reform of the WTO,” he said.

SA begins vaccine recruitment drive

The South Australian government has announced a drive to recruit hundreds of clinical and administrative support staff to support the rollout of the state COVID-19 vaccination program.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the state is embarking on its “biggest ever peacetime operation.”

“Nurses, midwives, doctors, pharmacists, paramedics and administration staff will form multidisciplinary teams to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations across the state, initially at dedicated vaccination hubs within our Local Health Networks,” he said.

“A qualified COVID-19 vaccination-trained surge workforce is required to deliver the program over the rollout period of up to 11 months.

“Two doses of vaccine are required for each person, extending the time it will take for every South Australian to be adequately immunised against the virus.”

According to Wade, clinical and non-clinical staff with relevant qualifications and experience can register online to be a part of the vaccination program.

Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer, Adjunct Associate Professor Jenny Hurley, said it represents an opportunity for nurses and midwives to expand their clinical experience and skill set.

“Eligible staff who choose to register as part of the Expression of Interest will be included in recruitment pools, which we will look to draw from over the coming months,” she said.

“All COVID-19 vaccination workforce including administrative staff will be required to undertake training and induction programs to support the rapid upskilling and surge capacity requirements, including areas such as infection prevention and control, vaccine distribution, and cold chain management.”

The first phase of South Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program will include residents and staff of aged and disability care facilities, medi-hotel and airport staff, and health care workers working in high risk exposure and transmission areas, such as COVID-19 testing clinics and emergency departments.

SA lifts final virus border restrictions

South Australia has lifted its COVID-19 restrictions for travellers from the wider Sydney region, its last major border measures in place for any state or territory.

From Sunday travellers from Greater Sydney, the Central Coast and Wollongong will be allowed to come to SA.

They will not need to quarantine but will be required to have a coronavirus test on days one, five and 12.

They must self-isolate until they receive a negative result from the first test.

The change follows NSW reaching two weeks without a locally transmitted case of the virus.

It also means the freedom of movement between SA and other states will be at its highest since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.

South Australia reported no new COVID-19 cases on Saturday and has no active infections.

EU move to block vaccine worries Australia

Australia is on track to begin rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine in late February, and for all Australians who wish to be vaccinated to have received their jabs by the end of October.

The assurance, by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, came on Saturday amid a row sparked by the European Union threatening to block vaccine shipments to some countries.

The EU has introduced new export restrictions on vaccinations produced by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and AstraZeneca to a list of countries including Australia after supply shortages were reported.

A spokesperson for Minister Hunt said the Minister had, on Saturday, reconfirmed Australia’s current vaccine schedule with the country heads of Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

It is understood the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is seeking information and making strong representations on behalf of Australia to the WHO, the EU and European officials.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd said Australia was reaching out across the world to ensure continuity in supplies.

He confirmed onshore production of AstraZeneca would begin in March subject to approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester said the federal government would also be making its case to the World Health Organisation.

Up to 1.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are due in Australia from overseas in March, while 80,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be available each week from late-February.

Australians caught on ski slopes in Austria

Nearly 100 foreign tourists have been caught hitting Austria’s ski slopes in violation of the country’s coronavirus rules during a ski resort raid by police.

The tourists were from a range of countries including Australia, as well as Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Romania.

The raid in Tyrol on Friday night led to 96 foreigners being handed citations after some 44 accommodations in St Anton am Alberg and Stanzertal were checked.

“Among others Britons, Danes, Swedes, Romanians, Germans, Australians, Irish people and Poles were checked and fined,” the police force of the western province of Tyrol said in a statement.

The fine for violating virus measures could be up to 2,180 euros ($A3,462).

The mayor of St Anton, Helmut Mall, had sounded alarm bells after he said there were, in his view, too many foreigners in the area who weren’t allowed to be there due to virus rules.

They apparently were taking advantage of loopholes in the regulation by registering a second residence and saying they were looking for work.

“But there are no jobs in tourism at the moment,” Mall said, according to the Kurier newspaper.

Austria, which is under its third lockdown, has recorded 413,208 cases and 7,703 deaths in the pandemic so far.

Adelaide’s ‘Last Holden’ goes for $750,000 at auction

One of the last Holden Commodores to be produced in Adelaide has been snapped up at auction with a top bid of $750,000.

The VF Series II SSV Redline sedan was given the final vehicle serial number and was the last to travel through the body and paint shops at the company’s Elizabeth plant, which closed in 2017.

However, parent group General Motors still owns an identical Commodore which carries the ceremonial title of the “last car” Holden produced in Australia.

It was the final vehicle to go through the general assembly process and remains on loan to the National Motor Museum at Birdwood, northeast of Adelaide.

In the online auction which concluded on Saturday, bids for the car up for grabs jumped from less than $300,000 to $750,000 in the final hour, well above its original retail selling price of about $65,000.

In information provided by Lloyds Auctions, the car had been bought by a former Holden employer who had spent 14 years with the company in various senior roles.

“Through a chance discussion on the last day of Holden’s manufacturing the owner was made aware that this car had been allocated to a dealer but had not been sold to the public,” Lloyds said.

Around the same time, bidding also closed on another iconic Holden with a W1 Maloo Ute, one of only four ever made, selling for $1,050,000.

Bangladesh move Rohingya refugees to remote island

Another 1400 Rohingya Muslim refugees are on their way to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal despite opposition from rights groups concerned about the site’s vulnerability to storms and flooding.

They bring to at least 6700 the number of Rohingya refugees from neighbouring Myanmar that Bangladesh has sent to the island of Bhasan Char since early December, from border camps where a million live in ramshackle huts.

Bangladesh on Friday moved 1776 Rohingya to the island, which emerged from the sea just two decades ago and is several hours’ journey from the southern port.

The Rohingya, a minority group who fled violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, are not allowed to move off the island without government permission.

Bangladesh says the relocation is voluntary but some of the first group of refugees, moved in December, spoke of being coerced.

The government also says overcrowding in camps in the refugee-heavy town of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh’s southeast fuels crime.

It has dismissed flood concerns over the island, citing the building of a 2m-high 12km stretch of embankment, in addition to housing for 100,000 people, hospitals and cyclone centres.

Phillips stars as Crows smash Eagles

Adelaide got off to a winning start in their 2021 AFLW season, defeating West Coast by 38 points on Saturday at Mineral Resources Park.

Erin Phillips starred in the  8.8 (56) to 2.6 (18) win, racking up 23 disposals and two goals to show she remains a star of the competition at 35 years of age.

After injuring her ACL in the 2019 Grand Final, Phillips only played two games in the 2020 season.

Captain Chelsea Randall accumulated 19 possessions, in her own comeback from an ACL sustained in the 2020 pre-season.

Ebony Marinoff, whose three-game suspension was overturned 48 hours before the game, also played well with 21 disposals and five clearances.

The Crows have an eight-day break before hosting Fremantle at Norwood Oval next Sunday at 4.40pm ACDT.

Adelaide 36ers edge fast-finishing Kings

The Adelaide 36ers survived a late scare before extending their NBL winning streak to three games with an 85-80 victory over the Sydney Kings on Saturday night.

After leading comfortably by 17 points early in the fourth quarter, the Sixers’ lead was slashed to three points amid a flurry of turnovers and execution blues.

But, guided by red-hot MVP candidate Isaac Humphries (27 points, nine rebounds), they recovered their nerve in the last minute to prevail and move to 4-2 in front of 7087 fans, the Adelaide Entertainment Centre’s biggest attendance this season.

Humphries, who according to 36ers coach Conner Henry is “playing the best basketball of his life right now”, was well supported by fellow big Daniel Johnson (16 points) and defensive warrior Sunday Dech (13 second-half points).

– with AAP and Reuters

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